8K or else —
The 4K lineup has fewer dimming zones than last year and no HDMI 2.1.
Most people in the United States and other markets are still on the precipice of making the jump from high-definition TVs to 4K ones, but Samsung is already de-emphasizing 4K in its 2020 lineup in favor of 8K TVs. Reports on the European product lineup show that Samsung will this year only offer top features and specs on 8K TVs, not their 4K counterparts.
Recently, Samsung’s most attractive high-end TVs have been its 4K QLED models. And those TVs have arguably been some of the highest-quality LCD TVs out there, bested in many tests only by LG’s OLED lineup (and besting the OLEDs in some others).
But we were a little concerned when Samsung failed to announce specific, mainstream 4K models from its 2020 lineup at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, even as it announced a plethora of 8K sets. It turns out there was a reason: the company’s high-end QLED lineup will be 8K only, and 4K TVs will be relegated to the more affordable TU line.
Only the 8K models will have HDMI 2.1 ports. Even more critically for the here-and-now, each 2020 4K TV will have in the vicinity of 100 local dimming zones, whereas the 4K QLED flagship in 2019 had more like 500, according to analysis by FlatpanelsHD. While the number of dimming zones varies in the 8K lineup, these sets will offer more than their 4K cousins this year.
HDMI 2.1 ports are critical for future-proofing. And in this TV technology, local dimming zones are a key metric for everything from contrast to HDR performance. This means that TV buyers who want the very best quality but don’t care about 8K or OLED will probably have to look to another manufacturer like Vizio, even though Samsung has recently been a leader there.
It also means one of the world’s top TV manufacturers is already all-in on 8K, at least on the high end, even though 8K is not yet on most buyers’ radar and very little 8K content is available for display on these TVs.
The 8K models will carry the monikers Q950TS, Q900TS, and Q800T. 4K models will include Q95T, Q90T, Q80T, Q70T, and Q60T. The Q950TS was revealed at CES, and we covered it previously; it’s the “bezel-less” design that acted as the flagship for Samsung’s consumer lineup at the show.
Listing image by Samsung