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Samsung's 2019 4K TVs get a new Quantum processor, AI-powered sound, and Alexa and Google Assistant integration

By Ng Chong Seng - on 7 Jan 2019, 5:20pm

Samsung's 2019 4K TVs get a new Quantum processor, AI-powered sound, and Alexa and Google Assistant integration

In addition to AirPlay 2 support and an iTunes Movies and TV Shows app, we now have more details on some of the other new features coming to Samsung’s 2019 QLED TVs.

1.) Quantum Processor 4K, wider viewing angles

Like LG, Samsung’s latest 4K QLED TVs have a new processor and it’s getting a name: Quantum Processor 4K. The name isn’t a surprise really, since Samsung has already announced a Quantum Processor 8K for its Q900R QLED 8K TV at IFA last August.

Like the Quantum Processor 8K that uses machine learning to upscale any content to 8K-like quality, the Quantum processor for the new QLED 4K TVs also uses AI for better 4K upscaling quality. Versus last year, the latest QLED TVs offer much wider viewing angles, which I understand to be the result of an improved Ultra Black Elite anti-reflection coating and additional filters that help to gather and spread light more evenly across the panel. The narrow viewing angle is my chief issue with Samsung’s 2018 Q9F, so I’m glad the company has taken steps to address it.

Once again, you can expect Samsung’s 2019 QLED TVs to support HDR10+ and have 100% color volume. My understanding is that AI is also used for adjusting brightness.

2.) AI sound

The new Quantum processor also enables what Samsung calls “AI sound”. In broad strokes, the TV will analyze each content scene and the space where the TV is placed to dynamically adjust the audio. For movies, it’ll seek to highlight the surround effects; for news, the focus will be on voice clarity; and for sports, it’ll emphasis the background and the sound from the crowd to increase realism. Samsung claims this feature will work even better if you’ve a soundbar with speakers that offer more directionality.

3.) Gaming improvements

Samsung's QLED TVs last year were able to automatically detect game consoles, such as Xbox, PlayStation, and Steam, and turn on Game mode. This year, the TVs are able to detect the Nintendo Switch, too. Input lag has also been reduced to 15.4ms; and there's a dynamic black equalizer that increases the visibility of dark scenes (so you can see the enemy hiding in the corner) without sacrificing color accuracy and over-exposing the bright areas.

4.) Bixby 2.0, AI remote

One big change this year is Samsung's consolidation of all its AI efforts under the Bixby brand. The new QLED TVs come with a new version of Bixby for voice commands using the smart remote. Compared to version 1, Samsung says Bixby 2.0 is more responsive and more conversational.

But unlike before, there's now no need to press any button on the remote to interact with Bixby 2.0. And that's because it has built-in far-field microphone that's always waiting for the "Hi, Bixby" hotword. Judging from the demo, the remote can be meters away from the user and the mic will still be able to pick up the commands. I was told you can turn this feature off if you don't want to use it.

5.) Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant integration

Speaking of voice assistants, the new QLED TVs also support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant (hi, LG). In a nut, this means you can control the TV with voice through an Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker. For now, this integration is only for the 2019 models, but Samsung did say it might come to the 2018 lineup via a future firmware update.

6.) Ambient mode improvements

The 2018 QLED TVs have an Ambient mode that lets you put other content (e.g., your own photos, an interactive background) on the screen when the TV is turned off. This feature is vastly improved on the 2019 models, and now comes with 62 configs over 5 categories that you can choose from, up from last year's 12.

 

2019 lineup

There are three series in Samsung's 2019 4K QLED TV lineup: Q90R, Q70R, and Q60R.

The Q90R is the flagship of the three, and comes in 82, 75, and 65-inch screen sizes. This is a full-array local dimming model with the same number of LED zones as most of its 8K brethren. It has built-in Bixby, and supports the One Invisible Connection and no-gap wall mount.

The Q70R is also a FALD model, but it has local dimming fewer zones than the Q90R. It has built-in Bixby, and is available in 82, 75, 65, 55, and 49-inch screen sizes.

The Q60R is an edge LED dimming model, and comes in 82, 75, 65, 55, 49, and 43-inch screen sizes. It doesn't seem to support Bixby on the TV and One Invisible Connection.

 

First published on Jan 7, this article was updated on Jan 8 (U.S. time) at CES 2019 to include more details about the QLED 4K lineup.