Penny Can

Home Entertainment Center => Television => Topic started by: Mac on June 05, 2014, 08:22:08 am

Title: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Mac on June 05, 2014, 08:22:08 am
My brother asked me the question about curved screens the other day. I did not have an answer why companies are bringing this up.

I thought about it and just could not come up with one reason why I would even think about considering it. Here's a pretty decent OP piece.

Has the Curved Screen Killed OLED?
Remember last September when I said that OLED was alive and well, thanks to the at-long-last arrival of 55-inch OLED TVs by both Samsung and LG? The TVs arrived with much fanfare and received a lot of high praise from reviewers, myself included. I gave the Samsung KN55S9C a five-star performance rating, concluding that it truly delivered on all the promises we'd hoped for from OLED. My time with the Samsung OLED made it a little easier to deal the impending demise of plasma. Even though these first OLED TVs were prohibitively expensive, in time those prices would fall, and videophiles would still have a flat-panel technology to love (since many refuse to love LCD).

It seems, however, that earlier reports of OLED's death may not have been greatly exaggerated...just a bit premature. Last fall's optimism began to give way to winter concern when, in December, we learned that Sony and Panasonic had ended their joint partnership to develop OLED. Then came the International CES in January, where LG was the only major manufacturer to introduce larger-screen OLED TVs. TV makers like Hisense and Haier showed off 55-inchers, but new OLEDs were conspicuously lacking in the booths of Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, and Sharp.

Now, another round of news stories has both Samsung and Sony suspending their OLED production and focusing on 4K LCDs. The companies claim that this decision is based on the high cost of OLED manufacturing, the well-documented production issues that have resulted in low yields for large-screen OLEDs, and the lack of consumer demand at this stage. Those first two problems have existed for quite some time and didn't seem to daunt all the efforts leading up to the introduction of the Samsung/LG models last year, which leads me to believe that the lack of consumer demand has to be the primary issue why manufacturers have now decided to officially dial back their OLED development. I don't have any official sales numbers, but apparently those first OLED sets simply didn't sell well enough to justify all the other struggles.

Why is that? Why was consumer demand for these new, wonderfully performing OLED TVs so low? Of course, price was a huge hindrance for the general buying public. That's a no-brainer. Surely the OLED manufacturers did not expect these $9,000-plus 55-inch TVs to sell well with the average mainstream consumer. Surely they were counting on a certain percentage of enthusiasts who were willing and able to pay more to be early adopters, just as the industry has always done. Why didn't this particular audience step up to the plate? Does this audience even exist anymore? In a landscape where things change so quickly and prices drop so fast, is no one willing to pay more to get the coolest new thing right when it hits the market? If the early adopter is truly a relic in the home theater business, then I fear our entire industry will soon be one, too.


So, let's consider a less pessimistic alternative. Let's blame the manufacturers for not understanding their target audience for OLED. Beyond performance, what is the coolest thing about OLED? The thing everyone noticed when the prototypes were first revealed? The answer: its super-thin, super-light form factor, even more so than the edge-lit LED-based LCDs currently crowding retail shelves. And what did we get when the TVs finally arrived on the market? Curved screens. In the case of the Samsung that I reviewed, the curved screen was also suspended inside a heavy, even-more-curved metallic frame that did absolutely nothing to show off how very thin and light the OLED panel actually was. Instead of letting OLED distinguish itself from LCD and plasma in its performance and form factor, manufacturers insisted on trying to add a visual distinction to justify the higher price. They're now doing the same thing with higher-end Ultra HD TVs, too - trying to sell us on a curved design that nobody wants.

Yep, I said nobody. In my dealings both inside and outside the industry, I have not encountered or heard from a single person who wants a curved TV or thinks it's a good idea. Our Comments section is loaded with people who just don't get what the curve is all about. My friends who are thinking about buying a TV ask me why on earth they'd want a curved screen. At least with 3D, some people thought the idea was cool, even if the current implementation has failed to catch on beyond a small but devoted audience. The curved screen doesn't even seem to have that in its corner. (If you disagree and are excited about the curve, tell us so in the Comments section. We want to hear from you.)

A curved screen might provide some benefit with off-axis viewing angle in a large-screen LCD, but all this talk of how it creates a more immersive experience on a flat-panel TV seems kind of silly. No TV is going to re-create the IMAX experience. Maybe if you pony up for one of the 105-inch curved TVs shown off at CES, the curved design might provide a slightly better sense of immersion, but the cost of those TVs makes a 55-inch OLED look like the budget option. If you want IMAX-like immersion, you're better off getting a good projector and a curved projection screen.

At least with Ultra HD TVs, flat-screen alternatives do exist. Thus far, that has not been the case with OLED, where all of the initial offerings and most of those on display at CES were curved. If no one wants a curved screen, then no one wants OLED. One of the only criticisms I had of the KN55S9C in my review was that I simply did not like the curved screen. I didn't like the form factor, and I didn't like the way it stretched and distorted reflected objects, making them even more distracting.

Perhaps the biggest drawback is that, even though the manufacturers say that some curved screens can be wall-mounted, who wants to mount a curved screen on a flat wall? For years, the trend in both TVs and mounts has been thinner, thinner, thinner. We want thinner TVs that require thinner, lower-profile mounts. And now you're telling us that curved screens that add unnecessary inches in depth are desirable?

According to Timothy Duffy of Simply Home Entertainment, a boutique, ultra-high-end custom AV installation firm in Beverly Hills, the wall-mounting issue with curved screens, OLED included, is a major drawback: "Every client we have wall-mounts their flat-screen TVs...much like a picture frame. LED TVs can be mounted to sit off the wall no more than two inches (and often less than 1.5 inches). Flat OLED TVs should allow for an even slicker and flatter installation, except the manufacturers decided to curve the screens, making these OLED TVs virtually unmountable."

If the first OLED TVs were targeted at the higher-end market and higher-end clients almost always wall-mount their displays, is it fair to conclude that the current OLED aesthetic, more so than its price, is to blame for poor sales? Duffy adds, "I think curved screens are a ridiculous idea, even in a front-projection system with a 30-foot-wide screen; it is absolutely asinine when considered for a 50- to 100-inch TV installation...This is yet another example of manufacturers doing something because they can; not because they should."

Right now, LG remains the lone big-name backer of OLED, and the company did recently launch (albeit with far less fanfare) the 55EA8800 Gallery OLED TV, a flat alternative to the 55EA9800. But is it a case of too little, too late? With its arch nemesis Samsung backing away from the category, will LG's commitment to OLED falter, as well? Time will tell, but I sadly predict that it will, which means all you LCD haters had better take really good care of your plasma televisions. Maybe even stock up on a few extras to store away in the basement for a few years...just in case.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Neumatic on June 05, 2014, 01:00:07 pm
I think part of the big reason we're seeing the push towards curved TVs and other fake improvements (remember the commercials for the TVs that had yellow in them? Useless, since no one TRANSMITS yellow) is because TVs are plateauing on the technical side.  The cheap TVs are about to become as good as the high-end brand.  There's very little more that TVs can do without bringing in needless add-ons like 3D (which doesn't have enough content to support it), so-called smart technology (which can be cheaply compensated for with a set-top box), 4K (which suffers from bandwidth problems and the fact that everyone wants to have their own proprietary software, which is real bad for consumers).  They're all desperately trying to find the next quantum leap in television technology (like what colour was) before they lose their footing.  It's very scary for all the old companies because we're approaching this threshold where TV, cable, movies, web streaming, etc are converging and no one knows for sure how they can survive and thrive with the new paradigm.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Chiprocks1 on June 07, 2014, 02:59:07 pm
After checking out the Surface Pro 3 at the MS Store yesterday, I swung by Best Buy, a place that I haven't been to in years because of the price markups and got to see first hand what the Curved Screen TV's looked like. Hated it. Seriously, is this a "big thing" with consumers? I see absolutely nothing appealing by reinventing the wheel. Furthermore, I actually thought it looked worse due to the image distortion. I wouldn't waste my money on that ever. I also got to check out the 4k Screens, which I actually liked. Love the clarity but hated the sticker price.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Mac on June 07, 2014, 03:06:06 pm
I've got to see this 'clarity' thing. I thought HD is more than satisfactory.  :-\
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Chiprocks1 on June 07, 2014, 03:08:30 pm
I've got to see this 'clarity' thing. I thought HD is more than satisfactory.  :-\

The demo that ran on the 4k Screen actually had a side by side comparison of what their Screen looks like next to HD and what I saw made HD look like stuff from the 60's. Not even in the same ballpark. Now granted, you have to take this with a grain of salt because I wouldn't be at all surprised that they manipulated the HD to look "weaker" by comparison. But it was damn impressive no matter what was done...or not done.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Neumatic on June 07, 2014, 03:37:11 pm
The native 4K stuff is GORGEOUS.  The cityscapes where the point out the cars in the distance, or those gorgeous natural vistas?  They're great.  Of course, I don't think those come with the TVs.

The 4K content, that's the big problem.  One is that every company wants to make their own proprietary player, so you can only see Samsung movies on Samsung TVs, Panasonic movies on Panasonic TVs... it's stupid anti-consumer bullsh*t that'll kill this tech in the cradle.  It's like your digital copies on overdrive: you buy a DVD and you get a little code to download a digital file, but you can only have it on a certain number of devices, in one quality, in one piece, etc.  Meanwhile, if you take the DVD and rip it yourself, you can make it any size, any quality, with any codec, put it on any device any number of times, cut it apart, piece it together, play with it, etc.  That's what makes Netflix so great, it's ubiquitous on any number of devices, from your TV to your laptop to your iPad to your phone... heck, I bet you'd be able to get it on your watch soon enough.  What about 4K? If you get a 4K disc, is it backwards compatible to play on regular blu-ray players?  Will it come with a blu-ray and DVD as well, or just a DVD? How many discs will we need for ONE movie?  How much will that cost?  Or will it just come with a digital copy that can play on your other devices under the right circumstances?  How long until those discs rot?

Maybe it'll just be downloads.  Okay, how long does it take to download a 4K movie?  How much disc space will that take?  How quickly will you run out?  How much of your monthly bandwidth will that take?  What about streaming?  Netflix is starting to do that with some of their own content, but again... how much bandwidth does that take?  Hell, they don't even do 1080p right a lot of the time!  And the cable companies have the internet so choked tight already that we won't be able to get much of any 4K streaming in unless things change.  In the interim, showing 1080p (or 1440p) content on a big 4K screen will show us all these imperfections, just like watching a DVD compared to a blu-ray, or a VHS compared to a DVD (or VHS to Blu-Ray, whichever is more accurate).  I'm REALLY curious to know what VHS, DVD, and TV look like at that level scale, I wish they would show that in the demo as well, I know the new stuff will look good once it becomes common enough, but what about all the OLD stuff?
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Chiprocks1 on June 07, 2014, 04:03:53 pm
One is that every company wants to make their own proprietary player, so you can only see Samsung movies on Samsung TVs, Panasonic movies on Panasonic TVs... it's stupid anti-consumer bullsh*t that'll kill this tech in the cradle.

Look no further than DIVX. I never bought into this, even with this (at the time) being the only way we could get Steven Spielberg movies. He, along with other big name players like George Lucas were hellbent on retaining the rights to their stuff for as long as possible and pushed this format on the public as hard as they could. For someone that is as smart as Spielberg is, this was dumb invention that would fail and in most eyes, incur resentment from customers like myself.  Who would ever choose this format over DVD's where you got to build and keep your DVD Library for as long as you wanted?
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Neumatic on June 07, 2014, 04:11:28 pm
Paying every time you want to watch a movie in your library?  That seems like such a stupid f*cking idea, I'm not surprised it was pushed so hard.  It's the pay-per-screen-size mentality, or the ads on your own eReader mentality.  It's all focusing on the bottom line rather than the consumer experience.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Neumatic on June 08, 2014, 09:39:22 pm
Here's an alarming little problem: Red Button Flaw exposes major vulnerability in millions of Smart TVs (  The worst part is that this vulnerability isn't being fixed.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Chiprocks1 on June 08, 2014, 10:27:37 pm
I feel like going out to the garage and pulling out a couple of old CRT TV's that I never threw away. It use to be because I was a hoarder. Now it's because I'm smart and saw this coming 30 years in advance.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Neumatic on June 08, 2014, 10:52:09 pm
I like having dumb components, I'd rather have things hooked up to other things than have them all unified and vulnerable.  But I would NEVER go back to a CRT television.  I'd sooner learn how to take the bad pieces of my TV out than make that downgrade.

I wonder if that'll become a thing, the way people build their own computers and hack their game consoles, soon will we see people customizing flatscreens?
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Chiprocks1 on June 09, 2014, 05:19:27 am
If it's cheap and easy, I'd go down that road myself.
Title: Re: Curved Screen Television
Post by: Mac on June 09, 2014, 05:55:20 am
I would never want to go back to old technology.

I was over at my mother-in-laws house yesterday. She still has a 30 inch CRT. It was difficult to watch. The worst part is it looked fuzzy, which if you recall was our standard viewing image. Also the color was off as was the brightness. It was a mess in every respect.