Summary List Placement
- Samsung has revealed a new 110-inch TV model with an advanced Micro LED screen.
- Micro LED is designed to compete with OLED, and it could offer even better performance.
- We got to examine the display during a CES 2021 event, and the TV looks stunning in person.
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Samsung has been showing off massive Micro LED displays at CES for the last few years, but the impressive technology has yet to hit the consumer market. This year, however, the company aims to change that.
For the first time, Samsung will be releasing 110-, 99-, 88-, and 76-inch Micro LED 4K TVs. There’s no word on pricing, but the 110-inch model is set to launch globally this spring.
Micro LED promises key improvements over other TV panel types, and it could even end up beating our current favorite TV technology, OLED. To help demonstrate what makes Micro LED so special, Samsung invited Insider Reviews to an in-person CES 2021 event.
The 110-inch Micro LED TV was on hand at the demo, and the gorgeous screen does not disappoint. It’s important to note, however, that Samsung described the model as a prototype, so the version we saw could still go through some changes before hitting the market.
That said, based on what we’ve seen, Samsung’s Micro LED shows incredible promise, and the technology could very well end up being the future of TV. It’s not perfect, but the overall picture quality is simply stunning.
Note: Samsung did not allow pictures of the Micro LED TV at the CES event, so all images included here are provided by the manufacturer.
What is Micro LED?
Micro LED is an advanced panel technology used for displays. The tech is designed to compete with other popular TV types, like LCD (often branded as LED or QLED) and OLED.
As the name implies, Micro LED screens are made up of millions of microscopic red, green, and blue light-emitting diodes. Micro LEDs are self-emissive, allowing them to dim, brighten, or turn off individually. This results in an infinite contrast ratio with true black levels and wide viewing angles — which are all areas where regular LCD TVs struggle.
Meanwhile, OLED TVs are capable of similar contrast, but that technology uses organic LEDs which can degrade over time. This leads to brightness limitations and the potential for burn-in. Since Micro LEDs are inorganic, however, Samsung says that they can get brighter and last longer than OLED TVs with virtually no risk of burn-in.
In other words, Micro LED has the potential to combine everything home theater fans love about OLED TVs while also offering similar brightness capabilities as an LCD TV. Basically, it could be the best of both worlds.
Unlike typical TVs which use one panel, Micro LED screens are actually constructed from multiple tiles that are aligned together. This creates the potential for modular screens, where you can add, remove, or shift tiles around to create different display sizes and orientations.
Samsung offers a modular Micro LED screen for business and luxury customers, called “The Wall,” that has this capability. That said, the upcoming 110-, 99-, 88-, and 76-inch Micro LED TVs will have fixed configurations and won’t be modular.
Samsung Micro LED TV picture impressions
For demo purposes, Samsung had a prototype of its 110-inch Micro LED TV set up in a dark room displaying a gorgeous reel of 4K HDR video.
As is typical with demonstrations like this, the footage featured a beautiful assortment of colorful images ranging from shining gem stones to towering cityscapes. The images dazzled no matter what was on the screen with rich saturation, precise highlights, and deep black levels that disappeared into the room.
Samsung didn’t offer a specific number in nits, but to my eyes the peak brightness was very impressive, offering a more punchy image than I’m used to seeing on a screen so large. One scene, featuring a starry night sky over mountains, was particularly striking as each star shined brilliantly from the screen against inky blacks.
It’s the type of infinite contrast that I’ve only ever seen on OLED TVs before, but the HDR effect was even more pronounced. Viewing angles were also essentially perfect, with no real color or contrast issues when viewing from the side.
An LCD TV this big, even with advanced local dimming, would still show signs of blooming, crushing, or off-angle fading. An OLED would likely look similarly impressive but not as bright. The Micro LED was able to demonstrate all the benefits of both of those technologies while offering no real signs of their flaws. That said, pixels were visible if you put your face right up to the screen, but that’s the case with any 4K TV this big.
Of course, demos like this only offer a limited view of what a TV can do, and it’s important to remember that the model on display is still a prototype. At the end of the day, though, the experience has only left me wanting more.
Problems with Micro LED TVs
As impressive as Micro LED is, no display technology is perfect. We’ll need to spend more in-depth time with a Micro LED TV to really evaluate it, but based on what we’ve seen so far there is one slight downside that’s already clear: seams are sometimes visible on the screen.
Since Micro LED TVs are constructed from several display tiles that are connected together, there are seams between each tile, creating the appearance of a grid. Thankfully, these seams are very faint and, during my demo time, I found them to be extremely hard to spot.
In fact, from a normal viewing distance and a centered angle, they are essentially invisible. It’s only when getting very close to the screen or watching the display from an off-angle that the seams faintly come into view. Even then, the seams generally only pop up when certain colors are on the screen. Likewise, you can see them when the TV is off.
It’s too early to say how much of a factor this will be when watching a Micro LED TV under normal viewing conditions, but I doubt it will end up being too much of a problem. Though LCD and OLED TVs don’t have this specific issue, they have their own uniformity quirks that can be just as distracting.
How much will Samsung’s Micro LED TV cost?
Samsung has not announced US pricing for its Micro LED TVs yet, but it’s safe to say that they will be very expensive when they hit the market. New panel technology always comes at a premium, and Micro LED has been particularly hard to scale down to a consumer level.
According to ZDNet, the 110-inch Micro LED TV model is launching in South Korea for 170 million won, which is around $156,000. A similar price is likely for the US.
The closest premium TV we can look to right now as a comparison is likely LG’s flagship 88-inch OLED 8K TV, which currently sells for $30,000. Samsung’s Micro LED TV is 4K rather than 8K, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar, if not higher, price tag for the 88-inch model.
Samsung Micro LED TV release dates
The 110- and 99-inch Micro LED TVs are set for release globally this spring, with expected availability starting in late March. The 88-inch model will then follow in the fall.
A 76-inch Micro LED TV has also been announced, but an estimated release window has not been confirmed yet.
The bottom line
Samsung’s Micro LED could very well be the future of TV, but like any display tech, it won’t be perfect. Still, based on what I’ve seen so far, the picture quality pros look like they will far outweigh the cons.
The real question will be how much these displays end up costing. I expect that this first wave of Micro LED TVs will be prohibitively expensive for regular buyers, but the 2021 lineup could help pave the way for more affordable Micro LED TVs in the (hopefully) not too distant future.
If you’re looking for a high-end Samsung TV at a more consumer-friendly price point, be sure to check out the company’s new lineup of Neo QLED 4K and 8K TVs. The 2021 collection starts at $1,600 and promises several improvements over last year’s models.