Samsung Neo QLED TVs unveiled: next-gen Quantum Mini-LED tech changes the game in 4K and 8K

Using LEDs 1/40th the size of previous models means more brightness, better contrast and sleeker designs

Samsung Neo QLED TV
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung has just revealed the first of its 2021 line-up of TVs, led by the new Neo QLED range, which features next-gen Mini-LED tech to make the sets thinner while taking a leap forward for image quality too – you should absolutely expect these to be troubling our list of the best TVs when they're released.

There are two models named so far: the flagship 8K QN900A and the 4K QN90A TVs. We're still waiting on the price, release date and sizes for these screens, but we expect them to be similar to the Samsung Q950TS and Samsung Q90T at launch.  Here's what we know so far.

Samsung is calling its version of the Mini-LED technology 'Quantum Matrix', and each LED light in the backlight is just 1/40th the thickness of previous LEDs, meaning that huge numbers of them can be packed into ultra-slim designs.

More LEDs means more brightness, and Samsung says that Neo QLED sets will support 12-bit luminance scales too, which means darker shadows and brighter highlights, pushing HDR performance even closer to real life – previous sets were 10-bit.

The new Mini-LED tech also has more light focusing, so each light will shine straight forward and spread less to the regions around it, reducing blooming. We expect there to be more more localised dimming areas than before (thanks to having smaller LEDs), so we should be looking at contrast that just about rivals OLED screens, but potentially with more brightness.

These sets will be powered by a new 'Neo Quantum Processor', which will use 16 different neural networks for different types of content, so the processing is tailored for, say, action scenes vs landscapes vs people talking to each other.

These TVs will also use a new version of Samsung's multi-speaker Object Tracking Sound system, called OTS Pro. This system puts speakers all around the frame of the TV, and Samsung is promising up to 6.2.2 channels of audio, which is… kind of an odd number actually. But basically it means lots of directionality, two bass channels, and two height channels.

OTS Pro will also now analyse the room you're listening in and adjust its sound output to optimise for that, the same way the Apple HomePod does. It's high-end stuff, and makes a notable difference when we've heard that kind of tech in other areas, especially for fine details.

There will be a new detachable slim OneConnect box for connections – you can either have this on the back of the set, or move it elsewhere out of the way, with all your many HDMI cables going into that, and one slim cable leading in the TV itself.

There are new options when it comes to software too, including the ability to make video calls when you connect a camera, and a more advanced gaming mode that will display settings such as VRR easily and the current FPS, and you can even set to an ultrawide mode (with letterboxing) if you're playing a PC game. Samsung already makes some of the best gaming TVs, so we're expect big things on this front.

This is just the first wave of Samsung's TV announcements – we'll bring you more as CES 2021 continues!

Matthew Bolton

Matt is T3's former AV and Smart Home Editor (UK), master of all things audiovisual, overseeing our TV, speakers and headphones coverage. He also covered smart home products and large appliances, as well as our toys and games articles. He's can explain both what Dolby Vision IQ is and why the Lego you're building doesn't fit together the way the instructions say, so is truly invaluable. Matt has worked for tech publications for over 10 years, in print and online, including running T3's print magazine and launching its most recent redesign. He's also contributed to a huge number of tech and gaming titles over the years. Say hello if you see him roaming the halls at CES, IFA or Toy Fair. Matt now works for our sister title TechRadar.