LG’s $136,000 Rollable TV Is So Slick, It Hurts

LG’s $136,000 Rollable TV Is So Slick, It Hurts

Some of the most expensive TVs these days are huge microLED TVs designed to span entire walls. But the LG OLED R’s signature feature is being able to disappear (and reappear) on command. That’ll cost you $US100,000 ($136,200).

While that price tag puts the OLED R out of reach of pretty much everyone, that figure is less of a representation of its value and more of a reflection of how hard the OLED R was to make. LG showed off the first prototype for what would become the OLED R more than two years ago at CES 2019, and in the time since, LG has been working to polish and refine the concept into an actual retail device. And even now, LG says the OLED R takes around two months to make.

Starting this summer, the OLED R is finally available for purchase, so we took a trip to LG’s new North American headquarters to check it out in person (surprisingly, a $US100,000 ($136,200) TV is a little too rich for a blogger’s salary).

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

At its North American

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

The OLED R’s Line View mode is a nifty way to get extra use out of the TV’s flexible display.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

The flap in back retracts when the OLED R’s screen rolls away, to hide any unsightly gaps.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Normally, the OLED R’s ports are hidden behind a shroud, but here’s where they are.

I’m not going to lie, when I first walked up to the OLED R, I was slightly underwhelmed. Unlike a lot of LG’s super premium Signature TVs, the OLED R maxes out at 65 inches across and doesn’t come with support for 8K. But once I sat down in front of it, none of that mattered. That’s because aside from its size, LG says the OLED R doesn’t suffer any trade-offs in image quality, with vibrant colours, a 120Hz refresh rate, and four HDMI 2.1 ports.

Of course, for a TV this expensive, the OLED R is also a statement piece, so in addition to its super minimalist design, the front of the TV features a 100-watt 4.2 channel speaker system (so you don’t need to hook up extra wires for a soundbar), and the latest version of LG’s webOS TV UI. LG even left the bottom section of the TV open so you can keep your game consoles nearby, but out of the way. Then again, would you really want to ruin the OLED R’s clean lines with an Ouya? But I digress.

TVs just don't really get thinner than this.  (Photo: Sam Rutherford) TVs just don’t really get thinner than this. (Photo: Sam Rutherford)

Aside from that, the OLED R can even be used as a standard Bluetooth speaker when its screen is rolled away, or as a photo gallery or a faux fireplace with its display half raised, a feature LG calls Line View.

But obviously, the real magic is that when you’re not watching TV, the OLED R’s flexible display simply retracts into its base, so you aren’t stuck with a black rectangle staring back at you. Sure, it takes 15 or 20 seconds for its screen to fully retract, but it’s a mesmerising process. Meanwhile, the best that rival TVs can do is display some art while trying to trick people into thinking you’ve got a painting on the wall. Or if you’re rich, you might be able to pay someone to make a customised TV cabinet.

The OLED R’s outlandish price means it’s not exactly a viable option for most people right now, it’s a pretty safe bet that LG is already working on ways to make future rollable TVs a bit more affordable. Until then, I’ll be dreaming about it.