Australian TV Buying Guide: Sony, LG, Samsung And Panasonic

Image: Samsung

Thinking of picking up a new HD TV? Here are all the pricing, release dates, specs and features for each big brand’s 2017 TV lineup. This years TVs are pushing the envelope on picture quality and device connectivity, while pushing the form factor even further.

It's a familiar story on TV this year -- every company is pushing to go sleeker and more stylish, showing off TVs with brighter colours and blacker blacks and way more connectivity.

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?

LG 2017 TV Range

Dolby Vision HDR

Dolby Vision is a new proprietary HDR standard, which requires TV manufacturers to be certified with Dolby, as well as requiring specific hardware in the TV to operate. At the moment, LG is one of just a few manufacturers to support Dolby Vision HDR.

Image: LG

So what does it mean, exactly? Dolby Vision is arguably the best of a handful of HDR standards that include the open HDR-10 standard, Technicolor HDR and Hybrid Log Gamma. Dolby goes further than the conventional technology, recalibrating the screen for each scene in a movie for a top-quality picture. The downside, of course, is that it requires hardware support on all ends -- in your TV, in your Blu-ray player and in the content you're watching -- to actually get that benefit.

Wallpaper TV

LG led last year with its ultra slim 'picture-on-glass' design, and this year it's keeping up the trend with its new 4mm thick 'Wallpaper TV'. The signature super-thin TV comes with a 65" OLED screen, while the 77" model is a little thicker at 5.7mm. These super slim TVs are of course equipped with the best in picture quality -- supporting Active HDR with Dolby Vision.

Image: LG

WebOS 3.5

Last year, LG upgraded its built-in OS to 3.0 in a major upgrade. This year we're only going up half a step, but you'll still see some improvements on the 2016 system. This time it's all designed around streaming -- including Netflix, Stan, Amazon Video and Youtube -- with added support for 360 video.

WebOS 3.5 comes with a hardware update that means the whole system will run faster by up to 40 per cent if LG can be believed. It's also more secure -- the first smart TV platform to be certified secure under UL’s 900-1 Cybersecurity Assurance Program. In an age where insecure internet-connected appliances can pave the way for massive botnets that are capable of taking down the internet, this kind of security is an important upgrade.

Image: LG

Samsung 2017 TV Range

QLED Is The New SUHD

Last year we heard plenty about Samsung's quantum dot screen tech, and this year it's got a new, catchier name: QLED. The moniker stands for "quantum dot LED TV" in Samsung's own words, and looks noticeably similar to the more familiar OLED screen technology -- however the two are notably different types of screens.

While OLED (standing for 'organic light emitting diode') is a distinct type of technology that stands apart from LCD screens, QLED is still fundamentally an LCD screen -- albeit with quantum dot technology. So QLED is not, as it sounds, an upgrade from OLED -- rather it's an upgrade from Samsung's own SUHD branding. QLED does have some advantages over its OLED competitors, however -- such as a dramatic increase in peak brightness, something that makes a big difference in viewing HDR content.

Image: Samsung

Samsung's QLED range is all 4K, of course, and interestingly comes in both curved and flat panel models -- despite the diminishing demand for curved screens over the past few years.

More HDR, More 4K:

This year almost all of Samsung's TV range is 4K UHD, and every 4K TV will also be supporting HDR. Samsung has chosen to support the HDR10+ and HLG HDR formats, but it's not one of the manufacturers that's jumped on board with Dolby Vision. HDR 10+ is an extension on the open HDR 10 format, an upgrade that actually works quite similarly to Dolby Vision by allowing content to be encoded with dynamic metadata, thus improving HDR playback.

Image: Samsung

Of course as with other HDR formats, HDR 10+ has to be supported on the content side, and currently Samsung is the only manufacturer using it. However its adoption of the format is largely due to the company's support for an open, royalty-free standard -- which is not the case for the proprietary Dolby Vision format.


Panasonic 2017 TV Range

Master OLED

Panasonic is jumping into the OLED fray this year, joining the likes of LG with its impressive Master OLED range. In OLED screens, every pixel produces its own light, bypassing the need for the backlights that LCD screens require. With a 77-inch and 65-inch model, Panasonic's Master OLED screens are also, of course, 4K.

Image: Panasonic

While it's not unique in offering OLED screens, Panasonic claims its experience in technologically similar plasma televisions has helped it to fine-tune the new, top-of-the-line OLEDs. To this end, it's boasting two new quality-boosting features in its top-end TVs.

Absolute Black and Dynamic Blade

The two new features Panasonic hopes will set its premium TVs aside from the rest are its Absolute Black Filter and Dynamic Blade Sound. The former is just what it sounds like -- the filter works to reduce glare and improve the showing of blacks on screen. With greyish-looking blacks a known weakness with OLED screens, the Absolute Black Filter could prove a valuable asset for picky videophiles.

The Dynamic Blade Speaker is a fully integrated speaker that houses over 14 different speaker units ("eight woofers, four squawkers and two tweeters, plus a quad passive radiator to boost bass") in a slim profile. We're not sure if it'll be enough to warrant skipping the added sound system, however.

Image: Panasonic

Multi-HDR Support

While last year was the year when HDR really came into prominence, this year is the year of HDR format wars. We've already touched on Dolby Vision HDR, one of LG's supported formats, but Panasonic is jumping on a few different formats.

Firstly, Panasonic's HDR models are fully compatible with the open HDR10 standard -- used by content creators such as Netflix and Amazon Video. They're also compatible with the secondary Hybrid Log Gamma or HLG format developed in tandem by Japanese broadcaster NHK and the BBC. Panasonic is also introducing a 4K HDR gaming mode, with the goal being to improve performance and cut down on input lag when playing graphically intensive games -- something you'll be seeing a lot more of in newly upgraded consoles such as the PS4 Pro.


Sony 2017 TV Range

Bravia OLED

Panasonic isn't the only company jumping on board with OLED screens this year -- Sony is launching its first 4K HDR Bravia OLED this year, almost a decade after it first dabbled in the technology with a tiny, expensive, world-first OLED TV.

Incorporating an LG-manufactured panel, you can expect the same kind of visual quality as other OLEDs on the market. Sony's LCD panels will still benefit from the manufacturer's Slim Backlight Drive tech, of course, but the OLEDs offer a step up in colour and contrast.

Image: Sony

Acoustic Surface The addition that sets the Bravia OLEDs aside from its competitors is a technology Sony calls "Acoustic Surface" -- an audio system designed to generate sound directly from the screen itself. As the OLED screens don't require a backlight, the unconventional speaker technology is designed specifically for these new, high-end models. While it's an interesting proposition in theory, we're waiting to see how it'll work out in practice.

Image: Sony

HDR Compatibility While many of Sony's screens even in the more affordably priced ranges will support HDR, the top-line OLED and LCD screens will support Dolby's closed HDR format, Dolby Vision. We touched on Dolby Vision briefly above under LG, one of the few other TV manufacturers to produce hardware certified for Dolby's premium format.

How To Calibrate Your TV And Make It Look Better

So you've just bought yourself a new TV. Whether it's an entry level HD TV, a state-of-the-art 4K panel or something in-between, the second you set it up, there are a few small tweaks that you can do to make it look better than it already does. You can spend zero dollars on this or you can spend a couple of hundred, but the result that you get will be a noticeable improvement.

Read more

Complete 2017 TV Lineup

Sony TVs

  • A1E Series (65” and 55” Class model) 4K HDR OLED TV
  • X94E Series (75” Class model) 4K HDR TV
  • X93E Series (65” and 55” Class models) 4K HDR TV
  • X90E Series (75”, 65”, 55”, and 49” Class models) 4K HDR TV
  • X85E Series (75”, 65”, and 55”Class models) 4K HDR TV
  • X80E Series (49”, and 43” Class models) 4K HDR TV
  • W660E Series (49”, 40" and 32” Class models) Full HD LED HDR TV

Samsung TVs

    Q9F Series 4K QLEDs

  • QA88Q9FAMWXXY 88 inches, QHDR 1500
  • QA75Q9FAMWXXY 75 inches, QHDR 2000
  • QA65Q9FAMWXXY 65 inches, QHDR 2000

  • Q8C Series Curved Screen 4K QLEDs

  • QA75Q8CAMWXXY 75 inches, QHDR 1500
  • QA65Q8CAMWXXY 65 inches, QHDR 1500
  • QA55Q8CAMWXXY 55 inches, QHDR 1500

  • Q7F Series 4K QLEDs

  • QA75Q8CAMWXXY 75 inches, QHDR 1500
  • QA65Q8CAMWXXY 65 inches, QHDR 1500
  • QA55Q8CAMWXXY 55 inches, QHDR 1500

  • MU9000 Series Curved 4K UHD LEDs

  • UA65MU9000WXXY 65 inches, HDR 1000
  • UA55MU9000WXXY 55 inches, HDR 1000

  • MU8000 Series Curved 4K UHD LEDs

  • UA65MU8000WXXY 65 inches, HDR 1000
  • UA55MU8000WXXY 55 inches, HDR 1000

  • MU7000 Series 4K UHD LEDs

  • UA82MU7000WXXY 82 inches, HDR EXTREME
  • UA75MU7000WXXY 75 inches, HDR EXTREME
  • UA65MU7000WXXY 65 inches, HDR 1000
  • UA55MU7000WXXY 55 inches, HDR 1000

  • MU6400 Series 4K UHD LEDs

  • UA65MU6400WXXY 65 inches, HDR
  • UA55MU6400WXXY 55 inches, HDR
  • UA49MU6400WXXY 49 inches, HDR

  • MU6300 Series Curved 4K UHD LEDs

  • UA65MU6300WXXY 65 inches, HDR
  • UA55MU6300WXXY 55 inches, HDR

  • MU6100 Series 4K UHD LEDs

  • UA75MU6100WXXY 75 inches, HDR
  • UA65MU6100WXXY 65 inches, HDR
  • UA55MU6100WXXY 55 inches, HDR
  • UA50MU6100WXXY 50 inches, HDR
  • UA43MU6100WXXY 43 inches, HDR

  • M5500 Series HD LED

  • UA43M5500AWXXY 43 inches
  • UA32M5500AWXXY 32 inches

LG TVs

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Image: LG
Image: LG

Panasonic TVs

(click to enlarge)

Image: Panasonic

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!

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