What are Samsung's QLED TVs - and why should you care?

We explain how Samsung’s latest Quantum Dot TVs work

OK. Here’s how TVs were in 2016: LG’s OLEDs were the best you could buy, Samsung’s Quantum Dot sets were the best value.

At CES 2017, it’s all change again. Both Panasonic and Sony have also jumped onboard the OLED bandwagon leaving Samsung as the only manufacturer to not yet embrace the TV panel technology. Instead it’s coined a new name for its Quantum Dot TVs: QLED. A classic case of televisual one upmanship if ever we saw one.

So how does QLED work and is it actually as good as its cracked up to be? We’ve seen Samsung’s new TVs and have the answers.

What is QLED?

QLED stands for Quantum Dot LED and that refers to the type of panel the TV is made of. Where once you had plasma and cathode ray sets, now most manufacturers are sticking to OLED and LCD sets. Samsung is the only maker of QLED sets because they use its Quantum Dot innovations, although both Sony and LG have dabbled in Quantum Dot tech as well.

What is a Quantum Dot?

A QLED or Quantum Dot TV is a LED-backlit LCD TV with special colour enhancing particles. These particles are tiny, between 2 and 10 nanometers in diameter, and are ridiculously efficient at producing saturated blues and reds. This means TV makers can produce brighter sets with greater colour accuracy, and that’s especially useful when it comes to screening 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range) content where getting the details right really matters.

How is QLED different from OLED?

Even though they sound the same, QLED and OLED TVs are extremely different. The biggest difference is that QLED TVs need a backlight, whereas OLED TVs don't because each OLED emits its own light. The complexity of OLED panels makes them more expensive to make and buy, but their contrast is superb and they’re super-thin as well. Tune into an OLED and you’ll be greeted with sensationally deep blacks that haven’t yet been matched by other tellies.

Does that mean Quantum Dot TVs are bad?

Not at all. We rated Samsung’s TVs extremely highly last year with its 55KS7000 and flagship 65KS9000 models both garnering five-star reviews. ‘Almost as good as OLED’ was our verdict of that latter set with Samsung’s Quantum Dot TVs being the best 4K sets most people could afford. Whereas an entry-level LG OLED would set you back around five lacs.

How are Samsung’s QLED TVs different to last year’s Quantum Dot TVs?

On a very basic level they’re not, because they work in the same way with an LCD panel and backlight. Samsung says it’s really spruced up the technology this year though and from what we’ve seen so far that’s no word of a lie. There’s a big emphasis on colour accuracy with its new QLED screens: the Q9, Q8 and Q7.

They’re claimed to be the world’s first to offer 100 percent colour volume, which means you’ll get solid colour at any brightness - whether you’re searing your eyeballs on maximum settings or a bathing in a low-light glow. Additionally, they retain their blackness and colour accuracy when viewed off-axis. So if you’re watching a QLED TV from a different angle to your better half then you’ll both be looking at a similarly good picture.

How do OLED TVs compare to Samsung’s new QLEDs?

Until we get the QLED’s in for review we won’t be able to tell for sure, but that shouldn’t be a long wait. Samsung hasn't told us anything about India release. From what we understand, these new QLEDs will sit above last year’s Quantum Dot teles in Samsung’s product range.

So the likes of the 55KS7000 and 55KS9000 will be Samsung’s affordable 4K HDR TVs and its QLEDs will be priced more akin to OLED sets. While an expensive TV is no guarantee of quality, it is a sign of Samsung’s confidence in its latest creations. This fight ain’t over yet.

So QLED’s not a gimmick?

The name might be, but the tech behind it isn’t. Unlike curved or 3D TVs, Quantum Dot is a concept that Samsung’s likely to stick with for some time. Why? It makes the most of 4K and HDR content that you can watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. And if QLED TVs do turn out to be better and cheaper than OLEDs, then that’ll be a huge deal for tele addicts everywhere.