According to a report from The Elec (opens in new tab), LG is mulling over launching a transparent OLED 4K TV in 2023. The report says that LG Display (the part of the company that makes the panels in all the best OLED TVs, not just LGs) is pitching the launch of a see-through OLED set to LG Electronics (the part of the company that makes actual sets that you can buy). If approved, The Elec says development would start later this year – odds are it would be announced at CES 2023.
I expect that this is meant to be more of a status-symbol launch than something LG expects to actually filter into its product line-up – much like the LG OLED R rollable TV. It could easily launch with a price of £10k/$10k.
The TV is said to use a strengthened glass panel, which will fill with pixels when it's turned on – most transparent OLED TV concepts have had has a screen like this as a basically bezel-less display, sitting in a fixed pedestal-like base.
Some kind of base or similar section is vital, because the actual electronics need to go somewhere – we don't have transparent processors or circuit boards yet.
So the easiest solution is to do something similar to the Xiaomi TV above, or what LG did with the OLED R or the 8K OLED Z1 – where a rigid screen sticks out above a cuboid base that includes a built-in sound system. It's also arguably the most impressive, since you can walk about the TV and see that it's clear from all sides.
But that's not the route I'd like to see LG go down. I think a transparent OLED screen is the perfect time to take inspiration from a design that LG killed: the Wallpaper TV.
This set included an OLED panel with a separate soundbar system, with all the processing and connectivity on the soundbar section, and just a thin ribbon linking to the actual panel.
The fascinating part is that the OLED panel itself was under 3mm thick – so thin that you couldn't mount it in the traditional way. You attached a magnetic frame to the wall, and the panel stuck to that.
It's not the thinness that I'm looking for LG to replicate here – it'll still need to be thicker toughened glass, I expect – but it's the overall principle. I think in some ways, the best chance to really show off the transparent glass isn't to make it so that you can walk around it while it's on a pedestal, but rather to be able to mount it on a wall in a way where it almost truly disappears when it's off.
Just like the Wallpaper TV, a separate connection box/sound system could sit nearby, and a thin ribbon cable (maybe hidden in your wall, if you're throwing this money around) runs up to the clear screen. Some TVs – including some of the best Samsung TVs – have an Ambient mode that makes the screen look like the wall behind it, to try to disguise it. What if you could literally just see the wall?
Mounting it up there would be a challenge, I admit, but there would be cool solutions. It might be that the TV still has an opaque 'chin' section at the bottom, but this could be focused on modern design ideas: it could be wooden, so it looks like a shelf or wood feature, for example.
Whether we will actually have a transparent OLED set in our list of the best LG TVs in the future remains to be seen (or, er, not seen, as the case may be) – but since it'll be a hugely expensive set made for showing off more than for serious watching, I hope LG takes the opportunity to really take the design beyond what everyone else is doing.