Samsung Goes To Infinity And Beyond In TV Designs
Samsung is using CES 2020 to expand its 8K Ultra HD TV lineup while presenting a next-level design statement in its QLED TVs that shuns the bezel and sharpens the image with next-level AI picture processing.
At the same time, the company is stepping up its smart TV and AI sound systems to drive new levels of performance and feature functionality in 2020 4K QLED TV models.
Although the company is reportedly growing its reach into both hybrid quantum dot LED LCD TV technology (possibly in QD-OLED TVs for 2021) and is expanding its MicoLED “The Wall” custom-installed modular self-emissive display panel technologies, the focus this year is on growing the premium-level QLED performance into more mainstream market segments. That means more televisions with greater peak brightness levels and higher color volume at more affordable price points.
The company is also improving the use and functionality of its smart TV platform to appeal to the cord cutter movement, while stressing new TV designs that make for better integration of bigger and bigger screen sizes into the home décor.
More MicroLED Choices
That’s not to say that MicroLED is any less important.
New advancements in MicroLED for 2020 have allowed for larger-scale production of fixed screen sizes, including new 88-, 93-, 110- and 150-inch screen sizes (in addition to prior years’ 75-, 146-, and 219-inch sizes). As seen in a new 292-inch iteration of The Wall, MicroLED’s modular structure and sleek design allow for customizable configurations.
8K TV Gets More Affordable
In 8K this year, Samsung will offer three different series of products, while at the same time lowering the cost of entry for 8K enthusiasts.
Samsung said its 2020 8K Ultra HD QLED-based TV models will include the top-of-the-line Q950TS series sporting a breakthrough “Infinity Screen” design that virtually eliminates bezel and borders around the picture, making the image appear to be floating in space.
Samsung said the series couples this unique design with a hyper-immersive 8K TV that produces crisp and detailed picture quality, “no matter the native resolution.” Samsung’s new sets will expand upon the company’s deep-learning-based 8K AI upscaling, will delivering greater control over local peak brightness, and adaptive picture qualities. The Smart UX system has also been redesigned, so it’s easier to find and stream favorite TV shows and movies. It will also display Samsung Health personal health and wellness goals at home, on the biggest screen in the house.
Other 2020 8K Ultra HD QLED series will include the Q900TS and Q800TS. Each will with “a full range of screen sizes and price points,” the company said.
Samsung will be adding larger screen sizes, in line with an industry trend toward 80-inch and above models.
In addition, Samsung is adding next generation codecs, including AV1 alongside HEVC, to support new forthcoming 8K compression formats intended to make viewing online 8K more efficient and practical.
In 8K UHD models for 2020, Samsung said it will continue to drive picture quality with its powerful new “Quantum Processor 8K” that helps to power the AI upscaling system and minimizes replication of image artifacts that can reduce clarity, sharpness, background noise, etc.
In 4K Ultra HD QLED LED-LCD offerings, Samsung will continue to expand and improve the screen size assortment, adding premium features to drive the LED-LCD display technology to new heights. In 2020 4K Ultra HD QLED offerings will appear in four series with the Q90T at the top of the line followed by the Q80T, Q70T and Q60T series.
Feature Advances Within the 2020 Assortment
Among the 2020 TV feature packages will be enhancement of Samsung’s popular Tizen-based smart TV and artificial intelligence (AI) technology platforms running behind a powerful new chipset and algorithms. Among some of the newly enabled features is Samsung’s “Active Voice Amplifier” feature and improved AI upscaling using a deep-learning algorithm designed to have the system “teach itself” to make improvements and grow with less interaction on the part of the user.
Samsung is also introducing new power distribution technology to control the brightness of the LEDs in backlighting system that steps up on advances in local dimming technology to offer more localized brightness and dimming control of LEDs in specific areas of the screen for more impactful high dynamic range (HDR) details and highlights.
Samsung will also continue on with last year’s advances in wide off-angle viewing and screen glare reduction.
New on-board TV sound improvements have been added in select models, bringing six speakers including some rear-screen positioned ones, that produce “Object Tracking Sound.” This emits sound in multi-directions from the screen including out from the top, bottom and sides of the screen and is said to work even with Samsung’s no-gap wall mount design. The system is also designed for adaption in joint use with new Samsung soundbars for an even more impactful presentation.
2020 Smart TV
New for 2020 Samsung Tizen-based smart TVs will be the continued expansion of the company’s TV Plus app carrying aggregated free TV streaming content that is easy to find in the user interface for optimal value to cord cutters.
In in user interface, Samsung has improved the Universal Guide this year to make it easier for people to find particular movies and programs they want to watch regardless of which app service carries it. This will make it easier for customers to find particular programs they’ve heard about but aren’t sure which of the many new streaming services is offering it. Samsung continues to expand the number of both free and subscription based content partners carried in its app store and Samsung its Universal Guide will become an essential part of the smart TV user experience going forward.
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Again, Samsung’s platform includes compatibility and interaction with other leading AI voice control and home automation platforms including those from Apple, Google, Amazon and its own Bixby/SmartThings.
The company is adding to 2020 smart TVs its Samsung Health app carried over from its mobile devices for lend further support to its fitness-minded customers.
In certain 2020 edge-lit LED 4K TVs and 2020 The Frame TVs and lower-end QLED TV series, Samsung is introducing “Dual LED,” which is a hardware-based feature designed to fine tune color temperature at the BLU LED light level (instead of the traditional method using software) to produce less backlight leakage while stepping up contrast and off-angle-viewing performance.
Another new feature in 4K LED-LCD TVs models is “Adaptive Viewing.” This enables the television to analyze the ambient room lighting conditions and the type of content being played in order to automatically make adjustments for key brightness and contrast settings. While possibly not the highest level of accuracy compared to a professionally calibrated TV, the user-defeatable system is intended for typical viewers who rarely touch their picture settings and can appreciate a television that will automatically tune down or up the brightness and other corresponding picture elements of the screen when they suddenly change the room light levels during viewing. This feature is different from the traditional “Eco-Mode” (which continues for energy consumption proposes). While similar, Eco-Mode automatically turns up or down only picture brightness to match ambient room light.
Active Voice Amp (AVA)
This feature is designed to actively look for sounds that interfere with enjoyment of the soundtrack dialog by automatically boosting the voice levels to compensate for the distracting sound level.
Ideal for multi-taskers, this feature will allow viewers to share content from their mobile device on the TV big screen while continuing to watch the TV program in the background or alongside what’s coming from the mobile device. This supports a range of viewing/listening options including: a picture-in-picture window, picture-over-picture, a 50/50 split screen or to adjust the size of one screen relative to the other in line with that is more important at the moment.
As previously mentioned, Samsung is both expanding and stepping up its game in TV styling design this year by “redefining” its immersive screen concept that narrows the bezels of certain models (as thin as 2.3mm in 8K models) to present almost borderless pictures (Infinity View) when seated at typical viewing distances. As part of that, Samsung will continue to offer its Ambient Mode in many QLED 8K and 4K models to help the television better blend in with the room décor, even when not being used to watch video.
At the forefront of this effort will be the expansion of Samsung’s popular 4K UHD design-centric QLED TV series that has included The Frame and Serif models, with the new 43-inch 4K “Sero” TV. The new addition will introduce an unusual floor-placed stand with a built-in motor to rotate the screen orientation to either a vertical “portrait” mode (tall, narrow) or traditional horizontal landscape mode (widescreen). The stand will include speakers for expansive sound and will play music from Music Gallery or music player software on an easily connected mobile device.
Samsung said the concept of The Sero is intended to support customers used to watching video on mobile phones and to better enjoy user-based content shot and mastered on phones for social media platforms sites like YouTube. These videos often present a mix of aspect ratios with either horizontal or vertical orientation views.
On The Sero TV, users can press a button on a remote to switch the screen between vertical and landscape orientations, or the rotating display also automatically switch to match the orientation of the screen with the screen on a connected Samsung Galaxy phone so viewers can see it the way it was meant to be seen. In fact, the whole screen and stand package has an electronically integrated thin design for a small footprint and adjusted sound orientation to match the position of the screen.
The 2020 Serif TV series (designed to resemble the Serif-style type font of the letter I viewed from the side) will be expanded to three 4K UHD sizes this year – 43, 49 and 55 inches. It includes QLED (quantum dot) expanded color technology, and AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth simple connectivity for easy use with mobile devices.
The Frame TV series will add three new screen sizes this year for a range that includes 32 (supports portrait or landscape placement), 43, 50, 55, 65 and 75 inches. The 32, 50 and 75 inch models are new additions.
New in 2020 are beige and burgundy bezels, along with accessories like the No-Gap Wall Mount and One Invisible Connection, making The Frame even more appealing as a decorative piece. The Frame’s 4K UHD resolution and Dual LED back panel ensure a super sharp image, while the improved sensors on the bottom of the device help to optimize the image based on ambient light conditions.
When it’s not being used as a TV, Art Mode 3.0’s auto curation, offers personalized recommendations based on specific tastes from the more than 1,200 artwork options available (via paid subscription) in the Samsung Art Store.
By Greg Tarr
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