At CES 2018, Samsung concentrated on The Wall microLED display and the Q9S 8K LCD flat panel. Unlike most other companies, it did not introduce other, more down-to-earth models of TVs and soundbars for this year. That news was delayed until today, when the 2018 Samsung TVs and soundbars were unveiled at the company’s First Look event in New York City.
At the top of the TV heap are the QLED models, which use quantum dots in their backlights to achieve high brightness and large color volume. Five model lines will be available: Q9F (65″, 75″, 88″), Q8F (55″, 65″, 75″), Q7F (55″, 65″, 75″), Q7C (55″, 65″), and Q6F (49″, 55″, 65″, 75″, 82″). The last letter in the model designation indicates whether the panel is flat or curved; as you can see, only the Q7 is available in a curved form factor.
Perhaps most exciting to videophiles, the two top models—the Q9F and Q8F—use full-array with local dimming (FALD) LED backlighting instead of edgelighting as all of last year’s QLED TVs. This results in greater uniformity and deeper blacks than edgelighting can achieve. The other models use bottom edgelighting like last year.
Naturally, all QLED TVs are capable of displaying 4K/UHD resolution and high dynamic range (HDR) in the HDR10 and HDR10+ formats. As many of you know, HDR10 uses static metadata to represent the highest and average brightness levels of the entire program, while HDR10+ uses dynamic metadata to represent the highest and average brightness levels of each scene or even each frame. This is much like Dolby Vision, though HDR10+ does not require a licensing fee to implement.
One cool new feature offered by all the 2018 QLED TVs is called Ambient Mode. When you’re not actively watching something, the TV can display news, traffic reports, and weather updates as well as play music. And if you wall-mount the TV, it can mimic the color and pattern on the wall to blend seamlessly into the decor.
The 2018 Samsung QLED TVs include a feature called Ambient mode that displays useful info and mimics the color and pattern on the wall when you’re not actively watching the TV.
Check out this brief clip of Ambient mode in action.
The Q9F, Q7F, and Q7C offer another cool feature called One Invisible Connection. A single, slender cable supplies AC power and AV signals from an outboard One Connect box that can be placed up to 15 meters from the TV. This makes for a very clean wall-mount installation. The Q8F and Q6F have conventional AV and power connections.
Of course, all the new QLED models provide smart-TV functionality. This year, that includes voice control with Samsung’s Bixby as well as Effortless Login using the new SmartThings app for iOS and Android devices. A new Universal Guide lets you navigate across supported streaming services and live TV in one intuitive menu. They also come with a One Remote control that integrates the control of several devices into one remote.
In this video, Scott Cohen (senior manager, product training, home electronics) goes through what’s new in Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs.
Additional Samsung TVs were announced at the First Look event as well. Two new premium UHD models include the NU8500 and NU8000, though no sizes are included in the press release. These TVs will feature HDR10+ compatibility, clean cable solutions, Smart TV with Bixby voice control, and One Remote Control.
The entry-level UHD TVs include the NU7300 (55″, 65″) and NU7100 (40″, 43″, 50″, 55″, 65″, 75″). These models are HDR-capable; the press release does not mention HDR10+ in this case, so I assume they are compatible with HDR10 only. Other features include clean cable solutions, slim design, and Smart TV capabilities (no mention of Bixby, so I assume that is not part of the feature set in this case).
Samsung also introduced three new soundbars. The flagship HW-N950 employs front-firing, up-firing, and new side-firing speaker drivers to provide 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos sound. The HW-NW700 features a wall-mount design that perfectly complements QLED TVs. Designed specifically for gamers, the HW-N650 features Acoustic Beam Technology that puts players in the center of the action.
Here’s a brief video about the flagship HW-N950 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos soundbar.
Pricing for all models should be revealed in the next few weeks. However, some models are already available to order now and have prices attached; as more become available this list will be updated. The prices are as follows:
UHD with HDR
I’m quite excited that some Samsung TVs now implement FALD backlighting, and HDR10+ shows a lot of promise if studios start using it. We’ll be taking a close look at these TVs as soon as we can get our hands on them, so stay tuned for that!