Sunday, 15 April 2018 22:01

Samsung launches stunning new 2018 QLED TVs: first look


It's not often that we walk into a product launch and say, "Wow!" It's even less often when that wow is directed towards a Samsung TV.

It's not often you go into a room and see a procession of experienced tech journalists walk up to a product in an effort to see how it works and get things completely wrong to the point of looking quite silly. But that's what plenty of us did when faced with the following TV.

Samsung QLED 4K TV 2015 Ambient mode

Was it a translucent screen? No. Did walking around to the side to try and identify an impossible array of rear-mounted cameras make one feel a bit silly? Yes. How it works is that a photo is taken of the wall before installing the TV before it's uploaded to the TV and shadow/motion effects are added. The effect is stunning. It's called Ambient Mode and aims to stop walls being sullied by big black rectangular pieces of glass the '80% of the time' a TV is not turned on. We've seen seriously-impressive fine art reproductions (frame and all) from LG's OLED TVs before. This is better. 

Samsung QLED Ambient Mode - the dots are a clock
The dots (virtual balls of mercury) in the bowl actually tell you the time. 

But this is a superficial feature. What of regular TV performance? We've not been overly impressed with elements of Samsung's picture quality for many years now and things didn't sound like they'd improve with the opening remarks... 

Samsung's Consumer Electronics vice-president Carl Rose reminded everyone that Samsung's prime TV focus is "picture quality, brightness and stunning design". Having heard this at similar launches for years, it was hard not to roll our eyes at the same-old glaring omission – contrast. Samsung's determination to produce super-bright pictures usually comes with the caveat of poor contrast, with light bleeding into letter-box bars and dark scenes looking washed out to the point of distraction.

But a quick glance at all of the display models showed that something was very different. Finally, Samsung has TVs which can produce true black – or near enough not to make any difference. We knew QLED TV technology was capable of extremely vibrant colours, but here we had jet-black letterbox bars and hardly any blooming or halo effects when bright details appear on dark backgrounds. Indeed, performance may be the best we've ever seen on an LCD TV. See for yourself...

samsung hdr contrast qled tv
Colours are vibrant, blacks are black, yet the HDR means you can still see detail in a black cloak and mask.

samsung letterbox bars
Light blooming from the corner of the screen and yet virtually no bleeding into the letterbox bars. On a Samsung TV!

samsung light bleed tv
Colours are very vibrant and contrast is high. If blooming and halo effects from light leakage occur, it tends to be fleeting, minimal and not distracting.

It's not possible for LCD to completely beat OLED in this space as "no light" will always be better than "sophisticated light-blocking technology". But we've reached a point where the difference is negligable. What's more, OLED TVs are reportedly starting to suffer image burn-in from static images on-screen (think scrolling news tickers and channel logos). This was never supposed to happen. But while burn-in is not something that tends to seriously blight LCD TVs, Samsung is offering a whopping 10-year no-burn-in guarantee with its new QLED range. Suddenly, these TVs are looking like they may be more attractive than OLED. The technology works by using new local dimming which uses a new design of light-directing cones to avoid leakage. There are up to 480 local dimming zones on a TV (variable depending on the size of the screen).

This isn't all. Samsung has also managed to fit all cables — now including power — into one flexible, robust, Teflon-coted, super-thin cable called the "One Clear Connection cable". Here's what it looks like... look closely:-

samsung clear cable

Here are the cables that it replaces.

samsung cable replacements

samsung teflon signal cable
One Clear Connection cable – Teflon coated optic fibres and power cables. It doesn't get hot.

Other announcements include three new video game modes which reduce HDTV lag to 21.8ms, 15ms and 6.8ms depending on what levels of image processing you want to keep or remove. There's also a Steam Link app available and a special sound bar for gamers which aims to 'beam audio straight forward' using "Acoustic beam technology."  

Other official feature announcements include:- 

The QLED and Premium UHD TVs are compatible with HDR10+ content (currently available on Amazon Prime).  With HDR10+ content, HDR10+ optimises colour and contrast levels for each individual scene.

Direct Full Array
Specific to the Q9F and Q8F QLED TVs, Direct Full Array technology intense, deep blacks and reduced screen reflection across images displayed onscreen via an impressive framework of precisely controlled LEDs.

Control compatible Samsung smart devices using the SmartThings app.

Smart Hub
Comes with an ever growing suite of Australia’s most popular TV streaming Apps including: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube, Stan, BigPond Movies, 7Plus, 9Now, tenplay, ABC iView, SBS OnDemand, Steam Link and many more.

Samsung 2018 TV Lineup

QLED TV: Models in the 2018 QLED TV lineup include – Q9F (65”, 75”), Q8F (55”, 65”), Q7F (55”, 65”, 75”) and Q6F (55”, 65”, 75”). The QLED TVs feature enhanced colour and contrast, HDR10+ compatibility, Ambient Mode, One Remote Control and the One Clear Connection. One Clear Connection only can be used with Q7 and Q9.

Premium UHD: Models in the 2018 Premium UHD TV lineup include NU8500 and NU8000. The Premium UHD TVs include features such as dynamic crystal colour, 200Hz Motion Refresh Rate, HDR10+ compatibility, clean cable solutions, low input lag Game Mode and One Remote Control.

UHD: Models in the 2018 UHD TV lineup include NU7100 (75/65/55/49/43). These UHD TVs include features such as 4K UHD and HDR10+ picture capabilities, clean cable solutions, slim design and Smart TV capabilities.

Ultra-Large Screen TVs: Models including the Q6F, Q7F, Q9F,  NU8000 and NU7100 are included in the ultra-large screen TV lineup, offering screen sizes that are 75-inch or larger. 

Samsung’s new range will be available from 23 April with the following RRPs.

Q9F 75” $10,499
Q9F 65” $6,999
Q8F 65” $5,899
Q8F 55” $4,099
Q7F 75” $8,199
Q7F 65” $5,299
Q7F 55” $3,699

Q6F 75” TBC
Q6F 65” TBC
Q6F 55” TBC

NU8500 65” $3,699
NU8500 55” $2,599
NU8000 82” $7,999
NU8000 75” $5,799
NU8000 65” $3,599
NU8000 55” $2,499
NU7100 75” $3,999
NU7100 65” $2,699
NU7100 55” $1,799
NU7100 49” $1,499
NU7100 43” $1,199

ITWire will bring you the full review at the first opportunity. EDIT: It's finally here.

Related: Samsung's new 2018 TV lineup launched in US, Aussie models confirmed
Related: Frame-changer: Samsung extends lifestyle TV range with new 43-incher
elated: Review: Samsung Q9 2018 QLED TV - Best LCD Smart TV ever?

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Nick Ross

Nick Ross is a veteran technology journalist who has contributed to many of Australia's top technology titles and edited several of them. He was the launch editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation online Technology section.

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