Q. I was thinking of buying a curved TV from Samsung. They look pretty cool. But I was wondering if they really deliver a better picture? What do you think? — Mickey, Dunkirk, Maryland.
For several years now, Samsung has been selling curved-screen TVs, which means the ends of the set have a slight bend toward the middle. If you’ve never seen one, they are very stylish and can be a snazzy addition to your living room decor.
The TV maker says the curved-screen does a few things that the traditional flat-screen set does not. One, they maintain the curve creates a wider viewing angle so people sitting in different areas of the room will basically see the same picture.
Two, the curved-screen is supposed to create the effect of immersion, meaning your eyes will gravitate towards the middle of the screen and you will be more likely to ‘lose yourself’ in the movie or show.
So, what do display experts think about that?
Generally, the opinions are not very positive. For instance, CNET’s David Katzmaier, a noted display crtic, writes that “the impact of the curve on the picture is subtle and it provides no increase in immersion.” He did say that the curve can help reduce picture reflections, but overall, his judgment is that the curve is “cosmetic.”
David Pogue, the former New York Times columnist who now works for Yahoo!, tells TV station WPBF-TV that he believes the immersion effect is minimal and that most people won’t be able to tell a difference in the picture quality.
Slashdot.com reports that Paul O’Donovan, Gartner’s principal analyst for consumer electronics research, says that “curved-screens are a gimmick” while Paul Gray, director of European research for DisplaySearch says the science does not support the TV makers’ claims on immersion.
Molly Wood of the New York Times is more charitable in her assessment, but she, too, tends to agree that style is the chief benefit of a curved-screen set. (She also notes that most of her colleagues were not sold on the so-called picture benefits.)
Final note: A few years ago, Sony and LG were also enthusiastic about the curved-screen TV, but have since retreated. That should tell you something. Consumers generally have shrugged at the design, not seeing it as so beneficial that’s it worth buying a brand new TV.
So, if you’re looking for the next big picture advance, you won’t see it in a curved-screen set although it can add a unique look to the right living room.
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— Phillip Swann