Tech News: Rollable and foldable OLED TVs are the longer-term – here’s why

Tech News: Rollable and foldable OLED TVs are the longer-term – here’s why

A fix for oversized smart TVs

The design of smart TVs is changing. Those trusty rectangles we believe to stream and display our favorite Netflix shows, Amazon movies, and PS4 games are entering a replacement stage in their evolution, and it's everything to try to to with their size.

Long gone are the times when having a home television meant a boxy CRT with a 4:3 ratio. Now we’ve come to expect super-slim flatscreens to be flush against a wall, or massive 75-inch displays teetering on top of our media centers.

These new, larger form factors, though, are heralding a replacement design challenge for TV brands; namely, the way to stop these ever-growing TV sizes from utterly dominating someone’s home.

The new flagship size for televisions is 55 inches – with 65-inch TVs being the fastest-growing category beside that. Some, just like the Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED, even are available an 82-inch size within the US – acknowledging the widely larger homes over there compared to the united kingdom.

That’s tons of screen space to pack into any front room, and seeing because the average home isn’t increasing in size alongside the typical television, the buck is falling to TV manufacturers to style innovate ways to raised blend displays in with their surroundings, or hide them away entirely.

LG is one among the simplest samples of this, with its rollable OLED – the Signature Series OLED R – widely expected to be launching in 2020, after its 2019 launch date didn’t quite come to pass.

This rollable OLED does exactly what you’d expect – having the ability to roll up, almost sort of a carpet, then unfurl again out of its base / TV stand. you'll even unfurl the screen to a 3rd of its full height – at half-mast because it was – as an OLED smart display for showing the time or weather information.

LG's rollable OLED can roll up partially for a sensible display function tooLG's rollable OLED can roll up partially for a sensible display function too (Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s clearly advanced tech, and a fantastic feat of engineering that creates use of OLED’s flexible properties, ensuring that those after an OLED TV have an option that will easily hideaway when the TV isn’t getting used.

With LG manufacturing transparent OLED displays for retail, and Panasonic prototyping its first commercial set of that sort, we could well see TV screens ready to switch between see-through window and residential cinema at the press of a button.

Waiting within the wings

We’ve previously reported on Bang & Olufsen’s Beovision Harmony television, too, which has an adjustable wing-shaped TV stand ready to cover a part of the screen – available in sizes as large as 88 inches.

Gavin Ivester, VP Design at Bang & Olufsen, tells us that this feature was the result of customer concerns over the “larger size of recent screens” – saying that, ”As screens increase in size, they certainly disrupt the flow of an area more.”

As a result, the planning team “made Harmony shrink when you’re not using it for TV and films. We gave it a smooth, automatic mechanism – the speakers pivot inward because the screen sinks down toward the ground .”

Beovision HarmonyBeovision Harmony (Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

Extending out the ‘wings’ is additionally key to its high-end audio performance, placing the speakers in “a very wide proportion for cinematic sound,” then let them “roll inward into a narrower shape that hides most of the TV screen in its lowered position.”

Ivester adds that “The whole package harmonizes together with your interior better— that’s a part of how Harmony got its name. [The set] both reduces the apparent size of the screen when you’re not using it, and it de-emphasizes the glossy black surface in favor of carefully crafted wood or textile and aluminum.”

The Harmony offers a neat solution, one that neither hides the tv away entirely nor lets it dominate the space it’s in. Ensuring its speakers fold out with the ‘wings’, too, means there’s a practical reason driving the planning also as an aesthetic one.

A lot of various avenues

For all of the innovative design solutions to larger screens, there are ways to tackle the sizing issue aside from expensive engineering methods. LG’s rollable OLED, for one, is predicted to cost around $60,000 – while the Beovision Harmony costing up to $49,000 / £44,100 (around AU$74,000) at its largest 88-inch size.

Ivester speculates that features like “a curtain or moving panel which will hide or reveal the TV” could become far more common in homes, calling “screen movement” an answer with larger potential than “foldable form factors.”

LG GX Gallery Series OLED (2020)LG GX Gallery Series OLED (2020) (Image credit: LG)

The art-minded Samsung The Frame may be a different answer to an equivalent problem, being a TV that effectively poses as an image frame when not in active use.

You’ll be using 30% of its usual power output to mimic an artwork on your front room wall, and while an actual painting could be more eco-friendly, there’s no denying it’s a sensible option for homeowners not eager to disrupt their home decor with a 55-inch black slab throughout the day.

We’ve seen LG launch its own combat Samsung's idea with the LG GX Gallery Series OLED, too – and people wanting a TV that basically doesn’t disrupt the decor can always choose a little TV instead.

One thing is clear: as screen technologies get ever larger, TVs are moving from centerpiece gadgets to devices that need to integrate into their surroundings. Some solutions are cheaper than others, but we don’t expect the Signature Series OLED R or Beovision Harmony to be the last of their kind.

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