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lg rollable oled

This is LG’s RX Rollable Series OLED TV (Image credit: LG)

LG is ending production of its weird showcase rollable TVs, according a report in the South Korean newspaper Chosun (via FlatpanelsHD). A few different models were launched, though it hadn’t been updated since 2021 – and it looks like that’ll be the last version of a very cool concept that was never likely to hit the mainstream market given that it couldn’t shake of a very high price tag of nearly $90,000 for a 65-inch TV.

For anyone who doesn’t know, LG Rollable models had an OLED panel that rose out of a speaker system stand at the base, which it disappeared back into when it wasn’t in use. As you can guess, it did this by rolling up when in the base, like a roller blind.

However, the fun news for TV tech nerds is that this key technology actually lives on, and is used in LG’s Transparent OLED TV announced at the start of 2024 that is due to be released by the end of the year.

The problem for transparent OLED TVs is that ambient light shining right through the pixels robs them of the boldness of their color and (even more importantly given it’s the reason people love the best OLED TVs) their deep black tones.

For a product that it’s actually hoping to sell (even though it won’t exactly be in mainstream numbers), LG has solved this by adding an optional layer behind the transparent OLED pixels, which rises and lowers behind the screen at your command. You can see the effect this has from about 20 seconds in the video below.

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How does this rising and lowering layer work? You’ve probably already guessed it – it’s a rollable panel, which curls up into the base of the transparent TV when not in use. It was developed for the rollable TV, and LG basically removed the pixels and put them in a permanent pane of glass, making the back sheet optional.

So if transparent TVs become more than just a curiosity, there’s a good chance we’ll have the rollable TV to thank for adding the final key stage (though that’s a very big if).

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The one big rollable TV letdown

I always saw LG’s rollable TVs as having missed on massive opportunity: a variable aspect ratio.

As you can see in the image at the top of this article, the TV was capable of operating at two ‘heights’ – one that’s a full 16:9 ratio TV, and one that’s a super-low version that was designed to just show music ‘now playing’ and similar info if you were using the big built-in speaker system for jamming out.

But I wanted it to be able to switch to custom narrower formats at will, so that if you’re watching something letterboxed, you could cut that out. This would be 21:9 for movies or the 18:9 ratio that several of the best Netflix shows use.

That always seemed like the coolest promise of the rollable TV – far more than hiding it when it wasn’t in use – and it was never possible. Otherwise, I totally would have put down my $87,000…

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Matt is TechRadar’s Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he’s in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It’s a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he’s also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He’s always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he’s explaining the offside rule.

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The post LG finally cancels its cool rollable OLED TVs – but the tech lives on in its first transparent TV first appeared on www.techradar.com

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