Ready for a giant 4K MicroLED television or custom-shaped MicroLED display and can’t wait for the technology to get here? Good news, if you have the big bucks laying around Samsung is already selling them through a custom home theater installer near you.

As we previously reported, Samsung announced at the recent professional-display-technology focused InfoComm 2019 show that its new larger home-entertainment-positioned version of the MicroLED-based flat-panel display package called “The Wall Luxury,” was coming to market in July. We can now tell you that, indeed, Samsung is “currently delivering and [has] installed several to date,” a company spokesman told HD Guru.

So, how much? In the United States, “the product is sold through our Custom Installer Network, so interested customers should contact them to discuss the product needs and receive a quote,” we were told. (In other words, if you have to ask ,you can’t afford it.)

In fairness, quoting a price is difficult in this technology since each dealer/installer will have his/her own price for product and installation service, and the particulars of each installation will vary according to space, room lighting, seating etc. Clearly, this is not a DIY project for the weekend.

To get a better idea, Samsung recommends interested parties look at its MicroLED web page here to have a Samsung representative advise them on their particular requirements.

So, what is this MicroLED technology fuss all about?

MicroLED refers to flat-panel video display screens that can range in size from under 2-inches for mobile devices and instrument panels all the way up to giant cinema screens suitable for professional movie theaters. Each screen or panel is comprised of thousands (typically) of microscopic self-emitting red-green-blue (RGB) LEDs making up each pixel. The pixel-pitch (or space between each pixel) determines how many pixels will fit on a panel, which is critical in determining how large a screen has to be to deliver higher resolution images, like 4K Ultra HD or even 8K.

The company said typical installation sizes of The Wall Luxury can range from a 75-inch screen with 2K (1080p) resolution up to 292-inches in 8K Ultra HD. Resolution is determined by the pixel-pitch (or space between individual pixel diodes).

MicroLED TVs, like OLED TVs and plasma televisions before them, generate their own light (self-emitting) unlike today’s common LED-LCD TVs that require an LED backlight to project light through an LCD panel (transmissive) from behind. This enables better control of brightness at the pixel level because each pixel can be made brighter or turned off entirely to generate near-perfect black. Because the light doesn’t have to travel through an LCD panel or filters, greater brightness levels are possible and power efficiency can be increased.

Like OLEDs and plasma displays, MicroLEDs offer wide viewing angles but unlike the other two, don’t suffer image retention (or burn-in) issues. They also enable “bezel-less screens” that blend into the surround surface. Manufacturers are hopeful that MicroLED displays will eventually lead to very bright screen sizes (approaching aspirational levels or 4,000 nits or higher) with wide color gamut coverage equal to the aspirational Rec. 2020 color space that can be made more cost effectively than todays OLED TVs.

Samsung announced two years ago that its first version of The Wall had a pixel pitch that was quite large compared with common LED-LCD and OLED TVs, and would require a 146-inch screen size for 4K resolution. But the pitch size is progressively getting smaller, indicating that the highest resolution levels will soon be more suitable for many households. The company has more recently shown a prototype 75-inch 4K Ultra HD MicroLED television.

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Samsung told us that today, the company is “offering two `Wall’ products: The Wall Pro (professional) and The Wall Luxury (Lux). The technology is the same although the Wall Luxury comes with components like the S-Box. Depending on the installation, a Samsung professional will advise which product best suits the application.”

The Wall Luxury will be more consumer friendly, meaning it will interface more readily with source devices and offer an attractive user interface. It will also offer popular features from its QLED TVs, like Ambient Mode, that allows the screen to show elements from the surround room to blend in with the surroundings.

Samsung’s The Wall Pro and the The Wall Luxury (positioned for consumer and professional installations) will enable screen size and shape configurations using 36.4-inch modular panels that fit together to make up one large screen, of variable size and resolution level.

Samsung said The Wall products will deliver “cutting-edge high dynamic range (HDR) and AI upscaling technologies” suited for the screen size and ratio. For HDR, The Wall Lux leverages a picture quality engine that enables advanced “HDR picture refinement technologies – LED HDR, HDR10+ support and Multi-link HDR – to render optimum peak brightness and contrast in every single scene for precise, true-to-life imagery.”

The “Lux” version will offer intuitive features “such as an adaptive digital canvas capable of showcasing various forms of media – enjoying entertainment or decorating the surroundings.” The assembled panel is said to have a screen depth of less than 30mm (1.18 inches). The screen also offers a “bezel-less infinity” design and can be outfitted with customizeable décor frames that help the screen blend in with room surroundings.

The MicroLED displays will also enhance black level performance by using what Samsung is calling “Black Seal Technology.” This is said to be “the fusion of an exceptionally black base with specialized Black Seal Technology, [that] delivers pure black levels for unparalleled contrast and immaculate detail. While increased black surface area makes the screen noticeably blacker, Black Seal technology creates a uniform, black
canvas. This technology also protects the screen from impact and dust, even at close proximity.”

So, how long before you can afford one? Thus far, manufacturing MicroLED panels and screens has been difficult. According to research firm IHS Markit: “the technology involves picking up massive numbers of LED chips from epitaxial wafers and placing them on target substrates, a process known as mass transfer.”

The mass production process continues to evolve, however, and according to IHS Markit, should reach the maturity threshold by 2024. By 2026, it should “enter mass-market territory,” such that a watch using a 1.5-inch MicroLED screen will cost one-tenth the price of today, IHS Markit said.

Some even believe that MicroLED technology might one day displace LED-LCD as the most dominant display type.

By Greg Tarr

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