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Desktop Monitors

Curved vs. flat: Which monitor style is best for your health?

Staring at a screen for hours on end can be, in short, bad — causing health problems from neuromuscular issues to eye strain and headaches. New desktop monitor designs, such as wide and curved displays, are making workstations more ergonomic and comfortable. Samsung has led the curved monitor market since it debuted these modern displays five years ago.

At first glance, a curved display might seem gimmicky in the workplace, better suited for hardcore gamers who need visual landscapes that can keep pace with their high-end headsets and liquid-cooled computers. But extra-wide displays, with their sweeping curves, are practical for a wide range of business users.

Reducing eye strain

Our eyes have a curvature to them, so it makes sense to use curved widescreen monitors that mimic our natural field of view.

That logic is also backed up by science. Medical researchers have found that a curved monitor is far more ergonomically friendly than a flat widescreen monitor or multiple monitors tiled together.

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On a flat monitor, the information in the center is closer to the viewer’s eyes than the information at the edges, so the viewer’s eyes have to work harder to focus and refocus as they visually scan their desktop. That problem is more pronounced with wider screens.

By comparison, a curved screen reduces visual strain and distortion by allowing the user to see everything on the screen from roughly the same focal distance.

Monitor curves have numbered technical ratings, with an R following a number representing radius. The smaller the R value, the deeper the monitor’s curve. With new engineering advances, designers are pushing the R value to 1000R on a new breed of Samsung curved widescreen displays. At 1000R, a curved screen closely fits the human field of view. Samsung currently offers curved monitors with 1800R and 1500R ratings.

Easier on the body

Having the right workstation monitor setup is critical to minimizing the risk of work-related musculoskeletal injuries.

In addition to reducing eye strain, a curved monitor is more immersive and enables peripheral vision. The edges of a wide visual canvas are visually drawn in and equally distanced, so users aren’t swiveling their heads to take in all the content.

Effective monitors also allow users to make a variety of adjustments to optimize their setup — with height, tilt and swivel capabilities so users can match the screen with their natural line of sight.

Injury prevention advisory firm ErgoPlus suggests “the monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top no higher than eye level” and “the keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck.”

Spinoff benefits

Few jobs involve working on a single application and task all day, every day. Most jobs require multitasking, with multiple windows open on screen at any given time.

With a widescreen monitor, busy multitaskers can have word processing, email, collaboration and social media windows open all at once — no minimizing or tab-closing necessary.

Some specialized jobs, like creative production and project management, also benefit hugely from widescreens, which allow for full views of large timelines — no scroll bar necessary.

Adopting a wide view

In the office and working from home, widescreen monitors increase productivity, whether they’re flat or curved.

But for power users immersed in their job tasks for hours each day, a curved display may make work easier on their eyes and their body, which will in turn make them more productive and ready to get to work each day.

Find the best desktop monitor for your workstation and your physical health with this interactive assessment that can help narrow the decision-making process. And discover the impact of color technology and refresh rates for desktop monitors.

Posts By

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes is a well-known veteran in the digital signage industry. He consults to some of the world’s largest brands on their digital signage strategy and technical needs, but also spends time mentoring start-ups. A former daily newspaper journalist, Haynes has for the past decade written a highly-respected blog about digital signage, Sixteen:Nine. Follow Dave on twitter @sixteennine

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