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I’ve reviewed a lot of products and focus the channel on high quality high value audio, technology and wellbeing which, in a nutshell, is bang for buck, so the entirely new level of performance the QD OLED technology of the Samsung S95B promises looks really exciting BUT you need to know there are some uncomfortable truths that almost none of the reviewers are talking about.
Now I love the almost 3d look of OLED and the Samsung S95B quantum dot or QD oled is the latest evolution of OLED technology and looks to offer the most realistic picture yet, combining the impactful brightness of LED with the black levels, depth and gaming response times of OLED.
If you’ve been through the hours of reviews from Digital Trends, HDTVTest, Stop the FOMO, Quantum TV, Tech with KG and others and managed to stay awake you’ll have heard all the excitement about what this new technology, currently only available in the Sony A95K and Samsung S95B, delivers. In a nutshell:
1) Impactful brightness conveying energy due to use of light producing quantum dots rather than regular OLED’s light absorbing coloured filters
2) High Colour volume making the picture pop due to absence of the white sub pixel in traditional WRGB OLEDs that brightens but also washes colours out
3) Perfect blacks with high contrast and depth making the picture look almost 3 dimensional and life like
4) Convincing upscaling of less than pristine content and blur free motion processing.
Digital Trends 922k
Stop the FOMO 117k
Quantum TV 65k
Whisper Status 74 19k
Tech With KG 15k
Keep It Classy Tech 11k
Some reviewers have gotten very excited and I’d encourage you to check them out.
But we need to get into the technology of these quantum dots. Now bear with me on the science lesson because this will become relevant to the dark truths we’ll get to in a minute, that few reviewers have hinted at.
Colour conversion in QD-OLED displays is done by quantum dots that are placed or patterned at a sub-pixel level over Blue OLEDs.
So, we have a blue OLED emissive layer in the backplane where all pixels are blue. And then green and red quantum dot materials are printed on pixels that need to be green or red.
Just like in regular OLED however, in QD OLED organic materials are the source of the light and these materials wears out. The Blue OLED lights get dimmer with time and over the lifetime of your TV, its display will get less bright.
But this is a new tech right? Well yes its new in that no white sub pixel is employed to increase brightness at the expense of colour purity and there’s no colour filter to reduces brightness, but rather quantum dots which emit photons HOWEVER the underlying light production is still organic and will degrade over time. And there’s the rub.
Now Avforums, a respected av enthusiast website, has over 20 pages of posts on problems due to OLEDs wearing out with sets purchased as recently as Summer 2018, under 4 years ago, and furthermore warranty claims being rejected.
There’s even a whole video on how you can wear your TV out just by watching normal content and I don’t mean screen burn or image retention by having static images frequently on screen. Many people, including me, relate to the problem and there are several comments against this video describing their experiences
Now while the panel will get dimmer over time, that of itself is no big deal since especially with QD oled it was much brighter than traditional OLED panels to begin with, BUT if some areas of the screen typically use certain colours more than others like pink faces in the middle of the screen from news and chat show programs then those areas are going to have pixels that are more worn out potentially causing a colour shift in those areas.
Ah but there’s compensation nowadays I hear you say with pixel shifter and pixel refreshers and screen savers. Well yes, but if you have a patch of red say and shift one red pixel with the red pixel next to it you’ll still have a red pixel being shown and then the only way to compensate is to burn out all the other leds to the same extent making the whole display dimmer each time.
And different rates of wear by different colours, for example with human pink faces typically centre screen can cause those portions of the screen to show a colour cast which is an unpleasant green tinge exactly where faces, which as humans we’re very sensitive to, typically appear. I’ve got another video on how to mitigate the problem, one I experienced myself on a 3 year old Panasonic OLED (tx55hz980b), to make the picture more watchable but it’s a workaround and introduces a wholesale colour shift of the picture so is far from ideal.
And did I mention the price.
Now clearly the QD OLED picture more or less successfully combines the impactful brightness of lcds with the blacks, depth and almost 3d realism of oleds. But the price is double that of competing mini LED, Full Array Local Dimming and OLED TVs so unless you buy into the 100% better view there’s no way it can reasonably be considered worth double the cost of some other still great looking televisions, especially when you consider things like the user experience of the TV operating system, sound quality and picture processing.
So to summarise the S95B may well be a fantastic looking set but bear in mind that
- Depending on the content you watch and for how long, because of the technology used and nature of typical TV content, the screen may wear out in such a way that the picture becomes noticeably degraded with jarring patchy colour casts within 4 years so make sure you get a warranty against this – or are rich enough to consider your expensive tv disposable
- At double the price of some lesser but still great looking alternatives there may be a new king in QD OLED but for now at least value isn’t its strong suit.