Entries in 4K (3)
Updated February 13, 2017: specs, tech, and availability
Samsung is proving that LCD Technology can deliver stunning image quality with its new QLED series of TVs. Samsung's best 2017 TVs feature a new quantum dot technology, a clutter-free design, and a curious panel structure that aims to improve off-axis viewing.
Samsung's latest quantum dot formulation incorporates a new metallic core that further refines and enhances color response to a level where the company is claiming its QLED televisions exceed the DCI color volume! Think of color volume as a stacked series of color space measurements from black to peak-luminance - most color space measurments only look at the brigher portion of color response. The ability to accurately represent the brightest and darkest details in the latest HDR content should make the QLED TVs highly desirable for consumers and professionals alike.
The 'light war' among HDR television manufacturers continue, and Samsung describes the peak luminance of the QLED series TVs as being in the 1500- to 2000-nits range when HDR playback is enabled. Picture brightness at this level enables impressively captivating depictions of imagery like sun-lit characters, lighting in dimly lit environments, and point highlights like a star-filled evening's sky and glinting chrome. Longtime Samsung fans recall that the company added (returned) full array local dimming (FALD) to its flagship televisions starting with the 2015 JS9500 series. Like the JS9500 and the KS9800 that succeeded it, both were curved screen designs with effective FALD. For 2017, Samsung goes with a flat design in the form of the Q9 that utilizes an edge-lit backlight system to deliver a claimed 2000-nits of luminance output with 100% DCI color volume coverage - effectively matching the performance of some of the better reference monitors used in film/video production.
Pixel structure v2.0
The Q9 flagship appears to feature a unique sub pixel structure. As reported by the good folks at HDTVtest, I found the image of the staggered sub pixel layout interesting and worthy of further investigation - stay tuned! This new pixel structure paired with the increased color performance of the quantum dot-enhanced panel has Samsung claiming QLED's off-axis color distortions have been halved compared to previous designs.
A bright, well-contrasted, picture will be degraded by any ambient light that reflects off of the screen and into the viewer's eyes. Some eye-on time with the Q9 proved its updated AR tech was (subjectively) twice as effective at minimizing a point source (bright, overhead track lighting) compared to the company's previous best efforts.
A surprise highlight of the 2017 QLED series is a new cable management system. AV inputs on the QLED TVs are in the form of an external One Connect box, but what is new is an ultra-thin discrete fiber optic link dubbed the 'Invisible Connection' cable. This translucent filament makes for easly concealment but does not negate the need for separate power connections to the TV and to the One Connect box itself. To maintain a clutter-free look, Samsung engineered thin power cables and wire routes along the bottom edge and base of its QLED TVs. In the Samsung Q9 demo pictured below, a glimpse of the fiber link can be seen on the right top edge of the mounting bracket.
Except for the Q9 series, the other QLED TVs are compatible with a new 'no-gap' wall mount that appeared simple to install and level. A custom matching bracket flush mounts to the rear of the TVs and provides a nearly gapless interface with the wall surface. Alternatively, Samsung also displayed an elegant looking Studio Stand that resembles an artist's easel as well as a Gravity Stand that floats the TV on a matching weighted base.
The user interface and user experience (UI/UX) of the new QLED TVs centers around mobile convergence . The tweaked 2017 interface is being ported to a related mobile app for greater consistency and simplified use. The updated UI is also purported to perform faster auto-detection of connected devices (sub 3-seconds claimed.) The refined remote control can now properly mimic all the buttons on a STB further enhancing the QLED's universal control abilities.
- Full array local dimming
- Curved screen design
- Edge-lit backlight
- Brushed stainless chassis/stand
- U-type stand
- Curved + Flat screen options
- Edge-lit backlight
- U- and T-type stands
- Textured back chassis
Samsung's SUHD branding for premium TVs is no more, but the performance lives on in a new MU series we'll cover more in-depth in future article.
Samsung has a habit introducing its 'flagship' television close to the start of Spring.
This article will be updated as more details become available
Updated February 13, 2017: Game Mode, specs, and availability
OLED's ability to create the 'absence of light' when rendering a black pixel translates into incredible picture contrast. For 2017, the OLED masters at LG Electronics have skillfully engineered Signature-series panels that are brighter and more colorful than anything the company has produced to date.
LG is going all flat for its 2017 TVs - only the 2016 C6 series OLED televisions will carry over to provide a curved screen option.
The LG OLED TV 4K lineup includes five series starting with the flagship W7 and its 'Picture on Wall' design that features little more that the OLED panel itself with a thin ribbon connection to a sound bar system that provides AV signaling and power to the display. The W7 is an amazingly thin 2.57mm, and it magnetically attaches to a custom bracket enabling a total depth of less than 4mm as mounted on the wall. The W7 is slightly flexible, but it isn't made for curved installations or to be rolled up without voiding the warranty.
For the new E7 and G7 series OLED TVs, LG laminates the ultra thin panels to an equally thin sheet of durable glass. The G7 retains the folding base stand that doubles as a high-performance soundbar introduced with the 2016 G6 OLED televisions.
For the value/performance OLED enthusiasts, the 'Blade Slim' designs of the B7 (below) and C7 OLED TVs will be popular choices - the C7 series adding a stylish aluminum bezel and matching stand.
Ports and Audio
Dolby Atmos audio graces the LG TV lineup - whether or not you'll be able to output a Dolby Atmos signal to an external AVR remains to be seen. For the W7 and G7 TVs that feature sound bar audio, a Dolby Atmos speaker listening experience should far exceed the weak sounding audio that plagues most flat panel designs.
The 2017 LG OLED TVs claim improved DCI color reproduction from about 97% color space coverage for the 2016 models to 99%. Color space reproduction is often measured using relatively bright test patterns. A TV's ability to reproduce a particular color space across luminance levels (bright to dark) is referred to as color volume, and it will be interesting to see how the new LG OLEDs compare to Samsung's 100% DCI color volume claim with its new QLED TVs.
OLED's main weakness is an inability to match the brightness of the best HDR LCD televisions. For 2017, LG is claiming its OLEDs can achieve up to 1000-nits in minuscule portions of the screen - likely not when displaying a 10% window that is the current standard for HDR performance measurement. 1000-nit performance from an OLED would represent an increase of 25% in peak luminance compared to previous models, and more light equates to more HDR detail.
LG's support of 3D is history - go projection if you want impressive 3D.
LG skips the HDR format mess by supporting all of them.
- Dolby Vision
- HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)
W7 LG Signature series
- 77-inches (OLED77W7P)
- Picture On Wall design
- Dolby Atmos speaker technology
G7 LG Signature series
- 65-inches (OLED65G7P)
- Picture On Glass design
- Foldable sound bar stand
- Blade Slim design
- 65-inches (OLED65B7P)
LG snuck in a firmware update late last year that reduced lag times when gaming in HDR mode.
This article will be updated as more details become available
There are still plenty of terrific deals on 2015 TVs and home theater gear, and the 2016 models have started appearing in stores. This year's best TVs deliver an improved 4K ultra high-definition viewing experience that combines a greater range of detail and color reproduction that is far more impactful on the viewing experience than simply having more pixels.
Here is what you can expect from the manufacturers' best efforts for 2016