Why get a curved TV?
Today large, flat-screen TVs have been around for years; 3D TV is just about hanging on in there and now manufacturers are touting curved TV screens as providing the ultimate viewing experience. But are they really so much better, or are they nothing more than a gimmick intended to boost sales?
Two of the concept's major proponents, Samsung and LG reckon there are measurable benefits, a claim supported by several scientists based on surveys carried out in the USA and Canada.
A study of the neurological factors that make certain images or objects attractive to the eye has found that objects with straight edges are not as naturally pleasing as those with curved edges. The survey was carried out by a team of researchers working in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto, and led by professor of psychology, Oshin Vartanian.
Looking at the issue from a slightly different viewpoint is Dr Raymond M Soneira, a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Princeton, who suggests the individual's preference is primarily subjective. However, he has also found that the shape of the curved television screen results in the incidence of distracting reflections being significantly reduced. This makes the picture quality appear improved as the technology used in TV screens produces extremely high quality dark images and near perfect blacks. Some of this quality is invariably lost when the screen is subject to ambient light reflection.
According to some manufacturers, including Samsung, the viewer's experience is enhanced when the distance from their eyes to the centre and edges of the screen remains uniform. Because curved screens fill more of their field of vision they appear larger than they actually are. For similar reasons, the viewer experiences a greater degree of immersiveness. The company also argues that because the distance between eyes and screen is more uniform, edge distortion is much reduced.
Dr Soneira's study found that even those sitting off-centre of the screen experienced an improved view because the foreshortening effect of sitting to one side of the screen was reduced. Samsung have calculated that the optimal radius for a curved screen is 42cm (13ft-10ins) based on a viewing distance of between three and four metres (10ft to 13ft).
On a practical note, one of the major problems with curved screens is that they are difficult to bolt to a wall, unlike their flat counterparts. It may, therefore, be necessary to turn the clock back and revert to mounting the TV on a flat surface, such as a TV cabinet.
In conclusion, it seems that Samsung, LG and their fellow manufacturers may be onto something after all. The big question is whether the enhanced viewing experience makes it worthwhile scrapping a perfectly good flat-screen TV and replacing it with a significantly pricier curved model. Some simply have to have the latest piece of technologically advanced kit just as soon as it comes onto the market; others may decide to wait until their existing TV either falls off the wall or blows a circuit.