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article imageCurved TVs just went the same way as 3D

By James Walker     Feb 14, 2017 in Technology
Curved TVs may have reached the end, only a few years after they first appeared. After battling low consumer uptake and critical reviews, LG and Sony have announced they will not launch any new models this year. It follows the end of 3D TV production.
LG made the announcement at its InnoFest event in Crete today, What Hi-Fi reports. When the news site asked Sony about its plans, the company also confirmed it will not expand its curved range during 2017. It would not discuss whether they'll return in the future.
People prefer flat-screens
Although Sony and LG aren't the only curved TV manufacturers, they are two of the biggest brands in the industry. Their withdrawal paints a grim picture for the future of curved TV, a once exciting innovation now quickly turning into a fad of similar magnitude to 3D.
Attendees and images from other 4K TVs are reflected in the curved 4K 3D Cinema display at LG's...
Attendees and images from other 4K TVs are reflected in the curved 4K 3D Cinema display at LG's booth at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 10, 2014 in Las Vegas
Robyn Beck, AFP
LG said it made the decision to stop releasing new models due to lack of consumer interest in the technology. Its research department concluded what many buyers could probably already tell you: people still prefer to buy flat-screen TVs, even if a curved model is available at a similar price.
Frustrating viewing
Curved TV began to gain momentum in 2013 when sales reached 800,000 units. The following year, analysts suggested shipments could reach six million per annum by 2018. It now seems unlikely that will happen. Reviewers have been cautious to endorse the technology, noting that manufacturers' claims of improved viewing angles and display quality aren't noticeable while in use.
File photo: Panasonic s 4K curved OLED televisions are displayed at the Panasonic booth  at the Inte...
File photo: Panasonic's 4K curved OLED televisions are displayed at the Panasonic booth, at the International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center, in Nevada, on January 7, 2014
David Becker, Getty/AFP/File
If anything, the curve has been criticised for actually reducing overall viewing angles. If you're looking at the screen from the edge, it can be difficult to see what's on the side curving towards you. Compounding the problem is the curved screen's tendency to reflect light in all directions. This causes intense glare that makes it hard to see the picture clearly even when watching from a good angle.
"The curved screen demands that you sit dead center of the TV unless you want to observe the equally frustrated facial expressions of the person sitting opposite you on the couch trying in vain to see through the glare," The Verge recently wrote in a scathing review of a $300 Samsung. Written by Becky Molln, wife of Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel, the article concludes by branding the budget-oriented model "impulse-buy garbage designed for suckers."
"All TVs will be curved"
It seems safe to say that Samsung hasn’t succeeded in its self-stated mission to make the world curved. In 2014, the company's global president of TV said "all TVs will be curved" in the future. Samsung is still manufacturing curved screens but it doesn't seem to be succeeding at selling them any more than LG or Sony.
Samsung Introduced world’s first curved OLED TV at CES 2013
Samsung Introduced world’s first curved OLED TV at CES 2013
With consumers frustrated first at 3D and now curved TV, companies are scrambling to deliver the true "next big thing." Analysts are now focusing on iterative technologies that build on what displays already offer, such as the proliferation of 4K and OLED panels. Both deliver immediately noticeable benefits to users, making them more likely to succeed.
It's becoming clear that customers aren't interested in radical new innovations. The manufacturers have also contributed to the rejection of 3D and curved though, in both instances making marketing claims that ultimately couldn't be delivered. Curved TV could be resurrected yet but it's looking increasingly unlikely it'll ever be the "must-have" feature envisioned in 2013.
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