And for years, no matter what TV manufacturer you bought from — LG, Sony, Philips, whatever — the panel in your collection came from one place: LG Display. Until now.
With the release of the S95B, Samsung has covered a toe in the OLED market, using new panel technology that combines the best of both worlds. The QD-OLED panel in the S95B, made by Samsung Display, combines the deep black levels and contrast ratios that are impossible for OLED with the brightness and wide color gamut of quantum dots, which the company describes as the secret sauce in its flagship displays, such as the Neo QLED 8K TV.
Looking at Chinese companies like Hisense and TCL eating away at the LED TV market, one can conclude that a great new technology like QD-OLED is the future of Samsung Display. And at a special presentation in Lower Manhattan last week, TechRadar was given a glimpse into that future. And really, it was something to watch.
Samsung S95B: Design and Features
If you’ve been using the same TV for five years or *gasp* ten years, you probably haven’t noticed the revolution in bezels that has made today’s TVs so stylish. Advances in manufacturing technology allow companies like Samsung to produce TVs with minimal metal wrapping around the screen itself, reducing everything but the last episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or whatever happens to you.
The S95B is no exception, with small metal bezels and a slim metal base that accentuates the display itself. OLEDs are inherently thinner than LCDs, with fewer layers and substrates that make up the panels, so OLEDs are really thin. The S95B pushes this to a level I’ve never seen before; Samsung calls it LaserSlim design, and with one look, you can forgive them for the exaggeration. The S95B is as thin as a USB cable, with the electronics and circuit boards in a bump around the base of the pedestal. It’s okay.
It also means it’s light: The 65-inch model weighs 47.8 pounds, without the stand. I tried to pick it up and got a stern talk, which is fair: I shouldn’t have to deal with just one of the two models in the country.
There is no One Connect box to be found here, unfortunately. The One Connect box is a great connectivity feature from other premium Samsung models that connects all entrances and exits into an external box, keeping things clean. Instead, you’ll find 4 HDMI 2.1 ports and… well, that’s it.
Samsung supports I/O capabilities by including Wireless Dolby Atmos, which means you don’t need to plug this cable into your amplifier…if you have a new enough model from Samsung that supports this feature, of course.
Samsung S95B: Performance and Image Quality
After taking a look at the Sony A95K TV for the first time at the beginning of March — which appears to use the same Samsung panel, although neither company wants to say it outright — we told you that QD-OLED lived up to the hype. But let me repeat: QD-OLED lives up to the hype.
While watching the endless reel demo cycle, I was struck by the amazing color range. The S95B exceeds the DCI-P3 color space by 100%, which is a great way to say it has an enormous gamut. Pictures of an orchid on a stick, bright red and orange leaves in autumn, a deep blue sky over a distant mountain, deep green leaves in the woods – all of which practically jumped off the screen.
This is due to quantum dots, you see. How do they work? On paper, QD-OLED looks very simple. It takes a blue, self-luminescent layer, throws in a film of quantum dots, and then adds a glass screen to the front. Get some signal processing at the base of the TV, throw some inputs on the back and voila! You have QD-OLED.
Meanwhile, the S95B maintains those deep blacks that OLED screens are known for, black levels so deep that you might lose yourself in them. It is a single combination.
Another thing worth noting is the great off-axis sights: With the S95B, colors stay remarkably vibrant even along the way, something other groups struggle with. Even when viewed from the edge and close to 80 degrees, the colors appear more or less realistic. Sure, you can’t decide what’s on the screen, but it’s a good sign that you won’t have to fight for the “good seat” on the sofa.
This great picture is backed up by what Samsung calls a quantum neural processor with 4K upscaling. Samsung says that artificial intelligence and neural networks built into the chip can intelligently analyze and optimize the content on the screen for display. It can level up, brighten, sharpen and otherwise enhance content — and increasingly processor power like this will be the difference between regular TVs and great TVs. It’s easy to dismiss this as mere marketing hype, but after experiencing slow TVs that stumble upon underpowered processors, and after seeing the power of great algorithms, it’s not something to be overlooked. We look forward to more testing when we receive a review unit.
Samsung S95B: Price and Availability
For its first foray into QD-OLED displays, Samsung offers only 55- and 65-inch models; There is no Jumbotron version for those looking for a home theater experience, and likewise there is nothing in the 40-inch scale for those with ‘normal’ rooms.
The 55-inch model – officially the QN55S95B – will retail for US$2,200 (around £1,670 / AU$2,980), while the 65-inch model (cleverly named QN65S95B) – for US$3,000 (about £2,275 / AU$4,040) . Both will go on sale in mid-April.
FWIW, these prices are better than originally expected: Samsung accidentally pulled the trigger when advertising higher prices, and quickly corrected itself.
Last month, Sony unveiled QD-OLED displays in similar sizes, but at much higher price tags. Similar sizes, unique new screen technology… Who could make Sony panels, one wonders?
At first glance, both screens appear to have an advantage over OLED alone, although both hold a higher label because of that. We look forward to deeper testing of both models to determine how those algorithms, artificial intelligence, and image processors affect the image you see. But one thing seems clear: The bar is set. Regardless of which is better – or perhaps neither wins in the end – new technologies and improvements like this can only mean good things to TV viewers like you and me.