Samsung kicked-off CES 2020 with an unveiling event where Micro LED, 8K and lifestyle TVs took centre stage.
Micro LED is coming
Pride of place went to Micro LED, a revolutionary modular self-emissive display technology that uses pixels composed of microscopic red, green and blue LEDs. This approach potentially offers the best of all worlds: the deeper blacks and wider viewing angles of OLED, combined with the increased brightness and richer colours of LCD. Micro LED is also free from the dangers of image retention and screen burn, which is sure to please gamers.
Samsung has recently made advances in the manufacturer of these LEDs, making them smaller, cheaper and more efficient. As a result the company has an expanded range of sizes on show, with 88- and 150-inch models on the main stage. The Wall was revealed at a massive 292 inches in size, along with slightly more realistic 110-, 93- and 75-inch options. The 292- and 150-inch versions both have a resolution of 8K, while all the other models are 4K.
The images that Micro LED produces are undoubtedly impressive, with an exceptional contrast performance thanks to the incredibly deep blacks and increased peak brightness, along with richly saturated colours. However, the key to the success of this technology is how effectively the modules are combined to ensure a seamless image. As is often the case with such cutting-edge technology, Micro LED won't be cheap but it does offer a tantalising glimpse of the future.
8K is Samsung's big 2020 play
In terms of more affordable display technologies, Samsung had its new 8K QLED TVs at the event. The flagship model is the Q950TS, and the Korean manufacturer was showing 75- and 85-inch examples, although other screen sizes will also be available.
The Q950TS features a new ultra-slim design, an elegant stand, and an 'Infinity screen' with a bezel that's only 2mm wide.
It also includes Samsung's clever One Connect box, that not only supports HDMI 2.1, but connects to the screen with a single fibre optic cable.
The 8K panel itself is backed by a direct full array backlight with local dimming zones, and its performance has been enhanced by the addition of Adaptive Peak Brightness. While Samsung wouldn't confirm the exact number of dimming zones, apparently it's the same as the Q950R from 2019 (so in the region of 500).
The panel isn't just brighter and more efficient, but can also deliver a 100 per cent colour volume thanks to the use of Quantum Dot filters. The Q950TS also includes Samsung's Ultra Viewing Angle technology, which means it has a much wider optimal field of view.
The latest Quantum Processor 8K not only uses existing machine learning, but augments it with a deep learning neural network that creates its own processing algorithms without needing a formula bank. As a result the TV is able to take full advantage of all the pixels in the 8K panel, and deliver superior upscaling, noise reduction and detail creation.
Naturally there's support for high dynamic range (specifically HDR10, HDR10+ and Hybrid Log-Gamma), but new this year is the addition of Adaptive Tone Mapping. This feature analyses the incoming HDR signal, and applies dynamic tone mapping on a frame-by-frame basis, enhancing dark and mid-range images.
It's not just the picture that's had an upgrade, the audio capabilities have also been improved, with eight drivers in a 4.2.2-channel array. When combined with Object Tracking Sound Plus, the Q950TS can deliver a superior sonic experience with greater width and height, as well as sounds that are aligned with the images on the screen.
8K without the design extras
If you still want an 8K QLED but can't stretch to the flagship model, Samsung also has the more affordable Q800T. This model will also comes in a number of screen sizes, with 75- and 98-inch versions leading the way.
The Q800T drops many of the cosmetic features, including the One Connect box, and doesn't have as many dimming zones, but it retains the majority of the picture and audio features found on the Q950T.
These include the new Quantum Processor 8K, and 4.2.2-channel Object Tracking Sound Plus, along with a direct full array backlight and Adaptive Peak Brightness. There's also Ultra Viewing Angle, 100 per cent colour volume, and HDR support with Adaptive Tone Mapping.
The Frame returns: 4K lifestyle TV is big business
Samsung was also showing off its latest range of lifestyle TVs, headed up by the Frame. This particular model comes in 32-, 43-, 47-, 55-, 65- and 75-inch screen sizes, and offers a range of lifestyle friendly features, including an invisible connection, a no-gap wall mount, and a customisable bezel. This QLED 4K TV also uses a Dual LED backlight designed to improve both the black levels and viewing angles.
The lifestyle range also includes the Serif, a 4K QLED TV which is available in 43-, 49- and 55-inch screen sizes, but only requires a small amount of space for installation. This model uses an attractive designer frame, with an NFC hotspot on the top and tray accessories at the bottom.
Finally there's the Sero, which comes in a single 43-inch screen size. This eye-catching model is specifically designed for modern life, with a unique rotating screen that offers a vertical orientation for smartphone use and a more traditional horizontal mode for movies and gaming. This 4K QLED TV also has a slim design, and a 4.1-channel premium speaker with 60W of amplification.
Sound advice: Two new soundbars
Finally, a pair of soundbars: the HW-Q800T and HW-S600T.
The HW-Q800T represents an evolution of previous Samsung soundbars, with the width reduced to fit between a TV's feet and the height reduced so that it doesn't block the screen. In addition the cabinet uses a new see-through design to show where the sound is coming from.
The soundbar uses a 3.1.2-channel speaker layout with a newly designed 8-inch wireless subwoofer. It also features the latest version of Samsung's Acoustic Beam technology, with the upward-firing drivers moved forward to allow the soundbar to be placed under the TV without it blocking the speakers.
The HW-Q800T supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and also features Q-Symphony, which allows it to work in conjunction with the speakers on a 2020 Samsung TV to create a more immersive sonic experience. Finally, there's the option of voice control thanks to the inclusion of built-in Bixby and Amazon Alexa.
The second soundbar, the HW-S600T, is an all-in-one soundbar with a 4.0-channel speaker layout. There's a side horn speaker and acoustic beam technology to create a more immersive sonic experience. The S600T is designed to deliver deep bass without a separate subwoofer, but if you feel the sound needs greater low-end extension there will be an option 6.5-inch wireless subwoofer. The soundbar comes in a choice of black or light grey, and uses a premium Kvadrat fabric grille on the cabinet. It also offers voice control thanks built-in Bixby and Amazon Alexa.