Samsung QLED TVs face tough battle against LG's OLED

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Samsung is the number one TV maker in the world, but when it comes to luxury, high-priced televisions that pack the most prestige, and profit, LG is coming on strong.

To battle LG's OLED televisions, which deliver the best picture quality we've ever tested at increasingly affordable prices, Samsung brings its A game in the form of Q.

The company's new QLED TVs introduced at CES 2017 include the Q7, Q8 and Q9 series. Pricing, availability and sizes were not confirmed, but the company did divulge plenty of claims about picture quality and other features.

All Q's boast a new quantum dot technology said to improve light output (up to 2,000 nits in highlights, double that of OLED) and color performance. Samsung talks up "100 percent color volume," claiming more accurate color reproduction at different light levels compared to OLED. How much of a difference those extras make in real world program material still remains to be seen.

One important note: This QLED is basically an enhancement of standard transmissive LCD technology, not a new emissive quantum dot technology that really could challenge OLED. That emissive quantum dot "QLED" is still a few years off. Here's a rundown if you're curious. And why the confusing name? Blame Samsung.

Unlike last year, Samsung's best line of TV, the Q9, has a flat instead of a curved screen. The Q8 series is curved, while the Q7 offers both flat and curved models. Samsung didn't elaborate on image quality differences between the three.

It did mention that all three Q sets, including the flagship Q9, use edge-lit local dimming technology, which in our experience is often inferior to the full-array local dimming found on many other high-end LCDs.

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Samsung's optional easel stand for QLED TVs.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Installation sensation

Beyond image quality, Samsung has addressed what it calls "common pain points." One innovation is a super-flush "No Gap" wall mount, included in the Q9 and an optional accessory on the other sets. In addition to hugging the wall closely, it eases installation with tilt and simpler leveling functions.

A pair of optional stands is also on offer, one with an easel design and another a squat rounded base with a swivel.

All of the Q sets use Samsung's One Connect box to house inputs, which, new for 2017, connects to the TV via a 5 meter fiber-optic umbilical that's nearly invisible. A 15-meter option will also be available. The One Connect box can also blast out IR commands to control cable boxes and other devices, to more easily stow your components inside a cabinet.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Smarter sports and music

The Smart TV system is largely similar to 2016, complete with the unique ability to automatically identify gear you plug in. The company has improved its phone app to mimic the look of the big screen layout, and you can even search and cast apps like Netflix to the TV from your phone, much like with Chromecast.

New for 2017 is a Sports function that lets you enter your favorite teams and receive notifications when their games air live (unfortunately, it doesn't automatically program your DVR too). Meanwhile, the Music feature uses Shazam to automatically identify music from any source, and it can even find the song and play it back if you have Spotify or a similar app installed.

Samsung QLED TVs

  • New quantum dot technology
  • Edge-lit local dimming
  • 1,500 to 2,000 nits peak brightness
  • Wider color volume
  • No Gap wall mount (optional on Q8 and Q7)
  • Sports and Music smart TV functions
 

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Samsung Q9 series

Part Number: CNETSamsung Q9 series

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