Curved TVs are newer on the market. They are different from standard flat-screen and flat-panel TVs, and are an excellent way to stand out as most of them are sold at a premium price. There’s a claim that a curved screen takes the natural shape of our eyes’ peripheral vision, meaning you get an immersive experience, but what else makes them so unique?
Curved TVs apply depth enhancement processing, which adjusts the contrasts of the image. What’s more, curved television gives you a wider field of view, better contrast, wider viewing angle, and uniform viewing distance compared to non-curved screens.
Should you purchase a curved TV? This article evaluates some of the pros and cons of curved TVs that you need to understand before deciding.
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What Are the Origins of Curved TV Screen Technology?
Although curved screens have been in existence since the 1950s, it wasn’t until 1974 when the newly emerging curved technology cropped up. A researcher, Nicholas Sheridon, went on a quest to find a flexible display device with Gyricon, the world’s first electronic paper display. Despite the technology taking a few decades to catch on, this technology is still at the heart of modern curved TV trends.
In 2013, curved televisions were introduced at CES, which was the same time as when OLED display technology was coming onto the scene. LG and Samsung were at the forefront of the new curved technology as they hoped to replicate the theater screen experience inside the home. Unfortunately, the 55-inch curved screen didn’t achieve their expectations.
Samsung adopted the idea of curved TVs from 2013 to 2016. The manufacturer made sure to include this new technology in both LCD TVs and high-end OLED models. Samsung’s first curved TV was ultra high definition and came at 105 inches. According to the then company’s head of TV, the combination of UHD picture quality and curved design was guaranteed to provide an immersive entertainment experience.
However, in 2017, Samsung reduced its production as not many customers bought curved TVs. The company chose to re-introduce expensive models as flat-screen TVs rather than curved ones. You can still find the RU7300 model in 55 and 65-inch sizes.
LG also has its lineup of curved TV models to show. Their first was a 77-inch model, which was a UHD curved OLED TV. The TV was meant to offer the best in modern aesthetics and picture quality.
How Do Curved TVs Work?
The curve or bending is done with a click of a button on the remote control. It works with the shape of your eyes to form an illusion of panoramic viewing, which means each part of the image is at the same distance. Things wrap around more as they appear in real life. The result is that the TV will begin its transformation. With that, you get a comfortable and immersive viewing experience.
You’ll notice that the curvature changes from curved to flat and vice versa. The movie viewing experience is enhanced with a big screen that ranges from 60-85 inches.
The Pros of Curved TVs
Curved TVs have a few differences from flat-screen TVs, which makes them advantageous compared to non-curved screens.
Below are some advantages of curved TVs.
1. Immersive Experience
There’s a sense of peripheral vision that you won’t get when using a flat screen. That’s because the curved screen works with your eye shape to create a panoramic view. Every image part is the same distance away. That means you get to view things like they are in real life.
Panoramic viewing provides a comfortable and immersive viewing experience. That’s why most cinemas have curved screens. The curvature is designed to enhance your depth perception, which provides a unique experience.
2. Clear Images
Curved screens provide sharper and clearer images due to the curved edges. The curved edges also offer more contrast and dimension to the photos. Another reason for clear images is that the curved screen focuses light towards the center.
That means the TV can deliver between 1.5 x and 1.8 x higher contrast than flat-screen TVs. The result is richer and more precise imagery. Like Samsung, TV brands provide depth enhancer technology that adjusts the contrast on various parts of the image, increasing this effect.
A curved TV also helps to reduce reflections. A flat TV gets more of the surrounding reflections, which increases the chances of something bright reflecting the viewer.
3. 3D Experience
A curved screen enables images to follow different depth planes, meaning the screen shows the physical background and foreground. That layered display gives you a 3D view, which you won’t find on flat-screen TVs.
4. Wide Viewing Angle
Apart from a wide field of view, curved TVs also allow a wider viewing angle. A curved screen adjusts the emitted light’s direction, making the color and contrast correctly when watching from the side. That ensures that the screen surrounds the audience. Viewers can comfortably enjoy an optimal viewing experience.
Like the way a cinema has good and bad seats, there’s also the right position when watching TV. It should be directed along the TV’s central axis, with the screen’s central point being at eye level. If you are in another position, you may experience picture quality degradation that could be small or severe.
Curved TVs provide a great range of viewing angles, which leads to the less trapezoidal distortion that you may experience with flat-screen TVs.
5. Uniform Viewing Distance
The curve in this TV helps the projected image retain its sharpness right into the corners of the screen size. A good example is Samsung that sets its curvature level at a 4200mm-radius circle, which coincides with the current average TV viewing distance of 3.2m. Nonetheless, you’ll only feel this effect if you have a 60 inch plus curved TV.
6. Unique Design
Curved TVs boast an attractive design that is different compared to flat-screen TVs. If you’re looking for something unique to complete your interior look, you may need to invest in a curved TV.
Cons of Curved TVs
Despite curved TVs being popular, they have their drawbacks. Below are some arguments against curved televisions.
1. Curved Screens Need to be Proportional to Their Size
To enjoy a better view of a curved TV, you need to have the right size. Watching your favorite show from a 43-inch model, you won’t notice any significant effect. Also, some problems are more noticeable on a smaller TV model. However, with a 60-inch model, you get to experience a wide viewing angle. Moreover, a big screen means more viewers without noticing too many reflections.
If you’re thinking of getting a smaller TV, you’ll not experience the curve feeling. You may need to invest in a colossal size to get the best experience.
2. The Curved Shape Widens or Elongates the Images
If you happen to sit on the side or at an angle and closer to the TV, you’ll notice that the images start to appear elongated or widened. Furthermore, the curved edges mean you may not see part of the picture.
Curved TVs are not practical for more than three viewers at any given time. Sometimes light sources like lamps and white furniture can distort the picture as they reflect on the screen. You may need to have a dark room to enjoy a curved TV.
3. Curved TVs Are Expensive
There’s a lot of work and material that goes into manufacturing a curved TV. That’s the reason why curved televisions tend to be expensive compared to flat-screen TVs. What’s more, if you’re looking to enjoy better views and contrast, you’ll need to invest in a screen over 60 inches, which is not worth it if you’re on a budget. Most curved TVs retail at $1000 and beyond.
4. The Curve Can Lead to Geometric Distortions
Sometimes the edges of the screen appear more massive than the middle. You’ll notice this when watching content with horizontal lines that stretch across the line or on letterbox bars. However, this isn’t noticeable when you are in a standard distance or position. Although flat TVs have their distortions, the ones on the curved TV are obvious.
5. The Immersion Effect Is Subtle
While at first, you may notice the change in the curve when looking at images and videos from the sides, that effect disappears when watching TV from the couch. Some previous curved TV users did not also experience an increase in immersion due to the curve.
You may also experience exaggerated reflections with a curved TV. The reflections become a problem if you have too much lighting in your living room. You’ll need to rethink the lighting if you’re looking to experience an optimal viewing experience.
6. Curved TVs Can Be Difficult to Wall Mount
Unlike flat-screen TVs that hang flush against the wall, curved TVs do not. They have an awkward distorted shape that makes it difficult when viewing from an angle. Although there are some mounts you can buy for curved models. You’ll find viewing challenging if you plan on sitting at a far distance.
7. Limited Viewing Angles
Although the curve prevents the usual reduction in contrast and color performance with off-axis viewing, the shape can affect the image geometry when viewing it down the TV’s side. The problem worsens at 35 degrees on either side or directly opposite the screen.
When you get beyond 35 degrees, the images appear distorted due to how the picture’s side begins to look compared to the opposite side. Moreover, the brain tries to compensate for this unorganized geometry, something that could lead to fatigue.
8. You Need to Sit at the Right Place to Get the Full Experience
To experience the advantages of a curved TV, you need to find a sweet spot opposite the screen and close to the screen, which is different from the position you’d be sitting in when watching a flat-screen TV.
Curved TVs vs. Flat TVs
Should you opt for a flat or curved TV? Below we look at some factors that differentiate the two TVs.
On a curved TV, the side of the TV opposite you has less picture quality degradation, but you’ll experience faster degradation on the side close to you. Flat TVs have a linear effect on the viewing angle on picture quality. That means when you sit very close, you may find that the sides darken from the narrow viewing angle.
Both curved and flat TVs experience picture quality degradation when viewed from an angle. The only difference is that with a flat TV, you’ll notice the sides become darker.
Immersion and Size
When it comes to immersion, the curved TV and flat TV provide an identical picture quality and a similar design. However, the curved television offers a more extensive field of view, which means the screen fills your vision hence the immersion. Considering the minor difference, getting a curved TV may not be worth the extra cost.
A flat TV has standard reflections, but the reflections appear distorted and stretched with the curved TV. The difference between the two is minor, which means no design is better than the other.
A curved TV may look nice compared to a flat-screen TV. However, you should note that curved TVs have a more massive back, making mounting the TV a challenge. You’ll find the aesthetics of a mounted TV unpleasant compared to what you’ll get after mounting a flat screen. When it comes to aesthetics, the choice boils down to personal preference.
Most flat TVs are within every price range, meaning you can get a flat-screen television that fits your budget. Curved TVs are only in the premium and high-end price range.
Flat TVs are more available compared to curved models. Samsung was the only manufacturer to release new curved models in 2017. Sony and LG abandoned manufacturing and stuck to the production of flat TVs.
Overall, the difference between a flat TV and a curved one is minimal. When both televisions are on, you won’t notice much of these differences. You’re likely to opt for the curved TV due to its design and not because of reflections or immersion.
Do Curved TVs Help With Glare?
A flat TV tends to capture the surrounding reflections, which means that something like a window is reflected in the viewer. However, with a curved TV, the curvature works to reduce any reflections, which means you won’t deal with glare. You won’t see objects directly reflecting on the TV as you would with a flat TV. The result is sharper colors, deep blacks, and detailed on-screen contrast.
Do Curved TVs Break Easily?
Curved TVs don’t break more easily than flat-screen TVs. Curved TVs are durable, but their lifespan depends on how you use them.
When it comes to backlight lifespan, you can get up to 60,000 hours, equivalent to 6.8 years, when running the TV 24 hours. However, if you only run the TV for 8 hours a day, you can get up to 13 years from your TV. The backlight is the first component that breaks easily. You can adjust the backlight to 75 or less to ensure your TV doesn’t burn out faster.
High temperatures can also damage your curved TV. Placing your TV beside appliances that emit heat will destroy your television.
Do Curved TVs Improve Viewing Angle?
The contrast, color, and clarity of a screen are affected as you sit across a TV screen. While a curved TV can look fantastic when it’s some feet away in a theater or showroom, you may have to deal with limited viewing angles once at home.
A curved screen reduces the effects that happen when you sit in front of a massive screen at a short distance and look towards the corners. The evidence is more when you get a panel depending on the Twisted Nematic LCD crystals in a large size.
The recommended seating distance for any TV is 60cm, with a screen of 27 inches. With a TV, the optimum viewing angle is only for one person. Curved screens have that isolated sweet spot, which means you need to sit directly in line with the TV to have the best viewing angle.
When you move away from this spot, you’ll start to notice that one side of the screen will be parallel to the line of sight. You won’t want to watch TV from this angle. The change in the viewing angle is evident when you move away from the sweet spot. You’re likely to get a better viewing angle from a flat-screen TV than a curved TV.
Are Curved TVs Good for Watching Sports?
Sports is fast-paced, which means you’ll need a TV that keeps up with the action. Curved TVs are excellent for watching sports due to their high resolution. Sports like baseball, tennis, or hockey need high resolution, and most curved screens have a 4K display that makes it perfect for viewing.
When watching sports, you’ll also need a TV with the best wide viewing angle. A curved TV provides an excellent wide viewing angle when watched from the right distance. You also need to enjoy crisp and sharp images. The best TV keeps everything clear and crisp when the action is intense. Curved screens have excellent picture characteristics, improved processing, and excellent black levels.
A curved TV also improves contrast performance, which leads to a sense of depth and immersion that you won’t experience when using a non-curved or flat screen. That comes in handy when watching sports with more than two people on the TV.
On the downside, you need to find the sweet spot to have the optimal viewing experience. That also means you need to get a big screen over 60-inch to appreciate the immersive experience. Curved screens are more expensive than flat-screen TVs, making them unsuitable for those on a budget.
Curved screens are a matter of preference. You can visit a local TV retailer to determine if a curved TV will be the best option for you when watching sports. When choosing the best TV for sports, there are motion blur, input lag, refresh rate, and shutter.
Are Curved TVs Good for Gaming?
Curved TVs are ideal for gaming as they are designed to provide immersive visuals. These TVs offer better 3D effects, something that makes gaming enjoyable. Curved screens offer an immersive experience when you are seated right in front of the screen. You won’t have this experience with a flat-screen TV.
Some models from brands like LG and Samsung provide a large viewing angle. You’ll notice that the viewing angle on a curved screen is less than that of a flat screen. Even though there’s a lot more that goes into gaming like refresh rate, response time, aspect ratio, display resolution, the TV’s curvature also impacts the overall visual experience. Curved screens are known to enhance 3D effects, something that makes gaming fun.
Curved screens give you an experience that is close to virtual reality. That’s because when the screen bends around your field of view, you get to experience a realistic and better gaming experience.
These screens also provide you with ultra-wide aspect ratios. With a broader view, you get a better peripheral vision. That helps if you’re playing first-person shooting games. Using a curved screen gives you a competitive edge over your opponents when dealing with multiplayer games.
Eye strain is something you’re likely to experience after spending long hours playing video games. Curved screens not only give you that immersive experience, but they also ensure that your eyes are comfortable when playing. The arc of the curved TV matches the natural curvature of the human eye. That translates into a realistic viewing experience as your eyes feel more comfortable.
A curved TV provides a wider field of view as it directs light from all angles towards the eye. You can see more extensively and more without too much eye strain. The result is a viewing comfort that provides you a cinematic immersion. A curved screen also provides a broader field of view.
It’s critical to note that the difference in gaming experience increases with the size. When using a small TV, you may not notice any visual experience difference. However, with a big screen, you’ll experience the difference.
If you’re planning on getting on a game with more than two people, a curved TV won’t provide the best experience. That’s because the curved nature makes it difficult for more than two people to view the screen, depending on the size. The different angles can interfere with the visual experience. You’ll need to be in the middle to have the best experience.
Curved TVs being good for gaming also depends if you are the only player in front of the screen. A solo gamer will have a better and more immersive experience using a curved screen instead of a flat screen. Curved TVs are still expensive and may not be the best option if you’re on a budget as a gamer.
When choosing a TV for gaming, apart from the curvature, you’ll still need to evaluate other features like response rate, refresh rate, screen resolution, and aspect ratio. There’s no need to spend more on a curved screen if it lacks these essential features.
Can a Cracked Curved TV Be Fixed?
Unfortunately, a cracked curved TV can’t be fixed. Once the TV cracks, it cannot be repaired; you’ll need to replace it. You may have a display, but this only worsens with time. On average, curved screen TV repair is expensive and could end up costing more than replacement.
Are Curved TVs the Future?
Curved TVs lead to increased depth perception, better viewing angles, and sharp contrast and colors. While curved TVs come with their advantages, they have significant drawbacks in reality.
LG and Samsung claim that curved TVs offer a theater-like experience, but this is only notable when watching a large screen. The edges can also be distracting if you aren’t sitting in front of the display. That interferes with the immersive experience that TV manufacturers claim to be curved TV’s most significant advantage.
Curve TVs are also likely to be minimal due to their price range. You’ll need to have more than $1,000 to get a quality curved TV.
Curved TVs provide a unique viewing experience. Here’s a recap of some of the pros of curved televisions.
- Wide viewing angle.
- Provides more depth to the image.
- This leads to a unique panoramic experience and a better visual experience.
- Offers uniform viewing distance.
- Reduces glare.
- Few reflections.
Despite the impressive list of advantages, curved TVs also have some cons like:
- They are expensive.
- Require a sweet spot when viewing.
- Need a big size to experience the full immersive effect.
In conclusion, the only thing that stands out with curved TVs is their design and aesthetics. You should note that most of these TVs have a screen bigger than 40 inches and are expensive compared to flat-screen TVs.