Samsung used CES 2017 to introduce a new type of TV technology that could prove to be a major leap forward in picture quality. It's called QLED, which you may think is incredibly similar to OLED. You'd be right, and there's a good reason for it, because the two TV technologies share many similar qualities.
But what exactly is QLED? How does it work? And how does it differ to OLED? Allow us to explain.
What is QLED?
Samsung has called its new TVs QLED because they use what are called Quantum Dot LEDs. They're similar to OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) and have many similar properties, but they claim to be far superior.
For now, it seems Samsung is the only TV manufacturer using the new technology, with LG and Panasonic sticking to OLED and possibly even Sony, although we're still waiting for what it has to reveal at CES 2017.
How does QLED work?
QLED screens take a Quantum Dot layer and wrap it in a new metal alloy to make colours more accurate, improve viewing angles and allow the screens to go even brighter.
Samsung, and other TV manufacturers have used Quantum Dot technology in their TVs for a few years now, but the new range of QLED TVs take it a step further.
Quantum Dot TV tech works by placing a layer, or film, of Quantum Dots in front of a regular LCD backlight panel. The layer is made up of nano crystals, each of which emits its own individual colour depending on its size (anywhere between 2 and 10 nanometers).
Because each nano crystal can emit its own light, colours can be reproduced more accurately. It's a similar system to OLED screens in that each OLED produces its own individual light. It also means QLED screens can close the gap between LCD and OLED screens when it comes to producing the deepest blacks.
How is QLED different from OLED?
But the lighting is actually what also sets the two technologies apart. Quantum Dot TVs still rely on an LCD backlight but OLEDs each produce their own light, they're either on or off.
QLED screens use new backlighting system, which produces light from all directions, as opposed to pixels in regular LCD panel TVs being lit from one direction. This new way of lighting a picture not only improves colour and contrast, but viewing angles as well.
While it may mean OLED screens can effectively produce better blacks, Quantum Dot TVs can go brighter, and when you throw High Dynamic Range (HDR) into the mix, brightness is key.
The other main difference between the two is price. OLED screens are still considered to be expensive compared to their LCD counterparts. It's because OLED screens are still relatively difficult to produce, although yield rates are much better than they were when the technology first emerged.
Samsung hasn't released pricing details of its new QLED sets just yet, but they're likely to undercut them because they're much more cost-effective to produce.
What is the difference between QLED and SUHD TVs?
Samsung's new QLED screens can reach peak brightnesses between 1,500 and 2,000 nits (the 65Q9F can achieve 2,000 nits), leaving OLED screens very much on the back burner. We've only been able to see Samsung's new QLED screens for a short period at the unveiling in Las Vegas, and even then they had less than ideal picture settings, but from what we've seen we're confident these could be Samsung's best screens to date.
We were already suitably impressed by Samsung's KS9500 series of SUHD screens, which has a peak brightness of 1,400 nits, and made HDR content look jaw-dropping. To achieve Ultra HD Premium status - and if you're a TV manufacturer hoping to produce the best TV of the year, you'll definitely want this accolade - a TV only has to reach 1,000 nits peak brightness to produce an effective HDR picture.
QLED technology is still very much in its infancy, as its only been released to the public within the last few days, but it certainly has a very bright future. We've yet to learn if other TV manufacturers will experiment with it, but if the results are pictures brighter than OLED, but with the same contrast ratio benefits, for a cheaper price, we see no real reason for them not to.