Microgreenskit – It’s that time of year again when several television producers start announcing and delivering their annual product refreshes. Yesterday, we looked at Sony’s OLED lineup, and today we’re looking at Samsung’s high-end Micro LED and Mini LED TV lineup, which has just announced an imminent launch (most models will ship this month).
We’ll get to Micro LED in a moment, but first, let’s look at the mainstream high end, which includes Mini LED TVs. Samsung has assigned these the ” Neo QLED ” monikers.
The most expensive 8K option is the QN900A, which comes in 65-inch ($5,000), 75-inch ($7,000), and 85-inch ($9,000) sizes. The QN800A, which is available in the same sizes as the QN800 but costs $3,500, $4,700, and $6,500, is a step down while holding the 8K banner going.
Since it isn’t much 8K content available, most people who aren’t looking for bragging rights would want to go with the 4K versions. The QN90A is the flagship model, available in 55-inch ($1,800), 65-inch ($2,600), 75-inch ($3,500), and 85-inch ($5,000) sizes.
The QN85A is a step down from the QN90A and is available in the same sizes as the QN90A at $1,600, $2,200, $3,000, and $4,500.
We’re looking at the same specs for high-end TVs in 2021, regardless of manufacturer, including HDMI 2.1 and all the features you’d expect to see, such as VRR, 4K120, ALLM, and eARC. Filmmaker Mode and a one-stop pop-up menu for HDMI 2.1 and gaming-related features like VRR are also included. (LG introduced a similar feature in its TVs for 2021.)
Samsung, as usual, isn’t cooperating with Dolby, so Dolby Vision HDR isn’t sponsored (or Atmos, for that matter). Instead, you’ll have to depend on either the just-as-good-in-most-cases-but-worse-in-some-situations HDR-10 standard or HDR-10+, which is still lacking in content.
Of course, the latest Mini LED packages, like any other major TV in 2021, will have an upgraded AI processor that manages video and audio processing to enhance the wow factor.
The other big news with the 2021 TVs is that Samsung is (sort of) reversing a widely panned decision it made in its 2020 lineup. That’s why the company agreed to reduce the number of dimming zones and other features in its 4K TVs compared to their 2019 predecessors in order to concentrate on pushing the limits in its 8K lineup.
The 8K TVs also have more dimming zones than the 4K TVs, but the gap isn’t as big as it was last time. That’s because, like the 8K TVs, Samsung’s latest 4K models will have Mini LED technology, which wasn’t a foregone conclusion considering what happened last year.
Samsung says its lower-cost TVs would be available later this year, but it didn’t announce something new that we didn’t see at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Micro LED and Samsung’s OLED-busting strategy explained
Although OLED is currently creating a lot of buzz in the TV world, Samsung’s LCD TVs are still the most common in many regions, and in-depth technical reviewers like Ratings consistently name Samsung’s sets as the best non-OLED sets available in terms of picture quality, though not always in terms of value for money. Samsung does not produce OLED televisions, but it does make OLED panels for other products.
And, in order to compete with OLED in the long run, Samsung is relying on Micro LED technology, which, like OLED, has individually emissive pixels. As a result, Micro LED matches OLED’s key benefit, which is that pixels with full brightness appear next to pixels with no light. However, unlike Micro LED, Samsung claims that the burn-in risk associated with OLED is not a factor.
Furthermore, OLED TVs have been chastised for failing to equal the best conventional LED TVs’ HDR peak brightness. Micro LED is said to blend the best of all worlds: perfect blacks, high peak brightness, and all the granularity in between.
Micro LED TVs have been touted as the future of television for years, and they’ve previously been commercially available in limited circumstances, however, this year marks Samsung’s first attempt to sell a significant number of them.
However, they would not be ideal for all. For instance, they’ll be astronomically expensive, and they’ll only be available in 110- and 99-inch sizes. We’ll get 88- and 76-inch measurements later, but even those are too large for most people’s living rooms.
As a result, for its more mainstream flagship TVs, Samsung is opting for Mini LED, which is not to be confused with Micro LED. Mini LED TVs use the same basic technology as any other LCD TV the company has sold in the past, but with a modern approach that allows for much more granular backlighting, which eliminates blooming around bright objects and other problems associated with LCD TVs while retaining high peak brightness.
Expect to hear the word Mini LED a lot in the near future, though Micro LED will most likely remain out of the mainstream for a while. Other firms, such as Apple, are excited about Mini LED and plan to use it in a range of devices, including laptops and tablets, in the coming months.
As if the jumble of words such as “OLED,” “LED,” “LCD,” “Mini LED,” and “Micro LED” weren’t confusing enough, Samsung has chosen to name its Mini LED TVs “Neo QLED” TVs, which basically means nothing but that Samsung wants to say it’s the only company producing “Neo QLED” TVs.
Because of an optimization known as quantum dot technology, which was the previous major effort to make LCD TVs more competitive with OLED before Mini LED came along, the company called its previous high-end LED TVs “QLED” TVs. The company’s midrange LCD sets will retain the “QLED” moniker.