At CES this year, one huge trend was the curved 4k or UHD televisions. You couldn’t go very far in the central or north halls without running into a major TV vendor offering televisions curved in rather dramatic ways. Anytime I’ve mentioned this to someone who wasn’t at CES, the response I get is “Why a curved TV?”. This is such a simple, but valid question for those of us that just accept what’s coming with open arms. I thought I’d explore why we’re seeing curved TVs and why you might be interested in one yourself.
The biggest reason for a curved TV is in the way we see the screen. As Bob Lawton of LG Electronics mentions on waaytv, “We see wider than we do taller, and that’s why these are so immersive,”. Given the curve of the screen, our peripheral view of the right and left sides improve. The trick to curved screens is the glass. A product of Corning, one commonly used glass is Willow. Because the glass comes out so thin, its can bend in different directions, creating a curve. At CES 2014, I saw two types of curved TVs, the more common horizontal curve and an interesting entire wall-mounted, multi-display vertical curve.
When I asked one of the men at the LG booth what a curved TV might run for, his answer was “Whatever the market bears”. Straightforward, but not incredibly helpful. My sense for a halfway decent experience of 55 inches or more, a curved OLED TV is going to run you at least $8,999 . If these TVs catch on, expect the price to drop quickly.
You may have noticed curved screens in another place: IMAX theatres. With a curved screen of that size, you’ll find your view of the movie is more immersive and engaging. What’s interesting is that sitting too far away from a curved screen seems to make things worse – so with a curved TV you’ll probably be sitting closer than you do now with a flat screen. Add to that the need to sit in roughly the center of your curved TV to get the best view; you’d have to think this kind of experience is not well suited for 5 people in a living room.
Naturally, the market for these kinds of TVs is limited right now. I can see a possible future where new movies might take better advantage of a curved screen, forcing many consumers to upgrade. There is always a chance the market just flat-out rejects them.