It seems like every year, we’re inundated with new smart TVs spruiking updated specs, clearer pictures and blacker blacks, so it takes something truly special to capture the tech world’s attention. When it was first unveiled at the start of the year, Samsung’s updated Neo QLED 8K TV range did exactly that. An all-encompassing lineup of Goliath-sized televisions loaded with new technology, Samsung’s premier release more than made a splash, but nearly 12 months on from that first glimpse, it’s worth revisiting the question. Are Samsung’s Neo QLED TVs really worth the hype?
When it comes to televisions, the long-held theory has always been ‘bigger is better’ and when a 75-inch behemoth lands on your doorstep, it’s hard to argue. But there is so much more to the Samsung Neo QLED range than just sheer size. The sleek and infinitely sharp number is ultra-thin, packing a lot into a tight space, but with a truly considered approach.
Naturally, Samsung has chosen to plug the new TV range as a more ‘lifestyle-friendly’ appliance, and it’s not hard to see why. From the Attachable Slim One Connect box that fits snuggly to the back of the system just out of view to the delicate feet that support the hefty addition, the entire design is crafted for seamless aesthetic integration. Whether wall-mounted or on-stand, the Neo QLEDs have a unique ability to stand out, while somehow also fitting in to your home decor at will. What catches your eye immediately, however, is the Infinity Display.
On this new range, Samsung has pushed the picture right to the edge, meaning there’s virtually no bezel or border. Step around the house while watching and you’ll also note the wide viewing angle design, which optimises your viewing experience wherever you are. As far as intelligent design goes, Samsung ticks all the boxes with the Neo QLED range, but that’s not why you buy it.
Good looks aside, it’s performance where the new Samsung Neo QLED range shines. Littered with new technology aimed at improving the visual experience in line with the overall viewing journey, Samsung has really turned the screws on UX and quality. It all starts with picture quality.
Samsung describes its new range as a ‘Quantum leap’ in innovation and it’s not just a catchy title. For this new lineup, the brand has added three new advancements, Quantum Mini LED, Quantum Matrix Technology and an all-new Neo Quantum Processor.
Without going into too much detail, the Quantum Mini LEDs are the star here. The new light source has reduced the LED unit to 1 / 40th of the standard size, narrowing the optical distance between the LEDs and the LCD panel to allow for a slim design. Samsung also confirms that this ensures deeper blacks can be displayed, without blooming or haloing, along with a drastically enhanced contrast ratio via the improvement of peak brightness on small objects.
Quantum Mini LEDs are designed to increase the amount of light emitted to the front, minimising lateral light diffusion. While it’s not something you would inherently look for straight off the bat, returning to a standard TV after watching a new Netflix film is tough on the eyes. The Neo QLED range is simply crisper. The dark areas are darker, the colourful areas more vibrant and the visual storytelling far easier to follow.
Similarly, the Quantum Matrix Technology offers greater control of the light source and the Neo Quantum Processor delivers an improved AI-based image restoration for better performance and contrast. It’s subtle, but the a good viewing experience is more a ‘sum of all parts’ typre situation.
Sound-wise, the new Samsung Neo QLED range has made some serious improvements, following on from last year’s Object Tracking Sound addition. The implementation saw sound move more dynamically, following an object’s movement from one part of a screen to another making for a more life-like, 3D experience. This time around, Samsung has added the next iteration of this, OTS Pro, while incorporating two extra speakers in the centre channel for clearer dialogue and punchier sounds.
That being said, sound is probably the one place that Samsung hasn’t smashed it out of the park in the Neo QLED range. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, the sound doesn’t quite match up to the crispness of the picture, however, this isn’t surprising. Samsung, like most TV producers, advocates for the use of a soundbar, most notably the Q-Series, and in this case, a high-fidelity audio system instantly elevates the viewing experience to a new level. Samsung definitely knows this. Considering the TV is priced at almost AUD$9,000, you can expect the consumer buying this home entertainment unit isn’t going to balk at buying a $1,000 soundbar to go along with it.
Interesting to note for the Neo QLED range is how much Samsung has leaned into the gaming aspect. The brand has added Super Ultra-Wide Game View for better peripheral vision, which when playing FPS games is just insane. The ability to see full screen was not lost on us and returning back to a normal screen instantly felt demoralising.
There is also the Game Bar, a new UI that provides an easy and accessible entry point to view and change the game settings on your Smart TV. It appears for five seconds allowing users to view and set their gaming preferences before moving on into gameplay. It’s worth highlighting that the new TVs also feature HDMI 2.1 support.
Lastly, while it’s not a gaming initiative, Smart Trainer is worth a mention, particularly during lockdown. The new TVs use an external USB camera attached to the TV, which then detects and analyses your movements in real-time. It sounds weird, but the ability to push on while a TV counts your reps or set counts before delivering instant feedback on your form is oddly helpful. It might not have encouraged us to workout more, but it did fill in a few hours noodling with the feature.
The 2021 Samsung Neo QLED 8K Smart TV range is not your average home entertainment system. Loaded with first-to-market features, stunning design and a few sneaky additions, it’s hard to knock these releases. But as much as we love the new TV, there’s something that has been bugging us.
It feels almost like a paradox, but what makes the Samsung Neo QLED range so good is what you can’t see. The best parts of this gargantuan TV are the microscopic LED units, proving that bigger is not always better. In fact, sometimes it’s the smallest parts that make all the difference.
The 2021 Samsung Neo QLED 8K Smart TV range is available to purchase now both online and in major technology and home appliance retailers.