If you take a quick gander at photos of curved HDTVs and monitors, they do look amazing and a bit futuristic. But does this subtle change in shape of the panel really do anything for you as the consumer?
The short answer is no.
To prove that point, make sure to hop onto Amazon and check out Samsung’s 55-inch Curved 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV, which is currently on sale for $498, about 30% off the regular price.
It’s a darn good deal, but if you do decide to splurge on this particular panel, make sure you do it for the right reasons. Don’t fall into the gimmicky cosmetic trap of curved screens—know that this 4K TV, with or without the curve, is a nice budget option for everyday TV watching and movie nights.
Despite what some advertisements claim, this curved set provides no increase in immersion and does not improve picture quality. In fact, after you get into a show or a film, you won’t even know that the curve is there, as it basically disappears.
There is, however, one positive aspect to having a curved set—the shape can, in fact, somewhat help reduce those annoying reflections. So, if you find yourself often watching TV during the daytime or in a bright room, this might come in handy.
As for Samsung’s curved offering, this 4K TV delivers decent picture quality that can produce deeper blacks than what you would expect from a $500 set. Keep in mind that its HDR performance is quite limited, as the wide color gamut is pedestrian and it doesn’t get overly bright.
It also doesn’t come with today’s much-coveted advanced gaming features like FreeSync, so if you’re waiting for the next-gen gaming consoles from PlayStation or Xbox, maybe this isn’t the right panel for you.
This TV employs Samsung Smart TV, which can be a mixed bag for some. Much like its Korean archrival LG’s webOS platform, it has a pleasant stripped-down interface but it really lacks any real punch that is needed for today’s data-heavy streaming TV world. Yes, it offers access to run-of-the-mill popular apps like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, but a more robust platform like Android TV or Roku will give you much more bang for your buck.
Featuring two pretty average 10W speakers, what this particular TV won’t be is a hub for your music. As a $500 budget TV, the speakers are understandably lackluster, though they could possibly work in smaller rooms or the kitchen. If you’re seeking a more immersive cinema-like experience, it’s best to shop around for a decent soundbar.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.