Samsung’s Massive 292-Inch MicroLED TV Wall Now Shipping

For the past few years, Samsung has reliably demonstrated enormous televisions at shows like CES. These screens haven’t been based on OLEDs — instead, they’ve featured a new display technology called MicroLED. Now the Korean manufacturer has announced it’s put the Wall family of displays into production (actual model number: IW008R), at different sizes and resolutions.

MicroLEDs are a display technology that could theoretically replace OLEDs one day, though OLED is finally making its own way towards affordability after being stuck in the stratosphere for years. If you know anything about LCD technology, you’re aware of its numerous drawbacks related to color reproduction, ghosting, power efficiency, and true black (Because all LCD TVs use backlights, “black” is achieved by preventing the white backlight from leaking out, not by actually turning off pixels). OLEDs solve some of these problems — response time is very good and power efficiency can be substantially better than LCD depending on the image being displayed — but it’s been difficult to commercialize due to expense and the premature failure of blue OLEDs.

Specs on the two TV variants.

MicroLEDs avoid some of the issues that bedeviled OLED production for years, but have problems of their own. Like OLEDs, MicroLEDs are emissive — they emit light directly, which means they can hit the same blacks that OLEDs offer. Unlike OLED TVs, which top out around the 88-inch mark, microLEDs have been manufactured in much greater sizes — up to 292 inches, in the case of this Samsung display. Like OLEDs, microLEDs can emit light in a given wavelength and be switched on and off individually. MicroLEDs don’t use the same packaging as a traditional LCD, which is what allows them to be packed in so tightly — but the manufacturing expertise required to precisely place so many elements is extremely difficult, even for robots.

“MicroLEDs are truly the ultimate display. It’s just very hard and expensive to make,” Max McDaniel, vice president and chief marketing officer for the Display And Flexible Technology Group at Applied Materials, told SemiEngineering earlier this year.:

You have LED displays like you see on the side of the highways. For those, every pixel is one LED. They are on the millimeter scale. Those are called LED displays. MicroLED is where you shrink them down to the scale of tens of microns. You place one in each pixel. It’s so much smaller and harder to do. It’s harder to physically put them where you want them to be. It’s also harder to make the LEDs themselves so that they perform well.

In theory, microLEDs could outperform OLEDs in the long term, with a theoretical maximum PPI of 5000 at 105 nits compared with a PPI of 3500 and less than 2*103 nits for OLED, according to the same article. Samsung’s The Wall screens are comprised of 960×540 microLED cabinets with individual LEDs at 0.84mm2 each. Brightness is 250-2000 nits (regular/peak), with a contrast ratio of 10,000:1, 16-bit color depth, and up to either a 100Hz or 120Hz refresh rate. Viewing angles are 155-degrees (horizontal) and 135-degrees (vertical).

Because microLEDs are made from inorganic materials, there’s no risk of deterioration the way there is with OLEDs. The 1080p version of The Wall is a 73-inch panel made up of four building blocks, the 146-inch 4K panel contains 16 of these modules, and there’s a 6K (219-inch) and 8K (292-inch) available as well. Building microLED panels at high resolution and small screen sizes has proven difficult due to the need for each cabinet to be a certain minimum size itself. You can read more about the new display family in the following document (PDF).

Samsung isn’t disclosing the price on these models, beyond recommending you give them a call if you want one.

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