MicroLED technology continues to look amazing. But for now, at least, it will cost far more to buy than most of us can muster
Samsung 75-inch MicroLED first look: The tech looks amazing but don’t expect it to come cheap
The 2019 CES hasn’t even started, but we already have a prime contender for the product we’d love to own but won’t have a hope in hell of affording award. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Samsung’s 75-inch MicroLED screen.
Unveiled at Samsung’s now traditional pre-CES TV event, the 75-inch MicroLED TV is a technological marvel in multiple ways. For starters, its MicroLED approach continues to look like the final destination for TV technology. This is because MicroLED is more economical to run than current TV tech. It doesn’t suffer screen burn or other life time issues common to current generation OLED TVs.
You can make MicroLED screens into pretty much any shape or size you want. They don’t need a frame around them, and they’re incredibly thin, opening the door to really exciting new design possibilities. Last but not least, MicroLED’s self emissive pixel design seems to enable it to deliver truly next generation picture quality.
All these strengths were abundantly apparent at various points during Samsung’s pre-CES showcase. But it was Samsung’s ability to fit all that MicroLED goodness into a 75-inch screen that really stole the show. Why? Because it means MicroLED is finally starting to look like a technology that will fit in your living room, rather than only existing purely in ‘future zones’ on technology show floors.
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Before you reach for your wallet, keep in mind that while Samsung hopes to launch the 75-inch MicroLED TV in 2019, it will in all likelihood to cost an arm and a leg. And possibly a kidney too.
Nobody, not even Samsung, has yet figured out a way of making MicroLED screens on any sort of mass production basis. So if it sells one of its current 75-inch models, it will have been pretty much hand built, which doesn’t happen cheaply – especially when you’re talking about the millions and millions (and millions) of LEDs that have to go into a 4K MicroLED TV.
So while Samsung won’t even discuss pricing for the 75-inch MicroLED screen yet, we can safely assume it won’t even be close to anything mainstream.
But we can also safely say that if you do happen to be rich enough to buy one, Samsung’s 75-inch micro LED should make stunning addition to your living room.
It looks incredible. The model I saw is as thin as a credit card and completely devoid of any frame running around the screen. This made it feel like I was looking into some magical portal to another world, rather than just watching a TV during my demo.
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The picture quality being produced by the MicroLED demo unit is best described as insane. Never before has a 75-inch screen delivered so much dynamism, brightness, sharpness, colour intensity and contrast. OLED TVs have given us what previously felt like pretty much perfect black levels, but the 75-inch micro LED does black levels even better – presumably because unlike OLED TVs, there’s no need to deploy white sub-pixels alongside the RGB ones.
The intensity of the 75-inch MicroLED’s black levels is also emphasised by the exceptional brightness. Samsung suggests that its new MicroLED TV can serve up 4000 nits of brightness – and the dazzling display of its CES demonstration model suggests this is much more than just idle speculation. The way MicroLED can combine its unprecedentedly deep blacks and dazzling peak whites and colours in a single frame with no compromise between the two is nothing short of sensational.
As well as producing contrast like no screen technology before, the 75-inch MicroLED’s vast brightness and freedom from low-contrast greyness delivers an unprecedented colour performance. It can serve up a colour range beyond the ‘DCI’ standard used in commercial cinemas. This should give pictures a realism and vibrant solidity no other TV technology can match.
While Samsung’s demo footage was designed, understandably, to show off the extremes of its new screen’s remarkable capabilities, it still seemed to me that there was plenty of subtlety in both its colour tones and its shadow detail reproduction.
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It’s possible that some people might find the 75-inch Samsung MicroLED pictures a bit too bright for their tastes, but it wasn’t a problem for me. On the contrary, it seems to be just what the HDR world needs. It’s worth noting, too, that all of the 75-inch MicroLED screen’s strengths remain completely intact no matter how wide an angle you watch it from. Eat that, LCD.
The only source of trouble I can see for MicroLED technology – aside from its cost – is the way screens of any size have to be ‘compiled’ by slotting together a series of smaller MicroLED modules. This raises the prospect of seeing joints or seams in the picture where each MicroLED unit attaches to its neighbour and, perhaps, the possibility of some modules not quite presenting such uniform flat faces to the world as their neighbours.
Neither of these issues seemed a problem with the new MicroLED demo unit Samsung was showing at its event, though. It was only when looking closely at a separate (and, I think, older) 75-inch sample I got to see recently that I could spot any seams. These only appeared over some bright parts of the picture, though, and were so slim that I’d imagine they could become almost invisible from sensible viewing distances.
The scale of Samsung’s MicroLED push at CES suggests that the brand feels confident it can make it a mainstream technology sooner or later. And after looking at the 75-inch model, I can confirm AV fans the world over should hope that it’s sooner.
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