CES 2018 wrap-up: The TVs of tomorrow will turn invisible

With the debut of a rollable TV that disappears when not in use, the days of the big black rectangle are numbered.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
4 min read
LG Display 65 inch Rollable OLED TV

This 65-inch OLED TV can disappear into the little white box below. Really.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When I first heard about LG Display's 65-inch rollable OLED TV, I pictured something you'd take home from the poster store: a long tube you could tote around and unfurl wherever you wanted to enjoy big-screen TV.

The reality is less futuristic, and so much better.

Yes, the TV really does roll up into a tube like paper. But in LG Display's mockup, that rolled-up tube wasn't visible at all. Instead it was hidden in a long white box a bit bigger than a sound bar. The TV screen rolls down into it when not in use, and rolls back up when it's time to watch, just like those portable projector screens, or a window shade. You have to see it in action to believe it.

Watch this: TVs get way bigger and brighter -- and bendable

Today's big-screen TVs are great when you're actually watching them, but they kinda suck when turned off. Those vacant black rectangles hang out for hours, just sitting there looking dumb, marring your otherwise tasteful decor. Wouldn't it be great if they could only appear when it was time to Netflix and chill, and then slink back down into their boxes? 

The roll-up TV won't be out this year, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it go on sale in 2019 or 2020. It's just so practical and cool that if I was a TV manufacturer, I'd want to bring it to market as quickly as possible.

Of course there were scads of other TVs introduced at the show. Here's the rundown, and why they matter.

Another way to make the 'TV' disappear

Ultra-short-throw projectors -- which can create a bright, wall-sized image from a position a foot or two from the wall -- have been around for a while, but now they're maturing a little, and going in different directions. The coolest one at the show, Sony's LSPX-A1, looks like a sleek piece of furniture, complete with a marble top, aluminum legs and a wooden shelf. It's $30,000 (about AU$38,000 or £22,100 converted) so it's hardly mainstream, but for style-conscious rich people, it's another intriguing alternative to the black rectangle.


Sony's LSPX-A1 projector looks like a piece of furniture.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Sony doesn't include a screen, but a less-stylish UST projector from Hisense, which they're calling Laser TV, does. Yes it's $10,000 (about $AU12,700 or £7,400 converted), but that's a lot cheaper than any 100-inch TV.

Cheaper versions are here too. The Epson LS100 ($3,000, or about $AU3,800 or £2,200 converted) was introduced in September, and now it has some competition. Optoma announced its own as-yet-unnamed version, targeting a $5,000 (about $AU6,300 or £3,700 converted) price, that has 4K resolution. If you crave a truly huge image and don't have the space for a traditional projector, or a dark room to watch it in, an ultra-short-throw projector might be the ticket.

The Wall, and Beyond The Wall

Samsung is the biggest TV maker in the world, and now it's made the biggest TV. Dubbed The Wall, it's a 146-inch television -- that's more than 10 feet wide and 6 feet tall. It's insanity, and while Samsung hasn't announced pricing, I wouldn't be surprised to see six figures.


Samsung's MicroLED panel, aka another brick in the Wall.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Even more interesting is the technology behind it. The Wall is modular, composed of smaller sections that fit together seamlessly. That means it can get even bigger. It also uses a new display tech called MicroLED that's similar to jumbotron scoreboards. 

Since the LEDs that create the picture can be turned off completely -- creating truly infinite contrast -- and get exceedingly bright, it has the potential to compete with OLED picture quality dominance. To be relevant it has to get produced in more mainstream sizes, say 75 inches, and Samsung says those are a couple years off. 

What's next for flat, stiff OLED?

The OLED TVs that can't disappear into little boxes were pretty modest at CES . Sony announced a new model, the A8F, that's exactly the same as the current one aside from styling. Meanwhile LG's OLED lineup got some beefed-up processing, but the biggest change was adding Google Assistant. NBD.

What is a big deal, potentially, is OLED falling in price again this year. I expect the Sony A8F to cost less than its predecessor, and I bet the cheapest LG OLED, the B8, hits the magic level of $2,000 (roughly AU$2,500 or £1,500 converted) for 65-inches by the 2018 holiday season.


Could a non-rollable 65-inch OLED TV get down to $2,000 in 2018? We'll see.

Sarah Tew/CNET

So how about a TV I can actually afford?

OLED still too rich for your blood? I don't blame you. Pricing wasn't announced on most TVs, and CES naturally highlights the crazy and expensive sets, but I still found some potential value picks.

The TCL 6-series follows up on the excellent 55-inch P-series, which costs $600 (roughly AU$760 or £440 converted). The new version adds a 65-inch size and some image quality improvements, such as more local dimming zones, and keeps the awesome Roku TV smart system. It's an early contender for best TV value of 2018.


Sony's X900F is a contender for one of the best mainstream-priced TVs of 2018.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Another successor to a midpriced star from last year, that gets better in 2018, is the Sony X900F series, which includes local dimming and a new picture process that enhances motion resolution. Sony says the price will be similar in 2018, which is $1,700 (roughly AU$2,150 or £1,250 converted) for the 65-inch.

We'll get pricing and details on more models over the next couple months, when Vizio, a perennial value champ, announces its 2018 sets, and Samsung details its full lineup. In the meantime, let's sit back and soak in all the new models while they're still shiny and fresh. Even if they are just big black rectangles when turned off.

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2018

See all photos

What to expect from the big screens of 2018: From OLED to QLED to Micro LED, CES is the place where screen time is absolutely friggin' huge. Here's a peek.

CES 2018: CNET's complete coverage of tech's biggest show.