The New 4K TV Season: Samsung

The early reviews are in and Samsung’s 2018 QLED range is shaping up to challenge the picture quality supremacy of OLED.

Samsung’s first iteration of the technology was criticised last year for being overpriced and underwhelming.

But 2018’s models are competitively priced with $8000 65-inch OLED TVs from rival brands.

Moreover, from all accounts they boast the extra brightness that OLED TVs can’t achieve while delivering black levels that are unprecedented for LCD TVs.

They may not be quite as deep as OLED’s absolute black but will be a better bet for daytime viewing, watching in a brightly-lit living room at night or maximising the impact of HDR.

One reason why Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs are superior to 2017’s is the premium Q9FN and Q8FN series has Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) rather than just edge-lighting, which helps to achieve OLED-challenging blacks and richer colours (the Q9FN has an “Ultra Black Elite” display whereas the edge-lit 7 and 8 series have just “Ultra Black”).

Samsung stopped releasing FALD TVs here because they were deemed too expensive for the local market.

Indeed, its last 65-inch flagship FALD, the SUHD SJ9500, went on sale here in 2015 for $13,000.

I was lucky enough to have one in my home for several weeks to appraise and it was a stunning display. But fast-forward three years and its successor is better specified and $5,000 cheaper.

Samsung’s also expanding its display size, with more models that are 75 inches-plus.

“There is a trend towards larger panels in New Zealand, with the average panel size 55-inch and more consumers than ever gravitating to larger sizes,” Jens Anders, Consumer Electronics Director for Samsung NZ, says.

“We’re ranging five models over 70 inches this year, which is a reflection of that trend. Certainly, improvements in picture quality are a driver in opting to range larger panels.

“For example, for a 75-inch TV you now only need a distance of 2.3 metres between your viewing position and the screen.”

And although flat screens predominate, Samsung still offers curved options. “Five will be from our UHD line up, including the curved Q8,” Anders says. “The other models are from our NU7300 and NU8500 series.”

Samsung also is providing customers a 10-year No Screen Burn guarantee, in a promotion that plays up one of the perceived drawbacks of OLED technology.

Given LCD TVs don’t suffer burn-in, it’s nothing more than a marketing gimmick, although Anders argues: “The burn-in warranty is intended to give consumers confidence in QLED, as it assures customers that Samsung will support any burn-in failure of the panel.

“Most consumers upgrade their TV within 10 years so the warranty effective covers the TV’s lifetime.”

I haven’t yet had the chance to examine the Q9FN series first-hand but last year’s edge-lit, step-down 8 series impressed and overseas reviewers have been gobsmacked by 9’s engineering genius.

Samsung’s also enhanced the appeal of its QLED and premium UHD range by equipping them with its One Clear Connection set-up, which combines power and audio-video cables into a single, thin, Teflon-coated, 15m-long cord that links the TV to a One Connect Box with all the terminals normally found on the back of a TV.

This box can be placed out of sight and components like a Blu-ray player, MySky or games console easily plugged in.

Why more manufacturers, other than LG with its wallpaper OLED TVs, don’t follow this trend baffles me. It’s a fantastic solution for a neat and tidy appearance that minimises the pain of changing inputs, especially if a TV is wall-mounted.

And in that respect Samsung also is ahead of the competition, with its Slim Fit wall mounts that allows its TVs to be virtually flush-mounted to the wall.

This year’s Samsung’s come up with another inspired point of difference: an Ambient Mode that imitates — chameleon-like — the wall behind the TV.

The TVs also come with the sleekest, most stylish and intuitive universal remote control ever to be bundled with a TV, a Tizen operating system that rivals LG’s webOS alternative as the best on the market, voice control functionality and a SmartThings app to simplify set-up.

The key downside of the 2018 TVs, at least on paper, is they aren’t Dolby Vision-capable (although they do have HDR10+ compatibility).

The cheapest QLED models start from $3,699 for the 55-inch Q6FN and $4,999 for the 65-inch.

The Q7FN ranges from $4,199 for the the 55-inch to $5,799 for the 65-inch to $10,000 for the 75-inch.

The 65-inch curved Q8CN sells for $5,999, the 65-inch Q9FN for $7,999 and the 75-inch model for $14,999.

The Premium UHD series retails from $3,299 for the 55-inch NU8500 to $9,999 for the 82-inch NU8000.

For more information on the new range, see Samsung’s website for the QLED series and for the Premium UHD range.

For critical anaylses of their strengths and weaknesses, see:

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2 Responses to “The New 4K TV Season: Samsung”

  1. Could you ask and find out why the price difference between 65 inch and larger 70-plus inches is absolutely huge. I don’t see how the price from a 65 inch tv is e.g. $7999 and somehow the same model in 75 inch is double the price. E.g. $14999 I would absolutely love to buy the larger 75 inch TVs but I can’t justify paying double. I’m stuck with only 65 inch as I’m able to justify the price of it.

  2. It’s all to do with production capacity and yield. A 55-inch display is much more efficient to make because you get more panels for your buck. According to this Home Theater Review article, bigger displays need larger “fabrication plants” and there are fewer of these. It says it will take about five years for production to catch up and costs to drop significantly.

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