This week our TV and AV editor, Tom Parsons, had the pleasure of seeing the latest TVs from Samsung and Sony. This finally gave us a full picture of what to expect from all the heavy hitters this year, with LG and Panasonic showing their hands at CES in January and Philips doing the same in early February. And boy does it look like 2023 is going to be awesome.
To catch everyone up, the big players in home theater currently fall into two camps for their flagship TVs.
In one camp you have team MLA. These are all TV manufacturers using LG Display’s third-generation “META” OLED panels, which use Micro Lens Array technology. Major MLA OLED TVs announced so far include the Panasonic MZ2000, Philips OLED908 and LG G3.
But on the other side of the fence, we have team QD-OLED, which includes manufacturers who will be producing TVs with Samsung Display’s second-generation QD-OLED panels. The confirmed TVs coming from this side are the Samsung S95C and Sony A95L, the latter of which was only revealed this week.
As a team, we’ve now seen all of these TVs in action, but only very briefly, so we can’t make a final judgment on how they compare just yet. However, we can say it’s shaping up to be one hell of a fight, with both technologies taking different paths towards the same goal: taking maximum brightness levels to dizzying new heights.
Specifically, LG Electronics (which produces actual TVs and is distinct from LG Display, which produces the panels) says its new G3 will be capable of peak brightness of over 2,000 nits. To put that in context, the LG G2 we tested and loved last year peaked at around 1000 nits.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s second-generation QD-OLED panels can get up to twice as bright as the previous generation, according to some marketing materials. If true, that’s a serious achievement considering last year’s Sony A95K was also able to hit a figure of around 1000 nits.
The reason I find this so exciting is that it’s the latest chapter in a long-running battle between LG and Samsung for TV dominance. This battle goes back decades, but became particularly intense about 10 years ago when OLED first hit the market, and has been a huge driver of innovation ever since.
Take a walk down memory lane: When LG pushed OLED, which offered much deeper blacks than the LCD and even plasma sets that were all the rage at the time, Samsung responded with QLED.
The differences were stark: OLED was all about perfect blacks and pixel-level contrast control, and QLED was all about more brightness and vibrant colors. Of course neither brand was happy to be the best in some areas but weaker in others, so LG has been on an endless mission to make its OLEDs brighter, while Samsung is determined to increase the black depth and contrast of its QLEDs .
Samsung is still betting on QLED technology, which even now makes up the majority of its current TV lineup, but last year it finally launched its own OLED TVs. And not just any OLED TVs, but QD-OLED TVs, which combine OLED technology with Quantum Dots for greater brightness and color expression.
The increased intensity of competition seems to have spurred both LG Display and Samsung Display and suddenly we are entering a new exciting phase of innovation: MLA vs QD-OLED.
Both technologies seem to offer a huge increase in brightness, finally overcoming the main weakness of the OLED technology.
The best part of this? The fight hasn’t just improved LG and Samsung TVs. The vast majority of TV manufacturers produce models that use LG or Samsung panels. All OLED TVs manufactured by LG Electronics, Panasonic, Philips, Hisense etc use LG Display panels and every QD OLED TV (and monitor) you can currently buy uses a panel manufactured by Samsung Display.
At every stage of the LG-Samsung grudge, we’ve seen marked improvements in picture quality on the new TVs that have passed through our testing rooms. This is why, even though it is far too early to say whether either new technology will achieve its goal and deliver the improved image quality that the companies have promised, it will blow new competition into the market, new competition will create and a need for even more innovation . That means better TVs, and that’s great for consumers.
And that’s why I think the Samsung vs LG TV win this year will be particularly great and potentially lead to another explosion of picture performance.
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