A snow storm in New York has Manhattan more or less shut down (you know it’s bad when most of the Starbucks are closed), forcing Samsung to cancel the launch event it had planned today for its 2017 home entertainment lineup of products. However, Samsung has released the details on its flagship QLED line of televisions along with a super-premium “frame” TV, a stylish new sound bar, and a new version of its Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Samsung’s announcement also came along with news that BBC America’s popular new series, Planet Earth II, will now be available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for $60.
Samsung’s new QLED TV line comprises four ‘Q’ series with multiple screen sizes available, starting at no smaller than 55 inches. As the premium line within the company’s larger range of TV offerings this year, Samsung distinguishes QLED using three bullet points: Q Picture, to describe its best available picture quality; Q Smart, embodied in a new smart TV interface, remote, and smart recommendation engine; and Q Style, which describes new design elements meant to make installation easier and cleaner than previous TV series. Here’s a more technical breakdown of what all that means, followed with a detailed listing of series, screen sizes, and pricing for each QLED TV:
While many TV experts were anxiously anticipating Samsung’s unveiling of a new emissive TV technology at CES 2017 to do battle with LG’s OLED panel tech, the company had something a little more familiar in store. QLED still uses an LCD panel with LED edgelights, but Samsung has incorporated some meaningful refinements to its prior SUHD TV lineup for a picture that is brighter, offers a broader range of color brightness (being referred to as color volume), and has slightly better off-angle picture quality. To achieve this, Samsung altered the composition of its Quantum Dot material by incorporating metallic elements. It’s unclear how the addition of metals changes the behavior characteristics of Quantum Dots in the application of its TVs, but the result appears to be a higher level of overall efficiency.
A byproduct of that higher efficiency is higher brightness both in terms of grey scale and color. This allows Samsung to offer a TV that is capable of delivering a sparkling HDR experience when viewing HDR-enabled content on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and through streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Vudu. Samsung calls its HDR tech HDR 1500, though it remains unclear if that is meant to signify 1500 nits peak brightness. It should be noted that the flagship Q9F reaches 2,000 nits peak brightness. For those not familiar with nits, this is an industry leading figure, representing an extremely bright TV with the ability to offer dazzling spectral highlights in HDR content.
Subjectively, black levels seemed to remain impressively deep on Samsung’s QLED TVs when Digital Trends briefly viewed them at CES 2017 in January, though we’ll hold off on making any firm assessments on this point until proper reviews and comparisons have been conducted.
Samsung continues to refine its Tizen smart TV operating system to the point where its TVs are more interactive and intuitive than ever before. Central to QLED smart improvements is a new Samsung One remote control, which the company says operates more devices, and supports more smart TV features via voice control. The TVs’ so-called Smart Hub can now be deeply customized using Samsung’s Smart View app, available for iOS and Android devices.
Additionally, Samsung has come up with a new music service interface which corrals all supported internet radio stations and streaming music services into one place, with users’ playlists from all available services displayed in one central place.
It would be easy to dismiss this as another marketing bullet point to describe a trim TV bezel or fancy TV stand, but in truth, the QLED TV lineup offers some meaningful innovations, resulting in some of the most sleek and unobtrusive TV designs we’ve seen to date.
Samsung now offers a new no-gap wall mount structure which pulls its TVs tight against the wall, resulting in a much less obtrusive installation. Further serving a super-clean installation, Samsung now delivers all signal to its QLED TVs using a clear fiber optic cable which is barely thicker than a fishing line. From afar, the signal cable is virtually invisible — no need to run it through the wall or paint it. As a reminder, Samsung continues to utilize its One Connect box, which lets users connect all external devices — Blu-ray players, game consoles, etc. — to one box, with a single cable running to the TV. That cable just became a lot less visible and obtrusive.
For those not wall-mounting their televisions, Samsung has created a new stylish floor stand and entertainment stand. Each features a brushed metal exterior and very sleek lines to match the smoothed-out exterior of the QLED lines’ rear covers. A new inverted cone style stand offers a large degree of swivel ability, while a new tripod-style floor stand positions a TV much like a framed piece of art.