Do you remember comparing the difference between CRT and LCD monitors? Well, that's in the past! Today, those shopping for monitors must decide between curved monitors and flat monitors.
Do you know which is best for your needs?
If you don’t, then let’s take a step back.
Long story short, curved monitors are the new flat! At least that’s what it seems like based on the number of curved monitor options entering the market for applications spanning from gaming to work, and even to general entertainment.
With a curved monitor, your eyes are immediately drawn to their flowing curved screen and sleek look – but how do they perform? Below, we’ve set out to compare curved monitors and flat-screen monitors to find out for ourselves. What are the benefits of curved monitors? What are the benefits of flat monitors? Read on below to see our list of curved monitor advantages and full breakdown between curved monitors and flat monitors. Moreover, we will provide some info regarding the ultrawide variants of curved and flat monitors.
In the world of viewable media, immersion is a golden standard to work towards. If a product can make you forget, so to speak, that you’re staring at a screen, then you're much more likely to enjoy the experience.
To create this sense of immersion, products must be engineered in a way that replicates real life. The monitor technology specifically used in this case is called ocular perception. This is something everyone learns from an early age.
We see the world in three dimensions - length, width, and height. If our collective reality was based only in two dimensions, then everything would appear to be flat. This is where the battle of curved vs flat monitors come into play.
Curved monitors take advantage of all three dimensions. Further, they expand on peripheral vision. In contrast, flat monitors, which live up to their namesake and don’t require the use of peripheral vision, offer a weaker immersive experience.
Curved monitor benefit #1:
Imagine how annoying it is when you experience a blurry picture. Next, consider how you feel when that blurriness is not due to a poor internet connection, but instead a hardware issue. In another example, consider how when you enlarge a video or picture, the quality ends up suffering a fair amount of distortion, particularly at the edges.
When it comes to the debate between curved vs. flat monitors, the situations above are almost exclusively associated with flat monitors. Although examples of distortion can occur on screens of any size, they become more prevalent as monitor size increases. Less distortion is one of the advantages of curved monitors over flat monitors as distortion issues are minimized on curved monitors.
There is a simple explanation for this.
The difference between curved and flat screen distortion comes down to the physics of light projection. Put simply, flat screens blast their images in a straight line, both at the viewers and past their sides. Curved screens, on the other hand, take advantage of their shape, and aim everything at the viewer, thus limiting distortion.
The same physics that limit curved-screen distortion also make their use more comfortable. Essentially, the curvature of the monitors allows our eyes to take in everything at once, without strain.
This comes in opposition to flat screens, which, depending on the size, may cause eyestrain if the screen exceeds a viewer’s natural field of view. The ability to take in a scene without strain is something that occurs naturally in everyday life.
By being able to take in the entirety of a curved screen, even at its largest sizes, your eyes will take advantage of that natural feeling to remain comfortable. All in all, when considering curved vs. flat monitors, bear in mind that your eyes will be able to do their job more comfortably when viewing the former.
When researching curved vs. flat monitors, it's common for the specs of curved screens to correlate greater immersion with superior field of view. Frankly, this is true for the same reasons that curved screens are also more comfortable than their flat counterparts.
Since a curved screen directs light from all angles towards the viewer’s eye, the idea is that you will be able to take everything in without much ocular exertion. Therefore, if your eyes are more easily covering a larger field of view, as compared to flat screens, then curved monitors will thus feel larger.
An additional benefit of a wider field of view is that it also attributes to your perceived level of immersion.
Nothing is ever 100% perfect; there’s always a catch. Although that certainly goes for claims that appear too good to be true, it, unfortunately, goes for curved screens as well
Thankfully, the drawbacks of curved screens are very minor and will probably not be sending any buyers running for the hills to purchase flat screens instead.
First and foremost, as a result of its eponymous shape, curved screens face difficulty when it comes to wall mounting. Unlike flat screens, which are typically flush with the adjacent wall, curved screens require specific mounts and positioning in order to be mounted.
Broadly speaking, curved screens necessitate a situation where they are kept from being too close to the wall. Although they don’t resolve the fact curved screens will jut out, tilt & swivel brackets and adjustable arm mounts are great options to overcome the hurdle of mounting in general.
The good news here that this is mostly a superficial issue and has no impact on performance.
Due to the geometry involved in its curvature, a curved screen will regrettably be prone to glare, when viewed at certain angles. As compared to a flat screen, which projects light at a single uniform angle, curved screens will do so at a countless number.
With that in mind, while it is easy to keep light sources away from a single angle, it may become nigh impossible when dealing with many.
The best way to mitigate this issue is to place the screen away from as many light sources as possible. Or, simply using your monitor with most lights turned off.
A frequent adage is that bigger is better – ultrawide monitors are a testament to this statement.
Although monitors have come in many sizes for a long time, it is a somewhat recent development that curved monitors have also made an appearance in the ultrawide space. These ultrawide curved monitors are different because they utilize a 21:9 aspect ratio as opposed to the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio.
As you can see in the image above, the 21:9 ultrawide monitor offers approximately 33% more horizontal screen real estate than the standard 16:9 monitor. The resulting ultrawide curved combination fits together nicely and it would make sense to go with an ultrawide curved monitor over a standard 16:9 curved monitor. Having the extra horizontal screen real estate of an ultrawide monitor further accentuates the benefits of curved monitors that we outlined above.
Furthermore, for those who require multiple displays for work or gaming-related purposes, ultrawide monitors will allow you to ditch the other screen. In regard to gaming, some games even support the ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio, resulting in all the benefits of a curved monitor for gaming plus an extended field of view in-game!
For more on the benefits of an ultrawide monitor, check out this ultrawide vs. dual monitor comparison article. In certain situations, this shift could help increase productivity and efficiency, as well as open up extra space on your desk and power extension cord.
If you like the sound of upgrading to a curved monitor or ultrawide curved monitor, we've left links to a few of our top picks below:
144Hz Refresh Rate / 1080p / 1800R
144Hz Refresh Rate / 1440p / 1800R
Ultrawide Professional Color / WQHD+ / 21:9 / 2300R