People love short videos on their smartphones. So it’s only natural that they’d love those same videos on TV… right? That’s the idea behind a new (well, kinda) consumer product segment at CES this year: TVs that rotate to give people a vertical screen.

Major Chinese TV makers Hisense, Skyworth and TCL all showed off vertical TVs at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. They allow users to connect their smartphones to the TV and watch all their favorite portrait-mode videos from apps like TikTok and Instagram Stories on a much larger screen. And when you’re ready to watch normal television again, just rotate the screen back to horizontal orientation.

While this might seem like a concept made for China, the home of TikTok-maker ByteDance, it actually originated from South Korea. Samsung was the first to introduce the idea in April last year.

The Sero is aimed at millennials who are used to enjoying content on mobile, according to Samsung. (Picture: Samsung)

Samsung’s Sero, a 43-inch 4K QLED TV that rotates vertically, was launched in May 2019 in South Korea, where it costs 1,890,000 won (US$1,629). It’s reportedly also getting a release in the US and some other countries later this year. 

We asked Hisense, Skyworth and TCL about their rotating TV launch plans, but they didn’t respond.

Reactions from some commentators so far haven’t shown much excitement about the new TV design. On Chinese social media, there’s been hardly any reaction at all. (Although TVs generally generate less buzz than, say, smartphones.) But some people see why rotating TVs might be useful.

Sophie Pan, research manager at IDC, thinks that a rotating screen will actually help improve user experience, especially for heavy users of social media content. And it might even stimulate more content innovation for portrait videos, she said. But pricing is an important factor for the products, she added. 

“After all, it’s icing on the cake,” Pan said. She added that despite the display’s performance enhancement, it still serves the primary function of a TV.