LAS VEGAS -- Bigger, brighter, more pixels and better contrast. Before the pandemic, who makes the better TV was largely decided by these simple standards.
But as lifestyles have changed amid the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak, particularly with the emergence of the delta and omicron variants, the definition of innovation has changed as well. Now, consumers demand more features they can enjoy in the safety and comfort of their homes. Such new customer demand has brought South Korea‘s two tech titans again to a new battlefield.
At the world’s largest tech show, Samsung showcased 89-inch and 101-inch micro LED TVs, smaller versions of a 110-inch model the company announced last year. Samsung shrank the size for a reason -- to make its micro LED TVs more affordable. In Korea, a 110-inch model is available at an eye-popping 170 million won ($152,000).
The South Korean tech giant at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas on Sunday unveiled TVs that may be more advanced, but less innovative than expected.
Samsung said in a press release that it has opened up a new era of the “customized screen” offered in three different sizes. But its written features of the next generation TV seems to be lacking compared to cross-town rival LG in terms of offering new customer experiences.
LG offered StandbyMe, a 27-inch touch-screen OLED TV powered by batteries, to wow customers waiting for TVs they didn‘t think they would need beyond the conventional ones hanging from or standing against walls. The portable smart TV can travel anywhere at home with wheels and its screen rotates on a rolling stand.
Also, LG’s DualUp, a multitasking monitor that has two 21.5-inch displays stacked vertically -- was a spot-on innovation uniquely customized for multitasking and boosting productivity, perfect for those working at home. DualUp is designed to “help reduce side-to-side head movements, the main cause of neck pain,” according to an LG official.
But there’s one thing that never changes. Samsung’s technological leadership as its micro LED TVs are technologically and scientifically more advanced than LG’s OLED TVs.
Though the terms micro LED and OLED may confuse things, they have one thing in common -- each of their pixels comprises three microscopic dots called light-emitting diodes. Triplets of red, blue and green LED dots together create a pixel, which creates the colors and images on a screen.
The major difference is that the pixels of LG’s OLED TVs are made of organic materials, while those of Samsung’s micro LED TVs are made of nonorganic materials. Organic LED dots are susceptible to burn-in and color degradation, while nonorganic LED dots are resistant to such issues.
Samsung’s micro LED TVs are also ahead in brightness and contrast. While LG’s OLED TVs’ maximum brightness is roughly 2,000 nits, Samsung’s micro LED TVs can promise up to 5,000 nits. The brighter the screen, the more vivid the contrast.
But of course, the issue is price. As the name suggests, micro LED TVs use LED dots that measure 0.002-inch across, which is 1/100 the size of conventional LED dots. Manufacturing a micro LED TV panel packed with millions of microscopic LED dots is no easy task, which is why Samsung’s 110-inch model supports a resolution of only 4K, not 8K, despite its vast size.
Considering LG’s 83-inch 4K OLED TV is priced at $5,999, it remains to be seen how Samsung’s micro LED TVs, despite their extravagant price of over $150,000, will somehow overcome the price gap and open the wallets of consumers financially hit by the pandemic.
By Kim Byung-wook, Korea Herald correspondent