3D TV Is Dead, And Curved-Screen TV Isn’t Very Far BehindDo you still have a flip phone or VCR somewhere around the house? Many who own one of those pieces of outdated electronics keep them around as reminders of how far technology has progressed – or to amaze their kids or grandkids with what things were like back in prehistoric days.
The size of your electronic museum could be growing soon, since it appears that 3D TVs and curved-screen displays are about to join the flip phone and VCR as examples of dead technology.
3D TV: RIPThe idea sounded great at first: sit in your home theater and watch blockbuster movies (and TV shows) in three dimensions, replicating the incredible experience of seeing 3D films like Avatar or Gravity in the theater. In fact, analysts credit the enormous success of Avatar with driving interest in 3D home video to new heights in 2010 and 2011; that’s when many manufacturers introduced new HDTVs with 3D capability. Over the years, 3D TV prices have fallen, while the technology has been vastly improved and a huge amount of 3D content has been released.
However, you can’t force something on a largely uninterested public. Whether it was the inconvenience of wearing special glasses, the cost of buying a new TV or simply a lack of excitement over whole idea, interest in the technology faded quickly. ESPN and DirectTV dropped their 3D channels after a few years and many manufacturers gradually discontinued 3D models.
Now, the final shoe has dropped. Sony and LG, the last two big manufacturers to offer 3D HDTVs, have ended production of those lines as have smaller companies like Sharp. At the major 2017 industry show where companies show off their new product, CES, not a single 3D TV was on display.
Instead, manufacturers are focusing on HDR for their new models. With this “high dynamic range” technology, the video source can transmit information to optimize a monitor’s color, contrast, brightness and detail for a specific show or movie, vastly improving the video that’s displayed. Even better, support for so-called “dynamic” HDR is included in the upcoming HDMI 2.1 standard, which will allow video optimization for every frame of a movie. HDR should turn out to be a much better investment than 3D ever was.
Curved Screens: On Their Way OutCurved-screen TVs, initially praised for their ability to provide a more immersive OLED viewing experience with a wider field of view and more depth, aren’t as dead as 3D TV. But they’re on life support.
Manufacturers like LG, Panasonic and Samsung, who embraced curved screens when introducing and promoting their flagship OLED lines at the CES show over the last few years, showed only flat screen models this year. LG’s flagship W7 is being sold as a screen that hangs virtually flush on the wall, Panasonic’s new EZ1002 OLED is flat instead of curved and Samsung has no curved options for its latest flagship, the Q9. Some lower-level curved HDTVs from companies like Samsung are still available but very few were in evidence at CES, and LG has dropped them completely.
What happened? Sales haven’t been as disastrous as they were with 3D TVs, but they’re not earthshaking. That’s probably because when you play with a curved-screen TV, you realize that the experience can be terrific when you’re sitting right in the middle of the TV’s “sweet spot,” but everyone else in the room sees a picture that’s either distorted or simply ordinary.
A curved screen limits ideal viewing angles for most of the people watching it and plays uncomfortable games with reflected light, and the curve doesn’t make of an impact unless the screen is enormous. Curved TVs may be worth the investment if the TV will be watched by just a single person or as used as a computer monitor. They’re not a solution for most homes, however.
If you own a 3D or curved-screen HDTV, enjoy them while you can – because when you need a new TV, you probably won’t be able to find a replacement.