The First MicroLED flat-panel display presented by Samsung at CES 2018, Sunday

Samsung gave OLED TV proponents something to worry about in its pre-CES press briefing in Las Vegas Sunday, by unveiling the first true MicroLED TV for the home.

It also presented its first 85-inch QLED TV with 8K resolution and high brightness performance.

Meanwhile, Samsung said all of this year’s QLED TVs advance in all areas of picture performance, design and smart-TV functionality.

As for MicroLED, the company showed a “home-sized” 146-inch screen-size TV dubbed, “MicroLED The Wall.” The display uses an OLED-like technology comprised of tiny self-emitting LEDs as pixels capable of what Samsung said is “outstanding brightness, contrast, and close-to-perfect viewing from any angle.”

Pricing and availability will be announced later.

Unlike OLED TV technology, MicroLED is said to be resistant to image retention, and eventually is expected to be easier to mass produce in large screen sizes.

In short, Samsung said MicroLED “changes the conversation” about television technology in 2018.

Read more on Samsung’s 2018 QLED and MicroLED TV plans after the jump:

Samsung uses MicroLED technology today in its CinemaLED screens for professional movie theaters. These theater-sized screens can be achieved by assembling modular MicroLED panels together. The resulting large screen display outputs brightness levels capable of producing the specular highlights seen in high dynamic range (HDR) movies on home 4K UHD LED-LCD and OLED TVs today.

Because Samsung’s MicroLED technology uses modular panels that can be assembled together, virtually unlimited screen sizes with high resolution, wide contrast ratios and bright images may be possible in the future.

The company also unveiled its first 8K QLED TV in the 2018 Q9S series. The 85-inch QN85Q9S incorporates AI technology to deliver super clear 8K resolution for any type of content. Using a proprietary algorithm, the Q9S continuously learns from itself to intelligently upscale the resolution of the content it shows to 8K resolution.

The set also achieves much greater brightness levels using full-array backlight with a different kind of micro LEDs. These are smaller LEDs used to produce light behind the LCD panel. By making the LEDs smaller, Samsung can achieve many more LED zones, each of which can be locally addressed to raise and lower brightness levels, or nearly shut it off for pure OLED-like black levels.

 The Samsung 85-inch 85Q9S QLED TV with 8K resolution and AI voice control

All of this year’s Samsung QLED sets, with quantum dot technology, are expected to produce greater and deeper black levels, Samsung said. They also advance picture processing to deliver even more accurate colors, color volume and color depth, significantly improving issues like banding (false contouring) and blooming.

As mentioned with the Q9S, a big reason for this is the fact that Samsung is shifting from edge-lit LED-LCD TV designs from last year to QLED series models with full-array LED with direct backlight dimming, while maintaining thin panel dimensions of a year ago.

Samsung continued to make advances in the 2018 QLED models in all three of its core design pillars called: Q-Picture, Q-Style and Q-Smart.

Q-Picture offers some of the biggest improvements from last year’s lineup, Samsung said.

The focus this year was once again on contrast, using a new anti-blooming algorithm that looks at the picture information and predicts where the blooming (a halo of light surrounding bright objects on dark backgrounds) is going to happen and actively cuts it down. This helps to achieve pure blacks while preserving shadow detail.

In 2018, Samsung said QLED TVs will offer better color efficiency, better contrast, for the best color and the best brightness combined.

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The 2018 QLED TVs will incorporate what Samsung calls its, “Q-Master Engine.” This delivers the horsepower needed to drive color mastering with 16-bit color mapping and more realistic high dynamic range (HDR).

A process of forced contrast mastering uses the engine to adjust the (static HDR10) contrast dynamically based on the scene.

The use of 16-bit color mapping this year will parse the color information for accuracy while manipulating the brightness and color volume as well. Samsung calls this Three Dimensional Color Control, and it is said to create a greater level of accuracy than has been realized before.’

Samsung also uses HDR10+ to adapt the different colors of the scenes to the metadata embedded in the content by dynamically adjust that content.

Samsung also adds an Ultra Black feature this year, which is based on a built-in anti-reflective layer in the LCD panel stack. This further removes the reflections from ambient light and other bright objects in front of the screen that interfere with the picture and wash out black levels.

To improve viewing angles, Samsung has added a new prism layer that extends the viewing angle further than last year.

Q-Style, this year, further advances the look of Samsung QLED sets. The company has added a wider angle lens in front of the panel that allows making cabinets slimmer than has been possible before in full-array with local dimming LED back-lit models. Formerly direct back light dimming required making thicker panels, but Samsung said this limitation has now been solved.

The company will continue with the “No-Gap Wall Mount” it introduced in 2017 to get the picture closer to the wall, while for table top placement, Samsung has evolved its TVs’ the balanced 360-degree design, assisted by hidden cable cabinet architecture, to make the set look upscale from the front and back.

The full-array LED-LCD TVs have a super slim midnight black cabinet color that blends in with any decore along with a full-metal linear-type stand.

Q-Smart also gets better and more convenient in Samsung 2018 TVs, which all offer a new simple-to-learn and use platform design that is said to outperform external streaming devices for simple, useful navigation of apps and content.

In 2018, Q-Smart goes beyond the world of simple television control and content navigation into the SmartThings home automation control of smart devices and applicances.

Using this, Samsung said that in 2018 it will be easier to browse and find content that you want to watch, to connect to the content you want to connect to and to locate and find that content via voice control with Bixby.

Bixby is Samsung’s voice controlled artificial intelligence (AI) system, which was introduced last year in Galaxy mobile devices, to pick up audible commands. In the televisions, this will be engaged through a button-activated mic built into the TV remote.

In addition, the smart TV platform integrates with mobile devices to perform a number of second-screen functions like providing pop-up program reminders when a favorite show is scheduled to view, or a favorite sports team is about to play a game.

Also, as long as a mobile device is logged into the Wi-Fi network, it can be used to easily setup the television without the need to remember or input things like the Wi-Fi passwords.

The integration between TVs and mobile devices will be installed in all Galaxy 7 and later smartphones as well as other Android and iOS devices equipped with a supporting app, Samsung said.

Mobile devices and the supporting TVs will also be able to connect and share content between devices anywhere on the TV network.

In addition a new SmartThings app will leverage control of linked SmartThings devices. This will be built into the TVs, Samsung assures. No dongles will be required as with earlier SmartThings platform iterations.

When a user turns on a 2018 SmartThings TV, it will immediately display a SmartThings Dashboard, which will support monitoring and control all of the different things linked through the SmartThings ecosystem, without the need to add and access a separate interface.

This will provide benefits like notifying a user when a load of laundry is finished in a SmartThings washer. It will even work with compatible third-party products like Nest cams that aren’t specifically SmartThings enabled.

The TVs will also introduce a new universal guide to help viewers look at content available through their cable and satellite TV service guides as well as over-the-top streaming services, enabling users to browse for content available through anything that’s plugged into the television. (The guide will not integrate over-the-air broadcast signals).


By Greg Tarr


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