At the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), companies try to wow the crowds with something new and exciting. One of the surefire draws next month will be at LG Electronics' booth, where the company will unveil a 105-inch Ultra HD TV behemoth (model 105UB9). This TV's size isn't its only unique feature: It also has a curved extra-wide 21:9 screen.
So far there's no word on price, but we expect that to be as oversize as the screen.
Due to its wider aspect ratio, the 105-inch set boasts a 5120x2160 screen resolution, compared to the 3840x2160 resolution found on conventional 16:9 Ultra HD TVs. Because UHD TVs are really just higher-resolution LCD TVs, they require a separate LED backlight.
As a result, LG says, it had to develop new technology to distribute light evenly across the curved panel. But late this year Sony introduced a conventional 65-inch LED-backlit LCD TV with a curved screen (the KDL-65S990A), a set that's now in our latest TV Ratings. LG and Samsung offer curved OLED TVs, which produce their own light so they don't require backlights.
The 105UB9 isn't the first TV we've seen with a 21:9 screen. In 2012, Vizio launched a $2,500 58-inch model (XVT3D580CM), which we reviewed. We felt the TV would appeal primarily to movie buffs, as the main advantage of the 21:9 screen is that you can view the many CinemaScope movies that are shot in the wider 2.35:1 or 2.39:1 aspect ratios without "letterboxing"—black bars appearing above or below the image. (But it also means that 16:9 movies and programs will appear with black bars on the side ("pillarboxing") unless they're scaled to fit the wider screen, which can cause image distortion.)
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The other benefit is being able to view a full 16:9 show or program on most of the screen while you access additional information on the unused section on the side of the screen. With the Vizio set, we were able to access apps or Web-based content; it's not yet clear whether the LG set will work similarly.
The company also didn't reveal the set's features, though we imagine it will be loaded with every bell and whistle LG offers in its TV line for 2014. I guess we'll just have to join the other CES attendees flocking to LG's exhibit booth to get a closer look at the TV's awesomeness as we get more details about its features, availability, and price. As usual we'll post tons of reports and videos from the show, so keep checking back for all of our CES coverage.
—James K. Willcox
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