For a few years, manufacturers touted curved TVs as the next significant evolution in televisions. They were among the most expensive TVs you could buy, though they never cemented a permanent place in many homes. Their 15 minutes of fame may be over, but what if you still want to give one a try? Here’s everything you need to know about the state of curved TVs in 2021.
See also: The best TV deals
We’ll come right out and tell you — there are very few curved TVs to choose from in 2021. Samsung is essentially the only manufacturer that still produces them, though curved monitors seem to be a more popular option. We’ll give a few reasons why this might be, as well as some general pros and cons.
What are curved TVs?
It’s pretty much all in the name — we’re talking about TVs that aren’t flat. You might not realize it, but the curved TV trend kicked off back at CES 2013. OLED technology was relatively new back in those days, so manufacturers tried to develop the best way to implement it.
See also: The best 4K TV deals
The whole idea of adding a curve came from IMAX projectors. Their massive panoramic displays mimic the human eye’s shape, which helps bring you even further into the experience. Leaders like Samsung and LG figured that you should get the same experience right in your living room.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. IMAX projections consume your entire field of vision, while a 55-inch TV in your living room is just part of what you can see. Most consumers saw it that way, at least, which resulted in low sales numbers. Samsung started to shift away from curved TVs a few years ago, though you can still find them here and there.
Why haven’t they made a mainstream impact?
So, if the whole idea is about immersion, what went wrong? Well, it’s tough to immerse yourself in a curved TV unless you have just the proper setup. IMAX projections are large enough to physically place you in the middle of the action, and the darkened theater is critical. You would have to essentially sit front and center in front of your home TV in a very dark room to mirror the experience.
If you decide to sit off-center or don’t turn off enough lights, you’re probably in for a tough time. The screen will create a lot of glare across the curve from just about any light source in the room, for starters. You’ll also have to worry about a distorted image. The further you sit to one side or the other, the more the picture will appear to bend. It’s even worse if you watch a movie with large black bars on the top and bottom.
One final challenge posed by curved TVs is how to mount them. Early options didn’t even come with the option — you had to keep them on a stand. Curved TVs don’t sit flush to the wall due to their unique shapes, making mounting a headache.
What about curved monitors?
So we just finished talking about what went wrong with curved TVs, but why are curved monitors growing in popularity? Once again, it comes down to immersion. You tend to sit much closer to a monitor than a TV, which means that the curve can take up more of your field of vision. Curved monitors help counteract edge distortion, bringing all parts of an image to roughly the same distance from your eyes.
In essence, modern curved monitors succeed where curved TVs come up short. You feel closer to the action, whether you’re bingeing your favorite shows or working on your next YouTube video. Top manufacturers like Samsung and LG took what they learned from their TV business, and they’ve become leaders in the monitor landscape now, too.
Curved TV pros and cons
Alright, we’ve gone through what curved TVs are, as well as what went wrong, and even a few reasons why you might want a monitor instead. But sometimes, a simple pro and con breakdown can be the most helpful. Here are a few key reasons to consider a curved TV and causes to leave it behind.
- Immersive experience — If you’re in the right spot, a curved TV follows the curve of your eye and brings you into the experience. You have to sit directly in the middle of the display, but it should capture most of your periphery like you’re in a movie theater. You can further the immersion with a powerful home speaker system.
- Better contrast — Flat TVs tend to spread the light around, but curved units can focus on one area a bit better. It’s not always passed off as a feature, but it helps to have the most accurate color recreation possible. However, flat TVs have improved extensively in the past few years, so this is closer to a draw.
- Comfortable viewing (in the right seat) — Our eyes are built for a 3D world, yet we spend most of our time with flat displays. This can lead to eye strain that you wouldn’t have with a rounded display. It’s also another reason that curved monitors are so popular for extended workdays.
- Depth — Assuming you buy a large enough TV, you can get a 3D effect from the display. This may be because the points are further from each other, and some of them are physically further from your eyes.
- Samsung is your only option, and they’re not cheap — You can only get curved TVs from Samsung at this point, which means the company can charge what it wants. The company only makes a few models these days, so you may find more options available used from eBay, and you’ll still pay a premium for them.
- Extra space and tough to mount — Flat TVs need relatively little space on your walls. They don’t stick out much so that you can blend them into high-traffic areas without much trouble. Curved TVs, however, require a little extra room to make up for the edges. You might have to place them on a TV stand or place furniture carefully to allow for enough space.
- Glare — We’ve said it a few times, but it bears repeating that glare is a curved TV killer. The glare changes on different parts of the TV, making it almost impossible to find that sweet spot unless you turn all of your lights off. Unfortunately, you can’t always block out the light from outside your house.
- Size matters — Most of the benefits associated with curved TVs require an absolutely massive display. Sure, you can sit up close as you would with a monitor, but that’s not so good for your eyes. You pretty much need the curve to fill your peripheral vision, which it can’t do in a standard living room. Larger TVs also mean more cost, which can only further your problems.
What are your curved TV options?
We’ve touched on everything you could want to know about curved TVs, so now it’s decision time. You don’t have very many to choose from, so the shopping phase will probably be the fastest part of your journey. Here are the only curved TVs we could find:
- TU8300 Class 55-inch TV for $599.99
- RU7300 Class 65-inch TV for $1,297.99
- TU8300 Class 65-inch TV for $799.99
What about a few great curved monitors?
There may only be three curved TVs worth sinking your teeth into, but it’s almost impossible to narrow your curved monitor picks down that far. As you would expect, Samsung is a top name, but LG has skin in the game as well. Once you get to gaming options, the possibilities are almost endless. Here are just a few to get started with:
If those three options haven’t helped you to decide, feel free to check out our in-depth list of the best monitors right here.