Tell February 2014 : Page 16

MAKE THAT, SCREEN! The 65” KDL-65S990A Curved LED HDTV By Marshal M. Rosenthal ony didn’t earn their reputation by playing it safe—or by not taking chances that other TV mak-ers would blanch at. That’s why I wasn’t all that surprised to hear that Sony was making a “curved” HDTV available in limited quantities (the Sony KDL-65S990A Curved LED HDTV—retail $3,999). So I hoofed over to the Video & Audio Center in Santa Monica (Calif.) to see it for myself. The first thing I noticed was that the KDL-65S990A’s chassis was easily twice as thick as that of the Sony 4K UltraHD TV nearby: that made sense since there has to be room for the 65” screen’s physical curvature. That also made room for the six-speaker audio system (40 watts)—tradition-al box speakers could be used, which translates into really good sound. But most impressive was the way that the images play-ing across the display compared to that of other flat screen HDTVs nearby; the Sony’s curved screen seemed more enveloping. It made me think back to the greater feeling of immersion I had upon first seeing a wide screen Cinema-Scope presentation of the movie 2001, where the images at the extreme edges of the screen caught and held my periph-eral vision even as I looked straight ahead. So was all this some optical trick or what? To get some answers. I hunted down Ray Stanley, Sony’s Manager, TV Product Planning. Sony Tosses a Curve Ball ... 16 technologytell.com February 2014

Sony Tosses a Curve Ball ... MAKE THAT, SCREEN!

Marshal M. Rosenthal

<br /> The 65” KDL-65S990A Curved LED HDTV<br /> <br /> Sony didn’t earn their reputation by playing it safe—or by not taking chances that other TV makers would blanch at. That’s why I wasn’t all that surprised to hear that Sony was making a “curved” HDTV available in limited quantities (the Sony KDL- 65S990A Curved LED HDTV—retail $3,999). So I hoofed over to the Video & Audio Center in Santa Monica (Calif.) to see it for myself.<br /> <br /> The first thing I noticed was that the KDL-65S990A’s chassis was easily twice as thick as that of the Sony 4K UltraHD TV nearby: that made sense since there has to be room for the 65” screen’s physical curvature. That also made room for the six-speaker audio system (40 watts)—traditional box speakers could be used, which translates into really good sound.<br /> <br /> But most impressive was the way that the images playing across the display compared to that of other flat screen HDTVs nearby; the Sony’s curved screen seemed more enveloping. It made me think back to the greater feeling of immersion I had upon first seeing a wide screen Cinema- Scope presentation of the movie 2001, where the images at the extreme edges of the screen caught and held my peripheral vision even as I looked straight ahead.<br /> <br /> So was all this some optical trick or what? To get some answers. I hunted down Ray Stanley, Sony’s Manager, TV Product Planning.<br /> <br /> Tell: The obvious question first—why a curved screen?<br /> Ray Stanley: Studies indicate that screens that are curved cause less eyestrain—after all, the eye is curved itself. Take a closer look at the movie screen the next time you go to a theater—you’ll see that the screen is actually curved, not flat. It’s designed this way to wrap around and give you the full image to look at, the cinematic experience, which is why you went there. Plus the viewing angle as you move off to the side is larger as a result. You’re not penalized from not being seated directly across from the screen’s center. When we go to home viewing, consider the days of the CRT tube models. Here the glass in front is actually curved “away” from the viewer—it’s not inviting and the viewing angle really suffered as you had to be pretty much dead center if you didn’t want to lose out. Flat panels and larger screens look better, obviously, but still there has to be that “sweet spot” that requires being positioned more in front than off to the sides. But by having a curved screen for home viewing, the viewing angle is dramatically increased, there’s practically no drop off even at the extreme edges. This makes for better viewing for the home and a more cinematic experience akin to that of a movie theater screen.<br /> <br /> Tell: So a curved screen provides a “better” view?<br /> Stanley: Because of the curved screen, 2D images look more 3D—that’s especially true in images where depth is present, such as watching golfing or an NFL game in play. There’s a real advantage to watching on a curved screen compared to that of a conventional HDTV—you could watch three NFL games in a row, for example, because there’s less eyestrain. And since the viewing angle is increased, more people can be off-axis and still get as good an experience as someone seated directly in front (the “sweet spot”).<br /> <br /> Tell: How difficult is it to make a curved HDTV, especially at this size?<br /> Stanley: It’s certainly a more sophisticated process to physically make a curved screen. But just as important is the amount of curvature that the screen has. Sony did a lot of studies on this, the most recent being done this year in Tokyo so as to understand what the curvature needed to be. What Sony came up with was that an increase of four percent would be optimal for the 65-inch panel.<br /> <br /> Stanley pointed out that the KDL-65S990A is in limited distribution and that it needs to be seen to be appreciated: “It’s our first dive into a curved consumer television and we’re using all the technology that drives our high-end displays so as to provide a fantastic picture within the set’s ‘curved’ confines,” he said, adding that it’s not something to talk about or look at brochures or gawk at on the Internet— it has to be seen in person, which is why it makes sense for Sony having it presented in showrooms like the V&AC, so that consumers can go and get up close and personal with it. I have to agree—that’s the only way to truly experience what the KDL-65S990A offers.

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