Instead of taking the OLED route, Samsung last year released what it calls "SUHD" TVs – essentially, LED-backlit LCD TVs with 4K resolution that use what's known as quantum dot technology for improved picture quality. At CES this week the company announced its 2017 TV lineup, which improves on its existing quantum dot technology and continues the battle against OLED under a new name: QLED.
Quantum dot TVs sandwich a layer of tiny semiconducting crystals between the backlight and the LCD screen, and these particles emit certain colors of light depending on their size. In Samsung's new QLED TVs, those dots are made with a metal alloy that the company claims allows the screen to reproduce color and contrast with better precision than OLED displays. In fact, these new TVs are, according to Samsung, the first to be capable of reproducing the DCI-P3 color space (i.e. most naturally occurring surface colors) with 100 percent accuracy.
The QLEDs are supposed to be able to do so at any brightness level – and Samsung has really cranked that up this year, with peak luminance hitting 1,500 to 2,000 nits, up to twice that of the company's 2016 SUHD TV range.
But a lovely-looking TV can be undermined if the area around it is a mess, so Samsung is trying to address cable clutter with what it calls an "Invisible Connection" cable. This transparent cord runs from the TV to a separate little box that can be stashed away out of sight. All the usual devices, like Blu-Ray players, set top boxes and game consoles, can be plugged into this unit, and the input is carried from that box to the TV through the one cable.
The TVs can be mounted flush on the wall, or held aloft with one of two trendy stands. The Studio Stand is designed to resemble a painting easel, and its nobbly legs look a lot like those on the artsy Samsung Serif TV. There's also the Gravity Stand, a slick-looking metal cone, even if it does fall short of Samsung's "contemporary sculpture" description.
A couple of tweaks to the software rounds out Samsung's TV offerings. The improved Smart View app allows users to flick through content on their smartphone, the way the apps for Netflix and Google Play work. The company is also adding a couple of new Smart TV services: Sports can give you a rundown of your favorite team, including summaries of recent and upcoming games, and Music, which works like Shazam, to help you identify a catchy tune you might hear in a TV show, commercial or movie.
The QLED line will be available in three models, the Q7, Q8 and the flagship Q9. The latter is a flat screen, while the Q8 is curved and the Q7 will be available in either option. Samsung hasn't yet released any details on pricing or availability.