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Curved screen TVs expected to quickly flatten out

Lucas Mearian | May 30, 2014
Curved TVs are mostly gimmicks that don't provide a better viewing experience, analysts say

Samsung, which just announced its first ultra-high definition (UHD) LCD curved screen TV, claims that the bend in the screen offers "a dramatically improved field of view that creates a panoramic effect and helps the picture feel bigger."

Along with its new UHD TV, Samsung launched its "The Curve Changes Everything," campaign, which will include a curve-screen TV billboard display in New York and Los Angeles.

As Samsung states in its marketing material, "you get a perfect view from any angle."

On the contrary, Gray and others say curved-screen TVs only offer someone sitting at the center axis of the TV a great picture. Anyone sitting at right or left angles will have a markedly distorted view.

"There is definitely a reduced viewing angle in terms of other people in the room who are not sitting in the sweet spot," Gray said.

"For the average viewing family, flat is a much better solution for all present to see an undistorted view of the screen," said Paul O'Donovan, Gartner's principal analyst for consumer electronics research. "Curved screens are a gimmick, much along the same lines as 3D TVs are."

Gray said bending the monitor actually causes technical problems, such as requiring wider black bands or margins between pixels to avoid color bleed through.

That, Gray argued, reduces the transparency of the LCD panel by about 20%, which means manufacturers then have to use a bigger, more powerful backlight.

"So, these things will consume more power and need more LEDs, a bigger power supply and they'll probably need more heat dissipation, so they will never be quite as cheap as a flat display," Gray said.

LG, Sony and Samsung have all introduced curved-screen TVs to the market over the past year. Last month, Samsung announced its first UHD curved screen TV (the HU9000 series), which has four times the number of pixels of HDTVs.

With the increased resolution of UHD curved screens, it's better for viewers to sit closer to the TV than in previous HD models because even at a close distance, you won't see the pixels that make up the image. But that fact holds true for flat panel TVs as well.

Curved-screen TVs also command a significant price premium. At Best Buy, for example, a 65-in. Samsung UHD TV retails for $3,499, while the curved equivalent retails for $4,299. That's an $800 premium for a bend in the screen.

"Consider this: Samsung's consumer research shows that, when presented the option, Curved TV design is the preferred form factor and raises purchase intent; more than 80% of consumers surveyed said that they would purchase a curved display, even with a $600 premium," said Samsung's Schinasi.

 

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