As this year’s annual geekfest – the legendary CES technology show – kicked off in Las Vegas today, it became rapidly clear after a full day of press conferences that in 2014, curves are definitely “in.”
From the latest TV models to the newest smartphones, technology manufacturers are falling over themselves to create form fitting designs that are pleasing to eye and ear.
Samsung, the ten-thousand pound gorilla of the consumer TV world, made their boldest statement in this regard today by rolling out what they are claiming is the “world’s first” curved ultra high definition 4K TV. They also spiced up the conversation by adding a second “bendable” model that gives users a choice between flat and bowed.
The premium Samsung offering sets the bar at a 105 inch curved screen while the bendable model is a mere 85 inches.
The bendable TV is an interesting concession to what some have been wondering about since the zeal to start curving screens first became apparent a year or so ago. Maybe consumers don’t necessarily want to view their favorite shows in a curved mode, so why not give them the option to go back to flat if they want?
Samsung’s bendable screen is powered by two small motors mounted on either side of the screen and is controlled by an equally curvy remote.
Not to be outdone, LG Electronics also announced their own curved TV models today, trotting out a 105 inch curved LED set and a 77 inch curved OLED screen. Neither one is bendable but they made sure consumers know they’ve gotten into the curve game.
As a sidebar, LG also made a bit of news today by announcing the integration of webOS in their smart TV models. It’s an interesting move, since webOS failed as a viable operating system for both Palm and Hewlett-Packard. LG bought the technology from HP last year and decided to try it in TVs instead.
The growing movement towards curvy design is not limited to TV screens. Huawei announced today that their newly updated Ascend Mate 2 also will have a curved screen, not a small consideration since the 6.1 inch phone is one of the largest on the market, a leader in the crossover phone and tablet business known as a “phablet.”
Huawei’s new smartphone, as introduced today by their energetic CEO Richard Yu, leaves one wondering if this new product will set a record of sorts for most features ever crammed into one gadget. In less than 30 minutes, Yu ran through a dizzying list of “innovations” for the Ascend Mate 2 that included the “best” screen to body ratio, single thumb navigation, the ability to download a full-length movie in a single minute, compatibility with all mobile networks worldwide, a 5 megapixel front camera with a new panoramic feature, a 13 megapixel rear camera, a glove mode sensor that lets you touch the screen with covered hands, and a battery life of two days.
That last feature is not a misprint. Battery life is very important to Yu and he spent a lot of time today describing how Huawei’s new model will make the other phones look sick in power consumption. In fact, Huawei now offers a “reversible” charger that lets an Ascend Mate 2 user charge someone else’s phone after their friend’s pathetic little battery runs out.
In a press preview last night Samsung executive HS Kim made the point that “so many things in our lives are curved.” For Kim, LG, Huawei and many others gathered at CES this week, they are betting that curvy new products will take them down the road to ever greater profits in 2014.