We love to give practical buying advice about the latest gadgets here on TechRadar. But sometimes what we love more is to indulge in the most ridiculous, high-end, cutting-edge, luxurious tech on the planet. That's what we bring you in these Money no object columns – you can read the whole series here.
Perhaps you’ve considered livening up your backyard lounge area with an outdoor TV, one of those special models custom-built to withstand the elements year-round, and to display bright, glare-free images during daytime hours when the sun is burning overhead.
If so, you’ll find no shortage of outdoor TVs to buy online in screen sizes ranging from 32 inches to 75 inches. But what if I told you that you could buy a 165-inch outdoor TV, one that uses cutting-edge micro-LED display technology to deliver pictures so bright they’ll make not just regular outdoor TVs, but the best 4K TVs in general, look dim in comparison?
Oh yes, and it folds away into a metal sculpture the size of a bench when you're done with it.
C SEED N1 Outdoor TV: what is it?
C SEED is a company headquartered in Vienna, Austria that manufactures “luxury TVs for high-end outdoor, indoor, and marine applications,” according to the firm’s website. Its new N1 Outdoor TV extends a concept the company first executed in the C SEED N1, a kinetic sculpture made of aircraft-grade aluminum that automatically unfolds into a micro-LED TV with a screen size up to 165 inches, and then folds back into place when not in use.
Described by C SEED as an “Unfolding Open Air Sculpture,” the N1 Outdoor TV is, as its name implies, an N1 designed for outdoor use, with its micro-LED display getting an IP65 dust- and weather-proof coating to protect it from the elements.
When in enclosed, resting form, the N1 looks like a minimalist metal sculpture similar to what you’d see on the grounds of a modern art museum. And when triggered to unfold, the five micro-LED panels that comprise the N1’s display merge into perfect alignment guided by C SEED’s patented Adaptive Gap Calibration, which eliminates any borders between the panels to create a seamless image.
C SEED lists an ultra-high brightness for the outdoor TV, and horizontal and vertical viewing angles both at 160 degrees, so you get fairly accurate colors even if you're not sitting straight on. HDR10+ high dynamic range is supported and it can withstand temperatures ranging from -4 to +113 Fahrenheit / -20 to + 45 Celsius.
The N1 Outdoor TV is also a complete AV system, with “built-in 100-watt broadband coaxial speakers and integrated subwoofer in the column, with additional twin coaxial speakers in each wing.” Audio components are integrated into the frame and there’s support for up to 9.2-channel sound.
C SEED’s N1 Outdoor TV is sold in 165- and 137-inch screen sizes with prices starting at a cool $233,000 / £183,177 / AU$348,763. It’s available to order from the company now, with delivery scheduled for early 2024.
C SEED N1 Outdoor TV: what makes it special?
One need read only a snippet or two from C SEED’s pitch for the outdoor sculpture/TV to sense the enormity of its cool factor: “The N1 Outdoor TV takes only 60 seconds to rise to its height of three meters and five MicroLED panels unfold in the next 25 seconds to create a seamless monumental 165 or 137 inch display.” Not sold? How about this: “For ultimate viewing comfort, the screen rotates 180 degrees, to be viewed between lounge area, swimming pool or jacuzzi.”
My own backyard, sadly, lacks a swimming pool and jacuzzi. Even so, I can imagine being in someone else’s high-end outdoor oasis, hypnotized by the motion of C SEED’s 165-inch TV as its micro-LED panels slowly emerge from their metallic bed and arrange themselves into a seamlessly interlocked whole. Forgoing the TV’s remote control, I instead use voice commands programmed for the whole-house control system (this is my imagined scenario, after all) to make it swivel toward a recliner where I rest, cold drink in hand.
Looking beyond the N1 Outdoor TV’s obvious sci-fi charms, it makes use of a futuristic display technology that’s poised to shake up the TV world. Companies like Samsung have been making micro-LED TVs for high-end residential installations for a few years now, and similar to the C SEED TV, these consist of modular panels that get combined to create ultra-large displays. Samsung also recently started to sell a simpler 110-inch micro-LED TV for $150,000.
There are real advantages to micro-LED tech that make it special, and help to justify its exorbitant cost. Like OLED TVs, micro-LED TVs are self-emissive, with microscopically tiny LED lamps forming the individual pixels in the display. And they are capable of showing the same deep blacks as the best OLED TVs while delivering vastly higher peak brightness, with the N1 apparently reaching 4,000 nits – twice the light output of top mini-LED TVs, let alone OLED – being a typical specification.
For the N1 Outdoor TV, C SEED’s Adaptive Gap Calibration, a system that uses sensors to detect offsets between the display’s folding panels as they regroup and automatically align them, is another high-tech flourish. According to the company, the system not only ensures that images appear physically seamless, but also calibrates the individual micro-LED panels to prevent brightness discontinuities between them.
C SEED N1 Outdoor TV: is it worth it?
If I had a large outdoor space with an infinity pool and other luxuries, I would absolutely want an N1 Outdoor TV – in the 165-inch screen size option, please. But since I neither have the space, the pool, nor the money to buy an Unfolding Open Air Sculpture, it will have to remain a fantasy – something C SEED’s spectacular design powerfully invokes.
Is there an outdoor TV more in the realm of the possible? Samsung’s The Terrace immediately springs to mind, though brands like SunBrite TV and Furrion also make outdoor sets designed to do battle with direct sunlight and weather. At $7,500 for a 65-inch screen (55- and 75-inch screen options are also available), Samsung’s full-sun The Terrace TV would be a more real-world candidate for my outdoor, well, terrace, and I’d be tempted to dish out another $1,200 for the company’s matching 3-channel outdoor soundbar.
I’m sure I’d be perfectly content with that specific outdoor entertainment setup, but merely knowing of C SEED’s folding TV would trigger a sense of longing for better when I used it. But isn’t that the mission of luxury goods, to remain always just beyond reach?
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.