Xiaomi’s see-through OLED TV is a transparent attempt at attention, and it’s working

The best TVs provide a picture that’s so good, it’s like looking through a window into another world. But — and stay with me — what if your next TV was like a window into, well, whatever’s behind your TV? That’s what Xiaomi’s new $7,000 transparent OLED TV promises. The Mi TV LUX OLED Transparent Edition is a new product announced as part of Xiaomi’s 10th anniversary celebration that, according to the press images, is all about displaying solitary objects floating in space.

This TV is able to be transparent partly due to the fact that Xiaomi put all of the guts into its circular base instead of behind the display. But the more magical part of how it actually made a see-through OLED screen comes down to utilizing transparent OLED technology (TOLED). As mentioned on the Universal Display Corporation’s site that breaks down all the specs, TOLED screens use transparent components all the way through the stack that makes up the screen, and with no need for backlighting (each diode emits its own light, hence the acronym), images can look like they’re floating. Most other OLED screens use a reflective cathode layer, which prevents you from seeing through it, even if its back was removed.

Xiaomi Mi TV Lux Transparent Edition

The only TV where you’ll still yell “down in front!” when someone’s behind it.
Image: Xiaomi

The result is a 55-inch transparent TV that “looks like a mere glass display” when it’s off. Powered on, it has a 120Hz refresh rate, 1ms response time, 150,000:1 contrast ratio, and it has 93 percent of the DCI-P3 color profile. In display terms, it seems great, but I have a few concerns that Xiaomi’s press release doesn’t really answer.

For instance, presumably I can watch or play anything on this TV, but what kind of content will work best on it? The press assets show off animals just chilling in the void. Xiaomi talks up its AI Master Smart Engine and the custom-made MediaTek 9650 chip for being able to intelligently optimize how the picture appears, but it doesn’t mention how it’s able to isolate objects from a background like the images show — if that’s even something it can do. Perhaps, it’s just showing some very high-resolution .png files, and for everything else, I could expect it to just have a slightly transparent quality to it, which I can’t say is something I’ve ever wanted. And even if you’re watching content that’s optimized for this screen, it’s possible that the dormant parts of the screen won’t be as crystal clear as you might hope it to be. LG showed off something similar in 2019 that was built for signage purposes, and the frame has a dark hue to it. Xiaomi’s press images actually reflect that the panel might be slightly darker, so this could be true to how it looks in person.

This TV is only set to release in China for RMB 49,999 (around $7,200), and it will be available to order on August 16th. Honestly, I’d love to see it in action. All we have in the West are these crappy OLEDs that I can’t see through.

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