I can’t quite remember when exactly it was that I first thought to myself that somebody really needs to redesign the television. But for at least a decade, I have been convinced that there must be a solution for those of us who want to have a TV at home and do occasionally watch it, but who hate having a massive black box sat in the corner of the room, or worse still, hung prominently on the wall. Where are the innovative TVs that help us solve this problem?
I’ve spent many an hour googling solutions for hiding and camouflaging the television, but none of the options were satisfactory. They ranged from ugly TV cabinets to wall mounted brackets that allow you to swivel the TV somewhere less conspicuous when not in use. I’ve even seen suggestions for painting the wall that the TV is on black so that it sort of disappears into the background.
This may be a really sexist and stereotypical statement, but I’ve always wondered whether the lack of innovation to solve this problem comes down to the fact that the designers of this technology are predominantly men (I have no statistics to back this statement up and I do not know whether it is true, I’ve just wondered if it is).
From the men I have spoken to personally, they all seem to love huge TVs and have no problem with a massive black box in the corner of the room on full display. If this is the case, and most designers are men, it’s no wonder we have not had any solutions cropping up over the past few decades. Why solve a problem you don’t consider to be a problem in the first place?
The women I have spoken to, on the other hand, mostly hate the overbearing presence of the TV and how it can dominate a room, especially if their partner insists on a 65″ monster that cannot be hidden. They want innovative TVs that can go unnoticed.
When Samsung brought out the Serif TV in 2015, designed by the Bouroullecs, I had high hopes. It was touted as a TV that doesn’t look like a TV, but rather more like a piece of statement furniture. And while it didn’t look quite as black boxy as a standard TV, and it comes in smaller sizes of 24″ and 32″, I didn’t think it was all that remarkable if I’m honest. It still didn’t really blend seamlessly into the room or go unnoticed. Sure it looked better, but I had hoped for something more.
Then, you may remember, back in March 2017, when I wrote about Samsung’s next offering? The Samsung Frame TV, designed by Yves Béhar, was another so-called lifestyle TV and this time it was an absolute revolution in TV design and I remember thinking that Samsung must have surely done some kind of consumer survey and finally discovered what us females have wanted for decades. Innovative TVs that blends seamlessly into the background.
You can read the full post here, but in short, the Frame basically looks like a picture frame so you can mount it on the wall alone or place it as part of a gallery wall. It functions as a smart TV when turned on, and when turned off the display goes into ‘Art Mode,’ showcasing a curated collection of artworks ranging from prints and drawings to photography and painting.
I was so excited by this when it first came out, I immediately wanted to purchase one. Now I knew it would come with a pretty hefty price tag, and it does, but for me, it was worth paying as it solved an enormous problem for me. However, this is where I, and many other women I know, got a little disappointed. The Samsung Frame is massive. The smallest size it comes in is 43″. My current TV is 32″ and even that is a bit big for me (my husband refused to get a smaller one). They go up to a whopping 65″.
So for anyone who lives in a mansion with oodles of free wall space, the Samsung Frame is a fantastic option. However, if, like me, you live in a teeny tiny flat, there is no way you can accommodate a 43″ TV as part of a gallery wall. I understand that this may be a premium product, aimed at people with lots of money, and therefore those people would theoretically have large homes. But it seems a little unfair on those of us who have small homes but who would be prepared to spend a lot of money to get the solution we so badly want. Can you tell this has annoyed me? Would you like to sign my petition to get Samsung to make a smaller version of the Frame? Anyway, until they do, I can’t buy one.
But there is no need to lose hope, Samsung seems to have started somewhat of a revolution in TV design. And I’m not talking about the amount of technology that we can fit into TVs these days. Smart TVs, OLED, 4K and all those terms that get thrown around don’t really interest me. I’m still looking for the perfect way to hide the damn thing.
So last year, at CES in Las Vegas, LG premiered a brand new prototype design for a 65″ (what is this obsession with massive TVs?) roll-up TV. Yes, you heard me right. It is so thin, it can be rolled up. At the time there were no plans to make it available for the general public, probably due to the price. But I’ve just read that it will now be available to buy from Spring 2019. So let’s take a look at this bad boy in action.
One of the most interesting features of LG’s Signature roll-up TV is its ability to change size with the touch of the button. It comes with Full View, Line View and Zero View options. Full view is when it’s fully unrolled, line view allows you to have it partially unrolled for when you only want to display the time, weather, music or photos and finally zero view is when the TV is completely rolled up and hidden within the base box as if it was never there.
I really quite like this idea and it is definitely one of the most innovative TVs I’ve come across so far. It’s almost like having a projector screen that comes down from the ceiling, but without the need for the projector and with a much, much better quality viewing experience. However, once again, how am I supposed to fit an enormous 65″ screen into my micro-living room. And you can bet it’s a lot bigger than that with the base box. Can someone please just make a smaller version for us normal folk who don’t live in a beachside property with floor to ceiling windows that look out to sea?
And finally, at Salone del Mobile last month, Panasonic unveiled Vitrine, it’s own solution to the problem in the form of its new transparent TV screen. The transparent OLED display, which looks more like a glass cabinet, crafted from a wooden frame holding what appears to be a pane of glass. As such it blends naturally into any contemporary living space. However, the moment the device is switched on, it transforms into a vivid OLED display.
Now a quick Google of “Panasonic transparent TV screen” will return results from a few years ago, so the technology has been around for some time already. But with Vitrine, Panasonic has tried to rethink how a transparent OLED display can blend into a living environment. Finally, I think the message is getting through ladies!! High fives all around!!!
Vitrine is designed by Scandinavian-based designer Daniel Rybakken and Panasonic Design Kyoto who have cleverly managed to conceal all the technological components within the wooden frame, which doubles as a stand for the device.
There are currently no plans to bring this to market (that’s what they always say) but apparently Panasonic is actively evaluating feedback about the device and looking into market demands. Petition anyone?
So it really does look like we are finally making progress. Innovative TVs are starting to look less and less like black boxes and are blending in more seamlessly with our living environments. All we need now is wireless electricity so that we don’t need to deal with all the cable mess. That’s another bug bear of mine that I’m waiting for science and technology to solve.
So what do you think? Were you already aware of all these innovative TVs? How do you feel about TVs? Do you mind having a huge black box in the room or would you prefer something a little more subtle and unnoticeable? And how much would you be willing to pay for this? I’d love to start a bit of a discussion here so please share your thoughts below.