Samsung is taking QLED TVs to the next level with Neo QLED. It’s all about a slimmer build, better picture quality and a more immersive experience powered by a ton of mini LEDs. And we got to spend some time with four Neo QLED TVs: two 4K and two 8K models.
The tech making this possible is smaller LEDs — remember that with an LED or QLED TV, there’s still a layer of backlighting that goes through filters to create the image. And with Neo QLED, Samsung is swapping traditional LED backlighting panels for Quantum Mini LEDs. These are smaller LED bulbs with less packaging around them that are 1/40th the height of a normal LED. The result is the ability to pack way more LEDs in, which results in more control and precision for creating an image.
Regardless of 4K or 8K resolution, Neo QLED delivers vibrancy, sharpness and stark contrast levels. The biggest difference we saw during a brief demo was less blooming and increased vibrancy. Blooming, or light leakage, is when a bright spot on a picture leaks out into the surrounding areas. It’s not really an occurrence on OLEDs since each individual pixel creates the picture, but on QLEDs it’s still common. These mini LEDs, though, allow the processor to really control the picture to deliver a more exact image.
We’ve spent extended time with mini LEDs on TCL’s 8, 6 and 5 series — the result was a pretty dramatic increase in quality. Samsung’s approach here is a promising one and we’re eager to spend more time with it. Of course, the story isn’t just with Quantum Mini LEDs, but the new Neo Quantum Processor also plays a big factor. It controls the image while also upscaling content — something that’s still important to take advantage of 4K resolutions and even more crucial for 8K models. Samsung is still using AI for upscaling, pulling from a knowledge base filled with content to deliver the best picture possible.
On the 85-inch version of this 8K TV, the screen flows right to the edges. It features machined holes all around the frame for a better sound experience.The TV’s Object Tracking Sound software with hardware to deliver better audio.
On these TVs, the included remote will be made from 28% recycled materials, but it’s also ditching reusable batteries. Inside is a lithium-ion battery and a USB-C port for easy recharging, but we’re doubtful you’ll need to plug it in since there’s a solar array on the back. On a full charge, the remote should last for a full two years — and that’s if you’re keeping it in complete darkness.
Building off of Samsung’s Health Hub, the new line of TVs feature Health Trainer — which we got to try out. Essentially, you can plug in a standard webcam to the TV and it will track you while working out, ensuring proper form while also tracking reps. Similarly, Google Duo, a free video calling service, will be available on QLEDs. You can use a connected webcam, like with Health Trainer, or even mirror your device to the TV.
For gamers, you’ll be pretty impressed with the Game Bar function. Not only does it strike a chord with a fun design, but it’s a functional toolbar. You can easily monitor frames per second, turn HDR on and off and test the input lag, among other quick functions. But even better is the ability to switch the aspect ratio. You can switch to an ultrawide 32:9 or slimmer 21:9 ratio that’s normally found on gaming monitors.
Samsung’s Neo QLEDs aim to pack a punch against competing QLED models while also continuing to push against OLEDs. With more LEDs and a precise way to control them, the 2021 models could go head to head against OLEDs.
We don’t have pricing or exact availability yet from Samsung on the Neo QLEDs, but they’ll be launching in the coming months. The good news is that 2020 QLEDs are still on the market, with many seeing sharp discounts. While those lack the Quantum Mini LEDs, they do deliver a strong picture with high levels of vibrancy.