SAMSUNG officially revealed their 2022 range of TVs and sound bars at a hands-on event in Sydney earlier this week.
They were also kind enough to bring me down to Sydney for the event, giving me a chance to actually get up close and personal with their newest offerings – and there’s plenty there to pique the interest of gamers and home entertainment enthusiasts alike.
In fact, Samsung’s own research shows that 33% of Australians have a console connected to their smart TV – and given the research was undertaken in August 2021, I can’t help but wonder if the major reason that number isn’t higher is due to supply issues with the new Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
At any rate, it backs up what we as gamers already know and reiterates that a decent smart TV is an integral part of a serious console gaming experience – and from a consumer standpoint, an 8K Neo QLED TV is pretty much the pinnacle of that.
With that in mind, it was fitting the flagship TV at the Samsung showcase was the 8K Nano QLED QN900B – an upgrade on last year’s stunning QN900A.
While still an 8K Neo QLED TV, the QN900B has a few upgrades over its predecessor, notably Dolby Atmos out of the box, support for the wireless Q990B 11.1.4 channel sound bar (which did an amazing job with Avengers: Endgame in the demo I saw), and a 14-bit HDR processing, increased from the 12-bit processor in the 2021 model; the enhanced system now reportedly quadruples the Neo QLED display’s greyscale levels.
One of the new innovations that was immediately noticeable was the way the screen handled lighting ‘bloom’ – the demo image was of an old-timey style lamp on a brick wall, and the display did a magnificent job of clearly displaying the light coming from the lamp in a way that helped provide definition to the illuminated area without having it bleeding further.
The OneConnect box (basically the unit behind the TV with all the USB and HDMI ports and the antenna connection) has been slimmed down a bit, and the TV itself is slimmer too – the screen itself is only 15mm thick.
The User Interface has also been slightly redesigned, and there’s a new feature which can adjust the screen brightness and colour tone based on information from a built-in light sensor, as well as internet-sourced sunrise and sunset information.
Per Samsung’s official announcement: “As the ambient light changes, the screen will gradually reduce the amount of light and offer warmer tones, adjusting the blue light levels accordingly. This allows for a more comfortable viewing experience at night by reducing blue light.”
While the screens were running 8K content designed to showcase their abilities, the visuals were absolutely breathtaking, with stunningly vibrant colours, silky-smooth motion, and incredible definition and detail.
The 8K Neo QLED QN900B is expected to be available more or less now; the RRP is AUD$5,799 for the 65in version, AUD$7,999 for the 75in version and the top-of-the-range 85in model will have an RRP of AUD$11,999.
The 2022 Neo QLED 4K TVs are more affordable, with the QN95 starting at AUD$3,299 for the 55in version, AUD$4,299 for the 65in version, or AUD$5,499 for the 75in model.
The surprise of the showcase for me was The Frame. Designed to look like picture frame (hence the name), the panel has an embossed anti-glare, low reflection property that means a static image from the Art app included in the TVs looks like an actual painting (not just a picture of one).
It really is quite remarkable and would be perfect for a guest room or office or somewhere that most of the time, you’d like some nice artwork on the wall, but when you also want a really good smart TV sometimes too (under the bonnet it’s a Samsung Q70 4K system).
The Frame comes in a range of screen sizes from 32in to 85in, and because I’m easily amused, I also really liked the optional rotation wall-mount accessory (RRP: AUD$499) which, with the push of a button, will rotate the TV to either portrait or landscape orientation, with the image on the screen realigning itself to match.
While it seems like a gimmick at first, the reality is the majority of smartphone-made content one encounters these days is filmed in portrait mode, so being able to shift your entire TV to enjoy it the way the creator intended (well, maybe not intended, but filmed it that way because it was easier) does actually have a practical use too.
As a bonus, the Frame display is fingerprint and smudge resistant, which is handy for when your guests inevitably walk up to it and touch it thinking it’s a real painting – or if you have kids who think it’s fun to touch the TV screen no matter how many times you tell them not to.
The RRP for The Frame starts from AUD$799 for the 32in model and goes up to AUD$4,999 for the 85in version; the mid-size 55in offering is AUD$1,999.
Given the increased focus on camping/caravan holidays in Australia lately (you know why, I don’t need to make a clever aside about it), the Samsung Freestyle projector 1080p which featured at the showcased also piqued my interest.
The Freestyle was announced at CES in January, but this was the first time I’d actually been able to see and touch the unit.
Weighing 830g and featuring a 180-degree rotating mount, the Freestyle has obvious appeal for camping/4WD/family holiday scenarios; it can project an image up to 100in, has a 360-degree speaker and runs via mains power or connection to laptop or a suitably beefy power-pack – it needs a 50W/20V power supply to run.
The unit has all the functions of a smart TV built into it, and it has auto-focus, auto-scale and auto-level as well; the idea is that you can simply plug it in, point it at a wall (or other large, blank surface), turn it on, and get watching or gaming.
Adding to the utility is an ambient lighting function, so even when it’s not being used to project images or video, and it also works as a smart speaker, “analysing the music to pair visual effects that can be projected on the wall, floors and anywhere else”, according to Samsung.
The Freestyle will have an RRP of AUD$1,299; there’s also a neat little carry case for it that’s AUD$99.
Samsung Electronics consumer electronics vice president Jeremy Senior said the 2022 range was about suiting the evolving needs of how TVs are being used in Australian homes.
“Bigger screens, optimal sound quality and state-of-the-art picture quality remain of the highest priority for Australians as they look for premium at-home entertainment experiences,” he said.
“Samsung’s Neo QLED TVs bring exceptional levels of colour and brightness to the viewing experience, producing a crisp and life-like picture, that can clearly be viewed in bright rooms, ideal for Australian living conditions.”
“The innovations Samsung brings to its range in 2022 allows Australians to have not just a TV, but a customisable and personalised screen that can be used to showcase and purchase art, experience content, work, play and connect with their favourite people.”