Lifestyle

21 January 2014

TV: The Next Generation? 

What’s all the fuss about curved-screen TVs? Do they represent a quantum shift for the industry, like the replacement of cathode ray tubes by flat liquid crystal displays a decade ago? Or an expensive blind alley – the seeming fate of 3D TVs?

TV manufacturers have been adding curved-screen models in recent years with the aim of creating a more immersive experience for viewers. Early generations, though, were not really large enough to do the trick.

That started to change with Samsung’s unveiling of a high-definition TV more than 2.5 meters wide. At that size, a curved-screen TV can create a 3D and gaming experience that is unavailable with a flat-screen TV. Samsung has even created a prototype for a TV that can convert on demand from flat to curved screen.

Some reviewers have noted that curved-screen TVs seem to have a “sweet spot” for optimum viewing, which suggests they might be more suited to a dedicated multimedia room for one or two people than to a family living room. That could limit the appeal of these TVs in suburbia, but it widens the entertainment options for people who have room to spare.

In years past, audiovisual manufacturers sold home cinema packages that tried to mimic the movie theater experience. That idea seems almost quaint in an era of ubiquitous video gaming and high-speed internet access.

In the process, TV viewers have gone from being captive railway passengers to motorists choosing their own routes and schedules – and today’s super-premium, curved-screen TVs may put them in the driver’s seat of the audiovisual equivalent of a high-performance Maserati.