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Curved TVs: Gobsmackingly great or goldbrick gimmick?

Michael Ansaldo | March 9, 2015
From CRTs to OLEDs, TV manufacturers have continuously redefined our most beloved appliance, and now they're literally throwing us another curve: Curved screens that promise to deliver an immersive IMAX-like experience in the living room. Backed by a healthy dose of hype and a smattering of scientific evidence, these sleek sets carry huge price tags--in some cases 30- to 40 percent more than comparably sized flat-screen TVs. Let's take a deeper look at what they offer.

Wall hang-ups

For all the technological advantages of flat-screen TVs, it's easy to forget that a big reason consumers originally embraced them was that you could hang them on the wall where they took up a trivial amount of space. And unlike bulky, boxy tube TVs, flat screens are easier to incorporate into a room's décor and easier to ignore when they're not in use.

Many of the older curved TV models can't be wall-mounted, and though some of the newer generation can, they look downright awkward that way. The curved edges extend out from the wall, eliminating any unobtrusiveness the thin screen otherwise affords. While that not a deal breaker for everyone, it's something to consider if aesthetics are important to you.

Approach curves with caution

Manufacturers seem adamant that curved screens are the future of TV, but there's plenty to be hesitant about. There's enough truth to the claim they facilitate more immersive viewing that you can't dismiss them as a gimmick, but given the amount you'd currently need to spend on a screen big enough to take advantage of the benefit — not to mention the size of the room needed to accommodate one — they're definitely a luxury.

If you don't mind paying a premium to bring tomorrow's TV into your home today, make sure you get at least a 70-inch model and only after you've carefully considered your viewing environment. Otherwise, give it another 12 months or so. By that time manufacturers will have worked out most of the kinks, or the curve will be passé and they'll be ready to pitch you something entirely different.

 

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