Samsung Unveils Revamped 2018 4K UHD QLED TVs
Samsung used a flashy New York City Financial Center press event Wednesday to formally introduce its premium 2018 QLED television lines, including the latest iteration of quantum dot technology.
The company presented new Q9FN, Q8FN, Q7FN, Q7CN and Q6FN 4K Ultra HD QLED LED-LCD TV series and a wider assortment of large screen sizes ranging from 55 to 85 inches in the 2018 QLED tier.
Importantly, two of this year’s lines have dramatically improved contrast and black levels, and produce brighter specular highlights, thanks to a return to full array LED backlighting, which Samsung calls Direct Full Array, and Direct Full Array Elite, in the top two series. Samsung has also improved color, color volume and viewing angles with the latest version of quantum dot technology, which continues to use a QD film enhancement layer, throughout the 2018 QLED line.
In addition, Samsung executives said the mainline QLED models might be joined later in the year by the QN85Q9S 8K QLED television that was shown at CES 2018. But delivery this year is still uncertain. That television uses thousands of zones of micro-size LEDs in a full array LED backlight set up that is said to produce very bright highlights and deep, detailed black levels.
For those keeping score from CES 2018, Samsung executives confirmed reports out of Korea in recent days that it will introduce in August “The Wall,” which is a 146-inch 4K direct-emitting MicroLED home theater display. No pricing was available.
The Q9FN model (pictured at top) we saw had very deep blacks with clearly visible fine detail, and very bright whites and yellows without a trace of haloing. This is a chronic problem with edge-lit LED LCD screens.
In addition to the full-array LED backlight in the Q9FN and Q8FN series, Samsung said it enhances black levels with a new processing chip, and an anti-glare film, that dramatically reduces on-screen reflections.
Another slick new enhancement in select QLED models is called “One Invisible Connection,” which is available only with the Q9FN and Q8FN series. This is a single thin fiber optic cable connection (a 5 meter cable is supplied with the TV and a 15 meter version is available as an option) between the display panel and the Samsung external One Connect box, which carries processing circuitry and input/output terminals. The One Invisible Connection then supplies both source signals, and for the first time, power to the screen, without the need for additional cords or wires.
This is ideal for wall mounting the television without requiring holes drilled for cabling into walls or unsightly wires running down the wall to the source devices and power outlets.
A company representative said the One Invisible Connection cable is not fire rated and is not recommended for installations behind walls without proper conduit insulation. But its thin form factor and tranlucent white coloring make it less obvious than traditionally bulky power cords and HDMI cables.
As for the One Connect box, Samsung executives told us no formal decision has been made on whether or not it eventually will be upgraded to support the new HDMI 2.1 connections that are expected to surface in 2019.
All of the new QLED models and many lower-tier Samsung 4K Ultra HD televisions this year will feature an updated Tizen smart TV operating system, bringing support for SmartThings-compatible home automation device control, Bixby AI voice control, and a new Universal Guide. QLED models will also feature Samsung’s One Remote universal remote.
Using Bixby voice AI, users can speak a title, actor’s name, director’s name, genre etc into the mic in the One Remote and the Smart TV platform brings up in the Universal Guide a screen full of suggestions from multiple input sources. These include cable and satellite systems, broadcast stations and OTT services.
The 2018 Samsung 4K Ultra HD models, which will start to become available this month, will be capable of high dynamic range (HDR) supporting the HDR10, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), and HDR10+ profiles. The latter is Samsung’s open platform supporting dynamic metadata for scene-by-scene color grading.
All of the 2018 QLED models also feature a wider angle of view than last year. From what we could observe, these were the widest viewing angles produced by a LCD TV to date, approaching OLED (although some brightness is lost at extreme angles).
Similar to last year, Samsung is continuing to de-emphasize model series with curved screens, although the design element remains for those who prefer it in the Q7CN series.
As for the various series attributes: the Q9FN models will be available in the 65- ($3,799.99 suggested retail), 75-inch and 88-inch (price unavailable) screen sizes. Scheduled to hit retail in April, the Q9FN models will have flat screens and are to use what Samsung is calling “Full-Array Elite Backlighting”. The sets also feature an Ultra Black Elite filter to produce what Samsung said are OLED-like deep black levels.
Ambient Mode is another highly cool feature included for the first time in select 2018 QLED models., like the Q9FNs. In wall-mounted applications this lets you use an app on an iOS or Android smartphone to take a picture of the TV and the surrounding wall. Then, using the app, the TV can be controlled to present a pattern of the backing wall on the screen so it looks like the screen is invisible, showing the wall behind the frame. Samsung embellishes this with subtle graphics to make it look like a TV is framing a picture against a translucent background. It also can play music and display news headlines, traffic reports, and weather updates.
On a related note, Samsung announced it has reached an agreement with the New York Times company to offer news services in 2018 Samsung smart TVs.
The Q8FN models have flat screens and will include the 55-, 65- ($2,999.99) and 75-inch screen sizes. This will include many of the features of the Q9FN models, except it uses a less robust Full-Array Backlighting system with fewer LED zones, and hence a screen that doesn’t get quite as bright or as black as the Q9FN models.
The Q7 versions will be available in both flat or curved-screen versions, designated with the Q7FN (flat) and the Q7CN (curved) suffixes in the model numbers. The Q7CN series will include the 65-inch ($2,699.99) and 75-inch screen sizes. The Q7FN versions will include the 55- ($1,499.99), 65-($2,599.99) and 75-inch ($3.299.99) screen sizes.
The Q7 models will feature 4K Ultra HD resolution, edge-lit LED-LCD panels using quantum dot color and light enhancement film and “elite-class HDR” performance. They will also feature a connection to the One Connect box while the design enables the (flat-version) TV to mount flush against the wall.
The Q6FN series will include the 49-, 55-, 65- ($2,199.99 suggested retail), 75- ($3,499.99) and 82-inch screen sizes and will feature only flat screens. They will also include 4K UHD resolution, quantum dot enhancement, edge-lit LED-LCD panels.
Also introduced was the Samsung HW-K950 object-based audio 3D surround soundbar, with support for both Dolby Atmos 3D and DTS:X 3D audio surround sound. The HW-K950 has front-firing, up-firing and new side-firing speakers in the sound bar, plus a pair of wireless rear surrounds with up-firing speakers and a wireless subwoofer for a true 7.1.4-channel surround speaker system.
By Greg Tarr
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