LG’s $100,000 rollable OLED is a TV for the 0.1 percent

Capable of disappearing into its speaker-equipped base, LG says its LG Signature OLED R is a one-of-a-kind TV for a one-of-a-kind customer.

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A 65-inch OLED TV that can roll down into and disappear inside a cabinet when it’s not in use? Amazing, right? But with a staggering asking price of $100,000, this unique set is (probably) not for the likes of you or me.

Available in South Korea since late last year and now making its way to the U.S., the LG Signature OLED R is, as LG promised, a “one-of-a-kind” TV. Made of a single, flexible pane of glass, the 65-inch display can roll into a scroll and hide inside its 62.7-inch wide stand when it’s not being used.

The LG’s rollable OLED concept was a marvel of engineering when it made its first appearance at CES 2018 (we took a glimpse of it a year later in Vegas), and now that it’s morphed into an actual shipping product, the Signature OLED R remains a sight to behold. But not even LG expects customers ready to buy forming lines outside dealers’ doors.

I met with LG’s Tim Alessi, the company’s marketing head for home entertainment products in the U.S., last week via Zoom. Alessi told me that LG is manufacturing the Signature OLED R in “very limited quantities,” and for now (perhaps forever), only the single 65-inch version is available.

190106 lg roll 2 Martyn Williams/IDG

LG’s rollable OLED TV, as seen at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

Specs-wise, you can expect the same features and functionality in the Signature OLED R (or the OLED65R1PUA) as you would in LG’s mainstream high-end OLED models. 4K HDR resolution with Dolby Vision is a given, of course, as well as the manufacturer’s fourth-gen, AI-enabled A9 upscaling processor. The 120Hz OLED panel supports VRR for gaming, while webOS 6.0 delivers a grid of streaming videos and smart TV apps. And yes, there’s built-in Alexa and Google Assistant, not to mention AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support.

Meanwhile, the nearly 5.5-foot-wide base houses a 100-watt, 4.2-channel speaker array, complete with front-firing drivers and Dolby Atmos support. You can upgrade the WISA-ready TV’s audio to a 5.1-channel configuration using an optional dongle.

The flexible screen rolls down into the base at the push of a button, with the roll itself (if you’re curious) facing forward inside the housing. When the screen slides up, a pair of thin poles rise up in unison to keep the panel rigid as it’s unrolling.

Besides being fully extended or rolled up, the Signature OLED R’s display can also be partially exposed in a so-called “Line View,” with roughly a quarter of the screen visible.

In this Line View state, the screen can display (for example) the name of a currently playing music track, a clock, or an overview of HDMI-connected video sources. (Brightness limiters that gradually dim the screen will help mitigate the risk of burn-in from static images like clocks, Alessi said.)

190106 lg roll 1 Martyn Williams/IDG

LG’s rollable OLED TV can be set so only a portion of the screen is visible.

You can also tee up a scrolling display of framed photos, as well as “ambient white noise,” including such animated visuals as a crackling fireplace, falling rain drops, or breaking ocean waves.

The Signature OLED R’s panel is rated for up to 100,000 rolls, Alessi said, good for rolling the screen up and down about a dozen times a day for 20 years.

And what about that astronomical $100,000 price tag? Will it ever come down to something more reasonable? Don’t hold your breath. “I don’t know if our target is really to get it to a mainstream price point,” Alessi said, noting that LG has other, non-rollable OLED TVs, including its new A series sets (which start at $1,200 for the 55-inch version), that are relatively affordable. “We have plenty of other options.”

So, who exactly is the Signature OLED R for, then? Think “a very unique customer who sees the value and wants a one-of-a-kind thing,” said Alessi, who admits that “we don’t expect to sell a huge volume” of the rollable sets.

If you are one of those unique customers, you can go ahead and order your rollable LG OLED right now. You’ll likely have to wait up to six weeks for the TV to arrive (they’re built to order), although once it does, you can expect “white glove” delivery. The set arrives in two pieces, but Alessi says the initial setup isn’t terribly elaborate.

One more thing: Please don’t put the LG Signature OLED R in front of a ceiling-to-floor window, as it’s pictured in some of LG’s promotional images (or at least not without a blackout curtain behind it). While OLEDs are prized for their perfect black levels, they’re generally not as bright as LED-backlit displays, which makes them ill-suited for brightly lit rooms. You’re welcome.

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