Feature Articles

The Era of Curved 4K TVs and Why You'll Want One

By Vijay Anand - 2 May 2014

Behind the Scenes: Creating the 4K TV and TV Trends

Behind the Scenes: Creating the Curved UHD TV and TV Trends

So we've expounded quite a bit on why you would be compelled to make the change to a UHD/4K TV, or better yet, a curved UHD/4K TV. Since we were at Samsung's headquarters, we struck a dialog with the top heads of the company's Visual Display Division in Samsung Electronics on how they came about their curved TV designs and other TV trends:- 

  • Mr. Iksuk Choi: Vice President, Head of Asia Product Marketing, VD Division, Samsung Electronics
  • Mr. Sangdo Lee: Director, Global Product Marketing, VD Division, Samsung Electronics
  • Mr. Gwonjin Moon: Principal Engineer, TV R&D, VD Division, Samsung Electronics


HWZ: What are some of the changes that have occurred that allowed Samsung to make a curved TV?

Samsung: The trend started to change when Samsung introduced LED TVs to the global market in 2009. Samsung found a solution to make these TVs have a very thin form factor, and with this solution we thought, why not bend it. By curving the TV, we would be offering an even better solution to our clients.

So last year Samsung introduced their curved OLED TV to the market, and the feedback from the customers was very positive. That is why we've expanded our efforts to apply to the UHD TV line as well.


HWZ: Is a curved screen necessary?

Samsung: So we often get this question; do you curve it because you can or do you curve it because it's necessary? Or does it give benefits to the viewers? Well, we knew it would give benefits to our customers over the flat version. If you go to IMAX theaters, you can see that the big screens are curved to give a better viewing experience to the movie goers. We knew that the curve screen will give a better immersive experience for our customers. So for us in the display industry, we now had the form factor that allowed us to bend the screen to form the curve screen and with the form factor, we're able to realize the market needs.


HWZ: What are some of the challenges that needed to be overcome to bring about curved TVs?

Samsung: We had 3 major challenges. The first was that LED displays use backlights and it's quite difficult to bend the backlight portion as it comes with a lot of challenges. We had to make sure there was a uniform emission of light from the backlight.

Our second challenge was to ensure there's uniformity in the bend to assist in the uniform emission of backlighting. The third challenge was at the production stage to ensure we had a good yield.


HWZ: So is it more costly to produce a curved TV than a conventional TV?

Samsung: There are elements that could push the manufacturing cost higher because we need to add on extra facilities and also make amendments to our system and manufacturing facility. Also the materials that are used to create curved TVs are different.


HWZ: How much can you actually bend the screens from a technology perspective?

Samsung: We've run tests from 3000R to 6000R to see the suitability for our curved TVs and we've decided on the 4200R standard.


HWZ: The curved TV's front face feels like polycarbonate substrate, so what is it actually using?

Samsung: It's not really polymer plastic but it is bended glass.


HWZ: Can you bend any kind of display?

Samsung: With regards to the currently available displays in the market, we can bend them all. We do have our plasma displays, but we decided not to bend it because it's not worth the effort.


HWZ: Samsung announced some 4K content will be provided with their TVs, but does it apply in all countries?

Samsung: To provide content in all countries, we need to overcome the intellectual property rights issue across all of them. If we were to provide movies on a global distribution network, we would have to enter into an agreement according to the conditions set by each sovereign state according to their laws and bylaws. So we're currently procuring content that doesn't have any clauses or stipulations - content that could be provided at a global level without any problems for distribution. Content will be procured by HQ and it will be stored in our media player device which will then be handed over to our customers.


HWZ: With TV designs taking a minimalist approach, how is Samsung tackling this to provide an appealing design to its audience?

Samsung: Customers in different countries and regions have different taste. For example in India, almost all households want their TVs wall mounted. Whereas most houses in SEA, they want their TV to stand on a table.

So yes the bezels are almost diminishing. So in the case of India where most TVs are wall hanged, it may be difficult to distinguish in design. However in the majority of the other countries, the TVs are placed on tables - so there is still an element in which we can play to distinguish TV designs by evolving the stand. So yes, we still have some room to differentiate ourselves.


HWZ: With TVs getting ever slimmer, how are you managing people's expectation in delivering a great audio experience if one doesn't want to purchase additional audio gear?

Samsung: Audio is a very important element of the viewing experience. We give a lot of thought in enhancing the audio quality that comes from the TVs. We're thinking and studying ways to have a thin speaker that can give equivalent sound to the bigger speakers or even better. We're also working on technologies such as waveguide to enhance the hearing experience. We would of course endeavor to work on enhancing audio quality without hurting the TV design.


HWZ: In Samsung's point of view, is 3D still an important factor when buying a new TV?

Samsung: While 3D TVs have been introduced a few years back, because of limited content provided, expectation from the customers has been dwindling. According to market research, the demand for 3D TV has peaked out in the year 2013. In fact they are now entering the fade out phase, so going forward, much of the demand will be for UHD and Smart TV.


HWZ: Is Samsung considering Glassless 3D TV solutions?

Samsung: We are working on glassless 3D TV options and have showed off a sample in CES 2014. We will be introducing the product to the market when we are sure that it can give certain benefits to our viewers. We do have many technical proposals on our table and we're studying the possibilities of the various prototypes.


HWZ: What about curved Cinemascope TVs? When can we see that?

Samsung: We've showcased this technology via our 105-inch product design. However, to commercialize it, we would have to wait and see.


HWZ: Are 8K TVs the next leap forward? Is there a need for it?

Samsung: We've introduced and showcased an 8K TV in trade shows. However with the lack of 4K content, let alone 8K, while we do have the technology in our hands, we will have to see whether the market is ready to provide enough content to justify 8K.

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