Literally no one:
Xiaomi: Hey, guys, what if we celebrated our 10th anniversary by being the first to target consumers with this ridiculous transparent OLED TV?
The 55-inch Mi TV LUX OLED Transparent Edition will, according to Xiaomi, be the world’s first mass-produced transparent TV and will cost 50,000 yuan (or roughly $7,200). It goes on sale in China Aug. 16, and features a 120Hz refresh rate, 10-bit panel displays, and a 1ms response rate. Supposedly, it’ll have super powerful guts to create “an ultra-immersive viewing experience” that looks like “pictures floating in the air.”
OK, but no one except cartoon supervillains actually wants this in their homes.
Transparent OLED displays are nothing new; they’ve been kicking around for years now. LG has its own transparent OLED digital signage, the 55EW5F-A, which the Mi TV LUX OLED Transparent Edition is likely based on considering they have nearly identical specs. And they most certainly don’t look like whatever promotional pictures Xiaomi is using. (What was the thought process behind all these photos with women in ridiculous ballgowns standing behind transparent TVs displaying wild animals?)
Google any video of a transparent OLED display and you can get a pretty good idea of what these things actually look like. For the most part... they look like augmented reality billboard ads or any other type of heads-up display. Those have their purposes and make some sort of sense. This type of thing could be cool if you need information overlaid on an environment, a la smart glasses, or, say, in a futuristic car windshield. The idea that you’d want this to replace your regular TV, however, is laughable.
Forget ambient lighting, or watching movies and TV shows with dark settings. The famous Star Wars opening crawl? Nah. That one really dark episode of Game of Thrones? Probably a giant blur of indistinguishable motion. In general, while the picture on transparent OLED displays can get quite bright, the blacks can be fairly nonexistent or see-through. YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips has a video in which they tried playing some video games on a transparent TV and while it is technically possible, you can clearly see even bright pictures are kind of washed out. Unless you’re viewing straight on, you can easily see the white wallpaper behind the screen. That’s distracting, and the novelty of having a clear display would undoubtedly wear off real fast.
Xiaomi even sort of acknowledges this in its press release, albeit indirectly. It goes so far as to say that the transparent OLED is “not a TV, but an art piece” and lists galleries, museums, shopping malls, and theaters as potential places that might want this TV—basically commercial places that might make better use of futuristic ad space.
Who has more than $7,000 lying around for a transparent TV that likely won’t even be all that good at being a TV? Who is clamoring for a transparent display to use mostly as an “art piece” or subpar means of enjoying entertainment? This YouTuber suggested that a transparent OLED would be “baller” to have in a window of some penthouse...so you can watch shit on TV as you look out at the impoverished masses below? Truthfully, this is probably Xiaomi flexing that it can do this sort of thing, rather than a meaningful attempt at bringing this tech into our homes. But it sure would be nice if tech companies spent less time stunting, and, I don’t know, more time making cool gadgets normal people can actually afford.