Wed Sep 05 00:00:00 CST 2018
Samsung is officially set to unveil its 2018 range of 4K, HDR ‘QLED’ TVs (sets that use Samsung’s metal-clad Quantum Dot technology) at the American Stock Exchange on March 7th. We’ve been able to glean a few early details, though, courtesy of Samsung’s Senior Manager for Quality Innovation at the brand’s North American Quality Assurance Lab, Jim Langehennig.
During a Q&A session at a recent Society for Information Display (SID) conference on Emerging Display Technologies in Los Angeles, Langehennig claimed that there would be four QLED series in the new range rather than the three released (at least initially) in 2017.
These series would be called the Q6, Q7, Q8 an Q9, following the naming convention introduced for last year’s debut QLED sets.
The addition of a Q6 series suggests that Samsung is keen to offer a more affordable QLED option - sensible given that one of the biggest criticisms of last year’s QLED range was that they were too expensive. Samsung has also previously indicated to me, though, that it intends to be more competitive on price with all of its 2018 4K QLED sets.
The 2017 Samsung QE65Q9F suffered through its use of edge-mounted LED lighting - an issue Samsung is putting right for the 2018 replacement.
According to a report on Display Daily, Langehennig had more good news to share during the SID Q&A: namely that both the Q8 and Q9 series for 2018 are going to use direct LED lighting, where the LEDs sit directly behind the screen rather than around its edges.
As I reported in this first look article from the CES, it was already known that, unlike its 2017 equivalent, the 2018 Q9 flagship series was going to feature direct lighting - an approach that generally produces much better contrast than edge lighting. But it’s great to hear now that the likely much cheaper Q8 model will be direct lit too.
Even better, Langehennig confirmed that both the Q8 and Q9 would support their direct lighting with local dimming technology, where different LED zones can output different light levels simultaneously. Langehennig wouldn’t say exactly how many individual dimming zones each model would support, though he did confirm that, as you would expect, the Q8 will have significantly fewer than the Q9.
It was suggested to me at this year's CES that the Q9 would have a good few hundred separate LED zones. That would be an impressively high number, and would help to minimize the amount of ‘haloing’ (extraneous light) around bright objects when they appear against a dark backdrop.
If the 2018 Q8 and Q9s are able to combine the new backlight system with the same high 1500-2000 nit brightness levels seen with 2017’s equivalent sets, they really may have the potential to challenge rival OLED screens again in a way that the edge lit 2017 models ultimately could not. Especially as all of the new QLED TVs will almost certainly feature the impressive anti-reflection screen technology that was arguably the single biggest attraction of 2017’s models.
The Q6 and Q7 models will presumably feature local dimming with their edge LED lighting systems too, with the Q6 likely to have fewer zones of separate control than the Q7. Inevitably, though, this edge-based dimming solution won’t offer nearly as much local light precision as you will get with the direct lit sets.
There’s speculation in the Display Daily article (not based on anything that Langehennig revealed) that the edge-lit models may feature a new type of Iris Glass capable of ‘focusing’ light from the edge LED array to where it’s need more accurately. Personally, I doubt that this will prove to be the case. But even if it does, experience of current technologies suggests that the more local a band of light from an edge LED zone is, the more distracting it can look!