While we previewed Samsung’s flagship Neo QLED 4K and 8K back in January, all of the company’s 2021 TVs are now up for order directly from Samsung. Comparing the QLEDs — which start at just $549.99 — year over year, you’ll notice some small differences with subtle improvements, including a sleeker design, better audio and a high-end 4K picture. Neo QLEDs will deliver the biggest improvement and aim to take on OLEDs from Sony and LG.
Here’s the breakdown of Samsung’s 2021 lineup.
QLED 4K delivers high-end 4K viewing
Not much is changing with Samsung’s core QLED 4K family. For 2021, the company is releasing three models: the Q60A, Q70A and Q80A.
The entry-level Q60A starts at just $549.99 for a 43-inch TV and also includes 50-inch, 55-inch, 60-inch, 65-inch, 70-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch sizes. Like last year’s Q60T, this is Samsung’s bread-and-butter 4K QLED. It promises a full 4K UHD resolution, courtesy of Dual LED backlighting and a new Quantum Processor 4K Lite. This year, the processor has a focus on image reproduction and upscaling of non-4K content to a higher resolution. At $549.99 for the 43-inch size, we expect the Q60A to be on par with other midrange 4K TVs.
- Q60A QLED 4K (starting at $549.99; samsung.com)
The Q70A not only features a higher-end design with thinner bezels and a bold center stand, but it also has enhanced AI capabilities to further improve picture quality. That’s thanks to a full Quantum Processor 4K, which will also likely allow the smart interface to glide along faster. Most importantly, the Q70A is poised to sit in the high-end area of 4K TVs. It will meet the full 4K UHD resolution bar with support for 120 Hz motion and, like the Q60A, feature Dual LED backlighting. It starts at $949.99 and is available in 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch sizes.
- Q70A QLED 4K (starting at $949.99; samsung.com)
The Q80A should deliver the best contrast and true-to-life experience out of the QLED trio. That’s thanks to Direct Full Array backlighting, which is essentially more lights that can dynamically adjust for any given imaging. It’s the closest spec to Mini LED without being Mini LED, and we tested it on the Q80T in 2020, which this model is succeeding. Additionally, with full Object Tracking Sound in town, Samsung aims to use virtualization technology and upfiring speakers to place audio in relation to the motion on the screen. This way if a car zooms from left to right, the sound will follow. On paper, the Q80A should be a step above the Q60A and Q70A while falling just behind the QN85A Neo QLED in terms of picture quality. It’s available in 55-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and 85-inch sizes.
- Q80A QLED 4K (starting at $1,299.99; samsung.com)
Neo QLED aims to raise the bar with Mini LED
As we wrote back in January after some time with 4K and 8K models, Neo QLED isn’t a huge step up for Samsung’s core TV technology. You still have backlighting pushing through a Quantum Dot filter to create an image, along with a processor. But instead of larger backlights, Samsung is using Mini LEDs, which means more can be packed in. More LEDs, in turn, deliver more control over the image.
Samsung’s not the first to adopt Mini LED; TCL uses them on the 5-, 6- and 8-Series models. The visuals we saw looked fantastic — improved brightness with loads of vibrancy and the ability to hit a sharp black level, when the image called for it. More noticeable was less light leakage, and that’s a direct impact from more light sources being behind the image. Controlling the Mini LEDs and the visual reproduction is a Neo Quantum Processor, which uses AI to produce an accurate image while scaling the resolution.
Neo QLEDs won’t come cheap, but they look sharp and should better compete against OLED options from Sony and LG. You get your pick from four models: two 4Ks and two 8Ks. The entry-level Q85A introduces Mini LEDs and the new design language. Q90A features all that, plus it boasts improved object tracking sound, which means better virtualization for creating audio in a room. Samsung’s two Neo QLED 8Ks deliver resolution at up to 8K and come with a big premium price tag.
More features across the board
Along with new models, Samsung is launching new features for nearly all of its QLED and Neo QLED models.
We’re especially excited about the Game Bar function, which makes it easy to switch screen ratios and adjust pertinent settings. It should make gaming on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (as well as previous-generation consoles) a real treat. Notably, Samsung QLED is the official TV of the Xbox Series X in the United States. And if you’re focused on a gaming-centric experience, the Q70A, Q80A, Q85A, Q90A, Q800A and QN900A all feature AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for a buttery smooth experience.
Smart Trainer, which uses a webcam plugged in to track your workouts, will be available on the Q70A, Q80A, Q85A, Q90A, Q800A and QN900A. It was a pretty fun experience in our testing, and it really lets you do more with just one device. Fitplan, Obé Fitness, Barre3, Calm, Jillian Michaels and Echelon all support the Smart Trainer functionality.
Samsung’s also hoping to move your love of TikTok to the big screen. A TikTok app will be arriving on 2021 TVs from Samsung, including the flippable Sero. And we finally have some good news about the Samsung Sero (which has a motor to flip it from vertical to horizontal): Support for AirPlay 2 and iOS devices will be rolling out soon. This means that with a connected iPhone, as you rotate the phone, the screen will follow.
Lastly, Samsung has an accessory for its popular lifestyle TV, the Frame, which looks like a piece of art with a thick bezel all around that resembles a frame. My Shelf will snap into the left or right of the Frame to deliver a new accent piece. This device will allow you to store a small streaming device or even a vase.
We’re pretty excited to see Samsung’s 2021 family of TVs finally all up for order, with most shipping this month. Both the 4K and 8K Neo QLEDs delivered a great picture during our hands-on experience with them, and we’re eager to put them through the paces against OLEDs and higher-end LEDs from the likes of LG, Sony, Vizio and TCL.
The core 4K QLEDs seem to be similar to last year and should deliver a rich 4K experience with sleek designs and a nice smart interface. The latter brings a lot of anticipation for the Game Bar function and built-in fitness smarts. Eagle-eyed readers should also note discounts currently available on the 2020 QLED family — Q60T, Q70T, Q80T and Q90T included.