Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Samsung introduced its first TVs with Mini LED technology at CES 2021, and they were arguably the best sets the company has produced to date – not counting the exorbitantly priced The Wall, at least. So this year Samsung is taking a different approach, taking smaller steps in hardware and focusing more on software refinements and new features.

Samsung’s 2022 TVs will continue to run on the company’s Tizen operating system, but they will now come with a completely redesigned home screen described as “a testament to our vision for the future of TVs”. The first part of the new user experience is what Samsung calls the Media Screen. This will “put all your streaming service content in one easy-to-browse place” with a section that continues to watch content “from any provider” — or so Samsung claims anyway. Of course there will also be personal recommendations.

Samsung has redesigned its TV home screen for 2022.
Image: Samsung

It all sounds very similar to Google TV and the Apple TV app; everyone wants to be your main portal for browsing entertainment, leaving streaming apps to play the movies and shows you want to watch. The streaming services don’t always like this strategy; Netflix, in particular, has a history of pushing back against letting others manage its content, and as a result, it doesn’t participate in Google TV or the Apple TV app.

Here are some other software additions coming in 2022:

  • Watch together: Samsung is expanding its multi-view feature to deliver remotely what it claims is “the world’s first TV-based platform for experiencing live and streaming content with friends and family”. You can connect a USB video camera or even use the camera of a smartphone or tablet to video chat with those you are watching.
  • NFT Aggregation Platform: Yes, NFTs are coming to the living room. Samsung is the first major TV manufacturer to be significantly behind NFTs. The company says it will provide “a groundbreaking platform that allows you to view, buy and display your favorite art — all in one place.”

MicroLED TVs come in new sizes, stay out of reach of normal people

Samsung is producing new models of its MicroLED displays that debuted as The Wall a few years ago. For 2022, the company says MicroLED displays are now “edge-free.” As always, the modular panel technology allows (extremely rich) customers to configure the screen size that works best for their situation – with a maximum of 178 inches.

Samsung’s ultra-luxurious MicroLED displays now have a borderless design.
Image: Samsung

Apart from the custom tasks, Samsung also offers ready-made models of MicroLED TVs in the sizes 99 and 110 inches. For 2022, the company will add an 89-inch MicroLED TV to that lineup. There’s no pricing information yet, but you can expect MicroLED to continue to cost a lot more than even the finest, largest OLEDs on the market.

As a refresher, MicroLED shares many features with OLED – the microscopic LEDs provide self-emissive light control at the pixel level – but doesn’t share the same drawbacks (such as the “organic” part that can limit the life of a panel or potentially burn in). It could go OLED if prices ever fall, but 2022 certainly won’t be the year that happens.

Samsung’s mini LED TVs now look even better when they’re bright

Since this is only the second year that Samsung has offered Mini LED 8K and 4K TVs as part of its “Neo QLED” line, the company isn’t making any drastic hardware changes. And it doesn’t really need until, as last year’s sets marked a significant improvement in contrast, black levels and game performance. Samsung says it has “raised the luminance scale from a 12-bit to a 14-bit backlight — delivering significantly more accurate brightness” for the 2022 models. It calls this 14-bit HDR mapping. And the TVs now use AI to analyze a scene and better separate the foreground subject from the background, creating a greater sense of depth.

In addition, AI also helps produce adaptive “shapes of light” with the backlight’s many dimming zones to reduce flare and improve brightness and contrast. Combined with 14-bit HDR mapping, Samsung says it will bring out details that weren’t as apparent on last year’s Neo QLED TVs and make details stand out more.

Unfortunately, Samsung still won’t come on board with Dolby Vision in 2022. Maybe next year.

Samsung says its 2022 Neo QLED TVs will have enhanced depth and expanded 14-bit HDR mapping.
Image: Samsung

For the PC gaming audience, Samsung says select models of its 2022 TV series will be capable of variable refresh rates up to 144 Hz — up from 120 Hz — and will be among the first TVs to support AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro. All HDMI ports on the more expensive TVs are 2.1 and support 4K 120Hz.

Most important of all, the company is adding a new, more comprehensive Gaming Hub to this year’s TVs as another part of the software improvements. My colleague Sean Hollister covers that position more here. On last year’s models, Samsung had a Game Bar that lets you see a game’s FPS or quickly adjust important next-gen gaming settings, but the new hub goes further and aims to be an all-in-one destination for both consoles and consoles. — as cloud gaming.

The more expensive TVs come with a bundle of audio features like Active Voice Amplifier, Object Tracking Sound (so it looks like sound is coming from the screen), and SpaceFit Sound for automatic calibration. But as always, Samsung prefers you pair its 2022 TVs with a range of soundbars and other home theater gear it’s also announcing at CES 2022. Stay tuned for more The edge for further coverage as all of the company’s newest products get closer to shipping in the coming months.

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