What Is a Roll-Up TV?

Hide your television by rolling it up like a yoga mat

One thing separating TVs from video projector screens is you can't roll up a TV when you're not viewing it. Until now. The roll-up TV, (also called a rollable TV) has arrived. Let's check out what this means for consumers.

LG Rollable OLED Ultra HD TV - Roll Up Example (5 screens)

OLED Makes Roll-Up TVs Possible

The underlying technology used in a roll-up TV is OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode).

OLED uses an organic structure to form pixels that create images, without the need for extra backlighting. This makes OLED TVs different than QLED TVs or LED/LCD TVs. OLED screens can also be made so that they bend, fold, curve, and roll depending on application (such as in foldable smartphones and in-car instrument displays). 

OLED TV Panel Structure
LG Display

How Roll-Up TVs Work

A thin OLED TV display panel is combined with small interlocking segments and a folding brace on the back of the screen that secures it to a rolling motorized mechanism. The screen panel wraps around a cylinder that is inside of a storage housing.

The total roll up/roll down time is about 10 seconds (may vary for different screen sizes).

The rolling process can be activated by remote, onboard, or voice controls per manufacturer.

LG Rollable OLED Ultra HD TV - Edge Close-up

Who Makes Roll-Up TVs

The screen panel used in roll-up TV was developed and is made by, LG Display Company.

LG Display Company should not be confused with LG Electronics, but both are subsidiaries of LG Corporation. Although LG Electronics is their primary customer, other brands use LG Display LED/LCD and OLED TV technology including Sony, Panasonic, and Philips.

LG Electronics is the first brand to adopt LG Display's rollable OLED panel technology for a consumer TV. 

LG R-Series Roll-Up TV Features

The LG Electronics roll-up TV, which they label the "R" series, comes in the 65-inch screen size. Other sizes may become available at a future date.

The TV screen rolls into three positions: Full View, Line View, and Zero View.

  • Full View: This position displays a full 16x9 aspect ratio screen for watching TV shows and movies.
  • Line View: The screen is retracted to one-quarter height. This allows access to features and controls, such as Music, Clock, Photos, and a special version of LG's Home Dashboard when not watching TV.
  • Zero View: The TV screen is retracted into the base when not needed. 
LG Rollable OLED Ultra HD TV - Dual View

Although rollable TV technology provides the ability to display several screen aspect ratios, LG Electronics has decided to only use the full (16x9), line, and zero view options as mentioned above. 21:9 extreme widescreen or 1.9:1 IMAX aspect ratios could be included at manufacturer discretion.

OLED technology supports any resolution including 1080p (FHD), 4K (UHD), and 8K. However, LG Display has chosen 4K to be implemented on its first generation rollable OLED TVs. Manufacturers can also include additional video processing, such as upscaling and HDR. LG Electronics has added support for the HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG HDR formats.

The Base May House More Than the Screen

Each manufacturer can opt to include additional features into the base that houses the screen.

The base for the LG R-series contains the rollable TV's sound system (think of it as a large soundbar).

The sound system features a 5.1 channel configuration supported by 100 watts-per-channel amplification. There are no height or up firing speakers but audio processing algorithms create a height effect for Dolby Atmos sources. 

In addition to the sound system, the base provides the input connections (HDMI, etc...) and a tuner. 

The TV supports HDMI ver2.1 features.

At manufacturer discretion, the TV base may include smart features. LG provides its WebOS, streaming apps, and smart home control via remote or voice control (Alexa, Google Assistant). 

Roll-Up TV Pricing

Pricing for roll-up TVs has not been revealed, but the 65-inch LG R-series is expected to be $20,000+.

Roll-Up TV vs Lift-Up TV

Don't get a Roll-up TV confused with a Lift-up TV. 

If you have a standard LED/LCD, QLED, or OLED TV, you can't roll it up, but you can combine it with a special cabinet that includes a lift mechanism that raises and lowers the TV for viewing and storage as needed. There are also lift mechanisms that can be mounted in a ceiling. 

Since the TV doesn't roll up, the cabinet or ceiling has to have enough interior space to accommodate the full size and weight of the TV when it is not in use. This means, besides cost, the cabinet or ceiling lift mechanism is compatible with the specific size TV you want to use with it.

TV lifts can be manually operated, but are most often motorized for convenience.

TV Lift – Cabinet Tronix

Should You Buy a Roll-Up TV?

If you crave the latest and the greatest and have a lot of spare cash, then go for it. However, you might want to wait to see if the concept is reliable, takes hold in the market (remember 3D and Curved Screen TVs), prices come down, and there are more screen sizes available.

Here are additional things to consider:

  • You can't wall mount a roll-up TV due to the necessity of having a base to house the screen (unless your wall can handle the weight of the base – and it will stick out a lot). 
  • You can't mount the roll-up TV base on a ceiling. Although the screen can be rolled out upside down, there is no provision to invert the screen images as is provided with most video projectors. This means that the images will also be upside down.
  • Although small prototype OLED panels have been demonstrated that can roll up like a "yoga mat" it will be a while before that convenience will be available for a TV-sized screen. When it is, you may be able to roll up your screen into a poster tube-like container, unroll it, and attach or remove it from a wall or an easel-like stand very easily.

Samsung has filed a patent application for a roll-up TV. Their proposed TV rolls out horizontally from a center point instead of the vertical system used by LG. Samsung has not indicated what panel technology (OLED, QLED) would be used, but it is developing a hybrid QD (Quantum Dot)-OLED panel that may work for this application. There is no firm date as to when this product would be available. 

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