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Samsung QD-Display: Can It Upset the TV Status Quo in 2022?
The Koreans are making moves to achieve just that, we may find out sooner rather than later
It's going to be a while before 2021 is out, of course, but people that already have a pretty good idea about what this year offers in the television product category are already looking forward to the announcements made during CES 2022 in January. There are several rumors already making the rounds regarding what Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic and others will be showing in Las Vegas during the first week of next year, ranging (as is always the case) from the quite plausible to pure wishful thinking. A few of them are both fact-based and genuinely exciting, though, the most important among those surely being the one rumor discussed rather intently during the summer: is Samsung ready to bring its first QD-OLED TVs to market? If yes, what does that mean for the TV market as a whole?
A quick reminder of what a QD-OLED screen actually is: it's a hybrid kind of display that uses a self-emissive screen (like OLED), helped by a Quantum Dot layer (unlike OLED), using a triple blue light emitter stack with no liquid crystals, color filters or polarizers between those and the screen glass (unlike traditional LED/LCD). The end result can be the best of what OLED and QLED (Samsung's version of MiniLED LED/LCD) are capable of: per-pixel control, perfect blacks and ultra-fast response times, but considerably higher brightness and a wider color gamut than that offered by current OLED TVs.
Samsung officially calls this display technology "QD Display" and, in its official product page, it even mentions computer monitors - not just TVs - as possible future applications of it. This is probably further down the road, though, as the Koreans will still have to bring out their planned TV models first: rumor has it that Samsung will be going for 55- and 65-inch QD-OLED TVs initially with a possible 75-inch model offered later on. If the latest reports coming out of Korea are accurate, then Samsung will unveil these new TVs during CES in January and launch them at some point during April, May or June.
This is where things start to get interesting as the timing this QD Display is supposedly coming to market is... tricky. Current information suggests that these TVs will be of 4K resolution to begin with, not 8K, so Samsung - who has been pushing for the adoption of 8K more than any other manufacturer from the very beginning - would probably not place them higher than that of its 2022 8K QLED TVs in its product line, despite the fact that the former may very well offer superior picture quality overall compared to the latter. This is, then, directly related to the cost of these QD-OLED TVs: it will have to be higher than that of the company's 4K QLED TVs, but not as high as that of its 8K QLED TVs, some of which also come in 65- and 75-inch sizes.
Then there's the marketing aspect to consider and some of Samsung's past choices that would probably have to change for this specific kind of TVs. The Koreans have weighed war against OLED TVs for so long, for instance, that they may now find it a bit difficult to explain how their new QD-OLED TVs will avoid problems they themselves repeatedly highlighted, such as burn-in. There's also the elephant in the room: Dolby Vision. Yes, Samsung can keep ignoring the most widely-used high-end form of HDR presentation, but it would truly be a shame for these promising televisions to not offer the absolute best they possibly can in picture quality just because the company preferred to promote HDR10+ up until now. Why not both? It would make for a quite positive PR move at the very least, no?
There's no doubt, though, that - regardless of how Samsung handles these two issues - the company really does have a chance to upset the status quo of the TV market with its first QD Display products in 2022. It will not have to be a "LED/LCD or OLED" choice anymore, for one, plus it will hopefully not have to be a "for bright rooms or dark rooms" choice anymore for millions of consumers. If these QD-OLED TVs are considerably brighter than LG's 2022 OLED TVs (as they can probably be) and are offered at prices that undercut the latter even by a tiny bit (as they can also be if Samsung intends to be aggressive from the get-go), then they should bring about significant changes in the way the TV product category is structured right now. No more than seven or eight months until we find out, then!