Hang on, is LG secretly bringing back curved TVs?

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Outside of 3D, curved TVs are probably one of the most unwise gimmicks in the industry. Unless you were at a very specific point in front of them, they resulted in a distorted image, harsh reflections and a generally unpleasant viewing experience, without any benefit. Seriously, they were awful. It felt like curved TVs happened because companies could make, rather than because they should.

It took me some time to realize it, but LG’s new 42-inch OLED Flex, announced at IFA this week and hoping to launch 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 messed things up a bit by placing the OLED Flex on a desk as a monitor in the demo room. But make no mistake, this is a TV-ass TV. It has four HDMI 2.1 inputs, runs WebOS and has a built-in TV tuner. It’s a television.

Well, it’s a TV with a pretty interesting trick: it transforms. At the push of a button, a series of motors inside the unit begin to buzz, turning it from a traditional flat TV to a curved TV. (You can also control the bending process with the navigation button at the bottom of the screen.) Or at least a curved TV that looks a lot like a curved monitor. That’s how it can avoid the bent TV curse; it is not always curved. It’s an interesting approach that means you shouldn’t have to deal with the problems the curve creates if you don’t experience its benefits.

From the back, the TV looks a lot like a gaming monitor.

To show exactly when you want a curved TV, LG had the racing game Forza Horizon 5 connected to the screen and encouraged people to sit about three to four feet away from it to get the most of the vision-enclosing benefits of a curved screen. At its maximum, the screen can bend to an impressively curved 900R, but it can be adjusted with a percentage slider in 5 percent increments, for a total of 20 different curvatures. It was hard to tell amid the noise from the IFA show floor, but the buzzing sound was definitely noticeable, and it goes without saying that you probably wouldn’t want to hear it mid-game.

Aside from the curved mechanism and sturdy stand, the LG OLED Flex is basically the same as LG’s existing 42-inch C2 TV. It has the same LG Display OLED Evo panel and supports both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (it can create a virtualized 7.1.2 surround sound). It has a 4K resolution, an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a maximum refresh rate of 120 Hz. Of course, that means it looks just as good in practice as LG’s popular OLED range.

The LG OLED Flex probably isn’t cheap. LG spokesmen declined to confirm how much the TV will cost when it goes on sale later this year, but considering this thing actually includes an entire $1,399 LG C2, plus a set of undoubtedly very complex mechanisms to make the automatic bending process work. I’m guessing we’re looking at a device that costs at least $2,000. Is it worth it for a 42-inch screen?

When it’s flat, it’s almost indistinguishable from a 42-inch LG C2.

The TV at its maximum curve.

One argument could be that the OLED Flex is in fact two products in one. It is a traditional flat OLED TV on the one hand and a curved gaming monitor on the other. But I’m less sure how a hybrid screen like this would fit into most people’s homes. Does LG expect customers to place it as a curved monitor on their desk, ready to be turned into a TV for watching movies? Or is it supposed to be placed on a cabinet like a regular TV, but with the option to pull your seat really close and put it into curved mode for some immersive gaming action? I’m not entirely sure.

Between this and Corsair’s own take on the bendable 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 are entering a new era of curved displays. Curved TVs have never really taken off, but curved monitors have proved quite popular in recent years. LG’s OLED Flex seems to bridge that gap.

Photos by Jon Porter / The Verge

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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