LG Signature OLED TV R (65R9) 4K HDR TV review (early verdict): something awesome just rolled into TV Land

Rollable OLED TV display is the screen of sci-fi dreams but you'll need a lot of folding money to buy it

TODO alt text

T3 Verdict

Not just an incredible, unspooling vision of the future, LG OLED R also looks like a state-of-the-art television for your space-age bachelor pad

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Now you see it, now you don’t 4K screen

  • +

    Immense pose value

  • +

    Stunning 4K HDR images

  • +

    Doubles as a sound system… and coffee table

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    It's 'only' 4K and 65 inches

  • -

    All that rolling and unrolling can’t possibly end well, can it?

There have already been a lot of great TVs rolled out in 2019, but only one rolls up. The LG SIGNATURE OLED TV R (65R9), aka LG's rollable television, was the undoubted star of CES 2019, and here, in one short video clip is all you need to know about it.

The LG Signature Rollable 65R9 OLED TV is unapologetic AV futurism. Cooler than a penguin’s larder, this 4K TV unrolls at the touch of a button, and then retracts from view when not needed. As you can see above, it's purest poetry in motion.

I’m not sure if there was ever a screen in cult Sixties sci-fi toon The Jetsons that did this, but if there wasn’t, there should have been. Perhaps within 18 months we’ll all be irritatingly blasé about flexible displays, but for now at least, this innovative OLED is the epitome of wow.

LG OLED R SPECIFICATIONS

  • Screen size 65-inches
  • HDR HDR10, HLG, Technicolor and Dolby Vision
  • HDMI 4
  • USB 3
  • Dimensions TBC

LG OLED 65R9: design

LG OLED R, in a suitably stoosh space

LG has a habit of pushing the design envelope with OLED tech. Its wafer thin W ('wallpaper') model from 2017 was the first to effectively deconstruct the traditional flatscreen. This latest wheeze is even more elaborate.

Hinted at for months, and finally revealed in all its glory at CES 2019, the rollable 65R9, aka OLED65R, aka Signature R, heralds the most dramatic change in TV form factor since the shift from 4:3 to 16:9.

It takes advantage of an OLED panel’s inherent flexibility, unspooling with determination at the touch of the remote’s Power button. Only shown (as yet) in 65-inch guise, it makes a meaningful clunk as the hatch opens and the screen rises, but LG’s engineers seem to believe that mechanical longevity isn’t going to be an issue.

Build quality is undoubtedly high. The cabinet has a smart aluminium finish, while the forward facing speaker drivers are hidden behind acoustically transparent Kvadrat cloth.

LG OLED rollable TV: what does it actually do?

LG OLED R review

The three faces of LG OLED R: (l-r) Line View, Zero View, Full View

This Signature set presents its panel in two different ways. For standard TV use, there’s a Full View option, which sees the screen rise up completely. There’s also a Line View, which reveals only the top quarter. 

The latter is used for music playback (with track and album, information displayed), clock and weather info, and photo frame duties. A Home dashboard gives you access to video inputs. There’s also a mood option, complete with animated flames, stars and dancing rings.

One slight disappointment is that despite the ability to control just how much of the screen is visible, there’s no 21:9 viewing option for movies, which would have neatly removed the black bar issue for home cinema fans. This is probably due to the fact that LG has yet to work out how it can pixel-shift the visible screen area to the top of the panel.

The OLED R can also be used when the screen is fully retracted, the so-called Zero View mode. In this configuration it doubles as a one-box (albeit a rather large box), Bluetooth sound system.

LG OLED R: image quality and smart TV

LG OLED R: all LG's usual OLED trickery, as well as the whole rolling thing

Image quality is comparable to LG’s stunning OLED C and E series models. The screen uses the same image processor, and embraces all the same AI ThinQ deep learning algorithms LG has been developing of late. 

The OLED R covers a wide variety of HDR bases, including HDR10, Dolby Vision, Technicolor, HLG and LG’s own Dynamic HDR. There’s no support for HDR10+ though.

The TV runs the webOS 4.5 smart portal. It’s also compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and has support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. The addition of AirPlay 2 lets you send video and audio from iTunes and other music and video apps via Apple devices, as well as music and video stored on iPhones, iPads, Macs and PCs running iTunes.

Apple HomeKit support means users can control their LG TV using the Home app, or by asking Siri. It still feels slightly amazing that these Apple services are coming to LG and Samsung TVs in 2019.

LG OLED R: audio

The cabinet actually houses a 4.2-channel Dolby Atmos sound system, with a claimed 100W cumulative power output. As a hi-fi solution it’s not short of punch, and while hardly audiophile, makes an entertaining enough noise.

One of the more intriguing capabilities of the second gen Alpha 9 processor used here is AI sound. This takes a two channel source and applies virtual 5.1 'upscaling'. When applied during our demos, the sound field really did appear to step back and expand. 

However, although this may be technically a 'Dolby Atmos' system, there are no up-firing, Dolby-enabled speakers in the cabinet – all the cones behind the cloth are forward facing. That means you'll need an external setup to make the most of Atmos' immersive 3D sound.

LG OLED R: early verdict

LG OLED R: suitable for your 2-bed rented flat?

For its knockout wizardry, it remains to be seen how selective the appeal of OLED R will be. Its natural home would seem to be those glass-encased penthouse suites beloved of advertisers, where the view is too valuable to be obscured by a boring old gogglebox. For those of us living in more conventional accommodation, its benefits are less obvious. 

Then there’s the price. LG wouldn’t be drawn on pricing at CES, saving that for trade show events later this year. Speculation ranges from (a probably conservative) $15,000 up to 50,000. Whatever way you cut it, this roll-up won’t be cheap when it goes on sale sometime during the second half of 2019. If it's any consolation, LG's OLED W range launched at over £20K but can now be had for as little as £3500 if you shop around.

Yes, we love the 65R9. Deeply and profoundly. But unless there’s a way to mass-produce it, LG’s rollable OLED gambit is going to remain more lusted after than actually owned, in 2019.