Samsung unveils next-gen Neo QLED with breakthrough LED light source at CES 2021

Samsung will launch an entirely new generation of QLED TVs for 2021, adopting a newly designed Mini LED backlight that offers far more precise dimming control and HDR handling.

So-called Neo QLED will debut on its flagship 8K (QN900A) and 4K (QN90A) models.

The 2021 Neo QLED lineup still features Quantum Dot colour technology, but introduces a new light source claimed to deliver radical improvements in contrast and black levels. The sets also boast a powerful new processor to support the new display hardware, a custom-built NeoQuantum processor SOC.

Samsung hails this new Mini LED light source as ‘a breakthrough in TV technology.’ It does away with traditional LED trappings and lenses, previously used to protect the LEDs and guide the light, leaving just the LED chip. Samsung has applied its own active control micro layer to accurately guide the light where it needs to go.

Coupled to the new processor, the benefit is greater detail in both dark and bright areas of the picture, minimised blooming, and more precise HDR highlights.

The new Quantum processor also dynamically manages power distribution to direct power where it is needed for brighter pictures, and away from low power areas that don't, and delivers a black detail boost, by utilising more data to express deeper black levels and detail in dark pictures.

Samsung's 2021 QLED sets also come with advanced ultra viewing angle and anti-reflection technology, for better viewing in any type of viewing environment or display size.

This latest generation of QLED will also come with an adaptive picture technology, able to enhance brightness and contrast levels, regardless of ambient lighting conditions. Additionally, the technology will be used for HDR10+ Adaptive, which works with the Filmmaker Mode of the UHD Alliance for a 'true cinematic experience' with HDR10+ content.

There are enhancements to audio too. As before the sets employ Samsung's Object Tracking Sound and Q-Symphony technologies, with the former – which offers viewers a surround sound experience in which audio is aligned with the movement of image objects – uprated from OTS Plus to OTS Pro, adding two further tweeters for clearer dialogue. Q-Symphony continues unchanged, blending the TV speaker array with a compatible Samsung soundbar for even more immersive audio.

Meanwhile, Active Voice Amplifier (AVA) technology actively detects external noise in the TV's surroundings and compensates by adjusting the volume of the dialogue track.

Samsung is also upping the ante when it comes to AI processing. In 2020, Samsung Smart TVs used deep learning and AI technology to upscale content, but in 2021, the Quantum processor will use multi-intelligence deep learning. While 2020 models produced one single neural network, multi-intelligence produces up to 16 of them, specialised for various types of content. Not only does this benefit native content, says Samsung, it also enhances upscaling.

Samsung continues to be bullish about 8K, declaring 2021 to be the year that ‘QLED 8K enters primetime’. It cites an improving 8K ecosystem, thanks to next-gen gaming, as well as a trend for users to create their own 8K content at home, and high-speed wireless networks powered by 5G.

For 2021, the brand’s 8K lineup comprises the Q700 entry-level model, the step-up Q800 featuring a slimmer design and ultra-wide viewing angle, and the Q900 flagship, which rocks an Infinity Screen design and 6.2.2 sound system.