Opinion Technology

The Television Segment: Flat Vs Curved

Curved TVs initially attracted attention as a new premium device offering a truly immersive viewing experience with greater picture quality, but are now rapidly fading away from the global market.

The limitations of curved TVs stand as the root cause. Unlike a conventional flat-screen TV, a curved TV has the same distance to the centre and each side of the display when looked at from the centre of the screen, resulting in less distortion and more immersive viewing experience.

However, if watched from positions beside the centre of the screen, screen distortion becomes much more severe.

Although curved TVs offer an enhanced experience for a single person, the aforementioned problem means optimal picture quality is not accessible to groups of people, such as a family watching TV in the living room.

According to market research group IHS Markit, 2018 global sales of curved TVs reached 3.32 million by the end of the third quarter, accounting for only 2.1 per cent of total TV sales (153.78 million units) for that three-quarter period.

Market share, which stood at 4 per cent in 2016, has halved. Market prospects are even dimmer. IHS Markit predicted total sales of curved TVs will drastically decrease from 4.54 million units in 2018, to 2.71 million units this year and 0.72 million units in 2020, indicating curved TVs may disappear from markets the world over.

Curved TV’s off-centre viewing leads to more reflections on the screen and a deterioration in the contrast and colour gamut. Not to mention it costs more than a similar-sized flat-screen TV and requires more space for installation, space some consumers simply don’t have.

With all these limitations came a significant loss of customer interest. The combination of low sales worldwide and higher production costs have piled up the pressure on manufacturers.

The fact that Samsung continues to make curved TVs presumably means people are buying them.

There is a certain allure to the subtly angled glass; it’s different, a break from convention and a conversation piece in your living room.

But are there any real benefits beyond a pleasing appearance and an urge to stand out?

People have been watching flatscreen TVs for decades and the world wasn’t exactly crying out for something new, but curved screens came along anyway and were purported to be the next big thing

Curved TV - cfamedia

It’s difficult to predict how good a TV’s picture quality will be. Price can be an indicator, and the type of display can too, but we’ve seen plenty of expensive sets fall foul to poor motion control and dodgy contrast.

The same is true for curved TVs. We’ve found screens that showcase exceptional detail and colour accuracy, but there are plenty that has underwhelmed with pedestrian picture quality that is neither hindered nor aided by the curve of the screen.

It may not have a bearing on sharpness, colour and contrast, but there are other elements of picture quality that curved TVs have struggled with in the past.

Both OLED and LED LCD TVs are available with either curved or flat screens. At one the time it was believed that curving the screen helped improve off-angle (side to side) viewing, but in most applications that have been tested, it doesn’t seem to add much of an improvement.

If you plan to sit really close, like in a desktop PC-type situation, the curved screen will create the illusion of the image wrapping around the viewer for a more potentially more immersive experience, but from normal TV viewing distances, this goes away, making the curve more of an aesthetic decision than anything else. Either you like the way it looks or you don’t.

Reflecting market forecasts and customer feedback as well as furthering to redefine customer home entertainment experience, LG has for some years now shifted focus away from the curved to flat-screen TVs and will not be adding any curved TVs to its TV lineup.

Instead, the tech giant has decided to focus on flat-screen TVs – believed to be a more sustainable innovation that offers the best viewing experience to consumers.

Curved TV - cfamedia

Flat-screen TVs have superb picture quality delivering high contrast, excellent colour saturation, and an assortment of native resolutions with a more realistic, natural balance, superior colour accuracy, much better flesh tones, and better sharpness having a lot to offer if you are a dedicated videophile.

Flatscreen TVs offer a wide viewing angle that can be viewed at oblique angles either vertically or horizontally without too much compromise in picture quality. So they can accommodate viewers who are positioned at wide angles to the screen in the viewing room.


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