When you roll your future TV out of sight into a little box, thank LG Display.
The leader in big-screen OLED manufacturing, not satisfied to debut the first CES: a 65-inch 4K OLED display that's, get this, rollable., showed off another world's first at
Although some concept big-screen TVs shown at past CES shows have been , this is the first one that's flexible enough to spin up into tube form. LG's images depict it descending into a little box the size of a sound bar, but the company also talks about making the display portable. The secret, as usual, is its paper-thin organic light emitting diode display (OLED).
Flat, stiffand others currently deliver the best picture quality available and there's no reason to think this rollable display concept won't match them. LGD -- it's technically a separate company from LG Electronics, or LGE -- doesn't yet mention prosaic details like when it will hit the market or how much it might cost. But hey, this is a friggin' rollable TV, dude!
Even so, this ain't LG Display's first rollable TV rodeo. At CES 2016 I saw the, and it was pretty cool then despite its puny resolution (1,200x810, not even full HD) and size. Bigger is usually better when it comes to TVs, especially with the cinematic quality of OLED.
Now that I've seen the 65-inch version in person, and had the chance to roll it up and down myself using a remote control, I can say that it's not as crazy -- mainly because the rolled-up part is hidden inside that box -- but much more practical than the small one. It reminds me of those custom-installed TV risers that can make a regular TV pop up or down from within a piece of furniture. Except in this case there's no bulky furniture needed, just the bottom box itself.
That box also makes a rollable TV inherently more practical because it can house stuff like the power supply, inputs and speakers. LG Display's prototype was inside a frankly unimpressive-looking white rectangle, but it's easy to imagine the production version looking much slicker. When I asked company reps about the portability, they told me an early version actually had little handles attached, for easy toting around the house.
One of the cooler features on the demo unit was the ability to unfurl less than completely. Since the screen remains active, it can peek up just a little bit to display an information bar (above), or more than half way to create a screen in a 21:9 aspect ratio. The coolest part about the latter mode (below) is that it eliminates the need for letterbox bars above and below the screen when you're watching an ultra-widescreen movie.
One of the worst things about big-screen TVs is the necessity for a massive swath of black plastic taking up a chunk of wall when it's turned off. With a rollable TV that's no longer an issue, and that practicality is the main reason I think LG Display will want to perfect this technology and help manufacturers bring it to market sooner rather than later. We'll see.
Originally published January 6. Updated January 9, 9:27 a.m. PT with hands-on video.
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