Bezel Wars

Jan 20, 2012 No Comments by

At CES (or to give it it’s proper name ‘International CES’ – which in itself is odd seeing as how most American companies seem utterly indifferent to markets outside the US) LG were peddling a TV with a bezel (that’s the ‘frame’ around the screen) that’s just 1 millimetre thick.  It’s a point of difference, so other manufacturers are following suit and everyone is writing about it.

The actual screen is the same size it always was, so the overall effect will be to make the TV seem smaller.

We put pictures in frames before hanging them on the wall because they then look more pleasing to the eye.  Clip frames (that are just a piece of glass with a hardboard backing and no frame) are cheap and easy but don’t look anywhere near as good as a conventional frame.

The default colour of walls on which TVs are mounted is usually white or at least light.  There are few TVs with a white bezel/frame.  Likewise, white is not a popular colour for picture frames unless your wall is painted a dark colour, and few people paint their walls dark colours because dark colours absorb light, making the room seem smaller.

So if you have a TV with a 1mm bezel mounted on a white wall your eye may well be drawn to bits of blank wall ‘in lieu’ of the screen.  Philips (who have now stopped making TVs) sort-of tried this trick with their Ambilight sets; the edges of the screen were illuminated from the rear with a soft glow, the overall effect supposedly being to make the screen seem bigger.  So perhaps a 1mm bezel will achieve the same effect, or perhaps it’s a pointless point of difference.

But this is probably irrelevant.  The sheer volume of blog posts and web pages devoted to anything new/different encourages a self-fulfilling dynamic whereby anyone reading said posts or pages will wonder whether a TV with a 1mm bezel really is something they should covet.  Everyone’s writing about it, so it must be good or important.  Maybe I should care even though I’m not sure why.  Multiply this behaviour and you get a ‘buzz’ and then – what?  Plenty of people were sniffy about the iPad when it was launched. ‘Just an overblown iPod Touch.’  ‘What’s the point? It doesn’t do anything my laptop can’t do.’  And next year 100 million tablets will likely be sold around the world.

What matters most with a TV is the quality of the picture and the refresh rate – the speed with which images are refreshed, making fast action move smoothly as opposed to being a bit juddery.  Advances are being made in both; LED screens and eventually OLED (organic LED – presumably the screens are fed on biodynamic diodes) will replace LCD and processor speed will improve in the same way it’s been doing in computers.

But a TV that’s wafer thin with a 1mm bezel?  Please.

CES 2012