Samsung has made a habit of demoing some off-the-wall television designs at CES, and this year is no different. The strangest new design is a wild 85-inch prototype that the company's simply calling the "Bendable TV." The demo unit switched between a flat panel and a curved screen at the touch of a button, with a mechanical system pushing out the edges of the screen to achieve the transformation. It's eerie to see a 85-inch television bend before your eyes, and while it makes for a very impressive tech demo, we aren't sure what Samsung plans to do with the TV. The company claims there are situations where you might want to switch to a curved set — like for watching movies — but the added expense and dubious improvements that such a system entails means this is a prototype that may never see the light of day as a consumer product.
Curved televisions are undoubtedly attractive, but they have been written off as little more than a gimmick by many. Nevertheless, Samsung is focusing intently on curved sets this year. Its top-of-the-line model is a stunning 105-inch curved LCD TV with a 21:9 aspect ratio and a 5120 x 2160 resolution, just like rival LG. At this size the curve is extremely apparent, and the TV is a sight to behold. What is perhaps most surprising about this massive TV is its design: Samsung's used a single curved piece of hardwood for the back panel. It's very slick.
A Samsung executive said during an event revealing the new televisions that "it's clear that UHD [Ultra High Definition] is the future," but the focus was on curves. He added that a curved television "provides even more lifelike picture quality and depth. It gives you a 3D-like effect without wearing 3D glasses. It provides a truly immersive experience." We've seen a number of curved televisions over the past couple of years, and those benefits aren't readily apparent. We did notice a bit more pop on the curved TVs announced today, however, and it turns out that Samsung is using a few post-processing tools to adjust the input image and achieve this effect.
The company is calling it the "auto depth enhancer," and it analyzes images to attempt to recognize which parts of the image are in the background and which are in the foreground. It then boosts the contrast in these areas to visually separate the planes. In a side-by-side demo the tech seems to be very aggressive, providing a harsh image that might impress some buyers on the show room floor who aren't looking for an accurate image. Perhaps more importantly, this processing appears to only be limited to the company's curved TVs as a marketing decision. It seems Samsung wants to withhold some features — including improved micro-dimming on its LED panels — to distinguish its curved sets. It seems the company isn't confident that 4K alone can convince buyers to toss their current HD sets.
In addition to the 105-inch curved TV, Samsung will offer 55, 65, and 78 inch curved 4K LCD TVs as well. Pricing and availability for all four models isn't yet available.