It’s that time of year when many TV manufacturers start announcing awards for and shipping their annual product updates. We took a look at Sony’s OLED lineup yesterday, and today we turn our attention to Samsung, which has just announced imminent availability (most models will ship this month) for its high-end Micro LED and Mini LED. -TV series.
We’ll get to Micro LED in a minute, but let’s start with the mainstream high-end, which includes the Mini LED TVs. Samsung gives it its own “Neo QLED” label.
The top-end QN900A is the most cheated 8K option, with 65-inch ($5,000), 75-inch ($7,000) and 85-inch options ($9,000). Stepping down as the 8K banner continues to fly is the QN800A, offered in the same sizes but for $3,500, $4,700 and $6,500 respectively.
Since there is hardly any 8K content to enjoy, most people who are not just looking for bragging rights will opt for the 4K models. The flagship there is the QN90A, with 55 inches ($1,800), 65 inches ($2,600), 75 inches ($3,500) and 85 inches ($5,000).
Stepping down will get you the QN85A, which comes in the same sizes as the QN90A for $1,600, $2,200, $3,000 and $4,500.
Regarding the new TVs on offer, we look at the usual specs for high-end TVs in 2021, regardless of manufacturer, including HDMI 2.1 with all the features you expect, such as VRR, 4K120, ALLM and eARC. There’s also a Filmmaker mode and a one-stop pop-up menu to access HDMI 2.1 and game-related features like VRR. (LG introduced something similar in its 2021 TVs.)
And as usual, Samsung isn’t playing ball with Dolby, so there’s no support for Dolby Vision HDR (or Atmos, for that matter). Rather, you’ll have to lean on the just as good-in most cases-but-inferior-in-some situations HDR-10 standard, or HDR-10+, which stays a little light on the content.
And of course, just like any other big TV from 2021, the new Mini LED sets will feature an improved AI processor that does video and audio processing to maximize the wow factor.
The other big news with the 2021 TVs is that Samsung is (sort of) rolling back a much-criticized move it made in its 2020 lineup. That was when the company reduced the number of dimming zones and some other features in its 4K TVs. versus their 2019 predecessors in favor of pushing the envelope in its 8K portfolio.
The 8K TVs still have more dimming zones, but we’re not looking at a huge year-over-year drop like last time. That’s because Samsung’s new 4K models will also include Mini LED technology, just like the 8K TVs — which wasn’t a foregone conclusion given what happened last year.
Samsung says its cheaper TVs will hit the market later this year, and it didn’t reveal any information we didn’t already see at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Micro LED and Samsung’s OLED busting strategy explained
While much of the hype in the world of TVs is currently focused on OLED, Samsung’s LCD TVs remain the best-selling TVs in many regions, and in-depth tech reviewers like Rtings almost consistently list Samsung’s sets as the best non-OLED TVs. devices available in terms of image quality, although not always value for money. Samsung doesn’t even make OLED TVs, although it does produce OLED panels for other products.
And to potentially combat OLED in the long run, Samsung is relying on Micro LED technology, which has individually emitting pixels just like OLED. That means that Micro LED matches the main advantage of OLED, which is that pixels with maximum brightness appear right next to completely black pixels. But Samsung claims OLED’s burn-in risk doesn’t play a role in the same way with Micro LED.
In addition, OLED TVs have been slammed for not matching the HDR peak brightness of the best traditional LED TVs. Micro LED would combine the best of both worlds: perfect black with a very high peak brightness and all the granularity you would expect in between.
Micro-LED TVs have been heralded as the future TV technology for years and they were commercially available in very limited contexts before, but this year marks Samsung’s first quasi-mainstream attempt to sell some of them.
However, they still won’t be for everyone. They’re certainly colossally expensive to begin with, but they’ll only come in 110 and 99-inch sizes to begin with. Later we get sizes of 88 and 76 inches, but even those are bigger than most people’s living rooms can handle.
So for its more mainstream flagship TVs, Samsung relies on Mini LED, which is not the same as the Micro LED of the same name. Mini LED TVs are still essentially the same technology as all the other LCD TVs the company has been selling for years, but with a new approach that allows for much more grainy backlighting to help clear up around bright objects and other issues associated with LCD. TVs while still delivering strong peaks. Brightness.
Expect the term Mini LED to pop up a lot in the very near future, while Micro LED is likely to stay out of the mainstream for a while yet. Other companies, such as Apple, are optimistic about Mini LED and are poised to roll it out in all sorts of products such as laptops and tablets in the coming months.
As if the stew of terms like “OLED”, “LED”, “LCD”, “Mini LED” and “Micro LED” weren’t confusing enough, Samsung has chosen to call its Mini LED sets “Neo QLED” TVs. , which essentially means nothing, except Samsung wants to claim it’s the only company making “Neo QLED” TVs.
The company called its previous high-end LED TVs “QLED” TVs because of an optimization called quantum dot technology, which was the previous big step to make LCD TVs more competitive with OLED before Mini LED hit the market. “QLED” remains the label for the company’s midrange LCD sets.
List image by Samsung