Samsung Sets An Impressive Baseline for Their 2016 SUHD TVs

Last year’s announcement of Samsung’s flagship SUHD smart TVs set a high bar, introducing Nano Crystal display technology, HDR, and brightness well past what their TVs were capable of before. We saw some pretty impressive stuff in the higher-end SUHD TVs in 2015, but it sounds like that will become the baseline for all SUHD TVs in 2016.

Samsung, which advertised their Nano Crystal technology last year, is sticking with very similar Quantum Dot display technology (cadmium-free 10-bit quantum dots in 2016) — unlike OLED, this is still an LED-backlit LCD display, but with a backlight that emits blue light and interacts with the nano-crystal pixels in the LCD to produce more vibrant colors. They were able to achieve advanced HDR and color contrast with localized dimming technology, which was able to dim the backlight behind darker pixels to produce deeper blacks. The difference is that last year, Samsung’s best SUHD TVs were capable of 1,000 nits of brightness, allowing them to function well in well-lit rooms — in 2016, that will be the requirement for all TVs getting an SUHD designation. Thanks to Quantum Dot technology, the televisions can reach that level of brightness without drawing too much power.

SUHD is the future here today.

Samsung is doing some interesting things with physical design, although there’s perhaps nothing as flashy as the Yves Behar-designed television from last year. The KS9500 SUHD TV has nearly invisible bezels despite being curved. It’s extremely thin and it’s a pride piece — the back of the television is completely smooth, with ports tucked away behind a door and no screws visible. Samsung also showed off a television that was paper thin on the outer edges, which is only a slight exaggeration.

As it turns out, the SmartThings integration we heard about earlier isn’t as complete as we thought. The functionality isn’t built into the televisions, but all 2016 SUHD TVs will come with a free SmartThings adapter that will allow you to control up to 200 home connected devices from the television (the IoT hub software will be part of the Tizen OS). On top of that, Samsung demonstrated the new remote control and interface for the new SUHD TVs — the best interface change is a bottom bar filled with disparate smart TV apps. Hover over an app tile, and the screen will display a preview with new content and recommendations, without requiring you to actually launch the app. And, as promised, the new remote control can be used to control third party devices like the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4.

Pricing and release dates for individual models will become available later in the year.