Samsung dropped a lot of bombs at its CES 2019 preview event, but without question the biggest star of all was its brand-new 75-inch MicroLED TV (aka Micro LED TV in Samsung speak). This is kind of a big deal. Last year, Samsung debuted its 146-inch “The Wall” TV. At the time, we thought there was no way they were going to be able to scale it down to a size most people could fit into their home.
Well, we were wrong.
Samsung put its engineers on the task, they shrunk the size of the little LED chips that make up the panels, and this year there is a 75-inch version. That’s about the size that somebody might actually put in their home.
So what’s so special about MicroLED? It’s an emissive display, kind of like OLED, with individual red, green, and blue pixels. Unlike OLED, they’re not organic, so they don’t suffer from longevity problems or the potential for burn-in. They last a really long time, they get true black and get extremely bright, and can handle a huge swath of color volume. Not only that, the display is borderless, so there’s no bezel to deal with.
The other thing Samsung is talking a lot about here is the modular nature of these displays. It has a massive 219-inch version, as well as a second generation of the 146-inch version that we saw last year. Because each TV is made of multiple individual panels, you can build a display in a number of different shapes and sizes.
So what about the seams between panels? We stood in front of the 219-inch TV, saw the seam, then stepped back, and it was about 6 feet before that seam disappeared. If you look closely at the 75-inch version, you can actually see a seam along the bottom where the lower strip seems a little bit darker than the rest of the panel. But I think, when you sit back from the TV and just watch it instead of analyzing it, it’s not all that obvious.
We do wonder about how the consumer applications for this are going to play out. This is mostly aimed at businesses and the commercial installer crowd, for people who have elaborate installations. Is it going to be a consumer TV? Is it going to be an OLED killer? We’re not convinced yet. There’s still reason to be excited, because when you talk about the black levels, the brightness, and the color volume, it’s a spectacular TV. But there is a reason they’re not letting us too close to it.
There are a few things that we’re going to discover when we do a deep dive, and we’re just going to have to wait a few months for that to happen. But it is exciting to know that this is a product that Samsung intends to bring to market, and it’s a sign of where Samsung is trying to move its TV business.
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