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Television Entertainment Hardware

Curved TVs Nothing But a Gimmick 261

Posted by timothy
from the says-the-gartner-analyst dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Currently, the hottest trend from TV manufacturers is to offer curved panels, but analysts say it's nothing more than a ploy to pander to consumers who want the latest, coolest-looking tech in their home. In the end, the TVs don't offer better picture quality. In fact, they offer a degraded view to anyone sitting off center. Samsung and LG claim that the curve provides a cinema-like experience by offering a more balanced and uniform view so that the edges of the set don't appear further away than the middle. Paul Gray, director of European TV Research for DisplaySearch, said those claims are nothing by pseudo-science. "Curved screens are a gimmick, much along the same lines as 3D TVs are," said Paul O'Donovan, Gartner's principal analyst for consumer electronics research."
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Curved TVs Nothing But a Gimmick

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  • No Way! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:50PM (#47123233)

    Curved TV's aren't better? I can't believe it!

    • Re:No Way! (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:01PM (#47123383)

      Curved TV's aren't better? I can't believe it!

      The odd bit is at the end of TFS where they say that curved TVs are a gimmick like 3D TVs. There is a big difference, 3D TVs actually give an appearance of 3D when viewing 3D content, (all the brain-and-eye confusing tricks and deception notwithstanding). Every reasonably normal sighted person can see the 3D effect, most just don't think its worth the price (or the headaches).

      Curved TVs on the other hand provide a picture that is indistinguishable from normal flat screens, EVEN when you see them side by side in the store.

      • Re:No Way! (Score:5, Funny)

        by rujasu (3450319) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:09PM (#47123459)

        But curved TV's give the appearance of a TV that will produce a better picture. That's something, right?

        • I don't own a curved TV, nor am I interested in defending the concept, but one thing I do notice with flat TVs is that even matte displays are prone to reflecting at least some fixed outside light source to the viewer. I can't help but wonder if a curved screen would reduce this.

          I have a window that reflects off of a matte display and is annoyingly visible on the screen during the day. The only way to get rid of it is to either put a heavy blanket over it or to turn the tv in a very uncomfortable angle.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            If you have a glossy flat TV, then there will be one particular angle where light hitting will reflect right at you and annoy the crap out of you. For a curved TV, there the light will reflect off different parts of the screen for a wider range of angles, thus annoying you even more.

          • A curved TV will make it far worse. Instead of a single reflection on the flat plane, the reflections will follow the curve.

        • by coofercat (719737)

          Only if use use a Monster cable between your cable box and your TV. For those watching satellite, you'll only get the benefit on clear days, because as everyone knows, clouds obscure the sky and so degrade the signal. Getting a specially woven satellite dish can help - talk to your local representative for your options.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)

        The odd bit is at the end of TFS where they say that curved TVs are a gimmick like 3D TVs.

        Yeah, more accurate to say "3d is a gimmick like color TVs" The author reduces their credibility by dismissing 3D. He would have done better dismissing curved TVs as a gimmick like 4K is.

        • Re:No Way! (Score:5, Funny)

          by Bengie (1121981) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:16PM (#47123527)
          You just don't appreciate 4k because you don't watch TV up close with a magnifying lens.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          3D is a gimmick. It's always been a gimmick. Always will be a gimmick.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward
            TV is a gimmick. It's always been a gimmick. Always will be a gimmick.
          • It's a reasonably popular gimmick. The local theater is showing four films in 3D-- X-Men, Spiderman 2, Godzilla and Maleficent, as well as seven 2D only titles . A few months down the road, if you want to replicate the experience of seeing any of those four films at home, a 3D TV would be useful.

            • Re:No Way! (Score:4, Funny)

              by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:38PM (#47124765) Homepage

              As a cheaper alternative, just poke yourself in the eyes with chopsticks.

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                As a cheaper alternative, just poke yourself in the eyes with chopsticks.

                Thanks a lot asshole!!! I followed your advice and now I can't see anything.

            • Re:No Way! (Score:4, Funny)

              by evilviper (135110) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:59PM (#47124995) Journal

              A few months down the road, if you want to replicate the experience of seeing any of those four films at home, a 3D TV would be useful.

              You mean I can have the same nausea at home that I have at the theatre? WHERE DO I SIGN UP???

              And do you have any suggestions for replicating the sticky floors and people walking up and down the isles during the film?

          • by deek (22697)

            Actually, gaming on a 3D TV is quite fun. Batman Arkham City was amazing in 3D. All the gliding and swooping is incredibly fun with the better depth perspective. It's a help with racing games, where it aids judgement of braking distance to the corner.

            So, yes, 3D TV is mildly gimmicky, but it can also quite useful as well. Don't discount it entirely.

        • Re:No Way! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by sjames (1099) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:34PM (#47123711) Homepage

          I wouldn't say that. Like 3D, nobody is really going to get any value for their money out of a curved TV. Like 3D, it's a desperate grasping for some way to get people to buy a new TV before the old one dies.

          Color TV actually upgraded the viewing experience significantly for a lot of people.

          Since 3d has come and gone as a fad multiple times, gimmick is a pretty good word for it.

        • 4k is sure a gimmick.

          UHDTV is coming, and these current 4k TVs will not be compatible. For a start, the resolution will be UHDTV1 2160p (just under 4k) and UHDTV2 4320p (that's almost 8k!), rec.2020, 100fps and 120fps, plus much more. Plus DRM issues.

          Testing in the UK for UHDTV1 is 2016, 2020 for UHDTV2 which the Olympic Games in Japan will be shot at.

        • Have you seen a 4K screen displaying legit 4K content? They're amazing. I missed this past CES, but I saw a bunch of them at the 2013 show. Sharp was showing off an 8K screen and it was absolutely jaw dropping.

      • by OakDragon (885217)
        Right - the 3D isn't a "gimmick" as is commonly understood by the term. I don't like 3D TV, but it's not a fair comparison.

        Now, fad maybe...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          I call it a gimmick, it's not 3D since I can't move with perspective changes. A hologram would be 3D. Pretending you're looking at a 3D image isn't 3D.

          Sadly I seem to be in the minority in that opinion.
          • by goldcd (587052)
            *Pendant-face*
            All we have now is stereoscopic TV.

            What's going to be nice, is when we can eye-track and overlay this on the source to shift focus (like what we do when we use our eyes normally). Probably not too hard to bolt onto games, but suspect it'll be a while until devices like the Lytro are providing video.
          • Stereo audio recordings, gimmick. When I move around the room, the soundscape doesn't change. When will consumers stop falling for this crap?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        I've spent some time watching a Samsung curved TV, and it certainly is distinguishable from a flat screen. The picture does seem to have a bit more depth. Less accurate, but interesting and enjoyable. I'd liken it to a hifi system. You can have one that is extremely realistic, or you can have one that has an "exciting" sound, and there is a place for both.

        Maybe it's like 4k. Some people can see it, some apparently can't. I'm sorry you couldn't.

      • Nonsense. Curved TV's ensure you see a square picture if you are sitting exactly dead centre. That is a tangible difference.

        I've never actually seen anyone watch anything in 3d in their home.

    • Curved TV's aren't better? I can't believe it!

      Maybe that's because you already bought one?

    • Well, primary reason is to increase viewing angles.

      Meanwhile, I went to an EBU standards meeting on UHDTV. Curved screens came up, some want it to be the norm, asking if none straight lines should be used instead of straight ones on transmission so lines appear straight on curved screens.

  • Cinema-like (Score:5, Funny)

    by rujasu (3450319) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:55PM (#47123311)

    Samsung and LG claim that the curve provides a cinema-like experience by offering a more balanced and uniform view so that the edges of the set don't appear further away than the middle...

    Reality: the curved TVs provide a cinema-like experience by charging roughly four times what a reasonable person would pay.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And if people really want that cinema experience I'd be happy to accept even a minor fee of $500 to come in and talk loudly during the movie, make noises with my phone and spill coke on their couch.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds familiar. Companies saying that the user experience is better when it really isn't and that you should buy it because of that?

      It worked for one company, why not others?

    • by suso (153703) *

      Reality: the curved TVs provide a cinema-like experience by charging roughly four times what a reasonable person would pay.

      A real cinema TV would also come with background noise of others talking on phones, silhouettes of people's heads in front you and makes your floor sticky from years of dumped soda.

    • by Minwee (522556)
      You also have to buy drinks and snacks directly from Samsung, and they also cost four times what they would from anybody else.
      • Only four times? What kind of discount cinemas are you going to and where can I find them? At the nearest theater, it's $6 for a slushy that is $0.79 at my local convenience store.
    • Re:Cinema-like (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sunderland56 (621843) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:26PM (#47123617)

      Samsung and LG claim that the curve provides a cinema-like experience

      Then why are the screens in a real-life cinema flat?

      The answer, of course is that the camera (either film or digital) uses a flat sensor. Taking a picture with a flat sensor, and then displaying it on a curved screen, is just distorting the image. So the consumer thinks they're cool - but in reality they are watching an inferior picture.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        The picture is inferior, but that doesn't mean that the effect isn't enjoyable. In any case you got it wrong. The reason cinema screens are flat is so that everyone in the cinema can see them reasonably well. Curved screens only really work for one or two viewers.

  • by ottawanker (597020) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:56PM (#47123313) Homepage

    That way they'd fit into the corner.

  • by organgtool (966989) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @04:59PM (#47123355)
    Samsung and LG want curved TVs to become all the rage because the only way to currently make them are using OLEDs and they own many of the patents for OLED screens. With that said, the Samsung OLED television got a glowing review from Consumer Reports - basically the only downside to the TV was the cost which is sure to come down in the future.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      OLED doesn't really need curves to promote it though, the superior display quality and power efficiency will sell OLED once it is cheap and durable enough.
  • Don't get me wrong, I think they're a gimmick too...

    But why do movie theaters do it then?

    Isn't the *near* edge of the screen distorted for off-center viewers, and the far edge of the screen closer to perfect?

    Again, I think it's largely a gimmick, and wouldn't use it as a sole or major purchasing decision. For two otherwise equivalent (including price or at least a VERY small discrepancy) TVs, I might choose the curved one. Then again, I would be sitting in the sweet spot.

    • by myoparo (933550) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:03PM (#47123413)

      Per the internets, the curving is done in movie theatres to help avoid the pincushion effect from the projector. Since we are talking about TVs and not projectors, the pincushion effect is irrelevant.

      Curved television displays aren't "largely" a gimmick-- they're just a gimmick.

    • Proportionally less curve in a movie screen as compared to the size of the room and the viewing angles. And yes, the screen is distorted for viewers seated towards the sides - but again. due to the lower proportional curvature, more of the screen remains clear (and the "sweet spot" in the center is wider).
    • I think the curve in movie screens mostly is to match the focal "plane" of the projector lens.

      The curved TVs look too curved to me. If they only had a slight bit of a curve, it might be interesting.
      • by mattack2 (1165421)

        That's funny, I haven't seen any in person, but I thought they aren't curved *enough* from the pictures/reviews I've seen.

        I mean, in theory, don't you essentially want a spherical screen completely surrounding you in the center?

        • I mean, in theory, don't you essentially want a spherical screen completely surrounding you in the center?

          I suppose in some respects that would be an immersive viewing experience.... but only for one person, and only if the content were filmed for that perspective.

  • PROGRESS! (Score:5, Funny)

    by WoodenTable (1434059) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:03PM (#47123405)

    From convex, to flat, to concave TVs, all in the last 50 years! Progress is a sweet thing, my friends.

    You know what? I predict that, by 2050, we will all be using donut-shaped screens, to better utilize our ear-vision for maximum possible immersion.

  • by sjames (1099) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:05PM (#47123429) Homepage

    First, I sit about 9 feet from the TV, not 16.5, so the curvature will be wrong anyway. Second, the price difference is already more than I am willing to pay for the whole TV.

    As TFA points out, only one person in the room would get an optimal view anyway.

    Finally, if the whole problem is just a bit of geometric distortion, couldn't it be mostly fixed by performing the opposite transform on the image before displaying? That would allow you to optimize for your actual viewing position and come up with a happy average for everyone in the room, or turn it off.

    I'm guessing they'll avoid my suggestion like the plague since it doesn't make the TV look expensive enough.

    • First, I sit about 9 feet from the TV, not 16.5, so the curvature will be wrong anyway.

      If you want to sit 9 feet away from a 4k display, you'll probably need a 120 inch screen. For 16.5 feet away, you'll want a 225 inch screen. By choosing an absurdly close viewing distance, you are depriving the set manufacturers of tens of thousands of dollars. Shame on you!

  • What about the curved screens in movie theaters like Archlight Cinema's in Hollywood? I didn't like how some parts get cropped off when I saw a few movies there.

  • The solution is simple: more innovation!

    All they have to do is make a 'smart' 4K glasses-free 3D curved tv, and everybody wins!

    • by k6mfw (1182893)
      I rather they put innovation into compelling stories and documentaries for stuff to be shown on TVs. With good programs I could care less what kind of TV I'm looking at.
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:22PM (#47123571) Homepage

    This is actually a good idea for a computer monitor for one person. Any reasonable two monitor setup is going to be at some angle instead of completely flat anyway, it seems to me that a monitor with a large curve that you sit 1-3 feet from would be a pretty sweet idea (in particular make it so that you can fit multiple together). You might even be able to make a monitor that is adjustable (the screen is made of gel).

    Also I bet it is pretty much just as easy to built a curved one as a flat one, so there is no reason to expect a big price increase.

    • by Shados (741919)

      There's a few "3-monitor-in-one" curved monitors around (I don't know if they're actually sold and too lazy to check, but Alienware showed a prototype years ago). It looked pretty freagin cool in games.

  • by jIyajbe (662197) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:23PM (#47123581)

    In a movie theater, which uses projection, the curved screen is to alleviate the pincushion effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pincushion_distortion [wikipedia.org]) created by the anamorphic lens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamorphic_lens [wikipedia.org]) that the theater uses. This is utterly irrelevant to the image created by a monitor TV.

    In short, yes; pure marketing BS.

  • by pla (258480) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:27PM (#47123627) Journal
    A few months ago I started using a 4k panel as my primary monitor. Wonderful, I absolutely love it, with one* slight annoyance - At a distance of 2ish feet (rather than TV-viewing distances of 10+ feet), the edges have enough of an angle that the foreshortening becomes distractingly noticeable.

    If we could get a decently priced panel (c'mon, Big Names, Seiki has proven you can do it, quit trying to get $2500 for the same thing they list for $499!) with a slight curve to it, it would significantly improve the experience when used as a monitor. For TV, maybe not so much; but monitors, yes.

    * Well, no, the biggest problem comes from the fact that in 2014, Windows still can't sanely handle displays over 96dpi. But I can't blame the display itself for that.
  • Wrong idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:30PM (#47123665)

    We don't want curved, we don't want 3d.
    We want High Dynamic Range (!)

    Looking at a TV is still nowhere near looking out of the window.

    • Sounds interesting, but I feel like my eyes might crust over from the blinding light.
    • We want High Dynamic Range (!)

      Also wider colour gamuts, please.

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Why not both?

        All the curved displays on the market by Samsung and LG are OLED panels. Widest gamut technology available to the point where it needs to be crippled in software due to the content not being stored in a format with a wide enough gamut.

        Oh and dynamic range to spare.

        Go check one out one day. I can't wait for these to drop in price.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Panasonic plasma was pretty much there, but now discontinued. Unfortunately even if the screen is capable of it the video formats we have are not, so it never quite looks like a window. 8k finally brings it all together, but won't be reaching the market until around 2020 (in time for the Tokyo Olympics).

      Seriously, 8k, ultra high dynamic range, 120Hz frame rate, it really does look like a window.

    • Re:Wrong idea (Score:4, Interesting)

      by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @07:12PM (#47124553)

      All the curved TVs on the market are OLED. They have a jaw-dropping dynamic range.

      So actually aside from the shape of the panel these TVs are exactly what you want.

  • by harvestsun (2948641) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @05:30PM (#47123667)
    Cinema screens are curved because cinema projectors use an anamorphic lens, and the curved screen is necessary to cancel that distortion out.

    TV screens are not being projected on with an anamorphic lens. There is equal spacing between each pixel on a TV. So making a TV screen curved simply ADDS the distortion that curved cinema screens are designed to prevent.

    This is the worst part though:

    The slight curvature also reduces visual geometric distortion. When you watch a perfectly flat TV screen, Soneira explained, the corners of the screen are farther away than the center so they appear smaller. "As a result, the eye doesn't see the screen as a perfect rectangle - it actually sees dual elongated trapezoids, which is keystone geometric distortion," Soneira wrote.

    WHAT? The screen is a rectangle, so our eye sees it as a rectangle, just as it would any other rectangular object! The visual cortex of our brain makes sure of that. How can someone who works with TVs not understand basic concepts of human vision?

    • And I have no idea where he gets "dual elongated trapezoids". I assume he's TRYING to describe what a rectangle would look like in a fisheye lens (which, again, is not how humans see things), but that shape would have curved edges. "dual trapezoids" is a very poor (and irrelevant) approximation.
      • by pla (258480)
        I assume he's TRYING to describe what a rectangle would look like in a fisheye lens

        He meant to describe angular foreshortening, which really does count as a problem when using a large (over 30ish inches) screen as a monitor, two feet away from it. Yes, our brains can "correct" the image and overall, it still looks like a rectangle; but at the same time, any content shown on the far sides of the panel look noticeably squished.

        When using it as a TV from 10+ feet away, however, it makes very little diffe
    • by geekoid (135745)

      You're in the wrong here. Form your eyes perspective it is NOT a rectangle. The center is farther away.
      When you look at a strait road that goes to the horizon, do you ACTUALLY think the road gets smaller, or do you think it's how the eyes perceive it?

      • A road approaching the horizon is further away in the Z direction. A rectangular screen, seen from a direction perpendicular to its surface, is not. You may want to google "perspective projection". (Although of course our eyes are not a normal perspective projection, since our retinas are curved, and the image is flipped. Good thing we have that "visual cortex" thing I mentioned!)
      • Eyes don't perceive anything, the brain does. Brains do a surprisingly good job of neutralizing distortion effects like this.

    • by taustin (171655)

      They eyes don't see it as a rectangle. But we don't with our eyes, we see with our brains.

      In a theater, the screen covers a much larger percentage of your field of vision, and the difference in distance to the center vs the edges can easily be several feet if the screen is flat. This is enough to be noticeable. In the living room, the difference will be millimeters, and you'd need a ruler to detect it.

      As has been noted, this is snake oil intended to generate patent revenue.

      • Yes, our eyes don't really "see" *anything*, our brain does. I should have been more literal I suppose.
      • In a theater, the screen covers a much larger percentage of your field of vision

        I'm guessing you haven't seen the size of the TVs all the "cool" people are watching now.

    • You're looking it from the wrong angle (so to speak). People who sell TVs have a very good understanding of the human wallet. Marketing trumps science.

  • Curved TV? Couldn't care less. But I wouldn't mind one of those ultrawide screen curved monitors. Now if they would only make the price practical. At $6000 plus, nobody but rich PC gamers will be buying them.
  • by k6mfw (1182893)
    for a moment there I thought they was bringing back the CRT!
  • The slight curvature also reduces visual geometric distortion. When you watch a perfectly flat TV screen, Soneira explained, the corners of the screen are farther away than the center so they appear smaller.

    I have a 30" computer monitor at work, and while I like it better than my old dual-screen setup, I've noticed this issue with windows placed close to the edges. I wonder if there are curved computer monitors in the works, or if this is just for huge TVs. The main problem mentioned with curved TVs (disto

  • handling. That's a big deal as screens get bigger. A curved surface is stiffer/stronger than a flat surface of the same area. That's one reason why all the sheet metal in cars is curved.

    The marketing dept was charged with the task of selling the curve to the public so they came up with the BS about more realistic images.

    • Curved TV's reduce breakage in shipping and handling. That's a big deal as screens get bigger. A curved surface is stiffer/stronger than a flat surface of the same area. That's one reason why all the sheet metal in cars is curved.

      The marketing dept was charged with the task of selling the curve to the public so they came up with the BS about more realistic images.

      I don't know if statistics bear that idea out, but mechanically it's very plausible. This is worthy of comment.

      • It might make sense if the screens were shipped "naked", like the car sheet metal. But TVs come in corrugated cardboard boxes; all the curves are happening in the corrugation. You can ship eggs in the right kind of box.

  • Samsung and LG claim that the curve provides a cinema-like experience by offering a more balanced and uniform view so that the edges of the set don't appear further away than the middle.

    I wasn't aware movie theater screens were curved.

  • I lived long to witness television screens transform from convex tubes to flat screens and now to concave OLED.

  • Since I got my tube black and white, I've needed nothing else! (Except for some foil on the rabbit ears.)

    Color? Yuck.. HD? Are you serious? this is TV it's supposed to be fuzzy...

    I laugh at you young whipper snappers with your new fangled LCD wide screens....

    Now.... GET OFF MY LAWN!

  • 3D tv, 4K tv...it's all diminishing returns. Yes it's a better picture but it's not THAT much better. Certainly not worth the steep premium. It's the same reason that I'm still rocking my 5 year old MacBook Pro. Sure the new ones are faster but I'm happy with mine.

    This is the challenge that all hardware makers face. Whether it's refrigerators, stereos, cars, cellphones. Nearly every category is really good - good enough for most everyone. There will always be the early adopters but many people - like me - a

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