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Samsung’s Neo QLED TVs are packed with futuristic sounding technology



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Samsung’s Neo QLED TV has a modernized backlight system based on Mini-LED.

Drew Evans / CNET

This story is part of CES, where our editorial staff will give you the latest news and the hottest facilities for the completely virtual CES 2021

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Samsung, the largest TV company in the world, is following up one blockbuster sales year with new 2021 models that show even better image quality and more extras aimed at people who spend extra time at home. It’s massive, incredible expensive MicroLED TVs steal the headlines around CES but its selection of QLED TVs consists of the company’s bread and butter.

This year the best Samsung QLED models, including TVs with both 4K and 8K resolution, is called Neo QLED. The name is not it necessarily a reference to the Matrix 4, but contains a lot of futuristic-sounding technology, all aimed at eliminating OLED TVs made by rivals who LG and Sony, which continues to beat QLED in min image quality tests.


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At the heart of Neo QLED TVs is a new one Mini-LED based, complete local dimming backlight that increases the brightness and provides more precise light control. Samsung made the LED lights 40 times smaller than conventional LED devices, so that more could be wrapped in the TV, and even added a (wait for it …) “quantum matrix” to help the LED light more exact. The result, according to the company, is improved HDR highlights with minimal flowering (dizzying lighting that bleeds from light to dark areas) as well as better shadow details.

Samsung also improved its AI upscaling this year by using more neural networks (as opposed to just one in previous years) to adjust image quality on both 4K and 8K models.

Neo QLED technology will be on display throughout Samsung’s 2021 8K QLED models (QN800A, QN850A and QN900A series), as well as two series with 4K QLED (QN85A and QN90A). As usual, pricing was not announced, but if the Q85T is in the same price ballpark as 2020 Q80T, which currently sells for $ 1,500 in 65-inch size, it will be cheaper than OLED and targeted at mid-priced TV customers.

Beyond the picture, Samsung’s new QLED TVs offer some other new features for 2021.

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The back of Samsung’s new TV remote control has a solar cell that allows the battery to charge using internal light.

Samsung

Rechargeable remote control with solar cell: In a nod to sustainability, Samsung’s new remote control uses rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries, which Samsung says can save 20 million AAA batteries each year. In addition to a USB-C port, the clicker can be charged via a solar cell on the back, which even works with indoor lighting.

Read more: Samsung TV remotes are solar powered for 2021 Neo QLED models

Screen status display and ultra-fold aspect ratio: Samsung’s new TVs support the next generation of gaming features from PS5 and Xbox Series X, including 4K / 120 fps input and VRR, but new for this year, you can long press the play / pause button on the remote control to bring up a special status screen, called the Game Bar, which clearly indicates which of these functions are currently active. You can also play the game in 21: 9 or even 32: 9 aspect ratio, with black bars filling the rest of the TV’s 16: 9 screen.

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The new game field displays information about game input.

Drew Evans / CNET

Samsung Health with Camera-Based Smart Trainer: Samsung’s health app debuted on their TVs in 2020 and this year it is expanding to offer guided personal training. Plug in an optional webcam (Samsung has a list of recommended cameras, all from Logitech), and the app will track your exercises and give you coaching complete with celebrity personal trainers. Jillian Michaels is the first of six to provide training content. The Smart Trainer feature is available on 2021 Q70A TVs and later.

Read more: Samsung TV helps your training with a camera-based, AI-powered smart trainer

Google Duo Video Chat: By using an optional webcam again, the Duo app on Samsung TV allows up to 12 others to join the chat. And if you do not have a camera connected, you can monitor mirror Duo on the phone to the TV and use the camera. It is not Google’s more popular Meet software, but at least there is online chat on the big screen.

Google Assistant, Alexa and Bixby built-in voice: Last year, Samsung TVs also offered all three voice assistants available via the remote control, which included both push-to-talk and hands-free access. In 2021, the company’s remote controls are just push-and-talk hands-free microphones, which respond to passwords such as “Alexa” and “Hello, Google”, are built into the Q70A and higher TVs. As always, you can disable the microphones completely.

Microsoft Cloud Services, Dex Wireless: Connect an optional keyboard and mouse to create or edit Microsoft 365 documents, and even work with two at the same time on the big screen. Samsung is also expanding the capacity of its Dex feature, available on Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets, to connect wirelessly.

Samsung’s 2021 TVs will begin airing later this year. Exact model names, series and prices were not announced, and as usual we have to wait for the reviews to see how well Neo QLED actually withstands the good old OLED.


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