One of the more interesting products to come out of CES last year was the world’s first curved HDTV, the Samsung KN55S9 55″ OLED TV. Its combination of vibrant OLED technology and a slightly concave viewing surface created a lifelike, immersive picture like nothing previously available for home users. A night at home with a blockbuster movie on Bluray could be the next best thing to the feel of a wraparound IMAX screen. Shortly after, we saw releases from LG and Sony, and it was clear that curved TVs were no longer a gimmick. This year, Samsung upped the ante with the debut of another curved TV, with a trick up its sleeve. It bends.
With just a push of the button, this 85-inch transforms from a perfectly-flat, tradtional TV set into a curved display with a radius that matches the permanently-curved KN55S9. Now, this might seem like just another gimmick, and maybe it is. But the idea has merit. While the curved OLED we have on display at Abt looks great from any angle, viewers far from center can be presented with an oddly-shaped picture. The immersion effect works best for those sitting front-center. By being able to switch from curved to flat, Samsung is giving videophiles the chance to tailor their display to their audience. Watching a movie with just that special someone? Set the TV to maximum curve and get lost in car chases and explosions or dramatic kisses in the rain. Having dozens of people over for the Big Gamer? Flatten the Samsung LED TV out to maximize viewing for a group of dispersed viewers.
Interestingly, unlike last year’s release, this new curved TV sports an LED screen, not an OLED one. Because it doesn’t need the rigid backlighting and circuitry of an LED or plasma panel, OLED technology has often carried the side benefit—besides an infinite contrast ratio and uber-vivid colors—of allowing the creation of flexible displays. Samsung is probably leveraging some pretty tricky technology to make an LED panel bend. Another difference from last year’s set is that this prototype features an UHDTV picture, compared to last year’s 1080p model. OLED @ 1080p vs LED @4K. Static bend vs flexible. 55″ vs 85″. So how do you choose between these two revolutionary TV sets? You may not have to. The bad news (or good news, depending on your disposable income) is that Samsung’s bendy TV might be strictly conceptual. No word on when, if ever, it will be available to purchase.