LG has announced its next OLED TV, the LG Flex, at IFA 2022 in Berlin. The Flex is designed to double up as a big curved 4K monitor, and you can choose how much it curves, based on your setup.
The stand includes motorized arms that push the edges of the OLED panel, curving them forward up to a maximum curve of 800R (which is very curved) for if you’re sitting right in front of it at a desk, or back to flat… and with 18 steps in between those two. You can choose your favorite settings, and a dedicated button on the remote lets you switch between them at will.
We would love to demonstrate this to you through pictures or some other kind of visual aid, but at the time of writing, LG had not provided pictures of the Flex that we can use, though we have seen it in a virtual briefing.
The OLED panel itself is essentially the same as in the 42-inch LG C2, with the exception that it includes a coating that’s 25% less reflective than the one used in the LG C2. LG told us that this is used because this is designed to be a gaming monitor as well as a TV, and the closer you sit to a screen, the wider the angle of reflections you see.
The regular LG C2 is more designed for sitting at a comfortable distance from your sofa, which means you get a narrower window of reflections. Now we’d say that having a lower-reflection coating on all models of LG C2 would still be nice, since its brightness is a bit limited, but maybe it’ll appear on the LG C3.
As far as other gaming features go, the set essentially copies the LG C2 in those ways as well. You get multiple HDMI 2.1 ports for your 4K 120Hz gaming needs – there’s no DisplayPort connectivity at all, which may cause consternation with some gaming PC fans.
It also supports Dolby Vision for gaming (including at 120fps) and HGiG, which is rare in gaming monitors. There’s FreeSync Pro, G-Sync and HDMI Forum VRR support built-in too.
There's no HDR-rating (as in 'HDR400' or 'HDR600'), but based on previous testing of the LG C2 42-inch, you can probably expect 600-700 nits of peak brightness, depending on your settings.
LG’s Gaming Hub interface is great for those who want to tinker with settings. You can turn the features mentioned above on and off, but you can also get right under the hood of the picture processing options in the LG Alpha 9 chip that powers it (another feature brought over from the C2).
You can tweak shadow and highlight settings in great detail, as well as all kinds of other elements that will change the response times, so you can get a balance of picture quality and low latency that suits you.
Of course, any use of picture processing comes with some inherent lag, so hardcore PC gamers might just reject this screen outright because it uses a TV chip.
Analysis: Too much TV, not enough monitor?
That’s kind of the big question for the LG Flex, really: is it too much of a TV and not enough of a monitor if it’s going to sit on your desk?
The point of having one of the best curved monitors is that when you’re sitting right at the center of it at a short distance (ie, on your desk), the curve helps with eyestrain in a way that’s especially beneficial when gaming. Using a flat screen, the edges are a large relative distance away from your eyes compared to the center – your eye has to do quite a jump in refocusing if you’re flicking from looking at the crosshair up to an ammo count in the corner, for example. The same eye flick doesn’t have the same eye-strain issue when looking at a TV across the room, because the corner and the center are practically the same relative distance from your eye.
What curved monitors do is reduce the distance from the edges of the screen to your eye, meaning that the middle of the screen and the edges are roughly the same distance away from you – so when your eye flicks to the corner now, it doesn’t have to refocus. That makes them much more comfortable over long periods.
The great thing about the LG Flex is that you get the choose the curve, so however far you’re going to sit from the desk, you can find the exact curve level that’s perfect for your eyes. No quibbles here; that’s excellent.
But it’s a 42-inch TV. That’s really quite large for desk setup – too big to use as a general computer monitor. So it can’t replace the monitor at your desk for general use, but maybe you could wall mount it above your monitor? Nope – it can’t be wall mounted, because its curving motors are all built into the stand.
So it’s basically designed for a one-person gaming room setup, really. Maybe you have it in your room with your PS5 instead of a desk you actually work at. Maybe you live alone and can have it in your living room, but you can sit close enough for the curve to feel worthwhile. These are all good use cases – but they’re quite specific. It may well be that falls down the cracks for a lot of people: too big and TV-like to replace the best gaming monitors, but too chunky and specialist to buy instead of the best 42-inch TVs.
We think the LG Flex looks like a genius bit of engineering, still – we’ll find out whether it’s practical as well as cool when we can get our hands on it.
IFA 2022 is Europe's biggest tech show, and TechRadar is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and announcements, plus our hands-on first impressions of the new TVs, wearables, audio devices and other gadgets on show.