By Barry Levine / Mobile Tech Today. Updated July 12, 2014.
Get ready for TVs with screens you can roll up. On Friday, LG Electronics announced a new kind of OLED TV screen that can be rolled up into a tube. The flexible 18-inch screen features a resolution of 1200 x 810, and can be rolled into a cylinder measuring 3cm across.
Another screen shown by the South Korean company, also an 18-inch OLED panel, is transparent and has less haze than many existing screens. The transparent panel offers a reduced haze with a 30 percent transmittance, compared to the 10 percent transmittance in current transparent LCD panels.
LG said it will be able to manufacture and release a 60-inch, ultra-HD TV that is both rollable and semi-transparent by 2017. Pricing has not yet been provided.
LG claims the video image on its rollable screen is not distorted when it is bent or curled up into a cylinder. The company said the flexibility is due to a "high molecular substance-based polyimide film" that is used instead of plastic as the backplane.
Aside from rolling up your TV like a newspaper to threaten a misbehaving dog, what good is a rolled-up TV screen?
One possibility is that you could carry a very small device, such as mini-tablet, in your pocket -- and then unfold its screen to the size of a full-screen monitor. Other uses being mentioned include curved screens that bend around retail displays or that provide a kind of video overlay for products behind the transparent screen.
Lightweight, rollable displays may also prove to be popular for conventions, where exhibitors either have to haul their own large, heavy display equipment, or pay expensive rental fees to outside providers.
LG has already shown a curved 77-inch 4K OLED TV, with a somewhat adjustable curve, but it has not yet announced availability. On a much smaller scale, LG has also shown a flexible smartphone, called the G Flex.
"LG Display pioneered the OLED TV market, and is now leading the next-generation applied OLED technology," LG SVP In-Byung Kang said in a statement. OLED is less power-hungry than LCD technologies, and since OLED does not require a backlight layer as LCDs do, it can be thinner.
Samsung, Nokia and others have also exhibited screens that have some degree of flexibility. Nokia, for instance, has demoed a book-like video display that can similarly be folded, but it has a limited number of folds before it gives out. It's not yet clear if the curling screen LG is now displaying has an upper limit for how many times it can be rolled into a cylinder.
G Watch and KizON Safety Wristband
In other LG news, the company's G3 smartphone and G Watch will be available through Verizon in the U.S., the carrier announced Thursday. The flagship smartphone will be available for $99 with a two-year contract.
AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have already announced they will be carrying the G3 phone. The G Watch and Samsung's Gear Live are the first watches with Google's Android Wear OS.
Meanwhile, LG is also attracting attention for its new KizON wristband for kids. It utilizes GPS and Wi-Fi to allow parents to keep tabs on their kids. Kids can also use the devices to call their parents with the push of a single button.
But, kids beware: If a parent calls a child and there's no answer, the call will still be connected and the parent can listen in anyway. AT&T and LeapFrog are also releasing similar devices.