- Curved TVs failed to deliver on their promise of an immersive viewing experience due to limited noticeable effects.
- Mounting curved TVs on walls was a challenging task. They also posed viewing angle problems, with the curve often distorting images unless viewed from the dead center, which detracted from the inclusivity of the viewing experience.
Some things look great on paper but never really live up to all the hype. That sums up the story of curved TVs. Once hailed as the future of TV, they’ve quickly fallen out of favor, and for good reason.
The Immersion Promise Never Materialized
When curved TVs first hit the market, manufacturers and marketing folks touted them as an immersive viewing experience that would rival the cinema. The idea was that the curve would surround your field of vision, drawing you into action like never before.
But here’s the rub: most living rooms need to be tailored for this viewing experience. The curvature’s effect was only noticeable at specific angles and distances. So, the grand promise of being “inside the movie” fizzled out faster than a microwave popcorn bag.
Wall Mounting Is a Pain
Ever tried hanging a picture frame that wasn’t quite square with the wall surface? Imagine that, but 50 inches wide and hundreds of dollars more expensive. Curved TVs presented a real headache when mounting them on walls.
Not only did they sometimes require specialized mounts, but they also left awkward gaps between the wall and the TV. It looked off-kilter and didn’t vibe with the aesthetic most folks wanted. These mounting woes were another nail in the coffin for curved TVs, in my opinion, as wall mounting developed a reputation for being the most attractive way to install a TV in living spaces.
Viewing Angles Are a Problem
While we’re on right angles and flush fitment, let’s talk about viewing angles. Curved TVs don’t offer a uniform viewing experience from any seat in the house. The curve often distorted images unless you were sitting dead center.
If you were relegated to the “cheap seats” at a friend’s house, the viewing experience could be less than stellar. Instead of feeling more inclusive, the curve often made it feel like there was a “right” place to sit, and that’s not exactly a recipe for a fun movie night.
The curve also introduced a unique problem: image distortion. Straight lines could appear bent, and reflections were handled in weird ways that didn’t look natural. This was particularly noticeable in scenes with many geometric shapes or during sports broadcasts where the lines on the field became unintentional optical illusions. Again, if you sat in the sweet spot this wasn’t all that noticeable, but for a device meant for viewing by a group of people it’s less than ideal.
Dubious Price Premiums
A good rule to follow in the tech world is that you should only pay extra for something if it adds value. Curved TVs were often sold at a significant premium over their flat counterparts without offering tangible benefits to justify the higher price tag.
Consumers caught on to this quickly, and many opted for high-quality flat-screen TVs instead, which offered better value for money and more apparent benefits for higher price tags. Most people prefer a better picture quality or sound than a curved screen.
Curved Computer Monitors Are Still Going Strong
Ironically, while curved TVs have plummeted in popularity, curved computer monitors hold their own in the market. The difference? Scale and distance. When sitting close to a curved monitor, the effects are much more pronounced and enhance the viewing experience. Perhaps most importantly, monitors are usually single-user devices, which means you can maximize whatever benefits curved screens do have to offer. It’s also worth mentioning that the curves for monitors are usually much more pronounced than for TVs, since they don’t have to worry about people viewing it from extreme angles.
The curve makes sense in the office or gaming setup, where space is limited, and the viewer’s position is more controlled. The concept isn’t entirely flawed; the execution was just a bit of a curveball in the living room.
Also, computer monitors come in ultrawide aspect ratios, and the wider you go, the more a curve makes sense for a single user sitting in the sweet spot. It can help preserve color accuracy by ensuring you’re always looking at the pixels toward the outer edges of an ultrawide screen at the right angle. More extreme curved monitors can actually reach into your peripheral vision the way curved TVs were marketed.
Well, At Least You Tried
Curved TVs were an ambitious idea that didn’t pan out in the real world. From failing to deliver on the promise of immersion to issues with mounting, viewing angles, and image distortion, the curve was more of a hindrance than a help.
Sometimes, it’s okay to let the hype curve flatten out. Not every innovation is a home run, and curved TVs are a prime example. But hey, now we have rollable TVs and other wacky ideas inspired by experimentation with bending the rules of flat screens a little, and we wouldn’t want to live in a world where everyone was just a square all the time.