Curved-screen TVs fall flat

BERLIN—To turn around dropping sales, TV manufacturers are working on a number of technologies to appeal to consumers, including curved screens.

LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Sony all showed curved TVs at the IFA show here this week, with various sizes and resolutions, and based on different technologies.

Samsung curved 4K TV at IFAPhoto: Martyn Williams
Samsung’s curved 4K TV was one of the many curved models on display at IFA this week.

Despite how hard I tried, however, I couldn’t see that curving the screen added anything to the viewing experience. That doesn’t mean the sets I looked at in Samsung’s and LG’s respective booths didn’t look great—they all did. But that, I’m convinced, wasn’t due to curved screens but the fact the sets were also based on OLED and/or had a 4K resolution, both of which provide real improvements.

Photo: Mikael Ricknas
The 55EA9809 from LG doesn’t support 4K but still looks impressive.

The curved screen seems like little more than a marketing gimmick. One technology that offers an obvious, real improvement is OLED, which can produce blacks that are nothing short of amazing. I spoke with an LG representative on the showfloor who said he would prefer a full HD OLED TV over an LCD 4K TV, and I would have to agree.

The Holy Grail is combining OLED and 4K, which both LG and Samsung do. But those sets are not ready to go on sale, and will likely be very expensive. A full HD 55-inch OLED set from LG, the 55EA9809, already costs $11,800.

Perhaps the big TV manufacturers should leave curved screens behind. Instead, they could  focus their R&D efforts on cutting the cost of OLED and 4K TVs and make those two technologies available to more people.

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