Outside of 3D, curved TVs are probably one of the industry’s most ill-advised gimmicks. Unless you sat in a very specific spot in front of them, they resulted in a distorted image, harsh reflections, and a generally unpleasant viewing experience, for almost no benefit. Seriously, they were terrible. It seemed that curved TVs happened because companies could do them, and not because should.
It took me a while to figure it out, but LG’s new 42-inch OLED Flex, which was announced this week at IFA and is expected to hit the market this fall, effectively marks the return of curved TVs. It may have a monitor-style stand with gamer-style RGB lighting, and LG may have confused things a bit by putting the OLED Flex on top of a desk as a monitor in its demo area. But make no mistake, this is one TV ass TV. It has four HDMI 2.1 inputs, runs WebOS, and has a built-in TV tuner. it’s a tv
Well, it’s a TV with a pretty interesting trick: it transforms. With the push of a button, a series of motors inside the device start to work, turning it from a traditional flat TV into a curved TV. (You can also control the folding process with the navigation button at the bottom of the screen.) Or a curved TV that looks a lot like a curved monitor, in any case. Here’s how you can avoid the curse of the curved TV; it is not always curved. It’s an interesting approach that means you shouldn’t have to deal with the problems the curve creates when you’re not going to experience its benefits.
To show exactly when you might want a curved TV, LG had the racing game force horizon 5 connected to the screen and encouraged people to sit three to four feet apart to take full advantage of the immersive viewing benefits of a curved screen. At its peak, the screen can be bent to an impressive 900R curved, but it can be adjusted on a percentage slider in 5-percent increments, for a total of 20 different curvatures. It was hard to tell amid the noise of the IFA show floor, but the buzz was definitely noticeable, and needless to say, you probably don’t want to hear it in the middle of the game.
Outside of its curved mechanism and thick stand, the LG OLED Flex is effectively the same as LG’s existing 42-inch C2 TV. It has the same LG Display OLED Evo panel and supports Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (it can create virtualized 7.1.2 surround sound). It has a 4K resolution, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz. Obviously, that means it looks just as good in practice as LG’s popular OLED range.
The LG OLED Flex is unlikely to be cheap. LG spokespeople weren’t about to confirm how much the TV will cost when it goes on sale later this year, but given that it basically contains a full $1,399 LG C2, plus an admittedly very complex set of mechanisms to make it work the automatic folding process. , I’m guessing we’re looking at a device that costs at least $2,000. Is it worth it for a 42-inch screen?
One argument could be that OLED Flex is effectively two products in one. It is one part of a traditional flat OLED TV and one part of a curved gaming monitor. But I’m not so sure how a hybrid display like this would fit into most people’s homes. Does LG expect customers to set it up as a curved monitor on their desk, ready to turn into a TV for watching movies? Or is the plan to set it up like a regular TV on a cabinet, but with the option to pull the chair closer and put it in curved mode for immersive gaming action? I’m not entirely sure.
Between this and Corsair’s own version of the flexible form factor, which still has an LG Display OLED panel but a wider 21:9 aspect ratio and a transformation process that asks you to bend it by hand, it feels like we’re getting in in a new era of curved screens. Curved televisions never really worked, but curved monitors have proven quite popular in the years since. LG’s OLED Flex appears to be trying to bridge that gap.
Photos by Jon Porter/The Verge