Year on year, the reality is TVs don’t really improve to the point that it’s even noticeable. And that’s fine, we’re buying TVs every 5-7 years because they absolutely should last that long. So your next TV will certainly be better than your last. However, I look at 10-15 new TVs every year, the 2021 SAMSUNG NEO QLED is one that blew me away from the get-go.
It would have been possible for Samsung to release a whole range of the features I’m about to tell you about (Multi-View for example) and change nothing about the actual picture quality. But no. This is a leap forward in picture, features and software.
What is NEO QLED?
This is the TV industry’s latest and greatest technology – make no mistake, it’s a push to bring LED backlit TVs to a quality that OLED is renowned for. Bright pixels with little or no bleed in brightness and across pixels.
In simple terms, the best TVs in years gone by had thousands of backlights, imagine them the size of a 5c piece. Each one lights up an area when that area needs to shine. If that area of the screen is black those lights stay off.
However, with millions of pixels and thousands of lights, there’s always going to be some outer glow. I always look for this on title screens. You know those black screens with white block text on them? The glow around the words is what we’re talking about.
Enter Mini LED – or as Samsung call it, NEO QLED. Behind the high-tech LCD display are tiny little LEDs, thousands likely in the space of what was that one 5cm light. This means smaller areas are illuminated, improving that blooming, and creating a greater contrast between black and coloured areas of the screen.
Samsung has some pretty decent animations on their website explaining this if you want to know more.
How is NEO QLED better than QLED?
When compared to Last Year’s premium Samsung it’s remarkable frankly. I instantly noticed a difference in the picture. And no, despite this being an 8K TV, I’ve watched no 8K content. I’ve spent my days watching shows on Apple TV 4K, via Fetch in SD and HD and streaming off the built-in apps.
What I saw was a darker picture with brighter highlights. That’s just what a TV needs to do – you need to be able to see the darker scenes as they are shot, but also not compromise on the brightness you achieve.
And to be clear, I swapped out last year’s 75 inch model for this year’s 2021 model (QA75QN900AWXXY). The TV was off for an hour, so what I saw really took me back a bit – it’s very rare to see such a stark difference in picture quality year on year from any brand frankly.
I’m not yet convinced this is “OLED” challenging picture quality, but – importantly, you’ll only know that if you’re going from an OLED to a SAMSUNG NEO QLED. And, for most people, they will be doing that because they want a bigger screen.
Going bigger in OLED gets pricey, and while this is a $9,000 TV, reduced right now to just over $7,000 – the 4K version of the top end Samsung (Q90A) is just over $4,000. I’d suggest that 4K NEO QLED then becomes highly desirable to those coming from smaller OLEDs, as well as those upgrading from any TV at all.
The 8K version is clearly a higher price to pay, and while many feel it’s of no use as there’s no 8K content readily available, that will change, and a TV as an investment over 7 or more years will mean you’re seeing 8K within that time. Not to mention the smarts of this TV performing an upscaling of lower resolution content to a point where I simply couldn’t believe a show so old (watching 6-7 year old episodes of Law and Order) would look so good “in 8K”.
The bottom line though is, when you choose a QLED you’re opting for an enhanced colour and brightness from your screen. Add the SAMSUNG NEO QLED to your choice and you’re getting richer blacks and a better contrast, without question a visibly better picture.
Samsung Multi-View – Bringing back Picture in Picture with a difference
So you’ve got a cracking good picture, great contrast, it’s an immediate buy!
Cue Tim Shaw – but wait, there’s more. Gone is the button on the remote for Ambient mode (A shame in my mind, was a simple press for me, but now it’s a few clicks away) – replaced by the Multi-View button.
Multi-View is Samsung’s new Picture in Picture system that is pretty awesome.
Do I need it? Not regularly – could it be a marriage saver? Maybe.
Imagine the wife is watching Grey’s Anatomy, and you want to watch the F1 Practice. Sure you can go to the other room, but that’s going to be a mark against your name – you know that right?
So you press Multi-View on the SAMSUNG NEO QLED remote, or from the menu. Choose LIVE TV for her, and Stream the F1 in the top corner.
It’s not actually that easy, because there are restrictions on what can go where, and I’d suggest that’s the number one thing Samsung needs to work on. I want any source, any app in any window. Right now it’s more about Having Live TV side by side with your set top box or YouTube.
If you watch a lot of YouTube, thats an easy win, it can overlay and go side by side with Live TV with ease.
But then there’s your smartphone. Add a third box, mirror your compatible smartphone and you can flick through TikTok videos while watching a How-To on YouTube and the news on Free to Air.
Multi-tasking to the enth degree – perhaps a sign of the next generation’s TV viewing style?
Critically, on the SAMSUNG NEO QLED you can choose a traditional picture in picture and also share the audio. You can mix the audio from two sources and choose the balance, 80/20 – 50/50 or 30/70. And, get this – it works. Clearly watching two dramas would be madness, but sport and drama, or other mixes might just work.
Its really well done, but as a first cut, there’s a lot more it can do – so I expect big improvements in this year on year.
Importantly, if you’re trying to get your Samsung phone up on the screen, head to the menu and enable SmartView – that’s all you need to do.
An Eco Friendly Samsung TV?
It’s a small thing to one person, but when you’re pumping out millions of TVs it’s a big deal. Going Eco.
Two key things, the remote is now free from disposable batteries. Now USB-C chargeable, and Solar chargeable. So leave the remote upside down and let sunlight or room light charge the battery. Smart, that’s loads of batteries saved from possible landfil.
Then there’s the box. It’s slimmer, smaller and Samsung encourages you to re-use it, make kids play gear with it, use it for re-packaging or anything.
Still some work to do on the in-box packaging, but I imagine they’re certainly working on that!
Is the Samsung NEO QLED 8K worth it?
This is the top of the pops for Samsung, and hell, I’d love it to be on the wall at home. $7,199 is a big payment to make – I think for most the 4K variant of the SAMSUNG NEO QLED range will satisfy your eyes and your wallet, but there’s also the future proofing that comes from getting an 8K on the wall now.
Touch choice, really one for your budget, but the choice between 4K and 8K is what really validates the SAMSUNG NEO QLED range offering. That thin edge is still the best looking TV design on the market, bar none. Add to that the stunning built-in sound, and boy oh boy, you’re going to want to get the blokes around and show off this one.