Curved vs. Flat: Are Curved Monitors Better?
Curved monitors are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a more immersive experience since they fill up more of your peripheral vision and prevent distractions. Sales are exploding with over 10% year-on-year growth. Both curved and flat monitors can help improve your work, but which screen will work best for you? We've broken down some key differences to help you decide between flat and curved monitors.
Why make the switch from flat monitors?
We see the world in 3D. A flat-screen monitor is like a regular TV, but a curved screen is immersive like IMAX. A curved monitor mimics how we see and lets you have a better field of view. The panel's curvature directs light towards your eye from all angles creating a more natural, clearer, and immersive experience. So, you can focus keenly on your work and prevent outside distractions. This experience can be hard to beat if you're a gamer.
When using a curved monitor, you may forget that you're staring at a screen, and the benefits are:
- Improved picture quality
- Higher resolutions
- Color consistency
- Less eye strain
Understanding the curve
When shopping for a curved monitor, you'll see 1800R, 2300R, 3000R, and 4000R. The R stands for radius - the total distance from the curved screen edges to its center. The number is this radius in millimeters. The smaller the number, the greater the curvature.
For example, the Acer Predator X38 Gaming Monitor curvature rating is 2300R - 2300mm or 2.3 meters. This number is the recommended maximum viewing distance. So, for a 2300R screen, you should also sit no further from the screen than 2.3 meters away from it.
Of course, few users are that far from a computer screen. So, when you move closer, the curve creates a panoramic, immersive experience as the screen's edges almost envelop you. This 3D effect, which a flat screen can't do, can reduce eyestrain.
Which is better, 1800R or 4000R?
There isn't a single answer. A lower curvature is a sharper curve, while a higher rating is a more subtle curve.
Curved monitors come in different sizes, but larger sizes are better as the curve effects diminish as screens get smaller.
Our eyes natural curvature is 1000R. So, for the most immersive gaming experience, a display closer to this number is better. For an ultrawide monitor - a slight curve is recommended for comfortable viewing.
What are the 5 benefits of curved monitors?
1) Immersive viewing experience
If a monitor makes you forget that you're staring at a screen, you're much more likely to enjoy the experience. Curved displays give a slight 3D effect and wrap around your vision. This engrossing experience takes your gaming to new levels of excitement and realism.
2) Reduced eye strain
For most people, we look at monitors for significant periods of time. Prolonged exposure can cause discomfort, including:
- Burning sensations
- Blurred vision
- Dry eyes
Curved monitors are more comfortable for our eyes because they:
- Follow the natural curvature of our eyes compared to flat screens
- Refract light in a way that your eyes absorb natural light
One Harvard Medical School study shows that eye strain and aches are 60% more common on flat than curved monitors. Plus, Curved monitors significantly reduce eye stress compared to flat screen monitors.
3) Improved gaming experience
Curved monitors are popular with gamers because you feel more immersed in the game. The curves help bring you into the game. The curved screen ensures that each pixel is angled toward you, providing better color consistency than a flat-screen display. First-Person Shooter (FPS) games feel more realistic as the screen is bending around your field of view.
4) Curved monitors eliminate distortion
Less distortion is a significant advantage curved screens have over flat screens. Curved screens reduce the distortion at the monitor's edges. Flat screens project their light straight ahead, whereas curved screens aim light at the viewer, thus limiting distortion.
5) A Wider field of view
The screen edges are farther from your eyes than the center when looking at a flat monitor. The distance between your eyes and the screen is the same on a curved screen. So, images feel bigger leading to higher levels of immersion. Another benefit of curved ultrawide monitors is that they are great for multitasking or doing work that requires you to have multiple windows open at once.
What are the downsides of curved monitors?
Curved monitors aren't suitable for everyone. These are the factors you should think of:
Due to their unique construction, curved monitors are more expensive than similar-sized flat monitors. But, prices are falling because of their increased popularity and broader use.
2) One-Viewer screen
For best viewing, one has to position themselves in the center of the screen.
A curved monitor shows pixels from an optimal angle to the viewer, which means that others won't get as good a view. So, if you often share your screen with others, you might want to reconsider.
3) Space can be an issue
Curved monitors take up more space than flat monitors. A curved monitor has roughly 33% more depth than a standard screen. So - it could be difficult for cramped spaces.
4) Wall mounting is difficult
Curved screens are more difficult to mount because it is not as easy to flush them against the wall, and they will jut out awkwardly. There's also a more limited selection of desk mounts for curved monitors.
5) Glare and reflections
The curved display can catch light from more angles and create glares and reflections, making the screen more difficult to look at.
You'll want to angle light sources away and ensure the sun doesn't shine directly on the screen from your window.
Are curved monitors good for gaming?
Yes. We'd recommend a gaming monitor with a curved display as the world around us isn't flat, so curved monitors better mimic a three-dimensional space than flat monitors. The screen’s curvature matches the shape of your eyes, so game play feels intense and hyper-realistic.
You're still playing a game on a screen, but the monitor's curvature helps create the illusion of peripheral vision, making gameplay more mesmerizing.
Curved monitors for PC gaming provide a larger field of view and make your gaming experience more immersive and your eyes comfortable.
Should you get a curved monitor?
Curved screens offer some notable benefits and will provide a better user experience. They are ideal for gamers but may be less suitable for people who use their PC mainly for productivity.
If you have enough space, proper lighting, and spend time playing games, a curved display is probably best. An ultra-widescreen may take some time to get used to, but you'll have a larger area to view your work and efficiently multitask.
If you're more space-constrained, don't have much control over your room's lighting, and stick to more general computing tasks like web browsing and writing a flat panel display is probably better.
If your primary focus is gaming, you may benefit from a more aggressive curve, as it will create a more immersive experience.
Decide what you will use it for, and once you have determined your priorities, you are ready to make that purchase.
What to look for in a curved monitor
Are you ready to upgrade your monitor for a more mesmerizing experience? Curved monitors vary in:
But which monitor is right for you? The choice can be overwhelming. We'd recommend test-driving a few to determine which is right for you. These are the top 3 features to look out for:
1) The Curve
- How much curvature is correct for you? This is the most critical factor to consider when buying a curved monitor.
- Test a few out to see which viewing experience suits you: the more curvature, the more immersive the viewing experience. So if you're a hardcore gamer, then a deep curve might be perfect.
- However, a gentle curve might be better if you're using your monitor primarily for work.
2) Screen size
- An important decision you'll need to make is screen size. There's no right or wrong answer here. Find a curved monitor that will fit your own space.
- Curved monitors are usually larger than standard monitors, ranging from 27 inches to 49 inches wide. The latter can fit about three apps side by side if that's important for your work.
- Curved monitors take up more room than their flat counterparts. So you might not want to choose a screen that's too big if you don't have lots of space.
3) Screen resolution
- The higher your screen resolution, the better the picture will look. So, don't settle for anything less than full HD. For an even sharper picture experience, invest in a 4k curved monitor.
Curved monitors might be perfect for you if you want to improve your working environment, ease eye strain, or enjoy a fully immersive gaming experience.
Try out a few options to see if you are after a gentle curve or an angled curve before buying. Whichever screen you opt for, upgrading to a curved monitor has many incredible benefits.
Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.