Poll: Would You Buy a Curved TV?

In addition to the bump up from 1080p resolution to nearly 4k, the newly-emerging wave of Ultra High Definition (UHD) televisions also sport a very distinctive design feature: curved screens. Do you like the idea of a curved TV screen, or do you think it’s a pointless gimmick?

Curved screens for movie playback have their roots in the theatrical arena, dating at least as far back as the 1950s, where the Cinerama format enveloped viewers with a huge 146º curved screen onto which three separate panels were projected. After the death of Cinerama, curved screens were less common, but persisted (though typically with less severe angles) at some high-end venues with especially large screens.

In the home theater realm, curved screens have been available for projector owners via products such as Stewart Filmscreen’s Cinecurve line. In this application, the curve can help to compensate for the pincushion distortion associated with Constant Image Height anamorphic lenses.

When it comes to a television, however, especially a television in the 65″ range, a curved screen would seem to serve much less purpose other than potentially to look cool. If anything, it may limit the “sweet spot” viewing angle for viewers at various seating distances. While it might be interesting to watch movies on a curved screen, I can’t imagine watching average TV shows like that.

I’m inclined to say that a curved screen on a UHD TV is a needless gimmick, but I reserve the right to change my mind if I ever get more hands-on experience with one in the future.

How do you feel about this?

Would You Buy a Curved TV?

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20 comments

  1. If I had money coming out of my ass…sure! I wouldn’t make it a point to go for a curved screen. I feel it would only make a difference on a huge screen as far as “immersion” goes, and the curve would have to be more curvy. It seems gimmicky to me. What is pincushion effect?

  2. Alex

    It seems like the only place where there would be any true immersion would be at the focus of the curve. I’m not wild about that because it not only limits your horizontal viewing angle, but potentially also your distance to the screen. It the room was perfectly built to support it, a curved screen might be very cool, but how many of us own houses with rooms custom-built to support a brand new 65″ television?

  3. karl

    Like the Mr. Zybar, I would be inclined to purchase one if it meant an overall better presentation of onscreen elements. Even if every article sings the praises of curved screens, I still wouldn’t by into the concept until I’ve seen it for myself, and that movie production houses commit to making content for it. 4k tech, however, THAT I’m willing to buy into.

  4. William Henley

    I don’t see the reason on smaller screens. But on top of that, I just spent almost $2000 a couple of months ago on a great 1080p screen (I was looking at going 4k, had the money to go that size at the time, but lack of content and lack of a standard sent me back to 1080p). As such, I don’t see myself going 4k for probably 5-10 years. If I do, it will probably be for a computer monitor, but truthfully, on a desktop monitor, I don’t see a reason for that high of a resolution.

    Now, on my new display that I just bought, it is big enough, and I sit close enough, that 4k would be a noticable enhancement, but at this time, I just don’t see upgrading.

    Back on topic of curved displays, I only see this as an option for large projecton screens (ie not the smaller auditoriums at the theaters, but the larger auditoriums). I always assumed they had the slightly curved screen to compensate for focus areas – I would assume that toward the edges of the screen, focus on a flat screen would be slightly off, unless you used a lense with a slight curve. I don’t know much about it, though, never been much of a concern

  5. Josh may have been reading my comments in the forums and a light bulb lit up – let’s start a poll!
    Lol, even Samsung’s own PR photo at the top of this page shows the image to be out of focus on about 15% of each side of the screen. Sort of, as the topic suggests, a viewing angle issue. Even on my sofa in my designated home theater, I do not sit dead center, picture the sofa being centered, but I sit in the left seat to enjoy the recliner, cup holders, etc. Anyway, the curved screen idea would severely limit the number of useable seats when showing a film.
    To get the intended effect, one would either need an absolutely huge screen or would have to sit 3 feet from the screen, neither of which I would ever do. This would then ruin your audio setup. So, tv makers, if you force me to buy a curved screen, best of luck selling me one.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      No. Because the “Smilebox” version is transferred with a deep simulated curve in order to normalize picture geometry within the image, projecting that onto a curved screen would actually cause distortion that’s not present when projecting onto a flat screen. Smilebox is intended to simulate the curve on a flat screen.

      It would be better to project the flat letterbox version of the movie (which has inherent picture geometry problems) onto a curved screen to get the original Cinerama effect. However, you’d need a screen that matches the original 146-degree Cinerama curve, and no home theater products do that.

      • Chris B

        Haha Holy shit Josh, with that last bit of technical and highly obscure piece of information, I think you’ve officially reached a new level of HT nerd…your fellow nerds salute you!

  6. plissken99

    Curved flat panels are as pure a gimmick as it gets. A curved screen has only ever benefited front projection set ups, at home and mainly in commercial cinemas. Curved screens purpose was to reflect more light toward the center of the image, thus making it brighter. A curved flat panel gains no benefit from this, it only serves to make images look wrong when viewing off axis.

    Christ everyone rejoiced with flat panels because we were getting away from curved TVs, so now their just curving them the other way.

  7. August Lehe

    Every Road Show Engagement (paying top dollar) I witnessed in the 1950’s and 1960’s I recall were Projected on Curved Screens in TImes Square engagements and today I cannot imagine Ben-Hur. Spartacus, Cleopatra, How the West Was Won, or Lawrence of Arabia presented on a flat screen of any size! I own a 50-inch Plasma flat screen but I wish I had room for a 65-inch curved screen. My next purchase will probably be a 55-inch OLED curved screen….(if the price comes down a good bit more!

  8. We’ve just been spending the last decade making Tvs as flat as possible, and now I have a TV that sticks out of my wall less than an inch. Why would I suddenly want a TV that comes out of my wall?

  9. I think the whole curved concept is flawed on the average sized TV, does nothing positive and limits viewing angles too which need to be wide without distorting the image. This is particularly important in the average UK sitting room where seating tends to take up at least two walls because UK rooms tend to be quite small. Curved is nothing but a sales gimmick and I hate it. I would spend money on a UHD flat TV I can mount on the wall but they can keep their curved screens.

  10. Scott

    Curved is a gimmick. Ask any A/V expert, they will tell you that it is actually distorting the image to negative benefit. And 4k is a suckers game too. There is little to no 4k content out there for the foreseeable future (unless you sign up with many $$ to a server to provide a FEW flicks). By the time there IS content at 4k (5 to 10 years), they will already be rolling out (and I DO mean ‘ROLLING’ OUT literally) 8K OLED. Curved screens and 4k are gimmicks until then. For crying out loud, live broadcast still won’t invest above 720p yet! I think Flat LED/LCD/PLASMA 1080p is the comfort zone for at least the next 5 years. Instead of curving your screen, just invest in 10″ more on your flatscreen purchase.

  11. Bobthebuilder

    Since my first 46 inch LCD my TV has become my “use it for everything” display. I have my consoles my computer , player etc connected to it . I always have a spare actual computer screen but that’s just an extension of my desktop and is standing on it’s side next to my TV.

    A curved screen is absolutely not an option in my case. I can’t see myself programming or doing any other work while looking on a curved screen.

  12. Horatio Bond

    Great article!
    I currently run 5 monitors in the portrait position. I do have them curved in an arc and I prefer it that way. Because the monitors are at eye level (sitting on a desk), the curved nature feels more immersive.

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