At the big tech fair CES this week, manufacturers are showing off the future of TVs. Transparent, curved and rollable TVs have been announced. Manufacturers are also presenting TVs with new screen technologies such as microled and mini-LED.
Tech fair CES is normally held in large halls in Las Vegas, where the tech giants try to outdo each other with the most striking technology. Those halls have closed, but trumping is still happening in abundance via digital events. Especially in the TV field, there is a lot of news. What are the notable trends?
Transparent TV screens
LG already came out with its first rollable TV last year, and now has a transparent TV that can slide out of the foot of a bed.
The TV has a 55-inch OLED screen that is transparent while showing images on it. The screen has a transparency of 40 percent. This is substantially higher than previous transparent LCD screens, with 10 percent transparency.
The screen can slide up either fully or partially from the foot of a bed. In partial form, the screen can then show, for example, information about the house, the weather or the user’s calendar.
The prototype also has wheels and a handle, making it easier to move the TV around the house. LG also has a variant for use in sushi bars, as an entertaining alternative to the corona splash screens.
It is not yet known if and when the transparent screen will hit the market. LG’s rollable screen from previous years is now available from $90,000 dollar.
Bendable gaming TV
Phones with foldable screens are now on sale, but curved TVs did not previously appear to catch on. Curved computer screens, however, are popular: the curved design appears to work well when playing games.
LG responds to this with a hybrid screen, which is flat for working and watching movies and series, but can bend itself if the user wants to play games, for example. The 48-inch OLED screen changes from flat to curved at the touch of a button on the base, with a radius of 1000R; if it were to form a full circle, it would be 1 meter in diameter. Again, this is a prototype; it is unclear if and when such a screen will actually come to market.
Micro-LED: the very expensive future of TVs
The new micro-LED TVs are already on sale, but are still very expensive. Simply put, this technology is very similar to OLED: screens consist of minuscule LEDs that produce both color and light. This makes for higher contrast, and unlike oled, with microled there is no danger of images burning in and the screens can be brighter too.
Samsung and Sony have both announced microled screens. In the case of Samsung, these are huge screens of 110, 99 and 88 inch. Thanks to micro-LED, the bezel is practically a thing of the past. The technology is still expensive: the 110-inch model will be put on the market in South Korea for the equivalent of just under $157,000 dollar.
Sony’s primary focus with micro-LED is on the film world. Various Sony micro-LED screens can be linked together to create one large, virtual film set. The screens then work as a kind of successor to the familiar blue or green screen, where the actors can actually see what special effects are happening around them while they are playing. Sony has not yet announced any prices, but presumably they will be in Samsung’s range.
Readily available: OLED
The commitment to OLED is logical: a successor to OLED is desired. Oled is currently the best screen technology that is affordable for consumers, but only LG manufactures such TV screens. Brands like Sony and Panasonic buy their OLED panels from LG.
Still, the choice of OLED screens is growing again this year, with LG leading the way. The company announced both its largest and smallest consumer OLED TV. The smallest OLED TV screen LG now makes is 42 inch; a 48-inch screen was added last year. In addition, LG now makes OLED screens in the familiar sizes of 55 and 65 inch, and in the larger sizes of 77 and 83 inch.
The newest TVs in LG’s OLED line are the new, more expensive G1, the familiar C line continues under the C1 banner, and new is the affordable A1 line. These are LG OLED TVs with a slightly older image processor, fewer connections but otherwise all the benefits of OLED. The G1 line, meanwhile, promises the brightest OLED screens yet.
Sony, for its part, announced two oled lines last week, available in screen sizes from 55 to 83 inches. Panasonic unveiled a single oled model, the JZ2000. That comes in 55 and 65 inches, is brighter and, like the screens from LG and Sony, has more features especially for gamers with the latest gaming consoles or PCs. Availability and pricing of all these new TVs will follow later.
Mini-LED: the affordable intermediate step
In addition to micro-LED, there is also mini-LED: the names are similar but the technology is different. First of all, it is a lot cheaper: mini-LED is in fact the LED LCD TV that we have known for years, but with a much better backlight. Instead of one large light box or a backlight with a number of larger zones, mini-LED consists of thousands to tens of thousands of individual lamps.
These lights can be operated independently of each other, making the contrast and HDR functions of such TVs considerably better than those of previous LCD TVs. The technology brings the latest LCD TVs closer to oled.
Samsung, Sony and LG have all announced TVs with mini-LED. Prices of the TVs are not yet known, but presumably such TVs come in the price range below OLED TVs. The latest OLED sets usually come from $1500 dollar.