After introducing an enormous MicroLED TV called The Wall at last year’s CES, Samsung has returned in 2019 with a smaller, 75-inch 4K TV that’s a far more practical fit for the living room. It uses the same MicroLED foundation as The Wall, combining “individual tiles of self-emissive MicroLEDs, featuring millions of inorganic red, green and blue microscopic LED chips that emit their own bright light to produce brilliant colors on screen.” There’s no backlight required, so MicroLED displays can be incredibly thin.
But the bigger appeal of MicroLED is picture quality that should rival or beat OLED without any of the pitfalls of using an organic compound; that’s what the O in OLED stands for, after all. In theory, MicroLED should deliver perfect blacks (all of the microscopic LEDs can be turned off individually), best-in-class brightness, and an incredibly wide HDR color palette — without burn-in and hopefully with a significantly longer lifespan than OLED panels, since there’s no natural degradation to worry about.
Samsung isn’t yet sharing specific release details or pricing for the 75-inch MicroLED TV, but it’s certainly not going to come cheap. MicroLED displays are incredibly challenging to produce at scale, with each of the RGB sub-pixels having to be carefully placed — with a very tight measure of space (or “pitch”) between them. If one of them is bad, the whole display — or in this case a TV — could be a bust.
But Samsung strongly believes MicroLED can be the display that’s customized to your life — even if it’s really the only company going for it right now. Others including Apple have been rumored to be researching the technology. Its modular nature (you can see the seams of each tile if you look very close) allows for displays of any size and at any aspect ratio.
There are two pieces to each MicroLED “module.” The first is the back plate, which has hooks that extend with the twist of a dial to so it can easily attach to other wall modules. It’s like Lego but for home theater. Samsung says the size of these modules might ultimately change as MicroLED makes its way to consumers. These are prototypes / early samples. There are also audio modules (read: speakers) that can be attached in the same way right next to a display panel.
Then, the actual display part just latches onto that back plate magnetically, like this:
It looks incredibly satisfying to do. I wish Samsung had let me try.
So far we’ve seen Samsung show last year’s original Wall, this 75-inch 4K TV, and also a new, even more monstrous 219-inch version of The Wall to showcase its sheer expandability. Look at the size of this thing: it’s like these people are just staring out a ceiling-high window.
Pricing and potential consumer availability for the 75-inch set are still unknowns; at CES 2018, Samsung predicted it would be two or three years before a consumer MicroLED would be viable, but the company is likely trying to push that timeline forward as fast as it can. But we’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars for these things, if not over $100,000 for that 219-inch monster. Samsung never gave a firm, official price for the original Wall: it was only made available to industrial partners, according to the preorder page.
There have been many “classic” TVs revered for their image quality through the years like the Pioneer Kuro, Panasonic plasmas, and LG OLEDs. Samsung makes some excellent QLED LCD TVs — with a new lineup ready to go this year — but it’s clearly aiming for the next big thing and hoping it can get there before anyone else. Even if it’s a long road ahead, this is so very cool.