Increased competition is good news for high-end TV shoppers this year.
High-end TVs with OLED screens deliver the best picture quality in our tests, and this year Samsung is getting more serious about its QD-OLED TVs by challenging LG more directly than ever. Samsung will offer two different OLED TV series, the flagship S95C announced earlier this year and the less expensive S90C.
The 55-inch S90C goes for $1,900, which happens to be the same price as LG's 55-inch C3 OLED TV. Meanwhile, the 55-inch S95C costs $2,500, the same price as LG's 55-inch G3 OLED TV. Samsung has also matched LG's pricing for the larger 65- and 77-inch sizes in each series.
This parity sets the stage for a price war between the two Korean rivals, where each company could equal or undercut the other to increase sales. Samsung's QD-OLED technology, which debuted last year, uses quantum dots and promises better color and higher brightness than previous OLED TVs. Until now, it was generally more expensive too.
LG says its G3 model is brighter this year as well. LG also offers a wider array of OLED TV sizes than Samsung, from 42 up to 97 inches, and cheaper series like the B3. The LG C2 from 2022 remains my favorite high-end TV, but LG faces stiffer competition than ever from Samsung and Sony, which means more choices and potentially more savings for TV shoppers.
Here are the prices and sizes for Samsung's 2023 QD-OLED TVs. All are available now aside from the 65- and 77-inch S90C, which ship April 17 and May 1, respectively.
Note that the prices above are likely as high as they'll ever be. TV pricing is highly seasonal, so all 2023 TVs will be more expensive initially, during spring and summer, until discounts during Black Friday and the holidays kick in.
In terms of picture quality, the main difference is that the S95C has a brighter panel, according to Samsung. The S95C also uses Quantum HDR OLED Plus processing, while the S90C has Quantum HDR OLED, which Samsung says translates to higher peak brightness. The company didn't specify how much brighter, or list light output in nits, but did say the S95C is up to 30% brighter than last year's S95B. Brightness is important on TVs to increase both the impact of high-dynamic range images and visibility in bright rooms.
Another difference is the inclusion of a One Connect box with the S95C. You connect your devices (like a cable box or game console) to the box instead of directly to the TV and run a single cable between the box and TV to ease installation. The S95C also has better audio, extra USB ports and a thinner cabinet (11mm on the 65-inch, for example, compared to 40mm on the 65-inch S90C).
Other features of the two TV series are largely similar. Both models offer 144Hz gaming, but that feature is only usable by PC gamers with high-end video cards. Like other Samsung TVs, the new QD-OLEDs have built-in cloud gaming, a feature I like but hardly consider must-have.
I haven't formally reviewed a QD-OLED TV yet, but I have seen both 2022 models in person, the Samsung S95B and Sony's 2022 QD-OLED TV, for brief periods. From what I saw, image quality was excellent -- color, in particular -- but I did notice that the screen finish was lighter and grayer than LG's, which tends to wash out the image somewhat when room lighting is brighter. Other reviewers, while lauding the S95B's color and overall image quality, noted the same thing. Sony does say its 2023 QD-OLED has an improved screen finish and Samsung mentions "anti-reflective coating" for both of its new models, so I'm curious to see how they stack up.
I look forward to reviewing Samsung's new QD-OLED TVs and comparing them to rival LG models soon.