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Curved TVs: Do they still exist and should you buy one?
For a few years, manufacturers touted curved screens as the next big evolution in TVs. They were among the most expensive TVs you could buy in fact, but they never cemented a permanent place in home theaters. 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 current state of curved TVs.
See also: The best TV deals
We’ll come right out and tell you — there are very few curved TVs to choose from today. Samsung is essentially the only manufacturer that still produces them, though curved PC monitors seem to be very popular. 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 in the name — we’re talking about TVs that aren’t flat. The curved TV trend first kicked off during CES 2013. Associated OLED technology was relatively new back in those days, so manufacturers were figuring out the best way to implement it.
See also: The best 4K TV deals
The whole idea of adding a curve came from IMAX. Their massive panoramic displays mimic the shape of the human eye, in theory immersing you even further in the experience. Leaders like Samsung and LG figured 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, something a 55-inch TV in your living room can never achieve. Most consumers agreed, at least judging by low sales numbers. Even Samsung began shifting 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?
To elaborate on the immersion problem, IMAX projections are not only large enough to place you in the middle of the action, but surrounded by a darkened theater. With curved TVs, if you sit off-center or don’t turn off enough lights, you’re in for a tough time.
The further you sit to one side or the other, the more the picture will appear to bend. Room lights in the wrong places can ruin your experience completely — a curved screen generates a lot of glare.
It’s additionally difficult to find a space for a curved product. Early models didn’t comes with mounting options, so you had to sit them on a stand. And regardless of whether something is mounted or in an entertainment center, curved TVs will never sit flush with a wall.
What about curved monitors?
Curved monitors are actually growing in popularity — why? Simply, the things that break in a living room setting suddenly work again when it’s a single person in front of a PC. You tend to sit much closer to a monitor than a TV, which means the curve can fill more of your field of vision. Curved monitors can actually help counteract edge distortion, bringing all parts of an image to roughly the same distance from your eyes.
Ultimately you feel closer to the action, whether you’re binging shows, annihilating enemies, or working on your next YouTube video. Manufacturers like Samsung and LG have taken what they’ve learned from their TV businesses and become leaders in the monitor landscape.
Curved TV pros and cons
We’ve gone through what curved TVs are, what went wrong, and even a few reasons why you might want a monitor instead, if anything. But sometimes a simple pro and con breakdown can be the most helpful. Here are a few reasons you might still consider a curved TV, as well as all the reasons to leave the tech behind.
- Immersive experience — If you’re in its sweet spot, a curved TV follows the curve of your eye. You have to sit directly in the focal point of the display, but it should capture most of your peripheral vision as if you were in a movie theater. You can make immersion even more intense with a powerful surround-sound system.
- Better contrast — Flat TVs tend to spread light around, whereas curved units concentrate on one area a bit better. It’s not always passed off as a feature, but it helps provide the most accurate color recreation possible. Flat TVs have improved substantially in the past few years, so it’s 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 screens. This can lead to eye strain that you wouldn’t have with a rounded display. It’s one reason curved monitors are popular for extended workdays.
- Depth — Assuming you buy a large enough TV, you can sense a kind of 3D effect from the display, albeit not like VR or true 3D.
- Samsung is your only option for new sets — You can only buy new curved TVs from Samsung at this point, which means the company can charge what it wants for the few models it has. That said, low demand seems to be bringing prices down.
- Extra space and tough to mount — Flat TVs occupy relatively little space, especially if you mount them on your walls. Curved TVs protrude along every axis, and may not be mountable at all, depending on the TV and your room situation.
- Glare — We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that glare is a curved TV killer. It’s almost impossible to find that sweet spot unless you turn all your lights off. Even then, you can’t always block light from outside your home.
- Size matters — Most of the benefits associated with curved TVs require the biggest screen possible. Ideally, you want the curve to fill your peripheral vision. You can of course sit as close as you would with a monitor, but that’s impractical on multiple levels.
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. Seriously — here are the only new (that is, unused) curved TVs we could find and their list prices. You may be able to find other models, but bet on a lot of them being used or outdated.
What about a few great curved monitors?
There may only be two curved TVs worth sinking your teeth into, but it’s almost impossible to narrow curved monitor picks down that far. As you’d expect, Samsung is a top brand, 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:
- Samsung Odyssey G5 32-inch for $379.94
- LG UltraWide 29-inch for $229.99
- Sceptre 32-inch for $379.97
- AOC C32G1 32-inch for $395.99
If those four options haven’t helped you to decide, feel free to check out our in-depth list of the best monitors right here.