At the Digital Experience show in Las Vegas last week, one of the coolest items on display was Alienware's curved ultra-wide display prototype. The concave screen shape gives you a feeling of immersion quite unlike what you get with a standard flat screen monitor; more like the traditional field of view you'd get walking around in the real world (peripheral vision, anyone?).
A few days later, we heard that NEC is also preparing to release a similar display, with similar specs, and they were displaying one at MacWorld. Coincidence? Probably not as the design looks pretty similar.
The technology is actually a variation on rear projection, based on Texas Instruments' DLP (Digital Light Processing) engine with LED illumination. LED illumination elmimates the need for a color wheel and provides brighter, more uniform lighting that traditional incandescent or flourescent lamps. And DLP technology enables a lightning fast response time - preliminary refresh rate specs for the two models are given as 2 milliseconds (Alienware) and 0.016 milliseconds (NEC), either of which is significantly faster than LCD and even plasma.
In the home theater market, with price erosion of flat panels, the DLP rear projection market has softened considerably, so Texas Instruments is hoping to branch out a bit and differentiate themselves with cutting edge new features. This recently took shape with the introduction of 3D HDTVs from Samsung and Mitsubishi, and now with these ultra-wide curved monitors. I sat for a few minutes with the Alienware version and it definitely adds a new level of realism without having to put on glasses or goggles.
In addition to gaming, the monitors' detailed resolution and wide real estate could be useful for video editing and digital photography applications.
Alienware's product specifications were not available at press time. NEC's preliminary specifications are included below.
NEC's display was developed in partnership with OEM vendor Ostendo Technologies of Carlsbad, CA - a company so new that their web site is made up of about 5 sentences on 4 pages.
NEC Model CRVD-42DWX+ Details and Specifications