Sharp Demos Prototype Rollable OLED TV

Mike Wheatley

Venerable Japanese TV maker Sharp is somewhat bravely taking on LG Electronics with its own take on a rollable OLED TV, showing off a 30-inch prototype that’s able to wrap itself up into a box when not in use.


The 4K prototype is supposedly the largest RGB-type OLED display in the world, and will go on show for the first time later this week at the Inter BEE 2019 show in Makuhari, Japan.

"In collaboration with NHK, we developed a colour filterless OLED using a 30-inch diagonal film substrate," Sharp announced in a press release.

Although it’s twice as small, Sharp’s new rollable OLED TV looks and feels a lot like the 65-inch model that LG Electronics unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Both TVs roll up into a chunky base unit when not in use, or alternatively they can retract half way down so that a portion of the screen is still in view to display a variety of apps.

The main difference between the two is the type of OLED technology used. LG’s display is based on its own White OLED (WOLED) technology where white light is beamed through colour filters, similar to how LCD TVs work. But Sharp’s TV is based on RGB OLED, which emits red, green and blue light directly. Because there are no filters involved, RGB OLED has the potential to deliver more saturated colours than WOLED. However Sharp hasn’t provided any specifications beyond the fact it’s a 30-inch, 4K display with a 60Hz refresh rate, so we can’t confirm this.

Whether or not Sharp’s rollable OLED prototype will ever hit the shops remains to be seen. Sharp says it ha no plans to mass produce the concept TV at this time, but it did say it hopes to come up with a rollable OLED product at some point in the future. "We aim to realize a 'rollable' product that can be rolled up into a compact (2cm radius) display with a thickness of 0.5mm and stored neatly,” the company states in the release.

Sharp adds that it’s currently mass producing smaller OLED displays for smartphones and that it is continuing to “develop more advanced technologies and open up the future of displays”.

And so a prototype is all we have at this stage. Perhaps that’s not so surprising, after all, LG previously promised its own rollable OLED TV would go on sale later this year, but the company has so far failed to keep its word and is fast running out of time to do so.