I have the curves and can flex them too!At CES 2014, LG showcased the world's first flexible OLED TV whose curvature can be adjusted using the TV remote.
There's something really alluring about curves that catches every man's eye. Maybe, it's just the fact that curves are a pleasant change from the usual boring shapes around. Before you let your imagination run wild here, let me point out that we're talking about curved displays, and curved TVs in particular.
There seems to be a sudden flurry of activity in this field, as most major TV manufacturers are jostling for space in this niche but highly lucrative segment. Samsung and LG seem to be leading the race trying to overtake each other around the curve, and match each other inch for inch. As the TVs get bigger and bigger, a lot of curiosity has been generated about this new generation of televisions.
But are these insanely overpriced devices really worth all your hard-earned money? Or are big brands simply throwing a curveball at us? Here's taking a look.
The Evolution of Curved TVs
It seems like TV technology has come a full circle. Nope, there aren't any circular TVs out there just yet (but then again, you never know one might just be around the corner). We are simply referring to the evolution of television. It all started off with big clunky expensive cathode ray TV sets which then shrunk and brought in color and loads of cheer. These first generation TVs had the curves and were never afraid to flaunt them. Over time, their waistlines slimmed, the prices plummeted, and they cramped in more features than you could ever bother yourself with. High maintenance cathode ray tubes made way for more advanced plasma power and LCDs; these in turn, made way for the highly efficient and beautiful LEDs. In just a matter of years, we went from dotted CRT resolution to Full HD, and then to the ultra-high definition world of 4K resolution screens. Curves were out, and flat was in. After getting smaller, TV screens now began a reverse trend; they soared in size but kept their waists slim. These are probably the ones we'd find in most of our homes decorating the center wall or taking up the most happening corner in the living room all to itself. Things seemed to have reached a saturation point, where innovation seemed to have given way to evolution. LEDs had reached a point where they were as good as they could get, at least from a consumer point of view.
The evolution of curved TVs.
CES 2014 witnessed the birth of the world's first curved TV.
And then, one fine day, two Korean conglomerates had a Eureka moment. 'Lets bring back the curve' they said in unison. At CES 2014, Samsung and LG were fighting for bragging rights for the world's first and largest curved OLED TV. Lo and behold, the curved TV was born. Unlike the curved TVs of yesteryears, these ultra-modern televisions are a thing of beauty and will blow you away with their looks, even when switched off. These are anything but bulky, and have a waistline that would put any Victoria's Secret supermodel to shame. The irony here is that with a screen size of over 100 inches, these would need a room all to themselves (and almost cost as much!). Both companies, however, have promised that smaller curved TVs are on the way, and they would hit the stores soon. Now that all the festivities of the big announcements are over and done with, we are left with one fundamental question―do we really need/want one?
LG's Curved Ultra HD TV
Samsung's Curved OLED TV
Are Curved TVs Really Worth the Money?
At the time of writing this article, while drooling over the images and specifications of this amazing piece of tech, my colleague had a very simple question―"why is that TV curved?" As simple a question as it may seem, I must admit, it totally stumped me. Yup, this is a fantastic modern-day wonder and it sure is drop-dead gorgeous. But so was the Nexus Q, Google's supposed 'game changer' in the media streaming world, which is now but a memory (and a bad one at that!). The point is, amazing tech does not always translate into an amazing commercial product. In fact, if industry experts are to be believed, the curved TV may be one of the worst products to ever hit the market. But is all this curve hating just because we aren't really fond of change?
Curved TVs have no significant advantage over traditional LED TVs.
Tests show that curved displays have no significant useful advantage over their flat screen counterparts. In fact, it is believed that the user experience would be a complete disaster, unless of course, you are sitting at the perfect spot in line with the curve. That would be no problem if it were just one person viewing the TV, but with such a super-sized beauty in your living room, you surely would be tempted to show off; therein lies the problem. According to experts, the curve on the TV would actually make watching anything on it extremely difficult for people sitting anywhere but directly in front of the tele. This reminds me of a time when a good friend of mine joked that he never took the corner seats for a movie at IMAX, as then he would only get to see the supporting actors in the movie! The only thing that really argues in favor of curved TVs is just how beautiful they look and all the technology that they pack inside. In a real-life scenario though, it would make for a worse TV viewing experience than that on regular LED TVs. It is said that it takes a lot of courage to stand out from the crowd and do something different, but then again, they also say that you never fix something that isn't broken.
Let me try to put this via a food analogy. We love our donuts nice and round, and couldn't imagine the horror if we had square-shaped ones for coffee. Some might argue that these would be bigger and easier to store, but it just wouldn't feel right. The same goes with our television, we love all the wonderful technology that goes into curved TVs and how beautiful they look, but for now, we would like a regular TV and could you make it flat please!
Curved TVs are perfect for anyone who lives in a king-sized Mongolian yurt with loads of cash lying around!
The coming years might have me with my foot in the mouth, but for now, I can safely say that curved TVs, at least in their current form, are nothing but a marketing gimmick. The technology is still very much in its infancy and could, in fact, be a hit in the smaller 40-inch segment. Smaller curved screens might actually have a practical advantage over regular screens by helping to cut out the glare. This is something that worked well for the curved LG G Flex, and to an extent, the Samsung Galaxy Round as well. For now though, super-sized curved TVs still have a long way to go before making the transition into the real world from science fiction.
To conclude, I would love to leave you with a thought―if we were to ask the major electronics giants why would you build a curved TV, I wonder if the answer would simply be―"because we can!" Cheers.