Thinking of picking up a new HD TV? Here are all the pricing, release dates, specs and features for each big brand’s 2016 TV lineup. This years TVs are brighter (and darker, but only in the places you need it most) and just that little bit smarter.
With Netflix and other TV and film producers starting to bring out content in HDR, or High Dynamic Range format, it's no surprise that this year's TV range from each producer is putting a focus on screens that can display this content to its best. Screens are also getting thinner, with some only a few credit cards thick, while companies like Samsung are trying (almost successfully) to get rid of the screen's outer bezel entirely.
While many features have been retained from last year, let’s take a quick look at what’s new for TV screens this year.
What's New This Year?
Picture-On-Glass: Ultra Slim OLED Design:
Picture on glass is a new technology that will be shipping with LG's flagship OLED TVs, delivering a high quality image on an even thinner body. The tech isn't so much about delivering better picture quality but, as is a theme with many of this year's new TVs, it's so much sleeker than other models with similar quality.
The screen consists of the OLED panel directly mounted on a piece of glass, totalling an incredible thinness of only 2.57mm.
webOS 3.0: Back And Even Better than Before:
LG's 2016 range of TVs will receive an updated version of the company's webOS, reaching version 3.0. Among other things, 3.0 improves the operating system's speed, and features enhanced mobile connectivity, more content options (including Netflix in HDR) and remote features.
It introduces three new Magic features, which aren't actually magic but will probably be pretty useful all the same: Magic Zoom for magnifying objects and letters, Magic Mobile Connection which will connect to your smartphone through the LG TV Plus App and an improved Magic Remote, which is designed with programmable buttons for use with different set-top boxes.
HDR Meets 4K UHD OLED For Optimum Quality:
Where image quality is concerned, LG's 2016 TVs are all about HDR -- increasing colour range and contrast detail for a better image that's closer to how the human eye perceives the world. HDR is more dependent on the content being displayed than the display itself, however, but LG seems set to make its TVs the go-to for getting the best out of it.
Its HDR display technology boasts better graduation of colour shades and enhanced contrast between bright and dark. Of course, HDR content isn't all that common at the moment, but Amazon has already started shooting HDR content for its streaming service in the US, and Netflix is soon to follow.
8K: Coming To Market (If You Can Afford It):
LG's consumer-ready 8K screen is said to be coming to market at the second half of this year, though we as yet have no idea what it'll cost or whether it will actually make it to Australia. The 98" Super UHD TV is a beautiful bit of overkill, though seeing as a strong case for getting even a 4K screen still has yet to be made, I'm not sure what anyone is going to do with an 8K TV. Still, if extravagance is your style (and you have deep pockets), LG's UH9800 8K TV might be the perfect match for you.
Bezel-less Screens: Full Immersive Viewing Experience: Okay, Samsung's bezel-less screens aren't completely bezel-less, but they're getting close -- all in the name of a more 'immersive' viewing experience. Samsung is also sticking to its curved screens, not only continuing to offer them, but taking that feature into account in the design.
Samsung's new top-range TVs are designed to look good from any angle (as the shape makes it hard to wall-mount), even reducing the use of screws from the back of the TV.
Samsung Smart Hub: A Centrepiece For Your Smart Home:
Samsung's keen on smart things and its Smart Hub is just the latest, meant to combine all your (compatible) external consoles and players, streaming services and apps into one easy interface -- with just one remote.
Samsung is aiming to streamline your navigation of everything from games to apps to live TV -- though whether it is as easy to use as they claim still has yet to be seen.
Quantum Dot Display: More Than Just Buzzwords:
Samsung's SUHD TVs boast a 'cadmium-free, 10-bit Quantum dot display' that's every bit as high-tech as it sounds. Quantum dots are nano-scale crystals that emit light at a very specific wavelength, something that has long been used by the scientific community.
What this means is that these Quantum dots can emit very precise colours without the need for filters -- which means they use less power and emit less heat. As with 2016's other UHD TVs, this means that Samsung's Quantum dot TVs offer a good HDR experience, with high levels of contrast between the lights and darks.
HDR Is The New 4K:
Like the other manufacturers, Sony is making a big push for HDR across their range this year, coinciding with Netflix's plans to add 100 hours of HDR-ready content by August this year.
It makes use of Sony's new backlighting technologies to dynamically lighten and darken certain sections of the screen. As with the others TVs, however, it is dependent on the content being displayed on the screen as much as the screen itself, but Sony expects to be seeing more HDR compatible content cropping up on TV, Blu-ray titles and internet streaming services.
Slim Backlight Drive: Dynamic Lighting And Dimming:
Sony's Slim Backlight Drive is the driving force behind its claims to HDR greatness, boasting as much about the TVs' slim profile as it does about the picture quality. The technology uses a grid-array backlighting structure, designed to be able to boost peak brightness and black levels with precision, and enhance contrast for ideal HDR viewing.
The package has been slimmed down considerably from previous TVs with similar technology, as Sony opines that "a television should be great to look at in any environment," and that a TV featuring the Slim Backlight Drive "sits close to the wall and virtually disappears into it, leaving behind little but the picture itself." While Sony is employing a little bit of hyperbole here, its TVs nevertheless have been designed with a slim and clean profile.
Ultra HD Premium: Better Than 4K
Panasonic's flagship DX902 4K TV has been certified 'Ultra HD Premium' -- in case you were wondering what the next step up from 4K was, without going all the way to the ultimately useless extravagance of 8K. Ultra HD Premium is a badge bestowed by the UHD Alliance for certain TVs that meet the specifications of being a 'premium' 4K TV.
The resolution isn't any different from your standard UHD TVs, but the 'premium' badge requires high quality colour, various audio standards and (surprise, surprise) HDR.
Firefox OS 2.0: Web Apps And More:
All Panasonic's smart TVs run Firefox OS, along with Panasonic's 'Beyond Smart' interface. The OS is due for an update later this year, however, which promises a heap of new features such as Web Apps with curated TV or web content with everything from games and weather to news and VOD optimised for Panasonic's smart TV range.
The update also promises connectivity across multiple platforms running Firefox, such as a "send to TV" feature that sounds like it will operate similarly to Google's Chromecast, sharing Web content from iOS or Android.
Colour And Contrast: Films As Hollywood Intended
Panasonic cites a close working relationship with the film industry as the impetus for a number of new, quality-enhancing technologies included in the flagship DX900 TVs. One of these is a new colour compensation algorithm, which allows the TV to reproduce hues and tones within the Rec. 709 standard space at any level of brightness -- for enhanced colour accuracy. The DX900 also features a new honeycomb-structure local dimming technology to enhance brightness and bring out details in high-contrast scenes.
Complete 2015 TV Lineup
- X9400D Series 75 inches 4K HDR TV -- price and availability TBC
- X9300D KD65X9300D 65 inch 4K HDR TV, available late April -- RRP $5,999
- X9300D KD55X9300D 55 inch 4K HDR TV, available late April -- RRP $3,999
- X8500D KD85X8500D 85 inch 4K HDR TV, availability TBC -- RRP $14,999
- X8500D KD75X8500D 75 inch 4K HDR TV, available early May -- RRP $7,499
- X8500D KD65X8500D 65 inch 4K HDR TV, available late April -- RRP $4,499
- X8500D KD55X8500D 55 inch 4K HDR TV, available late April -- RRP $2,999
- W750D Series 43 inch Full HD LCD TV -- price and availability TBC
- W750D Series 49 inch Full HD LCD TV -- price and availability TBC
- W650D Series 55 inch Full HD LCD TV -- price and availability TBC
- W600D Series 32 inch HD LCD TV -- price and availability TBC
- Samsung Series 9 KS9800 88-inch SUHD TV – Available July 2016
- Samsung Series 9 KS9500 78-inch SUHD TV – Available July 2016
- Samsung Series 9 KS9500 65-inch SUHD TV – RRP $6,299, available now
- Samsung Series 9 KS9500 55-inch SUHD TV – RRP $4,299, available now
- Samsung Series 9 KS9005 75-inch SUHD TV – RRP $10,999, available July 2016
- Samsung Series 9 KS9000 65-inch SUHD TV – RRP $5,999, available now
- Samsung Series 9 KS9000 55-inch SUHD TV – RRP $3,999, available now
- Samsung Series 8 KS8500 65-inch SUHD TV – RRP $5,799, available now
- Samsung Series 8 KS8500 55-inch SUHD TV – RRP $3,899, available now
- Samsung Series 8 KS8000 65-inch SUHD TV – RRP $5,499, available now
- Samsung Series 8 KS8005 60-inch SUHD TV – RRP $4,499, available June
- Samsung Series 8 KS8000 55-inch SUHD TV – RRP $3,599, available now
Samsung Series 7 KU7500 78-inch UHD TV – available August 2016
- Samsung Series 7 KU7500 65-inch UHD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 7 KU7500 55-inch UHD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 7 KU7000 65-inch UHD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 7 KU7000 55-inch UHD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 7 KU7000 49-inch UHD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 6 KU6000 70-inch UHD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 6 KU6000 65-inch UHD TV – RRP $3,899, available now
- Samsung Series 6 KU6000 60-inch UHD TV – RRP $2,999, available May
- Samsung Series 6 KU6000 55-inch UHD TV – RRP $2,199, available now
- Samsung Series 6 KU6000 50-inch UHD TV – RRP $1,899, available May
- Samsung Series 6 KU6000 40-inch UHD TV – RRP $1,399, available now
- Samsung Series 5 K5500 49-inch HD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 5 K5500 40-inch HD TV – available July 2016
- Samsung Series 5 K5500 32-inch HD TV – available July 2016
LG (click to enlarge)
- TH-65DX900U 65 inches, available late May -- RRP $7149
- TH-58DX900U 58 inches, available late May -- RRP $5799 DX740 Series
- TH-65DX740U 65 inches, available now -- RRP $4599
- TH-58DX740U 58 inches, available now -- RRP $3299
- TH-50DX740U 50 inches, available now -- RRP $2649 DX700 Series
- TH-65DX700A 65 inches, available now -- RRP $4599
- TH-58DX700A 58 inches, available now -- RRP $3299
- TH-50DX700A 50 inches, available now -- RRP $2649 DX640 Series
- TH-65DX640A 65 inches, available now -- RRP $4199
- TH-55DX640A 55 inches, available now -- RRP $2999 DX600 Series
- TH-55DX600U 55 inches, available late May -- RRP $2649
- TH-49DX600U 49 inches, available late July -- RRP $2199
- TH-40DX600U 40 inches, available late May -- RRP $1749 DS610 Series
- TH-65DS610U 65 inches, available now -- RRP $3649
- TH-55DS610U 55 inches, available late May -- RRP $2299
- TH-50DS610U 50 inches, available now -- RRP $1899
- TH-40DS610 40 inches, available now -- RRP $1449 D400 Series
- TH-49D400A 49 inches, available now -- RRP $1449
- TH-40D400A 40 inches, available late May -- RRP $1099
- TH-32D400A 32 inches, available now -- RRP $549
We've focused our coverage on the four big mainstream TV brands currently operating in Australia. If anyone wants to pitch in and offer their opinion on another manufacturer -- be it cut-priced or enthusiast -- let us know all about it in the comments!