Mama Where Did Curved TVs Come From?
Have you ever seen new technology and thought “How in the world did they do that” or “what will they think of next”?
A lot of people are saying this when seeing the ‘new’ curved screen technology on modern TVs.
What’s So Special About A Curved TV?
Curved screen TVs were introduced to the consumer market in 2013 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas when both LG and Samsung claimed to have created the “world’s first” curved OLED TV.
Samsung boasted that the new curved OLED TV created a more panoramic, more immersive viewing experience, and actually improved viewing angles from the side. The 55-inch TV on display at Samsung’s booth had what Samsung reps called “an IMAX feel.”
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In September of the same year, Sony introduced the world’s first curved screen LED television, model KDL-65S990A. The company’s press release highlighted a unique curved screen of the Sony KDL-65S990A creating a new way for viewers to experience their favorite movies, sporting events, television programming, and video games. The edge-to-edge curved construction is engineered to provide a greater sense of the picture’s depth of feel and allows for a wider viewing angle so there is not a bad seat in the house.
Samsung And LG Are At The Forefront Of Curved Technology
With the announcement they were actively developing an AMOLED (a.k.a. active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display for mobile devices, Samsung made their interest in pursuing flexible technologies known back in 2010. They introduced the initial prototype at the 2011 CES.
The company’s vision became a consumer reality on Oct. 10, 2013, with the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy Round ‘the world’s first curved smartphone” in South Korea.
With its curved shape and 5.7-inch touchscreen display, the phone may not fit as snugly in your pocket as its flat-screen brethren, but it offers a drop in reflectance.
LG was not to be outdone. At CES 2013, each company unveiled its very own 55-inch curved display television within hours of each other. Though reviews were mixed over which company was offering the better product. Samsung’s version offered a larger viewing sweet spot while LG’s set was 3-D capable. LG was actually taking orders for its 55EM9700 model at the show (for the low, low price of $12,000) while Samsung promised its model would be ready for delivery in the second half of the year.
Apple Gets Into The Curved Technology Showdown
Despite the fact that its competitors have already come to the market with curved products, on Dec. 10, 2013, the Silicon Valley behemoth was awarded a patent (8,603,574) for a ‘method of forming a curved touch surface’ that could potentially be used for any of their products, phones, tablets and monitors included.
Origins Of Curved TV Screen Technology
While curved screen projection displays have been around since the 1950s, you have to go back four decades to the origins of the newly-emerging curved technology. It all began back in 1974 when Xerox PARC researcher Nicholas K. Sheridon answered the call for a more flexible display device with Gyricon, the world’s first electronic paper display.
Sheridon envisioned Gyricon, most simply described as an electronic Etch A Sketch, as a key step toward the introduction of a ‘paperless’ office. Even though it has taken a few decades for Sheridon’s paperless vision to catch on, this 40-year-old technology remains at the heart of today’s curved TV trend.
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Why Are They Making New TVs Curved?
Why curved? Well, a couple of reasons.
Curved screens are marketed as providing an “immersive” experience, and allowing a wider field of view. If you’ve ever seen an IMAX movie, you’ve probably noticed that a slightly bowed screen is usually part of the setup. In the cinematic world, this helps the screen to better surround the audience, ensuring that every seat in the house offers an optimal viewing experience.
Similar to a movie theater having good and bad seats, there is an optimal position when it comes to watching TV at home. This optimal position is directly along the central axis of the TV with the central point of the screen at eye level. Viewers seated in any other position come to experience degradations in picture quality ranging anywhere from minor to severe.
The general effect of how a curved display device improves the viewing experience is it maximizes visibility by correcting any image distortions, cutting down on reflections, and even improving sound quality. Curved television manufacturers suggest that curved screens allow a greater range of satisfactory viewing angles and offer minimal trapezoidal distortion compared to flat screens.
New Innovations Continue To Be Announced
At the 2014 CES, the curved innovations kept coming. LG had a new lineup of curved products to show off, including the world’s largest UHD curved OLED TV, the 77-inch 77EC9800 model. LG senior vice president In-kyu Lee noted that “All of the exceptional OLED models we’re showcasing at CES 2014 offer the ultimate in picture quality and refined, modern aesthetics”.
Samsung unveiled the world’s first and largest curved Ultra High Definition (UHD) television, which measures a whopping 105 inches, with the company’s Head of TV and AV, Guy Kinnell, promised that, “The combination of our curved design and UHD picture quality creates the ultimate immersive entertainment experience for people passionate about entertainment”.
Less than two weeks after CES, LG announced that it would be rolling out G Flex, the world’s first smartphone designed to follow the curve of one’s face, in key European markets.
Curved screens seem to be a ‘thing’ at the moment. CES 2015 was brimming with them, popping up on the likes of the LG G Flex 2 smartphone and Samsung and LG 4K TVs.
Samsung doubled down on curved television technology in 2015, introducing four series of curved 4K UHD sets at the CES. PC.net reported that one of the biggest surprises at CES 2015 was how many TVs had curved displays. Per Christensson commented “I would estimate about 75% of TVs had curved screens. Samsung doubled down on curved television technology in 2015, introducing four series of curved 4K UHD sets.
At the 2015 CES, one of the largest announcements was the unveiling of the LG G Flex 2, the firm’s second curved screen smartphone. Like its G Flex predecessor, the LG G Flex 2 lacks physical buttons on the front and side. This relegates the home and volume buttons to just below the rear-facing camera.
Are Curved Screens The Future?
Throughout 2015, both LG and Samsung enhanced their investments in curved TV screen technology. There’s every indication both will have a continued focus on curved screens in 2016. They maintain that it’s a more immersive viewing experience than flat-screen TVs.
With the increasing advances in curved display technology, you can bet that there will be new developments and more manufacturers entering the market for curved TV and smartphones in the years ahead.
If you have any questions or comments regarding curved screen TVs or smartphones, just let me know in the comments below.