- Written by Ofer Laor
- Published on 18 September 2013
Design of the Samsung UN85S9AF LED Display
The panel -
Although this is an 85" display, it is UHD – which means the resolution is 3840 X 2160, which is exactly 4 times the resolution of the Full HD display you are likely sporting in your living room or home theater room. This resolution is often referred to as 4K, although it is technically 2160P.
The high resolution means that this display can be used in smaller rooms than an 85" display would otherwise infer. Note that this is one of the first drops of what is sure to become a flood of UHD displays in the coming months. The CE industry is still coping with many concepts relating to 4K level displays, including the upcoming HDMI 2.0 standard, the use of REC2020 extended color gamut and the need to increase the number of bits per pixel (at the very least to 10bits) to prevent unwanted artifacts for such displays.
That being said, as always – cutting edge early adopters won't wait for standards to catch up and will always start working with technology as soon as it is available on the market.
So the question of content comes as critical. The S9 is a "smart screen" capable of decoding HEVC (next gen encoding technology) which should theoretically allow it to download content from the Internet, in a smartTV app – when the material is ready. Another method to receive this type of content is via USB – the display's internal streamer resolves 4K grade content and lets you play it back. Finally, the set has a pretty good scaler (although I have definitely seen better) that let you upscale Bluray content to the display's resolution. Given that you can set sharpness to a level where its effect does not reduce resolution, this becomes a pretty interesting proposition.
This panel is a real work of wonder. It is simply huge when you are standing next to it, but given the high resolution you can still stand right next to it and it still looks very good. The panel has a new anti-reflective coating that you can see in action by looking at the flash in the next image:
This appears to be a variant of the "moth eye" filters we've been seeing in the last few years. The display is quite bright, clocking in at 395cd/m2 at around 86.7% uniformity which is impressive for a screen that size. To achieve this, Samsung uses micro dimming technology which uses backlighting to achieve more uniform light coverage while allowing one area of the screen to dim when another area is bright. To see the side effects of this type of dimming, please note the following image:
In this case, a center area is bright, but the center of the dimming area is offset, which means that the center of the lit area is offset from where that light output is actually needed. The solution, in this case, is to add more lighting areas – but this can dramatically increase the price of a display and has not proved profitable for other manufacturers who invested heavily in full-LED lighting systems.
Technologically, this is the most sophisticated display I have ever seen. It utilizes a quad-core processor and basically implements every type of control interface you can think of, from gesture control through voice and face recognition to a touch remote control. The TV responds to your voice commands albeit the accuracy of this proved tricky given noisy areas and mumbling testers… To avoid this, the new touch remote includes a built in microphone.
Gesture control proved much better than the previous generation. Recognition was easier, although testing was conducted in a better lit area, so that could also be effected.
The user interface of the display has not changed much and is still one of the best in the industry. It is glossy, flashy and animated – but to a lesser degree than previous generations. It is no longer Samsung "over the top". The metaphore for this year's User Experience is home screens that would be quite familiar to anyone with an Android smart phone. Each home screen holds a set of predefined applications (that can be somewhat manipulated) and using swiping gestures, the touch remote or a simple D-Pad, you can select applications, functions or move in 3D animation between the home screens.
Samsung currently has the biggest range of applications and they are appearing to grow in numbers and quality. I won't go deeply into this area. Suffice it to say that anyone familiar with apps will feel right at home. A few social apps such as Twitter, Facebook and Skype get special treatment and can also interact (only if the user allows it) while in the background. In all other cases, the user must choose an app and run it. Apps range from video apps, 3D apps to news, music and game apps. Overall, a very robust offerings in a very attractive package.