Samsung dropped a lot of TV-related news leading into CES this year and this post should help make sense of many features coming to the company’s new TVs.
There are a few main categories that Samsung’s TV announcements fall into: Environmental, Micro LED, Mini LED and software features.
It’s likely that software and Mini LED tech are going to impact general consumers first so I’ll start with those announcements.
2021 Samsung TV software enhancements
To kick things off, Samsung saw how people were adapting their work from home setups in 2020 and attempted to build some more work functionality into its TVs.
This means that 2021 Samsung TVs will be able to video chat over Google Duo. Samsung’s press release is a little messy, but it seems like you can connect a webcam to your TV and then use it to video chat with your friends and family which is nice. While I don’t use it anymore, the Facebook Portal TV was a fun device that definitely left me with a positive attitude towards TV-based video calls.
Keeping with the ‘work from home’ theme, Samsung also added an enhanced PC to TV mode. With Samsung’s newest TVs, PC users can download an app and wireless use their TV as a PC screen.
To take on Apple’s Fitness+ program and other fitness giants like Peleton, the Korean tech giant has added Samsung Health to its TVs with a new ‘Smart Trainer’ feature to track and analyze your posture in real-time. There’s no mention as to how Samsung plans to do this without a camera in your TV, but it likely relies on a connected app or webcam.
Some of the new TVs will also have game enhancements like the ability to play in an ultrawide 32:9 aspect ratio for some reason and AMD’s FreeSync Pro for PC gamers looking for a compatible TV.
Mini LED models
As the industry trends towards Mini LEDs, Samsung is jumping on board the hype train and adding the tiny backlight solution to many of its flagship 4K and 8K sets.
The company calls these sets Neo QLED which is just a fancy name, but basically puts Samsung’s display tech back on par with LG and TCL in the Mini-LED space.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the TV set space over the last two years Mini LEDs are starting to take over. These sets are cheaper than OLED models (best screens) but offer comparable contrast and colour ratios since the backlights can be so tiny. In short, these types of TVs are likely going to bring better displays to the masses without overkill upgrades like 8K.
Of course, Samsung talks about its upscaling quality getting better and HDR improvements being made, but these are par for the course and likely won’t mean much to everyday people.
Some of the higher-end versions of Samsung’s Mini LED TVs feature a stunning looking bezel-less design, but I wouldn’t expect that look to trickle down to cheaper sets anytime soon.
Wait, what’s going on here? I thought I already wrote about tiny lights creating next-gen TV viewing experiences? Well, I was wrong and Samsung has also made even tinier LEDs for its massive TV line.
This includes both a 110-inch set and a smaller 90-inch monster. Samsung says that smaller TVs with this tech will come out throughout the year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for anything under 75-inches.
Samsung says that its Micro LEDs are organically lit and don’t need colour filters or other convention TV tech, which makes them sound a lot like OLEDs, but it’s a newer tech that solves one of the worst OLED issues — light decay. Because OLED light pixels are organic in nature they can fade over time. Ideally, MicroLED doesn’t suffer from that same fate and should even produce brighter images.
That said, Micro LEDs are still crazy expensive and likely will be out of reach for a few more years for everyone but the ultra-rich.
Samsung’s environmental push
Samsung’s 2021 TV comes with an ultra-cool solar-powered remote that can be powered by both indoor and outdoor lights, plus USB if needed. This is a really cool innovation and something I hope more remote makers use in the future. For instance, in my house, the main battery uses are TV remotes and Xbox controllers, but if both of those went rechargeable, I’d never have to look at a AA again.
The company is also using a new eco-friendly packaging design on even more TV sets which Samsung says can upcycle 200,000 tons of corrugated boxes per year.
Finally, it’s also pledging to use more recycled materials and lower power usage across its television lineup.
Updates to the Samsung Frame TV
Samsung is updating the awesome Frame TV with swappable bezels while also making the overall set a lot thinner than last year. This should help it look even more like a piece of framed artwork on the wall. Samsung says it’s also revamped its art store with even more images to choose from and it has a new AI algorithm to help it recommend art that you’re more likely to enjoy.