When you’re looking at a flat panel, the center of the screen is closer to you than the edges of the screen, which can create image distortion. Engineers began adding curvature to larger monitors because it helps circumvent that distortion by placing the viewer equally close to all parts of the screen. But as curved displays have become more popular, researchers have discovered there are actually many benefits to viewing curved displays.
What the Research Says
Curved monitors are surprisingly effective at reducing eye strain and providing a more comfortable viewing experience. One study by Harvard found curved monitors were less likely to produce blurred vision, tired eyes, difficulty focusing, and eye-strain, compared to flat screens used for the same tasks. Participants were asked to rate their discomfort in a 22-part questionnaire, and curved panels swept the board in every category.
When our eyes make a quick and simultaneous motion in the same direction, this is called a saccade. Researchers have found that people who use flat displays experience reduced saccade peak speed, meaning their eyes become physically exhausted after even brief use. Studies have also found people can finish target search and route tracing tasks faster on curved monitors. That makes curved monitors more ideal for active-viewing, like with gaming. In fact, a similar study found that curvature preferences are strongest for gaming.
What Curvature is Best?
Some manufacturers seem to have chosen their curvature arbitrarily, which is why it’s important to pay attention to reviews. Respectable manufacturers like Samsung have done research to determine the optimal viewing distance, and have found this simple calculation produces the best view:
So in layman’s terms, what is the right amount of curvature? For a 29-32 inch screen, anything in the neighborhood of 3000R is optimally viewable around 2 feet from the screen. (For an closer viewing, you may consider products like the Samsung CF791 which feature a more gentle 1500R curvature.)
What does that mean exactly? 3000R indicates the panel has a curved radius of 3 meters. Choosing the right curvature is important because it helps determine the optimal viewing distance from the screen. For most ultrawide monitors, this will be somewhere between 18-28 inches.
You Also Get More Immersion
If your distance from the panel is kept the same, and the radius curvature is kept the same, then viewing angles will become bigger as displays get bigger. That’s the technical reason why larger panels lead to increased immersion — the immersion of a curved monitor is larger than that of a flat monitor with the same screen size.
The take-away point here is that curved is generally better than flat. Curved screens are easier on the eyes, they’re more effective, and they’re more immersive. Even the aesthetic is undeniably superior to flat panels. Take a look at the the best panels this year, and you can learn more about why ultrawide monitors are the superior choice for both work and play.