Samsung Q7, Q8 and Q9 QLED series global launch – first look

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Of The Word ~ Samsung Q7, Q8 and Q9 QLED series global launch – first look.  On Tuesday March 14th Samsung Electronics held a global launch event of its premium TVs under the name QLED. Samsung selected Paris, known as “the City of Lights,” to unveil its new TVs that combine improved picture quality with the emphasis on brightness and color, together with refreshed visual identity. I was privileged to be invited to the event so on Tuesday early morning together with a few journalists from the region I was able to see first hand new TVs and features they offer.

QLED line is the very best what Samsung will be offering this year. TVs will be available in 3 different series – Q7, Q8 and Q9, ranging from 49“ up to 88 inch. For the first time since the introduction of curved TVs in 2014, Samsung’s flagship TVs will have flat screen, which is a welcoming change for many I am sure.

However, for those who prefer curved screens, you will find them in Q8 series and also in Q7. Q7 is the only series that will offer both curved and flat variants. The improvements in the new QLED TV line are separated in 3 categories – picture quality, style and Smart features. The first thing that I need to mention is that Samsung’s QLED is not a new display technology, but rather a marketing move. All QLED TVs this year are actually LED LCD TVs with 3rd generation of Quantum dot film between the LCD and the LED backlight. Same principle was implemented on last 2 generations that Samsung was and still is marketing under the name SUHD.

The new alloy quantum dot has different structure that allows advancements in light efficiency, stability and a wider color spectrum. All new QLED TVs will feature a 10-bit UHD panel, almost 100% coverage of DCI-P3 and achieve 100% color volume. All will have edge LED backlight. Color volume was a big topic that was explained in detail by Marcel Gonska from WLC Enterprises during the demo segment. Apart from richer colors in dark or bright, new QLED TVs will have higher peak luminance which is very important for realistic and dynamic HDR picture.

Last year figures were between 1000 and 1400 nits and this year Samsung is claiming 1500 to 2000 nits range. What I am really excited about and I am sure many calibrators out there will be is the addition of 20 point white balance controls together with CalMAN Autocal support. If this works right, it will make reviewer’s and calibrator’s lifes much easier since this will lead to quicker calibrations with the same end result. Another good news is that color volume measurement will be implemented in new CalMAN 2017 which I will start using as soon as it becomes available.

Just like years before, Samsung is still using VA based LCD panels. This means good native contrast with limited viewing angles. To improve viewing angles and to better compete with IPS and OLED TVs, Samsung is this year introducing so-called Dual Pixel structure which will improve color saturation and contrast under angle.

The demo I’ve seen was inline with this statement, colors did not loose saturation as was the case before and gamma shift was less pronounced. It was clear that Samsung wants to show that it has the better technology than OLED – all the comparison booths had one QLED and one OLED screen. Of course, we could only see the OLED screen because all else was covered in custom made box.

But it was clear that these OLED TVs were not performing at its best and especially in terms of viewing angles the comparison was not realistic. Still, by looking only at QLED sets it was clear that improvements have been made and that they are visible to the naked eye. I am also happy to see very effective anti-reflective coating on the new TVs since many find reflections very disturbing.

Samsung introduced this last year and it is nice to see it implemented this year as well. In terms of style, new QLED TVs look very elegant and attractive and just like last year they feature 360 design. This means that they have very clean, polished look from whichever direction you look. There are also improvements in wall mounting and according to Samsung you only need 15 minutes to do it. New wall mounts also have less gap for more attractive look on the wall.

All QLED TVs will have One Connect Box that for the first time this year is connected only by one thin optical cable to the TV. Samsung said that it took them 3 good years to create this connection that can be up to 15 meters long and allows for an incredible, up 75 Gbit/s bandwidth. You will still need to hook the power cable, one for the TV and one for the One Connect box, but I still see this as a great accomplishment.

New year also brings new remote that Samsung calls now One Remote Control. The idea behind it is to use one remote control for all your devices. The brains behind that lie in the ever growing database of different products that Samsung TVs will recognize – including numerous set top boxes out there.

Tizen OS is still the Smart platform of choice and this year brings more unified experience with numerous apps and easier way to find, purchase and watch content. There is also a new music service that allows you to find which songs are played in the background of TV shows and films.

My only remark is that the user interface is still in Full HD resolution, meaning that on big screen text is not as sharp as it could be and there are basically no advanced options to personalize the interface. What we heard from Samsung is that they want to have one style that will help users easily recognize their Smart TV platform, but they are also considering adding such options in the future.

Along with the new QLED TV line Samsung also revealed more details surrounding the Frame TV. The Frame looks just like a picture frame hanging on a wall when so-called „Art Mode“ is On. In the demo area it was hard to spot any different between an actual picture and the Frame TV since among other things there is a light sensor implemented to adapt brightness to the room lighting environment.

There is also a presence sensor so that the Frame can be turned on only when someone is in the room. I had a great time in Paris and would like to thank to Samsung Electronics for this wonderful trip and a great presentation. New QLED TVs will be available in stores during this month starting at 2500 dollars in the US, 2000 pounds in the UK and around 2300 euros for the rest of the Europe.