Samsung Electronics will introduce its 146-inch 4K Ultra HD MicroLED TV, dubbed “The Wall,” in August, South Korean wire reports said Thursday, citing Han “Mr. Han” Jong-hee, president of Samsung’s Visual Display Business.

At the same time, Jong-hee (pictured at CES 2018 at top) appearing at a forum in So. Korea, vehemently denied local media reports that Samsung might be planning to reintroduce televisions based on organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV technology to take on rival LG Electronics.

In fact, the opposite appears to be the case, as LG Electronics Vice Chairman Cho Seong-jin was reported by the Business Korea publication Thursday as ordering his company to introduce in September a home-theater-focused MicroLED television, using LG’s technology. The LG MicroLED will reportedly be even larger than Samsung’s 146-inch model that appeared at CES 2018.

The persistent reports about Samsung’s alleged flirtation with a return to OLED TV technology seemed highly dubious to us, following HD Guru’s meeting with Jong-Hee late last year. The Samsung display company president and other company engineers repeatedly stressed a key benefit of MicroLED over OLED is its resistance to image retention (informally known as screen burn-in). This is a condition where the ghost or outline of an image that has been left static on a screen for a few minutes, lingers (or remains behind permanently in some cases) after the picture changes.

LG executives have said their OLED technology avoids permanent image retention and clears up the condition after a few minutes.

The condition famously plagued self-emitting displays like CRTs and plasmas in the past when the use of programming like stock tickers and video games became commonplace.

Samsung’s MicroLED technology eliminates the need for color filters or backlights used in LED-based LCD TV that represent the bulk of TV sales today. Instead of shining through an LCD and color filter layer, LEDs in MicroLED displays produce their own bright direct light using very tiny red, green and blue LEDs as subpixels. The light from each subpixel blends together to produce a single shade of color from each pixel.

Like OLED, MicroLEDs have very wide viewing angles and can shut of light entirely at the pixel level to produce pure blacks. Unlike OLEDs, they can also get very bright to produce very bright whites without clipping.

One of the biggest limitations of MicroLED right now is the necessary pixel pitch, which currently doesn’t enable making 4K screen sizes smaller than 146-inches (in Samsung’s case). However, company executives have told us they are working on reducing this in each module to soon enable smaller (and more mainstream friendly) screen sizes.

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Because MicroLED requires the manufacture of smaller panels that knit together almost seamlessly into one overall screen instead of requiring expensive singular giant display panels, the cost of production is expected to rapidly drop below that of OLED televisions.

As was made clear at CES 2018 and reportedly reiterated by Jong-hee at Thursday’s forum, Samsung is focused on a two-track display strategy that is simultaenously advancing technologies in quantum dot (a.k.a. QLED) enhanced LED-LCD TVs (4K and 8K versions) as one track and the aforementioned MicroLED display “walls” as the other.

Samsung will soon announce the various 2018 QLED 4K LED-LCD TV model series that will be coming to market in coming months. At CES, the company demonstrated versions that will now use full-array LED backlighting with local dimming to produce deep black levels that suprass 2017’s edge-lit QLED models and appeared to be on a comparable level to LG’s 4K OLEDs.

The company also announced plans to market this year an 85-inch QN-85Q9S 8K QLED television with micro-LED full-array back lighting that is said to produce very high levels of brightness.

 

By Greg Tarr

 

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