Hands On with Samsung’s 2021 8K Neo QLED TV Range
Samsung isn't one to do things in half-measure, and the launch of their 2021 range was no exception, held at Sydney's lavish Crown Casino for an exclusive press event.
As pleasant as the surroundings were, all eyes were on Samsung's 2021 TV range. Invited members of the press were introduced to a slew of new televisions, including its new 8K and 4K Neo QLED, along with the Premiere short-throw projectors.
The day's mantra was lifestyle and sustainability; Samsung demonstrating a range of televisions designed to blend seamlessly into living spaces, both inside and outside the home. Lovely as they were, though, I was keen to spend some time with Samsung's QN900A flagship 8K Neo QLED TV and Samsung's Head of Product (Audio/Visual), Himal Jekishan, kindly made himself available to answer some of my questions.
Where OLED has dominated in terms of black levels and LED/LCD with brightness, Samsung's 8K Neo QLED seeks to offer the best of both. While brightness has never been an issue for LED/LCD televisions, such as Samsung's QLED, producing deep dark blacks has always been challenging.
To overcome this, Himal says that Samsung went back to the drawing board to rethink and completely redesign the Neo's backlighting system. To illustrate, he shows me the light source previously used in their QLED televisions.
Shaped like a small bead, the LED light source enabled hundreds of local dimming zones on Samsung's earlier QLED's. Himal compares this to a small piece of metallic material that forms the basis of the Neo's backlighting system. Containing 10,000 micro LEDs, it enables thousands of zones of local dimming.
He points out that the algorithm used to control zone lighting is equally important. Having a number of local dimming zones doesn't amount to much if you don't have the means to independently control enough of them. In addition to having a newly designed algorithm to control local dimming, the micro-layer enables the LEDs to produce light where it's wanted, which is claimed to dramatically improves shadow detail.
The Neo sports 12-bit processing, which, according to Samsung, promises to deliver finer gradations and reduce banding. Himal ventures the QN900A is the best television of 2021, producing a picture like never seen before.
Indeed, the first thing you notice about the Neo is its bright, crisp images. Although, as presented in Vivid picture mode, the QN900A was too bright to watch for extended periods. Movie mode provided a far more watchable option for extended viewing. Nonetheless, it makes the promise of good things to come with HDR.
Black levels were superb, producing OLED like black levels without virtually a trace of blooming. It's important to remember that the viewing environment has the final say on perceived black levels, as good as they were. While room lighting was subdued, it's not practical to make critical observations regarding black levels.
Nonetheless, combined with the Neo's 8K resolution, the depth of field was striking, although I venture this could be improved upon again with calibration. Samsung's menu system appears mostly unchanged from 2020, with 20pt. Greyscale/gamma control and a six-point CMS will enable the Neo to be made extremely accurate with calibration.
The remote control has also had an overhaul, successfully walking that fine line between form and function. Solar-powered and able to re-charge itself from room-lighting, the remote does away with the need for conventional batteries.
Although it's challenging to make critical assessments regarding picture quality in such a viewing environment, the Neo has all the hallmarks to be one of the finest televisions this year. Of course, we'll reserve our final judgement until we can source an actual review unit and put it through its paces in a controlled environment.
Samsung's QN900A 8K QLED is available now, and sells for 65” ($7,579 RRP), 75” ($10,499 RRP) and 85” ($13,999 RRP).
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.