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Around the Bend?

Bent televisions screens is what I am on about this month; that is right curved screens - another 3D fad or something with more lasting appeal?

A curved screen may go some way towards reducing this distortion and may create less reflection allowing the screen to be dimmer, extending the life of the display and reducing power consumption.  Photograph: Shutterstock
A curved screen may go some way towards reducing this distortion and may create less reflection allowing the screen to be dimmer, extending the life of the display and reducing power consumption. Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

We will be seeing more curved large screen televisions hit the shops over the next few years as, according to scientists, we seem to like them. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive (possibly because we are so used to a flat image for the last 50 years?) but a curved screen on a large scale may actually make sense; flat screen CRT technologies required corrections to the edges (remember S correction anyone?), and with extremely large flat screen images, without corrective processing, we may also perceive distortions towards the edges. A curved screen may go some way towards reducing this distortion and may create less reflection allowing the screen to be dimmer, extending the life of the display and reducing power consumption. Sounds reasonable. Organic LED (OLED) technology is also pushing this as this type of manufacturing allows flexible screens to be readily produced; albeit more expensively than conventional LED tech.

That is the practical case in a nutshell, but the neuroscientists have also been looking at this with their functional magnetic resonance imaging machines rigged up to the brains of human lab rats and what they have found is intriguing also; evidence suggests that as human beings, we like rounded, softer objects and images rather than hard, straight lines. Neuroaesthetics is the word (you read it here first? well almost - New Scientist actually) and it represents the neurological basis for our appreciation of beauty; curves stimulate pleasure areas of our brain, whilst angles stimulated areas that detect threats; it is amazing what they can do with a few wires stuck down with Gaffa tape on your head. Guess what, experiments indicate that curved television screens are more pleasing than flat ones - that will please television manufacturers too I am sure...

But I sort of get it? No really? I like rounded objects (the number 8 is my favourite number) and it may be that these techno boffins (television manufacturers and neuroscientists alike) may be onto something. Even smartphone manufacturers are latching onto this which can only be supported by the aesthetic argument as distortions to the image on a small flat screen are imperceptible; there is no real practical reason for a small, curved screen. There are plenty of rumours that the Apple iPhone 6 will have a curved screen though, so if Apple is going to employ it, there must be something in it.

I suppose that the ultimate neuroscientific test to determine whether we like curves over angles is whether we will preferentially buy these products and we will be finding this out over the next two or three years; curved screen television shipments this year will be in the region of 800k units but predicted to be more than 6m by 2017.

Coupled with UHD technology we could be in for some very curious developments; 360 degree fully immersive 8k television anyone??? Imagine that!



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Comments
Tuesday, 17 June 2014
A
Anthony
sentiment_satisfiedBronze

9:53 AM
Accrington

John Martin: Curved tv's are horrid and offer ridiculous viewing angles over normal flat screeners!

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Anthony's 70 posts GB
Ian
sentiment_satisfiedGold

11:51 AM

I must say, the average living room would pose a bit of a challenge to fit one in.

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Ian's 497 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

6:40 PM

Ian: They only curve a bit, and considering how many customers insist that their flat screen TV has to be in the corner, because 'thats where it goes', I suspect that a slightly curved screen might fit nicely. As for Chris Hewson's point - yes, most walls are flat (Samsung do supply a wall mount), but most people still their TV on a cabinet, so it really isn't a big deal.

Light bounce could be a problem (we've noticed it, but we do have high ceilings and bright lights), but thats not unique to curved screens. Still, it will be more of an issue.
I know what you mean about OLED, but until LG can really bring it down to a price/quality mix which really works for most customers, we'll have to wait. I've seen one in another of our stores, and they are a bit of a wow.

Anthony: I'm not sure the viewing angles are much different to flat screens - 35 degrees isn't perfect for a flat screen either, and as I've said, one very dubious customer was surprised at how good the viewing angle was, so perhaps its up to the individual. Certainly the sweet spot seems to be larger than first thought, and it seems fine from most angles.

John Martin: You be cynical, and you may even be right, but I suspect that curved is coming, and is here to stay (I'm not sure that HD TV sales are on the slide, its just that the UK has the highest market penetration in Europe).
Dont underestimate Samsung. They have consistantly pushed innovation in the industry. Their styling made sure all TV's were black some years back, and were the first with LED (don't mention Sharp). They originated Smart TV's, and their 8000 series changed how TV's looked a couple of years ago. They don't always get it right, but they are a very successful brand. If CES next year has lots of curved sceens, then thats where the market will be.

Alan Ripley: Thats excellent advice. Despite all the flannel from the web, newspapers, etc, the right thing to do is to actually look at them. If they work for you, then fine. Frankly, the Samsung 55in H8000 is currently £500 cheaper than the previous version was last year, so your not paying a premium for the curve, quite the opposite.


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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
K
KMJ,Derby
sentiment_satisfiedGold

6:49 PM

MikeB: It would be interesting to see a 24" or 32" version of the curved screen for the smaller lounge where the viewer sits about 5 feet away from the tv.

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KMJ,Derby's 1,811 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

7:53 PM

KMJ: Its a good point, but frankly, manufacturers no longer regard even 32in as a size to lavish their top technology on, so its doubtful.

Samsung are making a curved 48in version of the H8000, so a 40in isn't impossible next year (and 5-6ft is increasingly a 40in distance for many people, although I think 8-10 ft is more suitable), but since a 46in Samsung was the single most popular TV my empolyers sold in 2013, I think bigger TV's are where the action is going to be.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
MikeP
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

8:50 PM

MikeB:
You highlight one of the main problems with modern TV designs - the viewing angle is much less than it was with the old CRT. A flat screen CRT could be viewed comfortably at up to 60 degrees either side of the centre line, but a modern LCD or LED (or OLED) has a much narrower viewing angle, sometimes as little as 35 degrees either side of ther centre line. So in a room with several comfy chairs spreas around, only those roughly around the centre line of the screen will have clear and comfortable viewing, the further away to the side the poorer the image visible until it is unviewable. Try placing a chair in your showroom so it is at 45 degrees to one side othe perpendicular in front of the screen and thehn try watching an HD programme - not the greatest experience I suggest. The further away from that centre line, the worse the viewability becomes. So we see a small huddle of people gathered around almost directly in front of the screen - very like we did in the early 1950's to watch the Coronation on a 9" screen with the lights off!
Technological advances are not always for the better it seems.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB
Friday, 20 June 2014
N
Nick S
10:16 AM

Viewing angles on modern TV designs much less than old CRT's?

Maybe on LCD/LED's. Not on plasmas. You can watch my plasma from any angle you like in the room and its comfortable. Its one of the obvious advantages of plasma over LCD/LED screens (along with much better blacks of course).

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Nick S's 6 posts GB
M
MikeB
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

10:56 AM

Nick S: I take your point about plasma angles (although LED's are now very good as well), but I dont think its universal. Certainly the Samsung 8000 plasma we had on display until recently had terrible angle problems, even from closeup, but the Panasonic VT65 (the last of the line) is fantastic from any angle. Actually, its just fantastic, and we are sorry to see plasma go. With the end of plasma,great black levels are more difficult to find, but last years Sony W905 was very good, and I recommended it to people wanting to replace their Pioneers. I hear that OLED black levels are superb.

Looking at my 21in CRT, while I could watch it from 60 degrees, its no better or worse than an LED (which are viewable from 89 degrees - as people find out for themselves when they ask). I suspect that the idea that LCD's/LEDs have poor viewing angles might be based on their experience of TV's from perhaps 8 years ago. Certainly there are no real problems now, and really havn't been for the past 5 years.

Frankly, watching any TV from the wrong angle makes little sense, and is as logical as wanting to go to the theatre and being happy to pay for a restricted view when you have the choice.

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MikeB's 2,579 posts GB
Ian
sentiment_satisfiedGold

5:42 PM

Had to take a client to one of the horrible big shopping villages today, and we went in to curry's there were a few curved TV's on display and apart from the fact that they still make me feel sick and dizzy, they would never fit in my lounge, and the curve would make viewing from one side of the room impossible. I think there just a status symbol, they do look pretty cool though.

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Ian's 497 posts GB
MikeP
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

9:22 PM

My comments are based on personal experience of several friend's and relatives equipment. The oldest is just 3 years and the newest bought 2 months ago. All the LED/LCD sets have a narrower comfortable viewing angle than the old CRTs offered.
Plasma are out of the frame because of the significantly higher energy requirement than even an old CRT set and definitely more than an LED/LCD set.
Many lounges are square so the narrower viewing angle may not be such a problem but where the room is rectangular (our lounge is 18' by 11') the seating tends to be arranged the length of the room with the TV near one corner. So some get a nearly straight view but others have to view at a sharp angle. Fine on a CRT but poor on an LED/LCD set in our experience.
If you're happy with it, fine. Our choice is to stay with the CRT still, that's our preference And we are not anti-technology either, just careful to consider all the options and select what we prefer irrespective of any hype.

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MikeP's 3,056 posts GB
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