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TV Answer Man

Does a Curved-Screen TV Offer a Better Picture?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (July 9, 2014) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

Q. I was thinking of buying a curved TV. They look pretty cool. But I was wondering if they really deliver a better picture? What do you think? -- Mickey, Dunkirk, Maryland.

Several TV manufacturers are now selling curved-screen TVs, which means the ends of the set have a slight bend toward the middle. If you've never seen one, they are very stylish and can be a snazzy addition to your living room decor. (See this Sony curved-screen TV as an example.)

The TV makers say the curved-screen does a few things that the traditional flat-screen set does not. One, they maintain the curve creates a wider viewing angle so people sitting in different areas of the room will basically see the same picture. "Not a bad seat in the house," says Sony.

Two, the curved-screen is supposed to create the effect of immersion, meaning your eyes will gravitate towards the middle of the screen and you will be more likely to 'lose yourself' in the movie or show.

For some time after the curved-screens debuted at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, there was little debate among tech critics over the legitimacy of the claims. I believe that most journalists basically ignored them because they were priced so high that they were rarely displayed in mainstream CE stores.

However, in recent months, the prices have dropped a bit and you are now seeing some curved-screens at stores such as Best Buy. Perhaps not coincidentally, some display experts are now offering their opinions of the benefits of buying a curved-screen TV.

And the opinions are not very positive. For instance, CNET's David Katzmaier, a noted display crtic, writes that "the impact of the curve on the picture is subtle and it provides no increase in immersion." He did say that the curve can help reduce picture reflections, but overall, his judgment is that the curve is "cosmetic."

David Pogue, the former New York Times columnist who now works for Yahoo!, tells TV station WPBF-TV that he believes the immersion effect is minimal and that most people won't be able to tell a difference in the picture quality.

Slashdot.com reports that Paul O'Donovan, Gartner's principal analyst for consumer electronics research, says that "curved-screens are a gimmick" while Paul Gray, director of European research for DisplaySearch says the science does not support the TV makers' claims on immersion.

Molly Wood of the New York Times is more charitable in her assessment, but she, too, tends to agree that style is the chief benefit of a curved-screen set. (She also notes that most of her colleagues were not sold on the so-called picture benefits.)

Bottom line: I think that as prices come down, the curved-screen TV could become a style-symbol in some homes. But if you're looking for the next big picture advance, the early indications are that you won't see it in a curved-screen set.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.

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