After years of wondering when flexible displays would finally emerge, they jumped out at opposite ends of the size spectrum from Samsung and LG within a few months of each other. And they were all on show in Las Vegas earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
At the small end were bendable displays in the 6-inch (152mm) LG G Flex phone and in the 5.7-inch (145mm) Samsung Galaxy Round.
At the large end, is a genre that has come out of the blue: bendable TVs – a 77-inch (2m) demonstrator from LG and 85-inch (2.2m) demonstrator from Samsung.
Why would anyone want a bendable TV?
The idea has come from curved TVs, which appeared only recently to improve large-screen TV viewing experience.
“The curved screen gives videos a presence not felt on flat screens whilst a wider field of view creates a panoramic effect that makes the display seem even bigger than it is. The TV screen appears as if it is floating above the metal frame,” said Samsung. “The design creates improved viewing angles and higher contrast from different viewing positions. To maximise the advantages, Samsung has developed the optimal curvature, 4200R, which provides the best picture quality from a normal watching distance of 3-4m.”
However, huge curved screens suit a single central viewer, or a tight cluster of viewers. If people are spread around a room, a flat screen is a better option.
As making the flat/curved decision could put people off committing one way or the other, why not make TVs that will bend their own screens at the touch of a button.
“The range of curvature was determined by taking into account key factors that affect the viewing experience such as screen size and viewing distance,” said LG.
The idea is that by adjusting the curvature, the viewer can tailor the TV viewing angle to their tastes.
“The Flexible OLED TV has been subject to tens of thousands of hours of tests to ensure the reliability and durability,” said LG.
Alongside bendable display TVs, the two companies also competed with very large permanently-curved screen TVs at CES.