Samsung continues to double down on its disdain for OLED TVs, with the company announcing an update to its QLED technology at CES 2018.
While LG and Sony are both committed to OLED technology, citing its superior blacks and rich colours, Samsung refuses to follow the crowd. That’s why over the last few years the company has launched what it calls QLED TVs, which are essentially TVs that use quantum dot technology to mimic some of the benefits of OLED, while also being a lot more affordable to produce.
In 2017 Samsung unveiled a slew of new QLED TVs that came closer to the quality of OLED than ever before. In fact, its 2017 QLED TVs were the first to receive 100% colour volume certification from Verband Deutscher Elktrotechniker (VDE). The TVs were also extremely bright – something that OLED simply couldn’t come close to.
Despite the improvements, Samsung’s technology was far from perfect in 2017. That’s because the company still decided to use edge-lit LCD designs, which simply couldn’t cope with the 1,000+ nit brightness that was being pushed through the display. That led to issues with lighting artefacts, meaning OLED was still the better option for anyone that cared about picture quality.
QLED Redesigned For 2018
Fast forward to 2018 and Samsung is ready to try again with extremely bright QLED TVs where colours simply pop. In order to achieve that, and to fix all of its mistakes from 2017, the company was forced to completely redesign the LCD panel, as well as massively upgrade the lighting management.
Samsung has yet to reveal any new models using the new QLED design, but it has already confirmed that at least one will boast over 2,000 nits of brightness, which is achieved through full-array local dimming. That means directly backlighting the quantum dots, as opposed to edge lighting, as well as hundreds of dimming zones.
This subtle change is what Samsung needed in order to bring the quality of its TVs closer than ever to that of LG’s OLEDs. Paired with layers of black and anti-reflection filters, designed to minimise internal light leakage and external glare, as well as an anti-blooming algorithm, then for most people there should be little difference between the two technologies.
There are some caveats, however. Due to the QLED line-up still being an LCD TV, it’s unlikely to ever exactly match OLED’s performance. That’s because each individual pixel is an emissive light source on LG’s OLED panels, while Samsung is still using backlighting, meaning on closer inspection, there should still be some slight blooming from QLED. This shouldn’t matter to the average consumer, however.
That difference between backlighting and emissive pixels means that black levels will be better on OLED than on QLED, although Samsung has taken steps to improve the disappointing viewing angles usually associated with LCD TVs by throwing in a new prism-like layer.
Samsung is yet to announce a TV set with the newly designed QLED panels, although it says that a new model will be launching in the next couple of months.