The world of technology is a fickle one. Industry standards are constantly changing and evolving, which means the next big thing can be yesterday’s news in the space of a year or less. This is true of TVs, despite them being an infrequent purchase.
Usually when TV technology changes, though, it doesn’t lead to the removal of what came before it. A good example is the shift from standard definition to high definition, then to full HD and on to 4K: 2017 TVs can display stunningly sharp, vibrant 4K images, but you can also still watch standard-definition Coronation Street on them.
Sometimes though, TV features quietly go away.
Best Buy TVs – amazing TVs whether curved, 4K, 3D or all three
Bid farewell to 3D at home
Chances are the next Marvel movie will be in 3D and maybe the next Star Wars, too, but you won’t be able to watch them that way at home on a 2017 TV.
Samsung dropped support for 3D in 2016, and the two remaining holdouts, LG and Sony, have now followed suit. This decision will be based on user data – why add the cost of 3D to future models if people aren’t using it?
Outside of 3D Blu-rays, there weren’t many ways to watch 3D content. Sky had a 3D channel, launched in 2010, that broadcast a mixture of movies, sport and documentaries. It shut down five years later. The BBC had a go too. It showed the Olympics and Strictly Come Dancing in 3D but, with viewing figures low, it suspended 3D programming in 2013.
A few others also had a stab at 3D, Virgin included, but the demand simply wasn’t there. The success of 3D films such as Avatar couldn’t be replicated in the home, despite 3D TVs becoming affordable in much the same way that 4K ones are now.
3D films are still on at the cinema
Despite LG, Samsung and Sony giving 3D TVs the boot, their 4K Blu-ray players are still 3D-compatible. The LG UP970 and Sony UBP-X800, announced at CES 2017, will play 3D Blu-rays. It seems odd that these companies continue to support 3D on their 2017 Blu-ray players but not their TVs.
There are still plenty of 3D films coming to cinemas in 2017, however, with around four a month on average. You’ll likely still be able to purchase 3D Blu-rays, too – you just won’t be able to watch them on the newest TVs. Thankfully, most 3D Blu-rays also come with a 2D version of the film. But you’d expect an expensive, top-of-the-line TV to have every feature and, since the removal of the technology hasn’t been matched by the removal of 3D Blu-ray discs for sale, it could cause confusion.
Shouldn’t all TVs be curved by now?
While curved TVs never had as much of a marketing push as 3D, they were still an option alongside flatscreen models. And why introduce something if it isn’t better than the alternative?
There are pros and cons to curved TVs. They are supposedly more immersive because the curve wraps around you and into your peripheral vision, thereby drawing you in. The shape also creates a greater sense of depth. To get the most out of your curved TV, though, you need to be sat right in front of it. The curve naturally decreases the optimal viewing angle.
And to really see the benefit, a curved TV needs to be big, or you need to be sat very close to it, which is the argument made for curved PC monitors. At CES, we saw a raft of 65-inch or bigger TVs, but most of them were flat.
So does that mean curved TVs will go the way of 3D? LG, Panasonic and Sony introducing more OLED TVs suggests it’s not likely: OLED has a wider viewing angle than LED, mitigating one of the major pitfalls of curved TVs. And even though Samsung hasn’t jumped on the OLED bandwagon, its new QLED range still has some curved options.
Is 4K here to stay?
Curved TVs will continue to be a side note to flatscreens, but 4K isn’t going anywhere for now. While it will eventually give way to 8K, that’s not going to be any time soon. Broadcasters and streaming services are only just starting to offer 4K programming, so don’t worry about your TV being immediately out of date. Even if you see 8K sets getting announced, it will be many years before they’re cheap enough and there’s a big enough library of 8K content to make them worthwhile.