From colour sets to OLED in 50 years
CES is the world’s biggest tech show. It celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and over those decades it’s introduced every major breakthrough in TV technology
This year it was all about 4K HDR and OLED TVs – both have been around for a while but are getting better and better, thinner and sharper.
- 4K HDR TVs are the natural successor to your HD TV at home but with 4 times the detail – you may even have already upgraded to 4K?
- OLED on the other hand use a completely different type of screen technology. They don’t need a backlight and are super-thin and have superb contrast.
Both can feature 4K resolution for 4 times the detail of Full HD, and both are (generally) compatible with HDR video.
OLED 4K TVs are hard to beat as the screens offer deeper blacks. But 4K HDR TVs are improving all the time – and are unbeatable in some respects – thanks to technologies like quantum dot.
At CES, LG and Sony were all about the OLED 4K whereas Samsung focused on 4K HDR. So which premium TV is right for you?
TVs that blend into your walls
TVs are getting thinner and thinner, but LG takes the biscuit with a telly that actually blends into your wall.
It’s called the W7, the W standing for wallpaper apparently. But it’s no wallflower – in fact we’d call it wall art, so good is its design and picture quality.
Just how thin is it?
At 2.57mm it’s the thinnest TV in the world. Wall mount it magnetically (yes, magnetically) and it’ll only jut out by 3.85mm – not much thicker than a pound coin – to sit almost flush against the wall. LG calls it ‘picture on wall design’.
How can it be so thin?
OLED TVs don’t need a backlight because the pixels that create the picture light themselves – each one can be switched on or off. This means you can have absolute black pixels side by side with brilliant white for incredible contrast. This makes shadowy movies like Batman look particularly amazing on an OLED screen.
When you add 4K resolution – offering 4 times the detail of Full HD – the Wallpaper W7 really is an astonishing TV.
Samsung sticks with quantum dot
Samsung doesn’t use OLED screen technology, but its flagship 4K HDR TVs also deliver truly superb picture quality.
That’s because of quantum dots, a layer of tiny crystals that create around 1 billion colours and can reach incredible levels of brightness. When combined with the added detail of 4K resolution, the picture quality is phenomenal.
Quantum dot isn’t a specific category of new TVs. It’s a technology on the new high-end 4K HDR TVs.
Samsung’s new QLED TVs use new and improved quantum dots. They can reach brightness levels of up to 2,000 nits (the unit used to measure the intensity of visible light), which is much brighter than even an OLED TV. This can get the best from HDR video, which creates incredibly realistic pictures that are brighter and more colourful.
Sony joins the ultra-thin OLED party
In the past few years LG has made OLED its own. But at CES 2017, Sony also joined the OLED party with a new super-thin TV.
It had been expected. The rumour mill had teased a Sony OLED TV in the weeks before CES, but the A1E Bravia had more than screen technology up its sleeve.
The speakers on A1E are quite different in that there aren’t any.
Not conventional speakers, anyway. It uses what Sony calls Acoustic Surface whereby the ‘entire screen resonates with rich sound emanating directly from the screen itself.’
Want to know more? Read our report on Sony’s first OLED TV
How OLED and quantum dot get the best from HDR
HDR is the big thing in video technology at the moment, with Netflix, Amazon Prime and Ultra HD Blu-ray making use of it already and the BBC experimenting with it.
It was first announced at CES 2016, but in 2017 it’s expected to become much more widely available. Find out why 2017 will be the year of HDR TV.
HDR works with both 4K and OLED TVs to make them even sharper by enhancing pixels. Contrast ratio and colour accuracy are the most important features in picture quality and HDR improves both.
OLED TVs offer unparalleled blacks, and the added detail in shadowy scenes when watching HDR looks sensational through an OLED TV.
Samsung QLED TVs can reach incredible levels of brightness, so when you’re watching HDR video, things like clear blue skies and football pitches will look incredible.
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