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The Display Business is Becoming Rather Flexible

Written by Rob Stott

January 5, 2023

Just when you start to think that the display industry has maxed out on potential innovation, a show like CES rolls around and all the major brands find a way to prove you way wrong. And CES 2023 was no different.

What’s exciting, though, is that the innovation in the display industry wasn’t limited to just the premium TV side of things. Of course, panels were bigger, more pixel-packed and brighter than ever, but there were also a number of concept products shown alongside some very consumer-ready gear in the gaming and mobile industries. Whether they were ready to ship or still in the early production phase, the one thing those products all seemed to have in common was flexibility.

Bendable or foldable displays have been on display at CES for a number of years now. Royale, a company right in the think of the flexible display industry, notably launched a flexible mobile device mere weeks before the Samsung Fold hit the market. For its part, Samsung has introduced several different foldable mobile devices over the years. LG’s SIGNATURE OLED R rollable TV debuted here in 2018. Motorola showed early versions of its revamped foldable Razr phone here. And TCL has had mobile device concepts with flexible and bendable screens for a number of years.

Skyworth's bendable OLED W82 display

Skyworth’s bendable OLED W82 display

But 2023 seems to be the year that flexible displays are getting out of the gimmicky phase and maturing to a point where they aren’t simply cool-to-have products. Instead, they’re evolving into well-defined and adaptable products that actually fold or bend or stretch in ways that make sense and improve their function.

The mobile business is where most of the innovation and concept products are taking shape. Brands showed phones with displays that roll out to become full-sized tablets. There were all-screen laptops that could fold in half and display a digital keyboard or be opened to present a massive touch-enabled display. Other devices could allow the user to create a tri-fold display so people around a table could all catch a glimpse of whatever presentation or video was being shown.

On the TV side, flexible displays allow you to take that flat panel and, in an anxiety-inducing process, literally bend the TV to give yourself a curved display. Brands like LG and Skyworth showed off flexible displays. It’s a concept that brings back, in a somewhat intelligent way, the curved TV business without forcing the consumer to pick between a flat panel or one that’s curved and juts nearly a foot off the wall at its edges.

Samsung’s Flex Hybrid display that folds and expands

Where there’s real potential in the flexible display market though is with gaming. The most immersive displays you’ll find are the massive, curved monitors that have exploded in growth over the past decade (see: LG, Samsung, Corsair, TCL, etc. who all have curved and/or flexible monitors). The wider they are, the more field of vision they take up, the better they are at completely immersing the user in their virtual environment. And flexible displays allow the user to do just that.

Now, though, consumers don’t have to worry about hooking their PS5 or Xbox up to a curved monitor to get that immersive experience. Instead, they can keep it attached to their 75-inch living room TV that can be bent to provide a more-immersive experience.

Across the board, the clear message delivered by all brands exhibiting in Las Vegas this year is that the display business is still ripe for innovation.

 

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