Curved Screen TVs have been on the market for well over a year now and prices have continued to fall. Does this mean you should you consider this new screen type or stick with a flat screen? Are they worth the extra money, or a marketing gimmick?
In today’s post we’re looking at the pros and cons of Curved Screen TVs versus more traditional flat screens and why should or should not consider buying one.
The origins of curved screens
Curved TV screens have been available to consumers since 2013, but the concept of projecting images onto a curved screen has been around for decades. The first curved screen was installed in the Cinerama in New York in 1952.
The extremely wide image formats used in cinema projection, such as 23:9 Cinemascope, result in significant distortion if projected onto a flat screen. The distance the light emitted from the projector has to travel increases the further a point is located away from the centre of a flat screen. This effect is most noticeable on the left and right hand edges of the screen. This phenomenon is known as the Pincushion Effect and the image will appear blurry, bowed inwards and stretched vertically.
Horizontally curved screens were introduced to counter this effect and to reduce the distortion of the image. They are widely used in cinema projection and in large screen formats such as IMAX. This provides a more natural experience for the audience and helps to draw the viewer deeper into the scene.
An increase in ‘immersion’?
Manufacturers of Curved Screen Tvs argue that the curved shape provides better and more natural viewing. The viewer is supposed to feel more immersed, similar to the experience in a cinema.
Plenty of reviews have, however, stated that the slightly curved shape of a TV does not have a significant effect on the viewing experience. The effect might be noticeable in a cinema where the screen fills a significant part of the audience’s field of vision. This is especially for true for IMAX cinemas, which usually have a screen size of 22 x 16m.
But even large LED TVs viewed from a relatively short distance do not come close to this. Most people say the curve of the screen is hardly noticeable when sitting at a normal distance away, and they do not feel more immersed. If at all, the curved screen is most likely to create a greater sense of depth on larger screen sizes. Scenes with great depth of field, such as landscapes and cityscapes, are most likely to benefit from this.
The need to innovate
The TV market is a very mature and competitive one. Manufacturers are constantly trying to innovate and stand out from the competition. Even 4K Ultra HD TVs have been steadily falling in price and the big brands are trying to come up with the ’next big thing’ to spark consumer interest and to be the first ones to capitalise on a new market segment. Being first allows innovative manufacturers such as Samsung and LG to charge a premium for new and innovative technologies while others are trying to catch up.
When flat panel TVs first appeared, they had a significant ‘cool-factor’, but so many people own one these days that this is no longer a way to stand out. Curved screen TVs are still relatively new and their appearance is new and unusual. This might well be a key factor in the decision to buy a curved screen TV. After all, new technology has it’s own fascination and owning something innovative and unique might outweigh any of your other decision factors.
Curved screen TV prices
Curved screen TVs have been dropping in price, but are still more expensive than equivalent flat screen models. Amazon is currently selling the 65 inch Samsung UE65HU7500 for £2,808. The Samsung UE65HU8500 is also a 4K Ultra HD TV but has a curved screen. It is selling for £3,130, or 11% more. In the 55 inch range there is a 30% price difference between the Samsung UE55H7000 (£1,211) and the Samsung UE55H8000 (curved screen, £1,579).
Reflections & distortions
Reflections are a problem for all large TVs. Curved screens seem to have an advantage over flat ones and eliminate unwanted reflections more successfully. One side-effect of this is, however, a rather unwanted distortion of reflected objects. The curved surface is similar to a fun-house mirror and you screen might produce a few unexpected effects!
Images can also look slightly distorted in a curved screen. This ‘bow tie’ effect is particularly noticeable if the picture contains strong horizontal lines or letterbox bars. The edges of the screen will appear slightly larger than its centre.
Every curved screen TV has a ’sweet spot’, which is 10-13 feet away from the TV. The exact distance varies between screen sizes and depends on the radius of the curve. This gives the viewer the best possible viewing experience when sitting directly perpendicular to the TV. Friends and family sitting left or right from the ideal position are not so lucky however. The perceived distortion increases the further a viewer moves away from the centre. The near edge will appear larger, while the middle will appear too small before increasing again on the far side.
The perception of the top and bottom edges also depends on the vertical viewing position. The top edge will appear to have a slight ‘U’ shape and the bottom edge an inverted one. When changing the vertical position away from the centre, the shape of the top and bottom edges will no longer be symmetrical and the curves will ‘bend’ in varying degrees.
The verdict on curved screens
If you enjoy new technologies, are looking for a product which stands out and don’t mind paying a bit more for it, a curved screen TV might be the right choice. It is, however, less clear and also a matter of personal taste if you think a curved screen provides a better viewing experience. While some people have reported a slightly more ‘immersive’ experience, the size of an average TV is too small to replicate that of a much larger cinema screen. If you are price conscious this does probably not justify spending the additional amount and sticking with a flat screen will be the better choice for you.
The post Curved Screen TVs Are Dropping in Price – Time to Buy? appeared first on Kagoo.