We were sure that CES 2024 would bring us the unveiling of the Samsung S90D, the successor to the QD-OLED Samsung S90C, which was our TV of the year in 2023. That made it our most-anticipated TV announcement of the show, and sure enough Samsung announced new OLEDs with a promised 20% boost in brightness.
We kind of expected this would be the case, but what we didn’t expect was two new sizes of the TV as well, because we’d already heard that there wouldn’t be any new sizes of QD-OLED TV screens in 2023.
But Samsung showed us 42-inch and 48-inch versions of the TV, and these aren’t QD-OLED – they’re regular OLED (also known as W-OLED), and they mean that the S90D’s size line-up is totally chaotic now, in a way that’s annoying to explain, and is going to mean any recommendation of them will have to come with major caveats.
Some background for those who don’t know: W-OLED screens are what every single one of the best OLED TVs used to use in the recent past, and they’re all made by LG, even when used by the likes of Sony or Panasonic. Then Samsung developed QD-OLED, which is a very different way of making OLED panels, and that promises stronger brightness and a wider color range than W-OLED.
The first QD-OLED screens were a bit of a false start, but last year’s were a triumph, and Samsung’s S90C was able to offer richer images than the LG C3 OLED TV for the same price.
However, QD-OLED screens are only available in 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch sizes – so in its quest to offer larger TVs, Samsung actually started using LG’s W-OLED panels to create an 83-inch version of the S90C. The problem? That panel performs differently! Different colors, different brightness – we had to make clear that our glowing recommendation of the Samsung S90C didn’t apply to its 83-inch size.
And so now we have a new situation where the Samsung S90D adds two more W-OLED screens to that already confusing situation. Here’s how the line-up looks:
|QD-OLED 2nd gen
|QD-OLED 2nd gen
|QD-OLED 2nd gen
Remember, this is not an academic difference; last year, the QD-OLED S90C models were over 30% brighter than the equivalent W-OLED LG C3 models. And now Samsung has boosted the brightness of the S90D by another 20%!
We don’t know if Samsung has done anything to boost the brightness of the W-OLED models compared to last year – LG has done this in the C4 this year, and the results are very impressive – but it means there could be a huge performance gulf in the S90D depending on which model you buy.
I obviously am personally not a fan of this because it makes my job harder, but I generally don’t like anything that makes the already confusing world of TVs even weirder.
I presume that the reason Samsung is doing this is to make the S90D an even stronger competitor to the LG C4 than last year’s model was – this means that Samsung has matched all the same sizes that LG’s TV comes in.
But I really think it should’ve called them something else. Samsung is doing a model called the S85D, which is a W-OLED screen at the same size as the QD-OLED screens; why not make the 42, 48 and 83-inch models part of this range?
It sounds like the availability of these new S90D sizes may vary by country (only the 48-inch has been confirmed for the UK, for example), and there’s no word on pricing or an exact release date yet, though I’d wager that they’ll come around March or April, based on Samsung’s release schedule in previous years.
Check out our CES 2024 hub for all the latest news from the show as it happens. We’ll be covering everything from 8K TVs and foldable displays to new phones, laptops, smart home gadgets, and the latest in AI, so stick with us for the big stories.
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