LG previewed a rollable TV prototype this time last year and now it's revealed a production version that will go on sale during 2019. Called the LG Signature OLED TV R, it will also be known by the model number of 65R9.
Unlike LG's just-announced Z9 8K OLED, the rollable screen will be 4K. One thing's for sure, the rollable TV won't be cheap - as a comparison, LG's standard 65-inch 4K OLED TV is available currently for £1,800. And the Signature OLED TV W previewed in 2017 and introduced last year - known as the wallpaper TV - is showing at around £4,000 online. That TV is the closest comparison to the OLED TV R.
And obviously neither of those TVs have a cabinet for the TV to retract into, beefed-up audio, rolling mechanism and all the other bits that make this folding TV work.
OLED TVs are expected to have massive sales growth this year and while they will make up a few percent of the TV market by 2020, they're still very much at the top end, exemplified by this new model.
LG says it has developed the model in response to a growing problem; we're taking the plunge and buying ever-bigger TVs, but that means our rooms are still dominated by black rectangles when they're not in use. It's a fair point and one that might be different if you could get the same quality from projectors in terms of picture quality.
Coincidentally, LG says the "R" could mean a few things; revolution, redefining space and the ability to rise and roll-up.
- Aluminum cabinet houses retracted screen
- Rolls up like a Venetian blind
- We'd like to see how cabling is handled
Taking design cues from LG's other OLED TVs which have a cabinet underneath, the OLED TV R's brushed aluminium cabinet is closed off enabling the screen to be rolled into it.
The TV is clearly designed to be placed in the middle of a large room - otherwise, why would you need to retract it? - but obviously, there is the additional problem of cabling in that scenario. We'd like to see how cabling is practically handled.
The screen rolls in small segments, like a Venetian blind. We snapped this picture of the rear of the display that clearly shows how it's able to roll.
The actual screen thickness is probably very similar to the OLED W's 2.5mm-thick display but then, of course, you have the backing on it and the struts that enable it to retract. Will it wear over time? That's a good question and it's impossible to tell.
The TV retracts at the touch of a button just like a garage door.
The slot isn't there all the time in the top of the cabinet - instead the top of the cabinet moves as well to expose the slot when you want to raise the screen.
Specs and picture
- 65-inch 4K HDR panel, similar to W Series panel
- 100W, 4.2 channel audio with wool cover
- AirPlay 2 and HomeKit supported as well as Alexa and Google Assistant
LG hasn't been tempted to give this TV a last-generation picture processor, instead deciding to include its latest second-generation Alpha 9 processor. There's also LG's familiar webOS-based interface.
As with LG's other OLED TVs, colours look simply stunning with deep blacks. As always though, this needs to be taken with a little pinch of salt because these TVs were running demo 4K footage. The TV doesn't have to be fully retracted to be used - there are three modes. Full View, Line View and Zero View.
Full View is somewhat obvious, while Line View enables a portion of the display to be used - you can have a clock on the screen, use it as a photo frame or "mood" shows relaxing patterns. And then there's Zero View where the screen is tucked away.
Yes, even this is a feature because you can still use the TV's 4.2 channel, 100W speaker system when the screen is retracted. The speaker cover on the front has been specially designed by Danish firm Kvadrat and is wool.
As with LG's other 2019 TVs, there's support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, while Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit also feature.
Is this the future for all TVs? It could be - there's no reason why displays have to be solid as in the past. The next decade will not only see a revolution in image quality (hopefully in terms of 4K input rather than just the displays themselves) and the ability to put a screen anywhere.
In the present, the OLED TV W is a glimpse of the future. It's one that will cost several thousand pounds so will be out of the reach of many. It will be difficult to recommend, but we'd certainly love one in our home.