Curved monitor vs flat

Svetlana November 11 2021

As curved monitors become more popular, you may want to know more about them and how they differ from flat displays aside from the obvious design aspect. How do the two options differ? How do I make the right choice? We are here to help.

How do curved monitors work?

The curvature of the screen is often based on an inverse tangent function, or it can be shaped like a bowl. Either way, the curve will affect how your eyes perceive the size of items on the display; small objects will look bigger and vice versa. This effect works in the same way as when you view something from above or below.

Curves and PPI

PPI is a complicated concept that can be made simple. The PPI of a monitor actually doesn't tell you the exact amount of pixels, but it provides an average from ideal conditions. In other words, this number tells how good the display will look under normal circumstances.

With curved monitors, this number has little relevance as their curve isn't noticeable unless you really look for it here and there. So choose your monitor based on screen size first, whether or not it's curved second – and then think about PPI only if you have money to burn.

Next to screen size, pay attention to refresh rate – although higher PPI does correlate to high refresh rates in most instances, so check out both numbers before making a choice.

As mentioned, the curve of your monitor can be based on an inverse tangent function or shaped like a bowl to allow for various depth levels. Curved monitors are often used in flight simulators as they provide increased peripheral vision and immersive experience.

The flight simulator industry uses hyperbolic curves that are created using trigonometric functions – this is because hyperbolic functions are continuous, which ensures that the curve doesn't have any breaks or changes in its shape.

Because the real world isn't perfect, however, all but one brand of curved monitors today use inverse tangent curves which don't need to be corrected with anti-aliasing software after being outputted from graphics programs.

Curved monitors come in three different shifts – 30, 40, and 50 – which represent the radius of curvature. The higher the shift, the deeper the curve. You can read more about what each shift means here

Aspect ratio

If you're a fan of wide-screen TVs, you should know that curved monitors use standard widescreen aspect ratios – 16:9, 16:10, and 21:9 – as well as ultra-widescreen at 3440 X 1440 pixels for those who don't want to miss any details in their games.

Disadvantages of curved monitors

Curved monitors are more expensive than flat screens. Because most consumers don't use curved displays in their daily lives, there aren't any major gaming brands that rely on it to set themselves apart from the competition with unique designs.

This is not to say that curves are bad but when specs are similar between two products, you might want to choose the cheaper one if only for the sake of keeping more money in your pockets.

As stated above, curved monitors offer less space per inch due to their curvature – this means that they're bigger despite having a smaller diagonal measurement. The exact amount of space that you lose also depends on what you're viewing. If you want to read text, the amount of screen real estate lost will be more noticeable than when looking at pictures or watching movies.

If you want to game in front of your monitor while laying down flat on your stomach, a curved monitor is not for you.

The similarities between curved and flat monitors

First off, most of the basics are exactly the same aside from the curvature. Panel types such as So a 1000R display might be small, but it will be very curved. When you choose a 4000R display, you get a huge screen that is almost flat. Most people seem very comfortable with 1500R-2300R displays. 

The other similarities include:

  • Thin bezels around the display
  • Freesync (if you get a curved gaming monitor)
  • Mounting options such as VESA, wall mounts, and more.

Curves and viewing distance of curved vs flat monitors

When comparing curved and flat monitors, curved monitors are primarily about taking better account of the natural depth that human eyesight has. Flat monitors don't offer this depth, but curved monitors feel more natural once you get used to them. They have become so popular because they convey a sense of depth that is both mild enough to be enjoyed and not as unnatural as wearing 3D glasses. 

As for the viewing distance, it's easy to remember. If your monitor is 1900R, it is best to sit 1.9 meters away from it. The total radius of the monitor is also the best viewing distance. If it's 1500R, then 1.5 meters. The monster with 4000R? 4 meters!

Since curved monitors correspond so well to natural vision, calculating the viewing distance is child's play for them, in contrast to the rather confusing guessing game that calculates the viewing distance for traditional flat screens.

A new curve for games and much more

Curved monitors not only provide better adaptation to the natural human vision, but they also keep your eyes the same distance from every point on the screen. With a large, flat 43-inch monitor, you have to move your head to see the details around the edges, which can lead to fatigue over time. 

Unless the monitor is of very good quality, uneven distance from the eyes to the screen usually results in slightly poorer picture quality due to different viewing angles and distances. Colors may appear faded, the screen may appear too light or too dark, and so on. In the battle between curved and flat monitors, this is a disadvantage that curved monitors compensate for.

You get the same viewing distance to every part of the screen.VA and IPS are the same for flat and curved displays. Frame rates, response times, color depth, AMD FreeSync, and NVIDIA G-Sync, and the entire technical basis are essentially identical. 

It's not that flat or curved monitors have an advantage in terms of refresh rate, response time, color depth, HDR, or the like. Even the resolutions tend to be the same, although curved monitors tend to have ultra-wide screen ratios with resolutions like 3440 x 1440, as we'll see in a moment.

But if you're worried about missing out on something fundamental by choosing between flat and curved monitors, then don't worry.

Comparing curved monitor vs. flat

If you compare curved monitors to flat ones, you'll find numbers like 1000R, 1800R, or 2300R just for curved ones. The R stands for the radius, and the number reflects the distance from edge to edge of the monitor. For example, a 2300R display is eight feet from edge to edge. That would be a pretty large monitor, but with a very mild curvature.

This is because the smaller the R, the closer the edges of the curve are to each other and the more aggressive the curve is. Therefore, smaller monitors also offer the most noticeable curvature.

Curved monitors are more expensive, have better resolution for the size, have better color reproduction, and are also thinner than conventional flat screens of the same size. Their price is slightly higher, but they're still reasonably affordable to most buyers.

The advantage is that you get a much larger screen in your home at the cost of an ultra-wide 16:9 aspect ratio instead of traditional widescreen 16:10 ratios.

However, if you already own a 1440p monitor with a 16:10 ratio or even one with 4K UHD, there's no real need to shell out extra cash for curved display technology. Instead of dropping several thousand dollars on a top-of-the-line curved screen that offers all of the same features of a flat monitor, it would be better to get an extra monitor for your gaming setup.

Curved monitors are really only beneficial if you want to go all out and throw down on one of the best gaming setups possible. They're less versatile than flat displays in many ways, but they do offer a fantastic experience when playing video games or using other media that is optimized for them.

If you long for the day when curved TVs replace flat ones, then we can tell you right away: it will probably never happen because there's no real difference between them apart from the shape of the display.

How do I know if I should go curved?

In general, if you have two displays with comparable quality and resolution, but one has a flat-screen while the other is curved, you should choose to buy a monitor with a curved screen for this reason: they are more immersive than regular displays due to their design that wraps around people's field of vision.

Curved monitors can make games fee asl if you are actually inside of them, and for this reason, these monitors tend to be more expensive than regular displays with the same specs.

Choosing between flat and curved monitors

Okay, so we've touched on the basics of these two types of displays; how do you choose once you know what to look for? First off, it's important that your ideal display has all the features you want: resolution, refresh rate, color gamut, warranty, and so on.

Then you might answer some questions such as: Do I prefer an immersive experience or do I like working with multiple windows open at the same time? How can I use my display most efficiently? Does the curve make me feel comfortable? Do I like the stand, or can it be improved?

If you answer those questions and find that curved monitors suit your specific needs, great! Go for it. Otherwise, stick to flat displays. The choice is always yours; we've provided everything you need to make an informed decision and now it's up to you.

Conclusion

Overall, we don't necessarily recommend curved monitors over regular ones. Their advantages aren't necessarily "big" enough to warrant an expensive investment and you should consider whether the benefits they offer are worth it for your particular situation.

We can say that you should really try a curved display before making any purchasing decision; after all, there is always something about them that makes them special and this varies from person to person. If you decide that the curve is not very noticeable (and even invisible) and if it offers no real value to your setup, then straight up to avoid curved monitors like the plague.