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Why you’ll fall in love with curved TVs

- May 27th, 2014

One of the newer tech fads out there is curved TVs. And I get it: A  curved television screen mimics a movie theatre feel and it provides slightly better sight-lines for people sitting off-centre from the screen, than flatscreens do.

But the psychology behind our attraction to them is more surprising than you might think. Apparently, a curved TV elicits a more emotional response than a flatscreen.

“(Curved objects are) perceived to be more beautiful,”  Dr. Oshin Vartanian said.

Vartanian, an experimental psychologist who works at the University of Toronto, was on-hand at a recent Samsung event at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The neuroscience professor said studies have been conducted on how the brain reacts to curved objects going back to the 1920s.

“People were shown geometric objects that were either curved or rectilinear and people preferred the curved ones,” Vartanian said.

And that certainly was my experience at the event. Jean-Pierre Jutras, a training specialist in Samsung’s consumer business division, showed me the company’s new 65-inch curved 9000 Series UHD TV in a room next to a flatscreen model the same size showing the same content. My eye was inexplicably drawn to the curved TV. The image seemed to be richer somehow.

Samsung's 65-inch 9000 Series UHD TV

Samsung’s 65-inch 9000 Series UHD TV . (Supplied)

Granted, part of this, may be because the curved UHD TV line features a colour enhancement over Samsung’s flatscreen UHD models.

Jutras explained using Samsung’s PurColor technology, red, green, blue, yellow and magenta can be adjusted in 192 steps, whereas on a flatscreen UHD TV only red, green and blue can be adjusted and only in 26 steps.  But he suggested my eye was drawn there for a different reason

“(The curved UHD TV has) a little bit more depth in the picture, ” Jutras offered. “It has auto-depth enhancement.”

But perhaps there is a more basic reason my eye was drawn to the curved TV.

In Vartanian’s own experiments with curved and flat objects, subjects underwent brain scans while they described their reactions to what they viewed. As with previous experiments, the subjects preferred curved objects. But when people looked at those objects, the anterior cingulate cortex lit up on the brain scan.

“(It) is part of the brain’s core emotion network,” Vartanian said. “So it’s really about the way we feel.”

In contrast, he said, other scientists’ experiments have shown that when a person looks at sharp objects, the amygdala lights up, which is the part of the brain that responds to threats.

So the subjects associated sharp objects with danger, Vartanian explained. In other words, curved objects are more appealing because they are not threatening.

Not that people are scared of flatscreen televisions per se… I mean I wasn’t about to wet my pants because I was in a small viewing room with the 65-inch in front of me. But the curved TV could have been more inviting or comforting because the shape wasn’t flat and sharp.

3 curved UHD TVs

The curve on Samsung’s curved UHD TVs has a radius of 4,200 mm, Jutras explained. Here are three of the TVs next to each other showing the same panoramic image give a better idea of the curve. (Adam Swimmer/QMI Agency)

Then again, maybe my eye is drawn there because the concept of curved TVs is relatively new and so less familiar. Either way, Samsung’s 9000 Series line has some interesting features. The TV is active 3D with four pairs of glasses included. It is also a smart TV and comes with the Bluetooth remote control that looks and works very much like a mouse.

But perhaps the most interesting feature is the One Connect box with Evolution kit. The 9000 Series UHD TV has no ports itself, they all live in the One Connect box. This means if technology gets better and, say, HDMI 3.0 or USB 4.0 comes out and you want to take advantage of it, you can simply replace the One Connect box, instead of buying a whole new TV.

Jutras said the 65-inch curved UHD TV on display retails for $5,400 and the flatscreen is $4,400. But he said Samsung plans on releasing more than 14 UHD models this year, which will range in size. Flatscreen UHD models will come in 50-inch models and will get as big as 75 inches. Curved UHD TVs will start at 65 inches and go to 78 inches.

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1 comment

  1. jerabaub | June 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Definitely will get a 4k flatscreen near the end of this year.

    Still am not sure if it will be curved or not, but the size will be minimum 75 inch, for only in that and larger sizes do the benefits of 4k over 1080p become obvious.

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