For those still easing into the new year, know that the biggest annual consumer electronics show, CES 2024, is fast approaching.
And should you happen to be in Las Vegas at any point from Tuesday, January 9 until Friday, January 12, I’d strongly suggest you mosey on over to the LG Labs booth in Central Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center, to see the bizarre – but still strangely intriguing – product above.
LG Labs is the South Korean electronics giant’s marketing platform for delivering experimental yet innovative products and services – and who doesn’t love a bizarre bit of self-indulgent audio kit like the item above? Last year, I frolicked through TCL’s Milan Design Week offerings (who could forget the Telly Table?) without any hard evidence to support the notion that these wild concept TV ideas would ever make it to market. And so it is with this offering from LG.
What you’re looking at is DukeBox by LG Labs, billed as “an innovative audio product that seamlessly combines the charm of vacuum tube audio with cutting-edge transparent OLED panel technology.”
The idea is to marry old-fashioned sensibilities with state-of-the-art technology, thus reinventing an audio-meets-video experience in a modernized jukebox. With front-facing speakers at the bottom and a 360-degree speaker at the top, it promises an immersive audio experience that surrounds the listener.
But come on, what is that? It’s an OLED screen, the transparency of which can be adjusted to make it look like the tubes are enclosed in a transparent glass box, or even within a cozy fireplace, where the audio system is visible among flickering flames.
Of course, it’s not all ambiance and retro feels. This is LG, so the DukeBox can be used to enjoy high-quality content such as movies too.
Analysis: nobody asked for this, but that doesn’t mean we won’t like it
I’ve knocked LG’s implementation of transparent OLEDs in the past (see the Paris Baguette bakery signage I called ‘half-baked’) but at a time when many of us are still struggling with the cost of living in a post-pandemic landscape, perhaps LG’s other-worldly ideas and products offer a bit of respite?
We’ve no concrete information on what LG’s DukeBox may cost when (if) it comes to market, or any other cold hard specs – and at this point, these seem irrelevant. This year, the size of the LG Labs zone has more than doubled compared to CES 2023, aiming to present creative ideas tailored to various lifestyles and offering diverse customer experiences. It’s an even bigger ‘what if?’ playground and I think perhaps we need that.
Let’s not forget that LG makes some of the best OLED TVs in the business, so anything the firm (which stands for Lucky-Goldstar, the name by which the company was formerly known) releases comes from undeniably strong stock.
I welcome the bold, aspirational, and even slightly unnerving in hi-fi: give me terrifying Wilson Audio towers, huge (and hugely expensive) Moon amplifiers, and Marilyn Monroe-esque vinyl systems. As Norma Jeane Mortenson (otherwise known as Marylin Monroe) once said: “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere”.
Yes, any audiophile worth their high-res file collection will say that OLED panels and excellent sound quality cannot coexist happily together. But keep breaking the rules, LG. I’m here for it.
Check out our CES 2024 hub for all the latest news from the show as it happens. We’ll be covering everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops, smart home gadgets, and the latest in AI, so stick with us for the big stories.
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