Samsung Is Forcing High-End TV Buyers to Embrace 8K by Crippling Its 4K QLED Lineup

Image: Samsung

Samsung finally unveiled its lineup of 4K TVs for 2020 this week, but they’re a bit of a disappointment.

Display enthusiasts are pointing out that they’re actually downgrades from last year’s models, with the Q60T, Q70T, Q80T and Q90T/Q95T missing pivotal features such as HDMI 2.1. The amount of dimming zones have also seen a massive reduction from 500 to 100, which could have a significant impact on image quality.

…is Samsung cheapening its 4K QLED televisions on purpose to force discerning consumers who want the best into upgrading to 8K? That’s what some publications seem to think.

“This year, Samsung 4K TVs will from a picture quality standpoint be less capable than last year’s models. If you want the South Korean company’s most advanced LCD technology – not just in terms of resolution – you will have to buy an 8K TV,” writes FlatpanelsHD.

Image: Samsung

Another theory is that Samsung had to strip its 4K TVs because they couldn’t compete with LG’s superior, inky-black OLED displays. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, it’s extremely awkward to see a 2020 television release without the latest standards, such as HDMI 2.1, which makes them an immediate no-go for useful gaming features such as variable refresh rate.

Samsung unveiled its newest lineup of 8K QLED televisions – the Q950TS, Q900TS, and Q800T – during last month’s CES show. These deliver “true” 8K resolution this time around (last year’s Q900 models employed a sneaky technique called sub-pixel rendering), as well as perks such as a zero-bezel design. But the problem is that 8K UHD doesn’t make a lick of sense at the moment.

While the resolution (7680 × 4320) looks and sounds fantastic on paper, there is practically zero content out there regardless of where you look. That includes over-the-air broadcasts and streaming, as well as Ultra HD Blu-ray media, which is limited to 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video. Heck, we don’t even have a GPU that can run a modern triple-A game in 8K at playable frame rates.

None of this is going to stop television giants from trying to goad consumers into buying the next big thing, however.

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