Samsung Announces First MicroLED Technology True Consumer TV Model
MicroLED has long felt like the Holy Grail of the TV world. The way it combines the brightness and durability of LCD technology with the contrast and self-emissive pixels of OLED technology feels like the next natural step in TV evolution.
However, while MicroLED has been busy blowing our minds with its picture quality based on concept designs and ultra-expensive, ultra-impractical commercial screens since 2018, the technology has remained stubbornly ill-adapted to the humble domestic consumer. Until now.
Samsung has finally unveiled a MicroLED that has been designed from the ground up for actual living rooms rather than commercial installations or custom installed media rooms of the rich and famous.
For starters, the new screen ships as one finished panel, rather than having to be professionally constructed on-site from a series of smaller MicroLED modules. It also carries a built-in speaker system, as well as the sort of connectivity - including Wi-Fi for streaming - that you would expect to find on a TV rather than a mere commercial monitor.
Before you all rush off to pre-order one of these next-generation MicroLED showstoppers, though, there are a couple of other things you need to know about it. First, its 4K screen is 110 inches wide from corner to corner. Second, while its price has yet to be confirmed, the expectation at the moment is that it will fall somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 US dollars. In other words, yes - it’s still pretty much just for the rich and famous.
That shouldn’t distract us, though, from the fact that Samsung’s new MicroLED proposition really is still a highly significant moment for both the nascent technology and the wider future of television.
For one thing, the cutting edge new screen is the first result of a new MicroLED manufacturing process Samsung has developed that apparently greatly streamlines the notoriously difficult job of working with the tiny elements associated with MicroLED technology.
You can’t underestimate, either, the importance of Samsung having developed a physical support structure for its MicroLED modules that enables it to ship such large MicroLED screens as one finished unit.
Then there’s that built-in sound system. This delivers a 5.1 speaker configuration, complete with a dedicated centre channel, despite apparently not sporting any ‘external’ speakers. Even better, this multi-channel sound system has been partnered with a so-called Pro enhancement of the Object Tracking Sound functionality Samsung introduced on its premium 2020 QLED TVs. This makes sound effects seem to be coming not just from the screen, but the correct part of the screen, creating a much more immersive and detailed sound experience.
While Samsung hasn’t formally confirmed what connections its new MicroLED set will carry, the information provided so far does mention that the TV will support Multiview, where the mammoth screen can show up to four sources simultaneously. And in the process of describing Multiview, Samsung suggests that you could use it for watching four different HDMI sources simultaneously, or three HDMI inputs and a streaming service.
This all sounds consistent, again, with this new MicroLED model being more like a traditional TV in its approach than the mere monster monitors we’ve seen before.
A new Micro AI processor, meanwhile, is focused on getting the most from MicroLED’s extreme picture quality potential, and it’s confirmed that the new screen will comfortably cover 100% of both the Adobe RGB and DCI digital cinema colour standards.
Even more startling is its colossal claimed life span of 100,000 hours. This is more than three times longer than the 30,000-hour lifespans quoted for OLED TVs, providing a stark reminder of the benefits of not using organic elements like OLED does.
One last significant feature of the new MicroLED screen from a domestic AV bliss perspective is its design. While the need to fit the MicroLED modules into a suitably rigid structure means Samsung’s newcomer is a bit deeper around the back than you might have expected, the screen appears pretty much completely free of any sort of frame when viewed from the front. Samsung claims to have achieved a 99.99% screen to frame ratio, leaving the pictures looking as if they appear out of thin air.
While there’s no doubting the spectacular performance potential of MicroLED technology and the importance of Samsung’s latest MicroLED screen, there’s clearly still a way to go before it becomes in any way mainstream. Let’s not forget, though, that the first plasma screens cost tens of thousands of dollars, and that beloved technology ended up achieving entirely mainstream prices pretty rapidly once the initial manufacturing difficulties had been resolved.
Creating such a consumer-oriented MicroLED TV at this point also looks like a serious statement of intent by Samsung at a time where speculation had begun in some quarters that perhaps the brand was already giving up on MicroLED in favour of Quantum Dot OLED (QD-OLED) technology.
Samsung is planning to make its first ‘domesticated’ 110-inch MicroLED TV available to buy globally in the first quarter of 2021. While we probably won’t be able to get one installed in our offices, alas, we will do our utmost to get some time in front of one somewhere. And if we do, rest assured we’ll tell you all about it.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.