Gimmick or not, CES 2014 is full of curved TVs. And not just from Samsung and LG, the number one and two TV makers. Budget brands such as Hisense and TCL are showing off curved TVs, too. As always, Samsung and LG are locked in a fierce competition. Their latest TV innovations: Ultra HD (4K) TVs that go from flat to curved in mere seconds.
On display at Samsung's booth is a bendable 85-inch UHD (4K resolution) TV. As a flat screen, it's one of the best Samsung has ever made, no doubt boosted by the extra sharp resolution. With a press of a button on a remote, the 85-inch UHD morphs into a curved one with 4200R (radii). It's picture is brilliant and makes images feel closer than they really are without using any hokey-pokey 3D technology.
Samsung reps wouldn't elaborate on how thick the bendable TV is or what kind of mechanism it uses to achieve its remote-controlled curve, but as you can see in the video below, it's clearly using some sort of motor(s) to stress the panel ever so slightly and give it a subtle arc.
Also on display at Samsung's CES booth are four smaller bendable UHD OLED TVs. The benefit to OLED TVs is, of course, its Darth Vader-like black levels. While not as impressive in size, Samsung's bendable UHD OLED TVs are nothing to sneeze at either.
Not to be outdone, LG, too, has a similar TV on display at CES. LG's terminology may be different — its own flat-to-curved transforming TV is called "flexible" instead of "bendable" — but they basically do the same thing. A remote button is pressed and its screen flexes from flat to curved and back in seconds.
LG's 77-inch flexible OLED UHD TV is smaller than Samsung's 85-incher, but much larger than its bendable UHD OLED TVs. Colors are beautiful, if not a too saturated to overwhelm, and black levels are just stunning, as you would expect from an OLED display. One thing LG's flexible 77-inch UHD TV has going for it over Samsung's bendable UHD TVs is a significantly thinner profile. LG says the TV uses special motors to get bent and flattened, but didn't specify in detail, either.
The consensus on curved TVs is mixed. Some people like them, some people don't. I like it because videos feel like mini IMAX experiences. It's obvious Samsung and LG's bendable/flexible TVs are a compromise. If you like your screens flat, keep it flat. If you want it curved, you can do that and revert back at any time. The option to switch between flat and curved is also great for different types of content. For viewing pictures, you may want to choose flat. For gaming and 4K video, switching to curve mode may be more immersive.
Unsurprisingly, none of the bendable UHD TVs or UHD OLED TVs have a pricing or release dates.
Posted on location at CES 2014. All photos taken by Raymond Wong for DVICE.