Update: Transparent OLED TVs made an appearance at a recent party in NYC. They're not quite ready to hit homes quite yet, but we're one step closer than before.
LG makes some brilliant OLED TVs, but its next step in displays could be a minor TV resolution. That's because according to The Elec, LG Display has proposed a transparent OLED TV for its parent company LG Electronics to take to the market.
Apparently, plans for a 55-inch transparent OLED screen designed for home use have been put forward, and if they get approved we could see such a TV available to buy in 2023. Given the tech for transparent TVs has been around for some time, it’s arguably inevitable that one big TV brand will eventually embrace the idea of such a screen and aim to bring it into homes.
But why the heck would you want a transparent TV, you might ask? Well, many of the best TVs are over 49 inches in size and can take up a lot of space in a room. And when switched off that means you have a giant black panel almost dominating part of your room; that’s certainly the case with my LG C1 OLED TV.
However, a transparent TV could go some way to solve that by letting you see what’s behind a screen. So one could imagine putting a picture behind a TV so that the blank space it would normally cover gets a fresh look. Of course, you’d need to be fairly judicious when it comes to cable management, as being able to see a mass of snaking wires to various consoles like the PS5 or Xbox Series X isn’t a visual treat.
There's also the question of image quality. A transparent panel could mean the deep blacks traditionally associated with an OLED TV could be lost, as turning off the pixels would reveal a clear panel rather than the true black of the best OLED TVs. And it’s worth remembering that Xiaomi made a transparent OLED TV called the Mi Lux, which had a panel from LG Display. It was discontinued, which would suggest it didn’t find a huge audience.
But then again, as flagged by What Hi-Fi, LG produces panels for commercial signage that have Suspended Particle Device tech from smart glass specialist Gauzy. This SPD can deliver crisp images when switched by blocking up to 99% of the light hitting a panel, thereby allowing for a high-contrast screen. When switched off, SPD allows a screen to be transparent.
So if this tech is brought to the market, then we could see transparent OLEDs that don’t take a hit in visual quality. And that could spark a quiet revolution in the world of TVs.
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Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.