Saturday, 25 January 2014

Curved = Flat

I learnt something new about curved screens today (thanks to a demo model in John Lewis, Cambridge..)... If you view the screen from relatively close, it actually looks flat. It's a wierd optical illusion but it works and may turn out to be important for desktop displays.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Ultra HD + Curved makes sense for the desktop

Most computer displays these days are re-hashed TV lcd displays, hence the prevalent 1920x1080 pixel form-factor. This resolution limits the screen size on your desktop to maybe 24" - anything larger and your sitting too close to a fuzzy mess. I have two screens on my office computer - a 20" 1600x1200 (portrait) and a 37" 1920x1080. The latter is just a TV used via its DVI input, and is pretty awful to use for office apps like Word or Excel (but it's great for spinning around in the office and sharing when we're looking at application screenshots...). I suspect many people's expectation of a 'sensible' monitor size is actually based on what's available, constrained by this limitation.

TV's are obviously going Ultra HD (i.e. 3840x2160) - this will happen even though media content at this resolution will lag far behind. The price will be below $1000 in 2014. Ultra HD displays are just too good for digital displays for this opportunity to be missed.  Even when viewing HD media content, at the very least you will be able to shrink the video window and display the online guide, or program info, or whatever on the same screen.

If you accept the above premise (Ultra HD TV's will become affordable quickly), the first benefit is to computer users who want a larger display.  A 50" Ultra HD panel has excellent pixel density for a high quality display.
But if you have the screen a couple of feet in front of you (i.e. on your desk), a large flat display is less easy to see than a curved one. This is demonstrable from the many users (including me, at home) that have three similar displays on their computer. These are always angled into a curve for convenient viewing. In my case with three 20" 1600x1200 monitors (all portrait), the outer monitors are set at maybe a 40 degree offset from the center. So the current delicate curve is probably sub-optimal for a desktop.

I can understand readers of this thinking "A 50" desktop display? That's crazy large and I'll never do it." but why at work in your office would you want a 80" desk and only a 20" screen?