Bendy TVs: ahead of the curve or twisted gimmick?

Bendy TVs: ahead of the curve or twisted gimmick?
Get bent, says Samsung

We mocked the curved and bendable mobile phones when they were first announced, but then, when we saw the live demos and thought about how they do seem pretty sweet, we grudgingly learned to accept them. Maybe they're not 100 per cent insane after all.

But there's no way on earth we're falling for this new wave of curved TV nonsense*. We've enjoyed the way TVs have gradually become thinner and lighter, as they take up less space in our bedsits and make moving into the next bedsit a little easier.

A curved TV may fit the corner of the lounge a bit better and we wouldn't mind having 105-inches of 4K resolution screen upon which to analyse Judy Dench's forehead wrinkles during the latest James Bond, but surely there's no viable financial case for any sensible person to ditch their latest (probably 3D) set for a new one with a curvy screen?

Well done for making it though, Samsung, it's certainly a more impressive object than we could knock up in the shed over the weekend, but... did you ever ask anyone if it's what they wanted or needed? Judging by the online mockery the curved TVs have received, we think not.

Cornering the market

Over on the Guardian, reader Sherpa_10 wasn't impressed in the slightest by Samsung's apparent innovation, saying: "This is the product of some kind of forceful, borderline psychotic personality in the Samsung top brass. The bonkers, foaming-at-the-mouth insistence on continuing innovation will eventually lead to barking-mad adjustments to already perfected pieces of equipment."

You say the TV has been perfected, Sherpa, but you won't really know that until you've tried a triangular one or a round one. And Salamandertome followed up with a possible explanation as to who Samsung's targeting with these new sets, saying: "It's nice that Samsung are doing something for people that live in Oast houses in Kent, England."

Oast houses, our international readers might like to know, are very old ones with round stone silos on the end for drying out hops. Rich people convert them into proper houses and might just have enough left over to pay for a 105-inch telly to go in the, er, corner, of their round living rooms.


Even more incredible than a curved 105-inch TV was Samsung's other big announcement at CES 2014, the bendable 85-inch U9B. We spent a considerable amount of time trying to find someone who could come up with a sound reason as to why a TV might need to be bendable, the best being Engadget reader Cocky_Clock, who suggested: "If it bends around your head it would be pretty awesome."

A couple of mouse wheel scrolls down it was back to mocking the idea, with Fmftint pointing out rather validly that: " huge advantage of flat LED screens is the way they hang on the wall instead of hogging space and dominating the room like CRTs used to. Curved screens undo all that!"

Curve appeal

Some people liked it, though, or to be more precise, liked the fact that Samsung's doing something a little different than churning out the same old rectangles as everyone else.

Over on The Verge, reader TheMysteryMan pondered: "Everything that is ever invented feels like nonsense in the beginning. Mobile phones. TVs, aeroplanes, rockets, cars, guns, smartphones, phablets, all were ridiculed when they were invented for the first time.

"I don't understand how you can criticise anyone for taking the first step. If nobody thought of doing anything new, we would be in very different world," he continued, claiming that Samsung's ability to make weird stuff shows it's in rude health and able to, perhaps, take a loss on the deal just to see what it can learn from the experiment.

Revenge of the Fallen

And finally, we have our first celebrity entrant on Inflame. So-called film director Michael Bay staggered the tech world by flouncing off the stage at Samsung's curved TV demonstration, seemingly unable to think of a single good reason off the top of his head why people might like to buy one.

"..." said Bay, before legging it.

The director attempted to appease Samsung a little in a blog post of his own, saying some nice things about the curved TV concept (as no doubt contractually obligated), before explaining: "I got so excited to talk, that I skipped over the Exec VP's intro line and then the teleprompter got lost. Then the prompter went up and down - then I walked off."

Bay rather unwisely left comments open beneath his explanation, with reader Jeffrey Lee offering him some advice on coping with future public engagements, suggesting: "Don't sweat it Michael. Just remember to imagine the huge crowd naked in CG with flames and explosions all over the place."

*We probably will but we're not at the moment. Got that? Good.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.