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Samsung’s 2021 Neo QLED 8K TVs use Mini LED, support G-Sync, and offer up to 6.2.2-ch audio

By Ng Chong Seng - on 17 Jan 2021, 10:30am

Samsung’s 2021 Neo QLED 8K TVs use Mini LED, support G-Sync, and offer up to 6.2.2-ch audio

Note: This article was first published on 6 Jan 2021.

(Image: Samsung.)

Samsung Electronics has today at its CES 2021 First Look event unveiled several display technologies and products that it’s been working on.

There’s seriously quite a bit to unpack here, so I’m going to jump straight into the choice bits — i.e., what you can expect from Samsung’s 2021 QLED TVs.

 

1.) Neo QLED using an all-new light source

For TV nerds, the biggest story with Samsung’s 2021 QLED is the debut of the company’s Quantum Mini LED light source and Quantum Matrix technology.

Calling the display tech Neo QLED to differentiate if from regular QLED, Samsung says its Quantum Mini LED doesn’t have the traditional LED packaging and lens, and instead employs a micro layer to accurately guide the light (and block unwanted light) for the extremely small LED.

Now, for those hearing the term Mini LED for the first time, just know that a Mini LED unit is much smaller than a standard LED. Switching to Mini LED tech means a TV can pack way more diodes in the same space and have more dimming zones. The ‘resolution’ of the backlight is greatly increased, so to speak. And while it’s not at a per display pixel level like OLED or MicroLED, it’s much better than the standard LED backlight method.

Samsung is also doing local power distribution for finer control of the dimming zones. In addition to the expected claims of improved brightness, contrast and black levels due to more precise local dimming, the company says the Quantum Matrix will also prevent blooming effects.

 

2.) Neo Quantum Processor with Multi-Intelligence Deep Learning

On the AI front, the biggest upgrade goes by the name Multi-Intelligence Deep Learning.

In short, the 2021 Neo Quantum Processor used in the new Neo QLED 8K TVs has a Neural Analyser that picks data from 16 neural networks when working its AI upscaling magic. ‘Multi-bit data’ is also used to boost black details.

Last year’s debutants such as Adaptive Picture, which adjusts contrast and brightness based on both ambient lighting and on-screen image; and Adaptive Voice Amplifier, which looks out for ambient noises such as sound from a vacuum cleaner so that it can automatically increase power to boost the dialogue, are again found on this year’s QLED TVs.

The 2021 QLED TVs also support HDR10+ Adaptive.

 

3.) QN900 is this year’s flagship QLED 8K TV

These are the Neo QLED 8K models launching in 2021:

  • QN700A — 8K resolution, 8K AI upscaling
  • QN800A — Everything in QN700A + Perfect Slim design + Ultra Viewing Angle tech + 15mm-thin
  • QN900A — Everything in QN800A + Infinity Screen design + 6.2.2-ch audio

Briefly, the QN700A is this year’s entry QLED 8K TV. Designed to drive 8K TV adoption, it has the baseline Neo QLED picture quality but trades a few design niceties found on the higher-end models for a lower price tag.

The QN800A and QN900A are direct successors to the 2020 Q800T and Q950T, with the QN900A the only model to get the Infinity Screen and its nearly-gone bezels. That said, both TVs are thinner than their 2020 predecessors and now use a thinner base plate for the stand.

For QLED 4K, you can also expect the 2021 Q90 and Q85 to be much thinner than the 2020 versions. For example, the new Q90 and Q85 are just 25mm thick, compared to 35mm for last year’s Q90 and 54mm for last year’s Q80. The 2021 models also come with a 4mm-thin metal stand and support a new slim wall mount.

This year’s entry-level Q70 and Q60 also measure 25mm in thickness, work with the new slim wall mount and support a variety of stands, including a Lift Stand that’s height adjustable so that you can place a soundbar in front of the screen and not block the picture.

Regarding Neo QLED tech on QLED 4K, three models will have it: the flagship QN95A/90A and QN85A.

All 2021 QLED TVs are thinner than the 2020 models they're replacing. (Image: Samsung.)

 

4.) OTS Pro, attachable One Connect box

Last year’s Object Tracking Sound (OTS) feature, which analyses and processes the audio signal to create a surround sound-like experience with the TVs’ multiple built-in speakers, also makes a return.

What’s new this year is OTS Pro. Found on the flagship QN900A, this 10-driver setup is what gives the Neo QLED 8K TV its 6.2.2-ch capability. Versus the 2020 Q950T’s OTS+, which uses six speakers (eight drivers) for 4.2.2-ch audio, OTS Pro adds two more tweeters to boost dialogues. Another addition is SpaceFit Sound, which analyses the TV’s physical environment and outputs sound tailored specifically for that space.

(As an aside, those craving better sound or into Atmos or DTS:X can look forward to Samsung’s Q950A flagship soundbar this year that supports up to a whopping 11.1.4 channels — 7.1.2-ch for the soundbar + 4.0.2-ch from additional side-firing rear speakers.)

The 2021 Slim One Connect box that your gear connect to and which sends AV signals and power to the TV via a single cable also gains a new trick: it can now be attached to the stand at the back of the TV.

The new remote control can be recharged by indoor light, outdoor light or over USB — no AAA batteries required. (Image: Samsung.)

 

5.) G-Sync Compatible, FreeSync Premium Pro, HGiG

Samsung’s 2021 QLEDs — more specifically, Q90A and above models — have finally earned the G-Sync Compatible badge.

As with LG’s G-Sync Compatible TVs, you won’t get advanced features like variable overdrive or as wide a VRR range as a gaming monitor on a higher G-Sync tier, but this certification at least guarantees that the QLEDs won’t have blanking, pulsing, flickering or ghosting issues when you use them for VRR gaming on a GeForce GTX 10, GTX 16 or RTX 20 series graphics card.

Samsung has long adopted AMD FreeSync for its TVs and QLED TVs launched in 2019 and 2020 supported FreeSync Premium. This year’s models will support FreeSync Premium Pro (née FreeSync 2 HDR). In a nutshell, this is FreeSync Premium plus support for HDR capabilities, including wide colours and low latency during HDR gaming.

The 2021 QLEDs also has an HGiG feature. If you’ve an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5, you can enable it and follow the console’s instructions to calibrate the TV for HDR gaming. Adjusting HDR using HGiG’s steps will ensure that the TV doesn’t tone-map the HDR picture twice.

 

6.) Super Ultrawide GameView, Game Bar

Staying with gaming, the new QLEDs also support a Super Ultrawide GameView feature that lets you frame the image in three widescreen aspect ratios: 16:9, 21:9 and 32:9.

Since you can’t adjust a TV’s height as easily as you’d with a PC monitor, you’ll instead shift the picture’s position up and down to get a comfortable eye level.

The new Game Bar, on the other hand, provides an easier and faster way to get to game-related settings. You can use it to check input lag and real-time FPS, change aspect ratio, and toggle FreeSync and Game Mode, just to name a few.

 

7.) 4-panel Multi View, Google Duo, easier Remote Access, TV Plus Home

Multi View, which lets you display dual content simultaneously on last year’s QLEDs, now serves up a maximum of four panels of content on this year's QLED 8K TVs. Which means for super-multitaskers, it’s now possible to, say, follow news on live TV, watch two streaming movies and keep up with social media mirrored from the phone on the same TV screen.

You can also make Google Duo video calls on the new QLED TVs. (Duo only arrived on Android TVs this past Sep, by the way.) Samsung seems to be making a webcam for this purpose that can zoom and pan as you move about in the frame. But it’s not just for calls: you can also use the camera to check your posture when you’re doing home training in Samsung Health.

Remotely accessing a PC on the TV is made easier, too. Instead of entering details like IP address or dealing with profiles, simply sign in with the same Samsung account that the remote machine is using.

Finally, TV Plus Home is Samsung TVs’ new UI for surfacing TV Plus’ free channels alongside other VOD content. Samsung’s free TV streaming service isn’t available in all regions (including Singapore), though.

Multi View on this year's QLED 8K TVs lets you watch up to four different content sources simultaneously on one screen. (Image: Samsung.)

 

8.) Bonus: Crystal UHD improvements

Besides QLED, Samsung is also making regular 4K TVs that it markets as ‘Crystal UHD’ TVs.

In broad strokes, Samsung is bringing some of QLED’s perks to its Crystal UHD range. For instance, the new series are very thin, too: just 25mm for the new AU9000/8000, vs. 59mm for last year’s TU8500/8000.

To improve picture quality, there’s a new RGB backlight, which Samsung claims produces a pure white light; and a wider 16-bit colour mapping.

There’s also FreeSync and a dynamic refresh tech called Motion Xcelerator Turbo that supports 120Hz content. The panel is still 60Hz, though, which means these are the first 60Hz TVs to get FreeSync certification.

OTS is also coming to Crystal UHD TVs, but it’s not as fancy as what’s on the QLED models. Samsung calls the implementation here OTS Lite, and it uses two virtual top speakers and two bottom speakers. Q-Symphony, which lets you play sound from a compatible Samsung soundbar and the TV’s built-in speakers at the same time, is also onboard.

Samsung has yet to reveal local pricing and availability details for its 2021 TVs.

Read next: Samsung to release 110-inch, 99-inch and 88-inch home MicroLED TVs in 2021.

(Image: Samsung.)