Home Entertainment Let the QLED versus OLED TV wars begin

Samsung has invented a new category of TV — QLED — which the company says shows visibly better pictures over WOLED in a controlled demonstration.

The new technology has been designed using its Quantum Dots and QLED lighting control to match or better the inherent advantages of WOLED (White OLED). The company says it intends to win the premium TV war.

QLED is a two-part technology using its second-generation, metal shell Quantum Dots (different sized two-to-ten-nanometre dots that emit RGB – red, green and blue colours), and a QLED lighting control “gate” to produce TVs with up to 2000 nits’ brightness without colour washout (most of the QLED range are 1500 nits which well exceeds High Dynamic Range HDR specifications).

While QLED (Quantum Dot Light Emitting Diode) may sound like OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) the two technologies could not be further apart.

QLED is still a form of LCD technology using a type of Vertical Alignment panel and backlighting that comes from the top and bottom edges of the screen. It is transmissive in that the white backlight goes via fibre optics through dimming zones, through the QLED gate layer to excite the Quantum dot (RGB colour) layer, and then through the LCD panel layer to display colour pictures.

The effectiveness of LED edge lit backlighting depends on the number of dimming zones and the effectiveness of the gate in preventing light from spreading to adjoining pixels. Lower cost edge lit screens will have a characteristic “glow” on 100% screen saver mode and black will appear more charcoal, none of which was evident in the QLED demonstration.

WOLED is emissive, each RGB and White pixel generates its own light source and does not use edge lighting. OLED is known for superior picture quality, accurate colours, 100% black and, therefore, infinite contrast. Samsung says that OLED suffers from higher ambient light (bright room) viewing, off-angle viewing colour distortion and, in using organic compounds, has a shorter life.

In the demonstration between flat versions of an unnamed 65” OLED TV (that looked suspiciously like LG’s top of the range Signature G6T with 99% DCI-P3 colour volume, approx. 700 nits) and a 65” Series 9 QLED (100% DCI-P3 with up to 2000 nits) and being assured that all settings were factory defaults this writer noticed three differences.

First, the OLED screen showed more red light reflection from typical halogen downlights than the QLED. This is called ultra-black – an anti-reflective coating and it is important for watching TV in higher ambient light conditions.

Second, the colour volume (Wiki definition DC-IP3) has been independently verified to be 100% and is a standard set for digital movie projection from the US film industry. It appeared to have a slight edge over the OLED.

Third, the viewing angle and colour accuracy appeared wider on QLED.

QLED is Samsung’s best picture technology in 2017, and it appears to have good blacks, colour gamut, saturation, viewing angles, and HDR definition in shadows and over exposed areas commensurate with the highest grade OLED panels.

But it is not all about the panel. Samsung has made other changes.

In a hardware sense (depending on QLED models including Q7, Q8, and Q9):

  • 5m optical “invisible connection” cable from a separate “One Connect” breakout box meaning only the need to run power and the thin cable to the TV;
  • An elegant and simple One Remote;
  • A no-gap wall mount system;
  • A studio easel stand and a gravity stand (optional from the standard stand supplied);
  • A full metal back or carbon fibre appearance back;

The Gravity stand is on the left and the Studio on the right.

SS QLED studio gravity stand

But the real changes are in the “smarts” – the Tizen operating system, a simple and comprehensive Smart Hub interface which presents all content sources and has a range of apps, a One Remote (very elegant and simplified). Everything can be controlled from a Smart View smartphone app.

There is a range of new curved and straight soundbars, some with external and some with integrated woofers, and the top of the range Dolby Atmos 5.1.4 system that can make you “feel” the sound. These integrate to the TV either on a cabinet or wall mount.

Opinion

QLED is a premium product that competes well with OLED offerings. The final choice will not be so much over colour, brightness or even price, but over the ecosystem chosen. In Samsung’s case, the company is betting that a TV that talks to the fridge, washer, dryer, microwave, vacuum et al will win over and I suspect it is right.

The flat Q9 series in 65, 75 and 88” has HDR2000 – it would be my personal choice, but will not be cheap. The curved Q8 in 55, 65, and 75” has HDR1500 and the flat Q7 in 55, 65 and 75” has HDR 1500. They all have one remote, Invisible connection and the latest Samsung Smart TV interface.

Sitting below the QLED range are the following models, not all of which will come to Australia:

  • Premium UHD (4K) HDR1000 (4K) range (MU8000/9000) in 49, 55, 65, and 75”;
  • UHD (4K) HDR range (MU6100/6300/6400/6500) in 40, 43, 49, 55, 65 and 75”; and
  • FHD (HD 1080p) range (M5100/5500/6300) in 32, 40, 43, 49, 55”.

That is 44 separate screen sizes and models at price points to suit all budgets.

SS Q9

The writer attended Samsung’s regional forum for Southeast Asia and Oceania as a guest of the company.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

 

 

 

 

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