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.
While onlookers ooh-ed and ahh-ed, marvelling at these great wonders unveiled at flashy press conferences and scratching their heads as to how such a beautiful thing is constructed, they are perhaps getting carried away with the novelty factor.
The reaction we should be having to devices carrying a curved screen might be better in the form of a question, such as why?
It is easy to get carried away with the idea of a curved screen, mainly because in their current format, they've not been in the public domain for long.
This is especially true of the latest high resolution 4K models seen at CES this year, such as Samsung's 88in JS9500 S-UHD TV which features crystals 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.
Samsung said that the TVs also deliver "stunning contrast and striking brightness" at levels more than twice those of ordinary TVs.
When we say 'curved' we actually mean concave, as it wasn't too long ago when we stared at CRT monitors that had a curve to them, albeit in the opposite convex direction. It seems that we've come full circle.
The idea of a concave screen is nothing new either. Many cinema theatres boast screens that are curved. But the idea of seeing them in our retail stores and eventually in our living rooms is new. And this is probably why people are keen to jump on the bandwagon.
But pause for a second. The reality is that these bent screen TVs offer very little in terms of benefits to the viewer.
In the same way that 3D TVs penetrated the interests of - dare we say - naïve customers eager to have their living rooms kitted out with the latest and greatest technology, curved screens could be destined to end up the same way: regretted by those who spent much more money on them than on a flat screen TV, and forgotten by those who decided against them.
It's difficult to see the true benefit of curved screen TVs, and in most cases there is little or no actual practical consumer applications for them.
For starters, TVs carrying screens with slight curves are a damn sight more expensive than those that are flat. Secondly, the curve has a very subtle effect on the actual picture quality and viewing experience.
The curve might be obvious when viewing the TV from unusual angles, but when you're looking at the screen from the comfort of a sofa, the curve becomes pretty much invisible.
Curved screens do have some benefits, however. We can see an advantage in smartwatches, for example, where the curve follows the contour of the wrist for added comfort when wearing for long periods of time.
Also, while a flat TV is more likely to reflect the light that hits it back into the eyes of the viewer from a window, or light source for example, curved TV is able to miss more of these reflections.
One of the biggest announcements at CES was the unveiling of the LG G Flex 2, the firm's second curved screen smartphone.
Like its predecessor the G Flex, announced in October 2013, the LG G Flex 2 lacks physical buttons on the front or side, relegating the home and volume buttons to just below the rear-facing camera.
LG claims that the shape is "optimised for the average face", offering better voice quality as the microphone is closer to the mouth when making calls.
"[It's] comfortable along your hand, against your face or in your pocket. [The] curved surface brings the mouthpiece right to your lips, and the metallic sides at top and bottom result in a truly sculptured smartphone that looks like a work of art from any angle," LG announced at its CES press conference.
But it seems to be only LG that thinks that a curved screen will improve a user's smartphone needs. And we have never known anyone complain that their smartphone doesn't fit next to their face as nicely as it could. Again, the novelty alarm bells begin to ring.
Yes, the curve gives a unique, futurist look, but ultimately it's nothing more than cosmetic. µ
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