CES: is gadgets flaunting their curves innovation?

Geek mythology

Anyone who enjoys running their fingers down the bleeding edge of technological innovation can currently be found at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, where the brightest technology companies unveil gizmos and then wait with fingers crossed and buttocks clenched for some kind of reaction. Situated as I am, approximately 5,000 miles from CES, I'd hoped to be able to give a dispassionate appraisal of the first couple of days, but, actually, I found myself getting cross. The source of my ire was television – and not in the traditional manner where you throw cushions at politicians spouting drivel on Newsnight. No, this was more about their form and function.

Press day at CES was dominated, both figuratively and literally, by televisions, colossal televisions, imposing objects that stood ridiculously tall and even more ridiculously wide, their pixels shimmering like impossibly tiny jewels. Even before this week kicked off, we knew that LG and Samsung were both going to show off 105in, 11 million-pixel televisions with curved screens, so that wasn't much of a surprise. Neither was the unveiling of various younger siblings and distant cousins – 55in, 65in, 78in, 84in screens, all curved, from TCL and RCA as well as LG and Samsung. But their impact was deadened even further by the question they all seemed to pose: who and what are these TVs actually for?

Let's talk resolution. The tech industry is well used to bombarding us with superficially impressive numbers, and screen resolution provides us with a particularly hilarious example of this. Until fairly recently, resolution was measured by the number of horizontal lines, but to get the numbers up, they're now measured in terms of vertical lines, as there are more of them. So, 1,080p HD televisions (1,920 pixels across) are now referred to as 2K (I suppose 1,920 is near enough to 2,000), while Ultra HDTVs, with 3,840 pixels across, are now 4K. Manufacturers are desperate to persuade us of the benefits of 4K, but do keep in mind that the human eye is unable to perceive the difference between 2K and 4K unless the TV is preposterously huge. Hence, preposterously huge TVs. It's as if manufacturers are locked in a pattern of mutually assured technological indulgence, while consumers sit back and think, "there's no way I'd get that thing up the stairs". Remember 3D? Despite ferocious marketing, few of us could care less about it, but at least we can tell when we're watching it.

And then there's the flaunting of these curves, as the Daily Mail would put it. Samsung showed off an 85in television that can be either flat or curved (pictured), transformed from one state to the other with the press of a button. "It's mesmerising to watch it bend back and forth," said a correspondent for Gizmodo, reminding me of Alan Partridge locking and unlocking his car because he likes the noise it makes. TCL informs us that the arc angle of their curved screens is "the same as your retina", to which I say OK, but is that actually relevant? I can understand why huge cinema screens are curved, because they're receiving images from a curved projector lens and it helps to maintain focus at the edges. But if you tell me that curved televisions offer a "more immersive experience", I'll tell you that I don't think I have the space in my home to achieve "immersiveness", and neither does anyone I know.

Scale those curves down and the benefits are slightly easier to comprehend. LG's G Flex phone, its availability just announced for the US market, comes with a gently curved screen, as does Samsung's Galaxy Round. According to figures coming out of South Korea, the "impressive viewing angles" of these phones haven't proved to be much of a hit with the public thus far, but they do sit better in the hand, they're less prone to screen scratches, and the bendy flexibility of the LG model leaves it less prone to destruction under foot or, indeed, bum.

No, the stuff that really catches my eye at CES tends not to come with accompanying fireworks and fanfare. It's things like Lowe's Iris system, low-cost home automation that changes the way we operate our heating, lighting and security. Mophie's smartphone cases that come with built-in batteries and extra storage. Sleep Number's x12 Smart Bed, which actively improves sleep and helps to stop your partner snoring. Stuff that actually improves our lives, rather than empty promises dressed up with impenetrable jargon.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

    Ashdown Group: Junior SQL DBA - London - £39,000

    £37000 - £39000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: SQL Database Administrato...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Expanding creative studio requi...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin