Remember when curved TVs were supposed to be the next big thing? If not, it’s OK. Nothing is wrong with your memory. They weren’t around for very long. The curved TV was the 2010’s technological shooting star. It emerged on the scene and in a blink of an eye, it was gone. It was the TV that nobody really asked for, so why was the curved TV even a thing in the first place? Why were they made and why did they flop into oblivion?
To be fair, curved TVs aren’t completely dead; Samsung still has a couple floating around in its product line. But the market has consistently moved in the direction of flatter, thinner and bigger TVs, and this trend has all but snuffed out the curved TV. As consumers invest in products such as the best 65-inch flatscreen TVs, and other smart TVs, niche products like projectors and curved TVs are becoming harder and harder to find.
The Brief History of Curved TVs
Curved televisions made their introduction in 2013 at CES. This is also right around when OLED display technology was coming onto the scene, and Samsung and LG believed that a curved unit was the best way to utilize the new display technology.
The idea of the curved TV came from IMAX theater screens. The slightly curved screen engulfs the viewer and provides a unique panoramic experience. Samsung and LG wanted to replicate this immersive experience inside the home. While it seemed like a good idea in theory, the actuality of a 55-inch curved screen didn’t quite live up to the hype.
Samsung really ran with the idea of curved TVs from about 2013-2016 and included everything from LCD curved TVs to high-end models. In 2017, Samsung began to retreat from the idea because, well, not many customers bought them. That’s when Samsung started to re-introduce high-end models in a flatscreen model instead of curved.
Curved TVs are essentially dead now, but Samsung still offers the RU7300 model in both 55- and 65-inch models. The company has also dutifully rolled out new curved TVs, although they aren’t as impressive as the brand’s best models.
The Problem With Curved TVs
So, why did things go so poorly for the curved TV? It all starts with the immersion idea. IMAX theaters work with curved screens because the screen is actually large enough to curve around the audience, making everybody somewhat within the curve, creating a panoramic depth to the screen. A 55 or 65-inch TV isn’t nearly large enough to do that. This results in a poorer viewing experience unless you’re sitting directly in the middle of the TV and have zero lighting in the room (we’ll get to that shortly).
When you’re sitting even slightly off-center from a curved TV, a few things happen. The first is that it can sometimes create an awful glare. The curvature of the TV reflects light across the screen which can wash out the screen, making it difficult to watch. Whether it’s light from windows, lamps, or wall fixtures — this glare can create terrible viewing quality.
Sitting off-axis or off-center can also create bowing in the image. This occurs anytime you aren’t completely center and level with the TV. For instance, even if you are standing and slightly looking down at the TV, noticeable image bowing can happen. Letterboxes (the black bars across the top and bottom of the screen) also start to distort with curved TVs. The letterboxes will look as if they are bending upward towards the curvature.
If providing a mediocre viewing experience wasn’t bad enough, curved TVs can also look strange when mounted. The curvature doesn’t allow the TV to sit flush with the wall. The earliest generations of curved TVs didn’t even have the option to mount them to a wall. A mounted curved TV resembles a sticker that is slowly peeling off the surface. Nobody wants to see the back of the painting when it is hung on a wall, let alone the back of the TV. Not only are curved TVs harder to watch, but they are also harder to look at, especially when mounted.
Should I Buy a Curved TV?
There are obvious pros and cons to curved TVs. And while we’ve covered a lot of cons so far, curved TVs aren’t a complete waste. If you are an army of one who likes to immerse yourself in your home theater, then yes, this could be right up your alley. But if you have plans to host the Super Bowl, a curved TV is not a wise investment. Instead, we would recommend a top-quality OLED TV like the one below.
Where Can I Buy A Curved TV?
Even though curved TVs are hard to find, there are still a variety of new and used models available from Samsung. And these televisions definitely have their proponents. The most popular curved TVs left on Amazon have very positive reviews, with customers applauding the incredible picture quality. That being said, the best picture quality can now be found in OLED TVs, and some of the curved TVs for sale date back to 2017.
If you want to experience the benefits of a curved TV before they disappear completely, then the best models available are from Samsung. We’ve written about a few of the models still available below.
Samsung TU-8300 Series Curved 65-Inch TV (2020 Model)
Curved TVs aren’t completely out of the picture, and Samsung is still making options for hardcore gamers and the subset of consumers who prefer this niche product. This 2020 curved TV model has more modern features than the previous-generation models above and improved video quality. With Amazon Alexa built-in and Samsung’s smart TV interface, it’s one of the last remaining curved TVs still on sale in 2022.
Samsung UN65MU8500 Curved 65-Inch 4K Smart TV (2017 Model)
This curved smart TV offers amazing picture quality and color. It has a 4K UHD that provides coloring that far exceeds standard 4K versions. Available in limited quantities, this TV can currently be purchased on Amazon.
Samsung UN55RU7300FXZA Curved 55-Inch Smart TV (2019 Model)
If you’re looking for a smaller curved TV, you’re in luck. Right now, you can snag this 55-inch model in “like new” condition from Amazon. It has a 4K UHD processor and comes with a universal guide that directs you to all of your favorite shows and movies.
Also Consider: Curved Gaming Monitors
While curved TVs are officially extinct, we’re actually seeing more and more curved gaming monitors hit the market. And like the curved TVs featured above, the best curved gaming monitors also come from Samsung. If you’re primarily looking for a curved TV for gaming or productivity at work, then consider one of these extra-wide curved gaming monitors as a worthy alternative.
Samsung 49-inch Odyssey G9 Gaming Monitor
We would call this gorgeous computer monitor a work of art if it wasn’t such an impressive feat of engineering. We suppose it can be both. This curved QLED monitor is a stunning 49-inches wide. For gamers, it features a 240hz refresh rate and NVIDIA G-SYNC & FreeSync technology.
Samsung 32-Inch Odyssey G5 Gaming Monitor
The Odyssey G5 curved gaming monitor, also from Samsung, isn’t quite as impressive as the G9, but it’s still a mighty impressive monitor.
MSI 34-Inch MPG ARTYMIS 343CQR
We reviewed the MSI Artymis 343CQR curved gaming monitor, which boasts a sizable 34-inch screen. Our gaming product reviewer said that this screen provided a “transcendent gaming experience,” particularly with his favorite first-person shooters. This monitor features thin bezels and 1000R curvature that really does enhance your gaming experience. So while it’s not quite as large as a 65-inch curved TV, it’s still a viable option for gamers.