CES 2008: Wide Open Spaces

CES 2008 ended last week, but the hits keep on coming. This is a monster of a show, and I’ve still got a number of interesting products and issues to cover. Normally, I don’t spend time on computer products here, but this display needs to be mentioned:

The curved display prototype from Ostendo Technologies caused a buzz at CES 2008.

I saw an Ostendo Technologies prototype at the Texas Instruments booth with an NEC nameplate on it, and apparently Alienware had one at their booth with their own brand on it. The 42″ curved display has a resolution of 2,880 by 900 pixels, and the image was created using TI’s DLP imager chips using LED lighting. The company representatives were coy about further details, but it was clear that four imagers were in use in the display. The stitching of the four images was excellent; only lighting differences when viewed off-axis gave away the number of imagers used.

The curved screen is incredibly effective. When working up close with very large displays in the past, I have noticed that it takes an effort to refocus my eyes when shifting my view from the center to a corner of the screen. This is why many multiple-monitor stands are designed so that you can angle the monitors; the distance from your eyes to any point on the monitors is more constant. With a curved screen, you don’t have to refocus and thus I expect that you’ll have much less eye fatigue with extended use. The product is intended to reach gamers initially (though NEC has not announced any pricing or target ship date). It is also well-suited for anyone who is a candidate for a multi-monitor configuration.

So why do I mention this product here? The answer is that we don’t know what forms television will take in the future. As we get more and more content from the Internet, “video” content may no longer adhere to the traditional TV and cinema formats. We may choose to have more information on the screen when watching a show, which will require more display real estate. For example, a fantasy football players may want to watch two or more games at once, as well as have information displays that provide real-time updates of the scores of their teams and opponents. A screen like this is designed for individuals, not a group, but it’s possible that this is where we’re headed for viewing video content.

In a time when rear projection displays are in decline, it’s interesting to note this new design that is different in ways that may be appealing to customers. We’ll know better when it becomes a real product and starts shipping.