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Is Xiaomi’s transparent TV the biggest design fail ever?

Transparent TV
(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Many strange things have happened in 2020, so it's probably the perfect year for Chinese tech company Xiaomi to announce the world's first completely transparent TV. And if you're wondering that the point of it is, we're here to tell you that you're not alone.

Available in China from from 16 August, the snappily named Xiaomi Mi TV LUX OLED Transparent Edition will cost ¥49,999 ($7,200/£5,500), offering “an ultra-immersive viewing experience” in which “images seem to be suspended in the air”. That is, we assume, as long as your TV isn't positioned against a wall. Check out our best 4K monitors for some brilliantly opaque displays. 

In a blog post on its website (adorned with several images of women in extravagant ballgowns standing behind transparent TVs, because why not?), Xiaomi calls the TV "a new way to consume visual content previously only seen in science fiction films". Unlike traditional TVs, the Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition "creatively embeds all the processing units in its base stand". The TV sports a 55-inch OLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and 150000:1 static contrast ratio.

Transparent TV

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Transparent OLED displays have actually existed as a niche item for a little while, sometimes used for signage, for example. But Xiaomi is the first mass-producer of the tech, and the first to pitch them at consumers. According to Gizmodo, transparent TVs are pretty useless for anything with dark colours, so it hardly sounds like an adequate replacement for your existing TV.

Xiaomi even seems to acknowledge this somewhat. Confusingly, towards the end of its announcement, the company says the Mi TV LUX is "not a TV but an art piece" (despite having 'TV' in the name), suitable "not only for homes, but also for galleries, museums, shopping malls, and theatres".

When it comes to TV design, the internet doesn't tend to take kindly to any attempt to reinvent the wheel – such this year's widely mocked vertical TV from Samsung. We're all for design innovation and ambition (here are 8 mind-blowing Apple patents we'd love to see come true), but sometimes it's equally important to remember, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

For those of you on the hunt for a TV that actually, well, works, here are some great deals in your area. 

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