Curved LG OLED Up for Pre-Order in Korea… But Is It Curved Enough?

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LG ELECTRONICS OLED TVVia Digital Trends comes the news that LG’s 55EA9800 55-inch curved OLED TV is available for pre-order in South Korea as of yesterday. First shown at CES as something of a novelty or proof of concept, the TV is nonetheless an actual thing for South Koreans now… or at least it will be when it ships. And that actual ship date isn’t quite clear yet.

At any rate, the ~$13,500 display follows hot on the heels of LG’s flat OLED TV, which went on sale in February. There’s no indication yet of exactly when either TV will make it to the US market.

If you’re asking yourself, “Why a curved screen?” you’re not alone. LG claims the screen delivers an “IMAX-like” viewing experience at home, and there’s actually quite a bit of precedent for using curved screens in home theater applications with large curved screens. The rational there is sort of the same that LG gives for its curved OLED:

LG says more than five years of research went into developing the perfect curvature to ensure “the entire screen is equidistant from the viewer’s eyes” in order to eliminate any potential problems with screen-edge visual distortion or an apparent lack of detail.

The problem with that, of course, is that with projection screens the curvature is to ensure that the screen is equidistant from the projector, to alleviate geometry distortions. That’s not a problem with OLED screens. And, of course, a curved screen is only equidistant from an eye situated at the radius point of its curvature.

Just for giggles, though, I regressed to my engineering days, did some calculations, fired up Google SketchUp, and tried to get to the root of just how curved a screen would have to be to keep its surface equidistant from an eye at proper seating distances. The handy Viewing Distance Calculator says that maximum recommended viewing distance for a 55-inch 16:9 screen is 7.5 feet. So I modeled a 55-inch 16:9 screen with a 7.5-foot radius, and as you can see, that results in an offset depth of about 3-1/16” from the center of the screen to the center of where it would be if the screen were flat.

How much curvature would you need for a 55-inch curved screen

Of course, you can’t do such measurements on a photo, nor can you really accurately correct for lens distortion, but as best I can tell from the images at Digital Trends and eleswhere, the LG set’s curvature depth isn’t anywhere near 3 inches. Which would mean it’s radius is significantly larger. Exactly how much larger, though? This video from WhatHiFiTV gives us a clue:

Assuming that five-degree angle of curve is correct, I drew another arc on my SketchUp, comparing the curves between my hypothetical 7’6″ radius screen and LG’s actual screen. And as you can see below — again, assuming the report is correct — LG’s screen would have a radius of about 11’2″. Which would mean… (drumroll, please), if you were sitting in the spot at which the curved screen was truly equidistant from your eye across its entire surface, you would be sitting so far away from the TV that it may as well not even be 1080p.

LG curved OLED vs hypothetical curved OLED

There are a few assumptions in that calculation, but at any rate the TV would need 7.5 degrees of curve to match my calculations in terms of viewing distance, and it certainly doesn’t appear to be anywhere near that curvaceous. It could be that LG’s five years of research led them to believe that a flatter radius is better, because of course all of my calculations assume that you’re a cyclops. And you’re not. But I did a few more sketches showing the difference between 7.5-foot-radius arcs with center points 60.5mm apart (the average pupillary distance of adults), and the difference between the two once you got 7.5 feet away was minuscule compared to the difference between my hypothetical curve and LG’s curve. As the Digital Trends piece points out, though, “LG didn’t outright suggest what the best viewing distance would be for the TV.”

Assuming you're not a cyclops

Then again, though, LG’s curved OLED is cool looking, isn’t it?

Via: [Digital Trends]

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