For many AV fans, micro LED looks like the answer to all their prayers. For starters, like OLED TVs, micro LED screens are self emissive, meaning that every pixel produces its own light. Unlike OLED TVs, though, these self-emissive pixels don’t depend on organic materials.
As a result, they can be driven much harder with no concerns about them degrading over time. This opens the door to unprecedented contrast, color and brightness. Viewing angles will no longer be an issue like they are with regular LCD TVs either, and since micro LED displays are made by grouping together smaller modules, they can be built to almost any size or shape you like.
Samsung revealed its first ‘real’ micro LED display at the 2018 CES, in the shape of the 146-inch ‘Wall’. I discussed that screen here. At this year’s CES, though, Samsung has come up with an altogether more living room friendly proposition in the shape of a 75-inch screen. And in most ways, this more domesticated micro LED offering is looking pretty magnificent.
The first thing to say about it is that it’s a stunning piece of design. Wafer thin, and able to deliver its pictures without any bezel around it, it joins LG’s ‘Wallpaper’ OLED W series TVs in feeling like the TV equivalent of an infinity pool; something that mysteriously opens a portal to a new world inside your wall, rather than just feeling like a screen hanging from it.
As I hinted earlier, the screen itself is not a single 75-inch micro LED ‘sheet’. Instead it’s put together from a series of smaller modules. This, inevitably, raises questions of visible seams and inconsistent module ‘angles’. However, while we weren’t allowed to get very close to the 75-inch model at Samsung’s event, from a distance it was impossible to see any seams or module irregularities at all.
I did recently, though, get the chance to see a 75-inch Samsung micro LED up close, and with that model it was possible to occasionally see ultra-fine seams in bright parts of the picture. However, during dark scenes – in fact, with most content – the seams were invisible.
During that up-close experience I also spotted a few dead pixels, as well as some signs of damage at the corners of some modules. None of these defects were visible from a distance on the likely newer 75-inch model on show at the Samsung’s CES unveiling, though. And in any case, the module damage would surely never be present with actual sold units that haven’t been repeatedly dismantled and rebuilt like the early demo model I saw would have been.
The main point about the Samsung 75-inch micro LED is that it’s picture quality is tremendous. The images pretty much explode off the screen in a way we haven’t seen with any other TV technology before. Brightness, for instance, is colossal. Especially as it is exaggerated by the absolutely inky black levels the screen was producing.
Obviously we’re accustomed to gorgeous black levels with OLED screens, but Samsung’s micro LED screen really does take things to another level. Yet it does so without seemingly crushing out any shadow detail (though I should stress that this was a little hard to judge given that inevitably the test material being shown was more extreme than typical video content, to illustrate the extremes of the screen’s potential).
With so much brightness and contrast behind them, together with the sort of richness at high brightness levels you can really only get with a true RGB picture, the 75-inch micro LEDs colors looked stunning too. Gorgeously rich, spectacularly intense, exceptionally defined but also, crucially, full of subtlety and finesse.
At first the colors actually felt a little unreal, actually. But the longer I watched them, the more convinced I became that this wasn’t the screen was actually getting anything wrong, but rather just a result of it taking color to places we’ve never experienced before.
All of this jaw-dropping spectacle remained intact, moreover, from absolutely any viewing angle.
The 4K picture on the 75-inch micro LED screen also looks phenomenally crisp and detailed, aided and abetted by the phenomenal color and light control.
Aside from the (seemingly increasingly minor) seaming and module flatness issues, the only issue I found during the close up viewing was some compression artefacts in some of the 4K footage. But this just suggests that micro LED technology may be pretty ruthless at exposing source weaknesses. But that’s hardly micro LED’s fault!
I suspect from some comments I hear about current LCD technology that some people may feel that micro LED is too bright for them. As someone who still remembers with affection Sony’s stunning 10,000-nit 8K display from 2018’s CES, though, I can safely say that I myself am certainly not in this camp.
All in all, the debut of Samsung’s 75-inch micro LED screen merely underlines the notion that micro LED technology is the future of television. It’s just a shame that it still feels like a slightly distant future.
Samsung has suggested that this 75-inch screen may become available to buy this year, but absolutely refuses to be drawn on a potential price. And with a means of mass producing micro LED screens still proving elusive, it feels like we’re some way away yet from that potential price being something that all but the rich oil barons among us will be able to afford.
But hey. So long as interest in micro LED shows no sign of fading, science will surely eventually find a way of making it the mainstream(ish) proposition AV fans are so keen for it to become.
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