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Samsung sneaks a QD-OLED TV into CES 2022

The TV business is a tricky one. The business of a tech journalist covering TVs? It’s trickier still. Case in point: In the midst of Samsung’s other CES releases, Samsung snuck a brand-new TV technology into CES 2022 right under my nose. I’m supposed to know about this stuff ahead of time.

So what is this new TV? What is QD-OLED? What is QD-Display? And how in the world did Samsung pull a fast one on me? The answer is part tech and part inside baseball — but all of it is important.

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What is QD-Display?

Let’s get to the good stuff first. QD-Display — as I’ll further explain below — is Samsung’s name for QD-OLED. That is, it is an OLED TV panel that only has blue OLED compounds in it. Mounted in front of those blue OLED pixels is a sheet of Quantum Dots that can convert the blue light into red or green light. It is, in essence, an OLED-based RGB display, and it is the first of its kind.

This technology is a big deal because it does not rely on LG’s version of OLED TV panels (WRGB), which use a white subpixel to brighten images while also compensating for the fact that different OLED colors wear down at different rates. The benefits of QD-Display or QD-OLED are that it doesn’t rely on a color filter so it can get much brighter, and it has better off-angle color saturation, plus no potential for burn-in. It is everything TV geeks love about OLED and nothing they don’t.

And now LG has some big competition.

But there’s been a lot of secrecy around this technology and some doubts that we would see it in a Samsung TV at CES 2022. Here’s the backstory on that.

Inside TV baseball

Word started leaking months ago that Samsung Visual Display — the arm of the mammoth South Korea-based mega-corp responsible for developing next-gen display technologies (only some of which manage to land in consumer households) — was readying the next big thing for televisions: A panel that was one-part OLED and two parts Quantum Dots. It was called QD-Display and it would be the best of OLED and the best of QLED paired together with none of the drawbacks of previous iterations of either OLED or QLED TVs.

But word on the street was that Samsung Electronics — the arm of the mammoth South Korea-based mega-corp responsible for making TVs that people buy — wasn’t having anything to do with the technology. Rumor had it that, even though the internal name deftly avoided the taboo OLED acronym, its technical reliance on OLED would require something of a hard about-face in terms of public relations. You see, Samsung Electronics has spent untold millions on criticizing OLED while simultaneously propping up its QLED TV technology. Now it suddenly had an OLED-based TV? Oh no, that won’t do.

Or so the rumors went.

Cut to December 2021, when tech journalists and PR representatives begin to engage in something of an awkward dance around information ahead of the world’s biggest tech show, CES. Journalists knew QD-OLED (I’m sorry … QD-Display) was a thing, and we knew we would see TVs with the technology appear at the show, but it was anyone’s guess as to whether one of those TVs would have Samsung’s badge on it.

Then, on the evening of January 2, 2022, Samsung made its big TV lineup announcement ahead of CES,  and any lingering doubt was laid to rest: No mention of a QD-OLED/QD-Display TV. And, as I write this, I still have yet to receive official word. And no, it’s not because the email went to my spam folder, and it isn’t because I’m not in a precious inner circle. This is about internal corporate struggle — I’m just a casualty.

Samsung QD Display at CES.

And yet, here it is — surprise!

Never mind me and my job. My point is that on the evening of January 3, 2022, winners of the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) Innovation Awards were announced, and, wouldn’t ya know it, there it was: Samsung’s 65-inch QD-Display TV. The award is issued to Samsung Electronics — the arm of Samsung that makes the TVs people buy.

The description reads thusly: “Samsung’s 65-inch QD-Display TV is the world’s first true RGB self-emitting Quantum Dot OLED display — revolutionizing TV by combining the contrast levels of RGB OLED with the color and brightness of quantum dots for ultimate visuals. The QD-Display TV combines a groundbreaking new QD-OLED display with Samsung’s gorgeous Infinity One Design and immersive Object Tracking Sound technology. It’s built with our 2022 Neo Quantum Processor for superior image quality, while boasting a 144Hz refresh rate and four HDMI 2.1 inputs — both wins for gamers.

“With impeccable visuals, sound, and speed, the QD-Display TV represents the next frontier in home entertainment.”

So, apparently, Samsung does have a QD-Display TV — a term which we journalists will no doubt quickly abandon in favor of QD-OLED, by the way — and it will probably be formally announced in the coming weeks. Or maybe days, who knows? The point is it exists and it is exciting, and it is very much worth paying attention to.

I expected Samsung Visual Display to have a prototype of this technology, but I didn’t expect Samsung Electronics to claim it was headed to market with a QD-OLED TV we could buy.

Samsung said while the nomenclature may change a little, we should expect more details about its 2022 TV lineup in the next several weeks.

It is also worth noting that Samsung Electronics is not the only TV brand that is making a TV with this technology — Sony has officially announced its first QD-OLED TV.

So, for now, the yet-to-be-named Samsung TV remains something of an enigma. And with all the cloak and dagger surrounding it, it is sure to be the talk of the industry for the rest of 2022.

Well played, Samsung. Well played, indeed.

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