LG's 2019 4K OLED TV will have speakers that move, ending the misery of black bars

Is this the ultimate in premium TV features, or just slightly mad?

LG TV concept

Have you ever sat watching your OLED 4K HDR TV with smart TV bells and whistles and thought, "This is great, but wouldn't it be better if it had moving speakers?" Not so the speakers can run after you down the hallway when you go to make a cup of tea. No, it's so your TV can show films and TV in different aspect ratios, without black bars. Obviously.

Wait, what?

No more black bars (unless you count the speakers)

Okay, so normally when you're watching a movie in 21:9 aspect ratio on a TV, you'll see black bars at the top and bottom. When you switch to a Netflix stream in 16:9, the screen is completely filled. But then if you watch Fawlty Towers on UK Gold or an old movie on Talking Pictures, it'll be in 4:3 and black bars will appear on either side of the image.

Well not any more. Not on LG's watch. It's latest patent filing shows a TV with a 21:9 aspect ratio and mechanically sliding speakers. The LG TV, which was discovered by the patent-library-searching newshounds at Let's Go Digital (opens in new tab), is supposedly set for unveiling at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

On this TV, black bars are banished. The speakers start at the very edge of the TV when showing a movie in 21:9. They then glide inwards to frame 16:9 visuals. If you want to watch something filmed in 4:3 they'll glide even nearer the middle, at which point we suspect things will start to look rather weird, with a chunk of dead screen real estate sticking out at either end.

You don't need to press any buttons – as soon as the TV is turned on, the speakers will automatically adapt to the broadcast aspect ratio. Presumably if the next film or TV show you watch has a different aspect, it'll adjust accordingly.

There are no other details at present but there'd be no point putting an audio setup like this with a low-to-mid-range TV, so expect to see these motorised woofers straddling a 65-inch+ OLED premium beast of a telly at CES. And then don't expect to see them ever again, until you win the lottery.

LG filed this patent (opens in new tab) with WIPO Haque Express earlier this year.

Aspect ratios: a fun guide

21:9 is the true widescreen format used for most modern Hollywood films. The noticeably narrower 16:9 ratio is the one used on widescreen TVs, which is a little confusing but good news for most people who don't have hugely wide living rooms. 4:3 is what old CRT tellies used to use and was also a popular aspect ratio among many film makers in the black and white and early colour era.  

Duncan has been writing about tech for almost 15 years and fitness ever since he became middle aged and realised he could no longer rely solely on his boyish good looks. He used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."
Pre-lockdown Duncan was widely regarded as the best-dressed man ever to work for T3 – admittedly not saying much. Post-lockdown he is looking forward to wearing clothes other than shorts and hoodies again very soon, assuming he can still fit into them. He currently writes about cycling, fitness tech that isn’t too heavy, and all things kitchen and home related.