Curved displays may be a fad in TVs, but they could stick around longer in computer monitors.
Samsung's curved TVs inspired a new all-in-one PC with a curved display, and Hewlett-Packard and Dell announced new 34-inch curved displays at the International CES in Las Vegas. The curved displays provide a snug and immersive viewing experience, the companies argued.
At first glance, the monitors resembled flat LCD panels, and the slight curvature became noticeable only after closer inspection. Though the curve wasn't drastic, having the screen closer to the eyes provided a more intimate viewing experience.
A curved monitor could catch a buyer offguard, and a customer needs to spend time with it, said David Ng, product manager at Samsung, in an interview ahead of CES.
"When you get used to it and you spend time with it, you appreciate it even more," Ng said.
But the companies conceded that regular monitors would be adequate for most, and only professionals and enthusiasts would pay a premium for curved displays.
It's possible that curved monitors stick around longer than curved TVs, said Bob O'Donnell, principal analyst at Technalysis Research.
"In some ways, they are more interesting on a monitor than a TV," O'Donnell said.
Viewers sit closer to monitors, and a curved display brings the edges and pixels closer, making the watching experience more comfortable. A TV is for multiple people, and a curve narrows the viewing angle, making TV watching from specific angles uncomfortable.
"A large TV is meant to be a multi-person viewing device. So in some ways it works against you," O'Donnell said.
Curved displays also work well in a multi-monitor setup.
For financial traders, a congregation of four curved monitors sitting aside each other provides a more natural viewing angle than flat monitors placed next to each other, said Ann Lai, director of commercial displays at HP.
Samsung's 27-inch Ativ One 7 Curved all-in-one PC is the company's first desktop and is priced starting at US$1,299. The company has already made curved TVs, so it made sense to bring the technology to PCs, Ng said.
The company is targeting the all-in-one at "urban professionals" looking to add style to their homes, Ng said.
HP is targeting its $999 Z34c and Envy 34c curved displays at gamers and professionals, many of whom have a multi-monitor setup. Both displays show images at a resolution of 3440 x 1440 pixels.
Some professionals also want the Z34c monitor because it looks cool, HP's Lai said.
"A lot of high-profile customers ... feel that their technology choices are part of their image and they want to be able to have this on their desk," Lai said.
Dell's targeting its $1,199 UltraSharp 34 U3415W at gamers, who are always looking for the latest and greatest technologies.
There's no fixed formula as to what curvature works best, and a lot depends on the viewer and environment, said Bryan DeZayas, director of product marketing for Alienware PCs at Dell.
The slight curve is a good start, and the angles may or may not change.
"Could I see other possibilities? Sure. We're always experimenting," DeZayas said.