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First impressions: Samsung 8K TV with MFA local dimming

12 Jan 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

Samsung was light on details but did reveal that it is planning to launch its first 8K TV later this year. The 8K ”QLED” LCD TV will feature a new ”MFA” full array local dimming system. Here are our first impressions.

Micro Full Array

The 85-inch 8K TV, dubbed Q9S, was on display during a backroom demonstration. The design had not been finalized but picture quality was impressive, primarily due to a new ’Micro Full Array’ (MFA) dimming system.

The 85-inch TV managed to reproduce very deep blacks, something that was a challenge for last year’s edge-lit LCD models. Again, Samsung declined to go into specifics but an infographic on the wall behind the TV referred to MFA technology as ”Full Array Micro-LED” backlight technology, suggesting that Samsung will replace the conventional LED backlight behind the LCD panel with one based on Micro-LED. Confusingly, the infographic also referred to the ”future of QLED”

The same infographic claimed that the technology could reach 4000 nits peak brightness and ”0.0015 nits black”. The 85-inch in display appeared to reach around 2000 nits while maintaining depth in black. We asked Samsung how this is possible and were told that the backlight has ”thousands” of addressable element. The number of zones was later clarified to be in the ”hundreds”. (update 19.01.2018: Samsung insists that it has 10.000+ zones, via John Archer, we will seek clarification as soon as Samsung is ready to talk openly about the TV). Our best guess is that there are indeed thousands of micro-LEDs in action but ”only” hundreds of addressable local dimming zones.

Samsung Q9S

A 65-inch version was put to the test in a side-by-side demonstration with two unnamed LCDs and one OLED (Samsung Q9F, Sony Z9D, and LG 2017 OLED). It easily outperformed the other LCDs and showed some advantages over the OLED, mainly in peak brightness. However, black was not as pure and the viewing angles were narrow. The larger 85-inch appeared to have a more advanced version of the local dimming backlight system because it was capable of reproducing deeper blacks.

Once again, we should stress this is not a finished product. Samsung may decide to go to market with a different implementation – like last year. The demo was a bit confusing because Samsung refused to go into specifics about this year’s line-up but was happy to talk about the ”future of QLED” that will ultimately lead to self-emitting QD displays. However, based on what we saw – based on the 85-inch 8K TV – Samsung will this year introduce at least some TVs with significantly improved picture quality.

We were not allowed to take photos during the demonstration. The picture in the article is expected to be the final design of the 85-inch Q9S.