Time was, choosing a telly meant sizing up your cabinet and heading down the local electronics store, where a man in a suit would up-sell you a rear projection box and be done with it.
No more. Like a foreign language thesaurus for the uninitiated, there’s a seemingly endless stream of acronyms attached to modern sets. Think: 4K, HDR, OLED, SUHD.
Now, there’s a new addition to the combination of confusing capital letters. Say hello to QLED, Samsung’s take on next-gen telly tech - and, possibly, the start of a whole new gadget war.
What’s the difference? Which will win? Until we’ve stuck LG’s top-end OLED Signature W on the wall beside Samsung’s stunning QLED Q9, we can’t be sure.
What we can do, though, is cobble together an early conclusion based on what we know, what we’ve seen and what we’ve been told to expect from these two TV titans.
LG OLED Signature W vs Samsung QLED Q9: Design
Before we get into the pixel detail behind these behemoths of home entertainment, it’s worth taking a moment to consider how pretty their shells are.
After all, these are devices to be stuck to your wall for all to see - and the last thing you want is some un-pretty panel ruining your living room aesthetic.
At first sight, the Q9 is quite the looker, with its barely-there bezels - not to mention the all-metal body. At 10mm deep, it’s not the slimmest screen around - probably because QLED requires a backlight, which needs a secondary panel - but it’s still darn thin and, being fully flat, it should be a cinch to mount.
Sadly for Samsung, though, there’s little that can top the Signature W when it comes to breathtaking design. Why? That ‘W’ stands for wallpaper, and while it's not literally paper-thin, the LG is breathtaking.
Despite measuring 77in on the diagonal, it’s just 2.57mm thick. It's so skinny thaty it can’t use a traditional screw mount. Rather, it employs magnets to the same effect. If flagship screens should make us marvel, the Signature W has to take the win.
Winner: LG OLED Signature W
LG OLED Signature W vs Samsung QLED Q9: Picture resolution
Appearances aside, it’s on to picture - or, rather, its resolution and sharpness.
The problem here, of course, is that both boxes offer UltraHD 4K. That’s 3840x2160 pixels on the LG and probably something similar on the Q9 - unless Samsung claims to have a higher count, courtesy of the nano-particles that its QLED tech employs.
With the battle between OLED and QLED being much more about colour quality and contrast than the actual sharpness of picture, there’s little to slip between the two here, at least on paper.
LG OLED Signature W vs Samsung QLED Q9: Colour quality and saturation
Even before CES, we were hearing that colour is the new benchmark of quality. Both LG and Samsung are capable of building much bigger tellies, but the real consumer want is properly prettier pictures.
Here’s where that QLED tech comes in. It stands for Quantum Dot LED and it basically means that the Q9’s display is packed full of additional tiny particles - between 2 and 10 nanometres in diameter - that are incredibly good at producing saturated blues and reds.
Samsung is claiming that the Q9 achieves 100% reproduction of the DCI-P3 colour range (the spectrum used by the American film industry), which essentially means that any colour can be expressed at any brightness. In short: astounding saturation.
Of course, LG’s OLED tech is famed for its ability to produce vivid, vibrant colours - and the Signature W ought to be no exception.
Still, at this early stage, the Samsung edges it - though only a full review will determine whether it was more marketing hype than substantial evolution.
Winner: Samsung QLED Q9