CES 2015

Samsung joins the quantum dot crowd at CES 2015 with super SUHD TVs

Company's premium UHD sets include enhancements beyond quantum dots—and yes, many will be curved

Published: January 05, 2015 01:00 PM
Models such as the JS9500-series SUHD models will use quantum dots to boost color.

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Did you really think that Samsung would be the wallflower at the quantum dot TV dance party at CES 2015? We thought not. Instead, the company launched a line of high-performance UHD TVs here at CES 2015 that use its own quantum dot technology to boost color.

And Vizio TV ads not withstanding, the company isn't yet ready to throw in the towel on curved screens, as there will be several more models this year.

As for Samsung's new quantum dot sets, Samsung's will use quantum dots embedded in a film that's sandwiched between the LED backlight and the LCD screen. While several third party quantum dot companies, including 3M, Dow, and QD Vision, are supplying some of the other TV brands utilizing the nano-crystal technology, Samsung's quantum dot film is actually produced by its own independent company in Korea.

Does S stand for Super?

This year's premium UHD TVs will bear the SUHD badge, which indicates a higher level of performance. There will initially be three new series of SUHD TVs—the flagship JS9500, the mid-tier JS9000, and JS8500 entry line for SUHD—in nine screen sizes ranging from 48 to 88 inches. These new TVs will use quantum dot nano-crystals embedded in a film that's sandwiched between the LED backlight and the LCD screen. While there are several third-party quantum dot companies, including 3M, Dow, and QD Vision, that supply some of the other TV brands, Samsung's quantum dot film is actually produced by its own independent company in Korea.

Beyond the quantum dot film, the SUHD TVs will have twice as many color adjustment points as regular sets, plus high dynamic range capability. Samsung claims that the sets will be able to provide 64 times the "color expression" of a standard panel, so presumably the company is using a panel with higher bit depth than 8 bits. Thanks to what Samsung calls an SUHD re-mastering engine, the set will automatically analyze the brightness of images to improve contrast and black levels, it says. The result is that the TVs can be up to 2.5 times brighter than conventional TVs, the company claims.

Samsung also says it's collaborating with Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox to optimize content to SUHD standards. For example, it worked with Fox Innovation Lab to re-master multiple scenes from the Ridley Scott film, Exodus, specifically for the SUHD TV.

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Samsung is also making improvements to its smart TV platform. Just prior to CES the company announced that all of its Smart TVs in 2015 will use the Tizen operating system, an open-source platform it says will let developers more easily create cross-platform content for multiple devices.

Samsung also redesigned its Smart Hub interface, which uses a tile-based look that reminds us a bit of LG's webOS-based menu system. The first screen you see will display the most recent content, plus recommended content if you've opted in to that feature. Some of the step-up models move to an 8-core processor, while other utilize a 4-core engine. Additional features include Wi-Fi Direct for sharing content with mobile devices, plus Bluetooth software that automatically searches for and connects to Samsung mobile devices.

Among the new content offerings available via smart TVs are Samsung Sports Live, which lets you watch a live game while simultaneously checking team and player stats, and PlayStation Now, which lets you play PS games on the TV without the need for a game console.

Samsung TVs have been a very consistent brand, typically at or near the top of our TV Ratings (available to subscribers) each year. We're looking forward to bring some of the company's 2015 models—especially the SUHD sets—into our labs as soon as possible for a thorough evaluation. And keep checking back for all our CES 2015 updates.

—James K. Willcox

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