Curved Tvs: To Buy Or Not To Buy

Are curved TVs living up to the hype? We weigh in with the pros and cons.

Features
• Technology: Hardware • Technology: Video

Matt Anderson's Take
Feels like we all finally just got done upgrading to super thing, super flat HD TVs. Life is good. And then, out of nowhere, come these newfangled curved TVs. What the heck is going on? Do you need one of these? What's so great about curved anyhow? We're here to answer all of these questions and more..

In case you haven't see a curved TV yet, know that these are the same as any other flat TV only they aren't flat. Feature wise, the only thing they bring to the party is being curved. So let's go over the pros an cons of this design.

Curved HDTV Pros

Here's a list of reasons why a curved screen might be right for you:

Immersion
The entire point to a curved TV is the idea that it immerses you in the TV experience more than a flat TV can. There is some truth to this. A curved TV brings the edges in towards you and gives you the feeling of the TV wrapping around you a little bit.

Wider Viewing Field
With the edges curving in towards your head, a curved screen will fill more of your field of view than a flat screen. Of course, this only works in certain "optimal" seating positions.

Enhanced Depth
Many people who watch a curved screen get a sort of 3D feeling when watching it. It's a neat effect for sure.

Improved Contrast
A curved screen can, in theory, better focus the light onto your eyes than a flat screen. There may be truth to this but it's hard to measure and many people likely can't notice this effect.

They Look Neat
This is likely the dumbest pro we could think of but we've heard so many people say this. And while I agreed that they do look "cool", it's only because they're different than what we're used to. It has a "space age" look. Chances are good the cool factor will wear off fast. Besides, never buy something just for how it looks!

Curved HDTV Cons

And now the reasons why you may want to skip the curved screen hype:

Price
Curved TVs are still priced quite a bit higher than a comparable flat screen TV. As the size goes up, the price difference seems to also increase.

Seating Position
To truly appreciate a curved display, you'll want to sit in the sweet spot. This is generally right in the middle of the screen viewing area. The further off to the left or right you go the worse the image can become. Now, if your couch is lined up with the TV you will likely be fine from any spot on the couch. But if you tend to view from a shallow angle then the picture may appear distorted.

Reflections
Flat screens can have reflection issues depending on it's location and light sources in your room. Curved TVs seem to make these reflection issues far worse. The curve actually distorts the reflection, making it larger.

Wall Mount Issues
When mounted on a flat wall, a curved TV looks kind of silly. The bigger the TV, the more the curved edges will stick out away from the wall. For most of us, the beauty of a large TV is being able to mount it on the wall to take up less space. Curved TVs really fall flat here. Pun intended!

Size Matters
Most of the benefits of having a curved TV required a large curved surface. Smaller curved sets that are 50 inches and below aren't as likely to benefit from many of the pros we mentioned. It's really not until you get into the 65 or 70 inch and up range that the benefits start to really shine.

Conclusion

So, should you buy a curved screen? Factoring in all of the above data and I would say that the answer is an easy NO. It's not worth the added cost, you don't want a goofy curved thing on your wall, and the benefits aren't all that great.

Now, there are cases where the answer might be a yes, and that may be as a computer monitor. I've seen some well priced, nice curved monitors that might make sense in an office scenario where you're sitting close and right in the middle all the time. Of course, this assumes in your in a situation where reflections won't be an issue for you.

Overall, I don't see curved TVs ever outselling flat TVs. While they do have some benefits, it's mostly a gimmick that you can pass on.
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