Anytime you’re viewing a flat monitor head-on, the center of the screen will be closer to you than the edges of that screen. That can lead to a distorted image, and reduced color quality. Engineers have solved this problem by adding curvature to displays because it helps to prevent that distortion by ensuring the viewer is equally close to every part of the display. However, as curved displays have become increasingly popular, researchers have found there are actually several benefits to viewing curved monitors.
What The Studies Show
Curved monitors are amazingly good at providing a comfortable viewing experience and alleviating eye strain. One Harvard study found curved monitors were less likely to produce tired eyes, eye-strain, blurred vision, and difficulty focusing, compared to flat screens. The study was pretty straightforward — participants used a flat or curved display for an extended period of time and then were asked to rate their discomfort. Curved panels were triumphant in every category.
Researchers found people who use flat panels have slower saccade peak speed, meaning viewing the screen causes their eyes to become physically exhausted. Researchers have also found that people are able to finish route-tracing tasks and target-search tasks faster when using curved displays. This may be related to the fact that curvature preferences are strongest during gaming activities.
What’s the Optimal Curvature?
Many manufacturers appear to select their curvature out of a hat. That’s why it’s a good idea to carefully consider reviews before purchasing. Reliable brands like Samsung have done research to figure out the perfect viewing distance, and came up with this calculation to find the best view:
So how much curvature is the right amount? For a screen that’s around 29-32 inches, 3000R is a perfect fit. That number indicates the display has a curvature of 3 meters. Selecting the right curvature can be critical because it determines the optimal viewing distance from your screen, and presumably as well as how effective your display will be at delivering the benefits of curvature. For most curved displays, this distance will be approximately in the area 18”-28” inches from the panel, a comfortable viewing distance for a monitor.
Adding Immersion to a Panel
Given the same viewing distance from a monitor, and the same curvature of the screen, then your viewing angel will become larger as your display becomes larger. That’s why bigger panels create more immersion, and why curved monitors have more immersion than flat monitors of the same size.
Apart from the proven advantages of ultrawide displays, there are a number of speculative advantages. Many game developers (including most infamously Jeff Kaplan) have described ultrawide as an unfair advantage because it allows you to see a larger portion of the battlefield in many games compared to people using 16:9. As for if Kaplan is correct, or the extent to which he is correct, that’s unclear. But what is clear is that industry professionals seem to feel, at times, 21:9 is advantageous to competitive play.
What You Should Remember
Curved is better in many respects. Curved displays are easier to look at for all periods of time, they provide a more immersive viewing experience, and they’re generally more effective. Most people will also concede the aesthetic of a curved display is equally remarkable. And since ultrawide monitors are (almost) the only curved displays that are manufactured, that means ultrawide panels are usually the best choice, both for enjoying multimedia and for getting things done.