The curved TV is dead, long live the curved monitor

South African consumers may find it almost impossible to buy a premium curved TV from any retailer in the country in 2020.

Shops like Game, Kloppers, and Makro – which are well-known for offering a wide range of TV sets – don’t currently offer this type of display on their online storefronts.

Out of all the TVs on offer from leading ecommerce retailer Takealot, we managed to locate a total of three curved units:

The specifications of these units are underwhelming when compared to the latest premium TVs with flat form-factors at similar prices, however.

First introduced at CES back in 2013, curved TVs were punted by their manufacturers to offer a wide range of features which provide the optimal home entertainment experience.

The world’s two leading TV manufacturers – Samsung and LG – appeared to be convinced that this form-factor was the best for showcasing OLED panels, which were also coming onto the scene during the same period.

Despite their claims, however, consumers were not convinced by the new form-factor, and following disappointing sales and reviews, Samsung said it would pull back on curved TV manufacturing in 2017, while LG stopped making the panels completely.

Disappointing and awkward-looking

Inspired by the curvature of IMAX theatre displays, curved TVs were supposedly intended to engulf the viewer in a panoramic, immersive viewing experience.

There is one obvious problem with this, however, since curved TVs are far smaller than an IMAX display.

At the typical 55 or 65 inches of most premium TVs, they are incapable of surrounding the audience in the same way.

This means the promised immersion won’t be achieved unless the viewer sits very close to the screen.

Furthermore, when the viewer does not face the TV head-on but rather views it at an angle, a number of other problems arise.

Curved TV owners like this The Verge reviewer complained about high levels of glare, with light being reflected from more areas around the room

In addition, not facing at the right height will result in image bowing – making the picture look distorted. Letterboxes can also appear to bend upwards as the TV curves.

On the aesthetic front, curved TVs often appear awkward when mounted to a wall, which is a preference for many TV owners.

Curved monitors

While the curved TV’s demise is all but assured, curved monitors have seen a significant increase in popularity.

It appears that PC users, and gamers in particular, are far more receptive to curved display technology than the average consumer.

According to TrendForce, curved monitor shipments are expected to reach just under 12.9 million in 2020, up 24% year-on-year from the 10.4 million sold in 2019.

This was preceded by a huge increase in gaming monitors shipped between 2017 and 2018 – from 2.5 million to 5.1 million. In this year, curved models accounted for more than half the gaming monitors sold.

Just like in the TV industry, Samsung is leading the way in this segment, with more than 95% of its gaming monitors shipped in 2018 featuring a curved design.

DigiTimes has reported that industry analysts expect more growth in 2021, as the number of applications supporting curved displays increase.

South African stock

A quick search on Takealot, Evetech, or Wootware will reveal there is a massive variety of curved monitors to choose from numerous manufacturers – both for gaming and more general use.

Models ranging in sizes from 23- to 49-inches are available from Acer, Alienware, AOC, ASUS, Dell, MSI, ViewSonic and of course, the two display heavyweights – Samsung and LG.

Pricing starts at around R2,500 and goes all the way up to R40,000.

Two of the most impressive curved models available are Samsung’s Odyssey G7 and Odyssey G9, which were announced at the start of 2020 and recently launched in South Africa.

The top-end G9 boasts an ultra-wide 49-inch display with a 5,120 x 1,440 resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate, making for an extreme gaming experience.

The benefits

The appeal in curved monitors over curved TVs is evident – perhaps primarily due to the fact that the viewer is naturally positioned closer to the screen.

Additionally, while curved TVs generally stuck to conventional aspect ratios, curved monitors have a much larger horizontal resolution in relation to vertical resolution.

This means that larger curved monitors will generally fill up the viewer’s entire peripheral vision, cutting them off from any distractions.

This provides a far greater field of view for a more immersive gaming experience, which can also offer an advantage in competitive gaming.

For content creators and productivity users, this aspect ratio offers greater working space for multitasking and content editing.

Due to the way in which light is emitted, curved monitors are also superior to flat panels when it comes to distortion and eye strain.

Now read: Hands-on with Samsung’s new 8K QLED TV – The ultimate experience

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The curved TV is dead, long live the curved monitor