I came, I saw, and I still don't know what Samsung has conquered. Creating a 105-inch TV that can bend on command is an undeniable feat of engineering, but it doesn't seem like anyone stopped to ask why we'd actually want one. Samsung's massive new prototype TV takes pride of place in the entryway to the company's grand IFA venue. It flexes back and forth between a flat and curved state with a smooth and unhurried motion. There's a pretty lady to one side and a blue-shirted demo dude to the other who'll explain how awesome the technology is.
I've seen this act before, when an LG rep with a clicker excitedly kept switching modes on its bendable OLED TVs at CES in January. Back then, as now, there was no real explanation for what makes curved TVs desirable or preferable to their established flatscreen brethren. Both Samsung and LG would argue that the point of bendable TVs is to have flexibility and not have to choose, but I struggle to see the need for choice at all. The curvature of this 105-inch TV actually distracts from its vibrant colors and high 5,120 x 2,160 resolution. Whereas a flat TV can be likened to a window in your house, there's no easy analog in daily life to the curved display. It attempts to envelop the viewer, but even at 105 inches across, it's not expansive enough to fill your entire field of view.
$260,000 of high-definition flex appeal
Perhaps it's because we are so used to every other display in our lives being flat or slightly convex that the concavity of these new screens feels so alien. One salient point in their advantage is that the curve keeps the entirety of the picture an equal distance away from your eyes — whereas images in the middle of a flat screen are closer than those at the edges. On the other hand, viewing angles for anyone sitting to the side of this TV are ruined when it curves inwards. Samsung still believes there's a market and an interest for curved TVs and has now expanded its range to include 17 different models. Today's flexible behemoth remains at the prototype stage and isn't yet for sale, though Samsung has named a price of roughly 200,000 euros ($260,000) should it ever make it to market. The non-flexing curved 105-inch UHDTV from Samsung begins to look like a bargain by comparison at a mere 120,000 euros. These largest models come with a built-in 160W speaker and resolution upscaling to make sure lower-quality content plays nicely, and Samsung's also introduced a curved soundbar to go with the rest of its curved portfolio.