The Shape of Things to Come

TV programing is constantly evolving and now, after years of thinner, flatter screens the delivery medium is catching up. Here’s what you should be watching this year.

For a Showoff-Worthy Design: The Curve
Just when TVs were getting flatter than ever, the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was littered with curved panels from nearly every major brand. Don’t buy one because it promises to deliver a more immersive, Imax-like viewing experience—to do that you’ll have to sit really close or have a very wide screen between 80 to 100-inches. Opt for one of the thin, slightly crescent shapes that fits with the modern aesthetic of the space. Samsung’s 78-inch curved LED is $8,000. For shape with a purpose, Sony has a trend-bucking, wedge-shaped, $1,600 smart TV that starts wider at the base and tapers towards the top, tipping back slightly for better sound and viewing.

For the Best Viewing: 4K
TV marketers love acronyms. Who hasn’t heard the salesperson rap on about LED, OLED or 3D? The latest buzzword is 4K, sometimes described as Ultra High Definition (UHD), and it represents a higher number of pixels and more genuine color rendering than HDTV. Investing in one of these badboys (they run from $1,000 for a 40-inch to $40,000 for an 85-inch) buys four times the detail of a standard 1080 HDTV. But seeing that benefit hinges on a few things, namely movies, streaming video and network programing produced with the same technology. Invest in one if the budget allows for a large screen, more than 80 inches, which is ideal to appreciate the detail when sitting about 8 feet away.

For the Chameleon TV: The Mirrored Screen
A large swath of TV inevitably plays a huge role in the décor of a room—and that may not always be a good thing. Hidden Television has a two-way mirror-like panel that works on an atomic level to filter out light. The result is a fully reflective mirror-like surface when the TV is off and a clear picture when it’s on. The special glass is held against the existing TV screen with a decorative picture frame available in a staggering number of colors and profiles. Hung over the fireplace it looks like a normal mirror. The treatment for a standard 32-inch Samsung LED screen is about $4,300.