CES 2019 News: Samsung unveils Micro LED TVs

Is this the future of TV?

by Steve Withers Jan 7, 2019 at 3:00 AM

  • Samsung has used its First Look event at CES 2019 to unveil the company's latest innovations in modular Micro LED display technology.
    Samsung believes that Micro LED is the future of television, and it might be right with the self-emissive technology offering a number key advantages over both QLED and OLED. Micro LED uses a panel where each pixel is composed of microscopic red, green and blue LEDs. This approach offers the best of both OLED and LCD technologies, with the deep blacks and wider viewing angles of the former and the increased brightness and bigger colour gamut of the latter.

    This approach means that Micro LED should ultimately be capable of delivering the full potential of high dynamic range (HDR), with a maximum peak brightness of 10,000 nits and 100% of the Rec.2020 wide colour gamut. The technology also delivers incredibly fast response times which should keep gamers happy, and the use of LEDs means there’s no danger of the panel suffering from image retention or screen burn, even after hours of gaming.

    "For decades, Samsung has lead the way in next-generation display innovation", said Jonghee Han, President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. "Our Micro LED technology is at the forefront of the next screen revolution with intelligent, customisable displays that excel in every performance category. Samsung Micro LED has no boundaries, only endless possibilities.

    At last year’s CES Samsung introduced Micro LED by unveiling The Wall, a 146” Micro LED display. Due to technical advancements in the ultra-fine pitch semiconductor packaging process, the gap between the tiny LED chips has been narrowed and Samsung is now able to create a 4K Micro LED display in a smaller, more home-friendly 75” form factor. No release date has been announced yet but with Samsung able to create smaller screen sizes, actual retail units can’t be far off.

    The big difficulty with Micro LED is actually making the panels themselves. The problem is that a 4K image is composed of over eight million pixels and each pixel is comprised of three nano inorganic LEDs – that means Samsung has to fit 24 million LEDs on to a single panel. Achieving that goal without any dead pixels requires a serious level of precision, which makes Micro LED rather difficult to manufacture. The larger the panel size, the easier that task is and for that reason Micro LED lends itself to big screen TVs.

    Since the average TV screen size is getting bigger year-on-year that shouldn't be an issue and to demonstrate the full potential of a larger Micro LED panel, Samsung also had an 84” model on show. This TV perfectly demonstrated the full potential of the technology, with a wider colour gamut that gives images real impact. When you combine the absolute blacks of Micro LED with its brighter peak highlights, the resulting images also have incredible dynamic range and more realism.

    While much of the attention was being grabbed by the relatively smaller 75- and 84-inch TVs, Samsung was also demonstrating the latest version of The Wall. The 146" version was unveiled at CES 2018 but this year the company was demonstrating how Micro LED can go beyond a display technology to become an integral part of the home. The panels have an incredibly long lifespan and since here’s no danger of screen burn, you don't need to turn The Wall off when it’s in Samsung’s low power Ambient mode.

    One of the big downsides to large screen TVs is that when they aren't being used, you have a massive black rectangle on your wall. Samsung addressed this problem in 2018 with the launch of their Ambient mode, which allowed the TV to display the images, the news or the latest weather while using very little power. You can do the same with The Wall, or even use it to see and control other smart devices in your home. You can even use the Ambient mode to allow The Wall to simply vanish into your actual wall by copying it.

    One of the major design aspects of The Wall is that it uses a modular design, which basically means the screen is composed of a number of smaller panels. That means you can customise your Micro LED display to fit the dimensions of your room, creating a screen of the size, resolution and aspect ratio you require. The technology also optimises the content no matter the size and shape of the screen, scaling it to increase the resolution while keeping the pixel density constant.

    At the Samsung's First Look event the company demonstrated a 219” version of The Wall, but you can make the Micro LED screen as large as you like, choose between different aspect ratios like 16:9 or 21:9, and even support resolutions up to 8K. Finally, because Micro LED displays are bezel-free there are no borders between modules – even when you add more. The result is a seamless infinity pool effect that allows the display to elegantly blend into any living environment.

    Micro LED has enormous potential, not only as a display technology but also as a way of implementing big screen entertainment and smart features into the home in a way that is unobtrusive and completely integrated. The future looks bright... very bright.

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