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First look: Samsung's 110" microLED TV

08 Apr 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

Samsung's first microLED TV – the first new TV display technology in a decade – is impressive but not without faults. FlatpanelsHD had a chance to take a closer look at the 110-inch model.

World's first LED TV

This is it. The world's first LED TV. That sentence may sound a little awkward after TV makers have sold and wrongly promoted LCD TVs with LED backlight as "LED TV", "QLED TV", "ULED TV" and "XLED TV" for over a decade.
LCD, OLED, microLED
Illustration: TrendForce
Like OLED (organic LED), an LED (inorganic LED) display does not require a backlight. It is defined as self-emissive, meaning that each LED generates its own light. The challenge is to make the LEDs small enough to serve as pixels. For 4K resolution, you need 24.88 million LEDs – one for each sub-pixel. For 8K, you need almost 100 million. Mind-boggling. That is why the industry likes to refer to it as LED, miniLED, microLED and even nanoLED. There are some important distinctions here. Conventional LEDs are relatively large so you can typically only fit a handful into the backlight behind the LCD panel. With miniLED, that number goes up to thousands or tens of thousands in the LED backlight behind the LCD panel. However, you need 24.88 million LEDs for a 4K LED TV. That is what Samsung has achieved and many refer to it as microLED. After having showcased microLED prototypes and commercial units for a few years, the company has just launched its first consumer 'Micro LED TV'. The 110-inch version will cost a dizzying $155,000 / €150.000 while a smaller 99-inch will cost 130.000 Euro. The company will launch 88- and 76-inch versions later.

First look at Samsung's microLED TV

We have seen microLED display before. Our first real encounter with a large-sized (146-inch) Samsung microLED was at CES in early 2018, built from smaller modules and placed in a dark room. It was very impressive. FlatpanelsHD has now had a chance to take a closer look at the first consumer product; Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV, placed in a brightly lit environment. Although expensive right now, it represents a possible next step for display technology – not just TVs. Besides Samsung, companies like Apple, LG and Sony are also exploring microLED display technology. The TV is wildly impressive due to its sheer size, rich colors, high brightness, deep black, and virtually frameless design. Like OLED, microLED has pixel-level control of luminance so stars in the night sky will sparkle with intensity and glow – something that cannot be achieved on Samsung's own "QLED" LCD TVs.

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Like all TVs set to Dynamic/Standard mode, the 110-inch microLED had oversatured colors and boosted contrast settings but all this can of course be tweaked. What is more important is the displays capabilities in terms of black levels and brightness (contrast) and colors. And it is very capable indeed. Since it was a public presentation, we did not get a chance to measure anything or feed it with our own content. MicroLED also has the potential to be extremely thin and frameless, but Samsung's 110-inch TV is thicker partly because it needs proper cooling.

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

There is also another reason. Samsung says that the 110-inch is its first prefabricated microLED display as opposed to the commercial versions that had to be assembled on spot. However, it is still made from smaller modules and if you move a little closer you will notice that the seams are visible, especially when viewed off-angle.

Samsung microLED TV

Seams are visible, especially when viewed off-angle. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

One reason for this is that light from the environment reflects in the screen, highlighting the seams. It also means that black tends to lose some of its intensity, again mainly when viewed off-angle. We should emphasize that blacks are, for the most part, deep and intense, but the panel has a visible screen door effect, especially if you move closer. It also has a semi-matte surface with, based on what we can tell, a semi-glossy coating on top. If you check out our short video, you should be able to spot it as we transition the camera to the side of the display.

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

It is a gorgeous display but not without faults. Some like to say that microLED combines the best from LCD and OLED, but in reality it has little to do with LCD. It is more similar to OLED, although with higher brightness but slightly less intensity in blacks. Since an inorganic LED generally last longer than an organic LED (OLED), the risk of burn-in should also be reduced, even if LEDs also lose light intensity over time. Samsung's 110-inch TV can be wall-mounted or put on a table-top stand. Samsung had created a small model of how that works.

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

In our view, the biggest challenges in the short term relate to modularity (visible seams) and production costs. These are mass-production challenges and Samsung has proven capable of solving similar challenges in the past. We would not go as far as to call it "home-ready" but microLED certainly shows great potential. Just don't expect it to be the perfect display technology. Now we wait.

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD

Samsung microLED TV

Samsung's 110-inch microLED TV – the world's first LED TV. Photo: FlatpanelsHD