If there’s one brand that’s an example of the rapid rise of the powerhouse South Korean electronics industry, it’s Samsung. Part of a gigantic, 80-year-old company, Samsung Electronics has spent the past half a century setting the stage for the success it has today. For many years, Samsung has provided the screens and the smarts behind some of our most iconic devices – from the iPhone and iPad to the vast range of LCD televisions that came to dominate the market when the technology (pioneered and perfected by Samsung) quickly outshone the once-dominant plasma screen. There are probably more Samsung screens in homes, businesses and pockets around the world than any other brand, their Android-powered phones are among the best in the business, and the company recently overtook Intel as the largest maker of silicon chips on the planet. Make no mistake, this company is massive.
Size doesn’t always mean success, of course – it’s something that requires consumer trust and reliability. Samsung’s computer monitors have long been famous for their quality and staying power, and it’s that philosophy taken over to consumer televisions that’s made Samsung the world’s top TV brand. In Australia, Samsung has nearly 29% of the market, nearly double that of Sony and miles ahead of South Korean competitor LG. You don’t get that far in front without doing something very right – so what is Samsung delivering that causes consumers to leave other brands in the dust?
What Makes Samsung TVs Different?
At the core of the Samsung TV experience – no matter what the price point, screen size or feature set – is the fact that each and every LCD panel in Samsung’s TVs is made by Samsung itself, in a factory that’s been honed to perfection by years of making big and small screens for some of the planet’s most iconic brands. Samsung knows LCD, which is probably why they’ve decided to go completely against the trend that we’re seeing from other brands at the top end. Samsung has no OLED televisions in their range. Not a single one.
Samsung may well turn out to have made a very good call on that, too. OLED is incredible for many reasons, especially for fans of 4K HDR movies. But it’s an expensive technology and, more importantly, is not especially friendly to everyday TV content like news and sports, where on-screen logos can, over time, “burn in” to the screen from constant use (so you see a shadow of them on top of the picture even when they’re not there).
There are ways to mitigate that with OLED, but Samsung knows they don’t mirror normal usage. That’s why their top-end “QLED” televisions come with a 10-year “no screen burn” guarantee.
But wait – QLED? Is that like OLED? Actually, no – it’s a marketing term that refers to Samsung’s “quantum dot” LCD display tech, which has been acclaimed as a true evolution in LCD screen quality. Combined with full-array backlighting, Samsung’s QLED screens can easily go head to head with the best OLED screens in terms of sheer picture quality.
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The Samsung User Interface
Unlike LG with webOS and Sony with Android – both originally designed for tablet computers – Samsung uses their own “Smart Hub” as the user interface to all their TVs, and it’s a system you’re either going to click with or not. Perhaps bearing more resemblance to the user interface found on a Nintendo game console, it’s very different to its competitors from the first glance. It’s colourful, deliberately user-friendly and easy to use. It’s designed to merge TV functions with everyday Internet stuff like Facebook, Twitter and Skype – Samsung wants it to be your main internet portal when you’re on your couch, rather than you having to grab a phone or tablet to look something up on a web site.
With the sheer dominance of Samsung as a brand, app support is comprehensive – though unlike Android TV, it does mean that an app has to be developed specifically for the brand, counting out some services that are still in the process of getting apps developed and rolled out (such as Kayo Sports).
Streaming TV apps are bundled together for ease of access, though many users may find it simpler to pick up an external streaming box to make sure they’re covered – Apple TV would be a good choice, or the latest Telstra TV if you’re a Telstra Broadband customer.
Oh, and Samsung’s TV software can also control your fridge and washing machine. Because you’ve always wanted to do that… right?
Samsung’s Premium range of TVs also offer direct support for Steam Link (for streaming PC games) and in 2019 will be the only brand offering an app for Apple’s iTunes movie and TV store.
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A Wide Range of Prices
Samsung has a single TV currently in their budget range for Australia – like all their TVs, it’s a 4K model, too. But it’s their “premium” range that’s the best place to start looking, with better screens (supporting high refresh rates for a smoother picture).
That Premium range also gives you access to Samsung Care, a program that offers everything from free replacements for remote controls and cables, free home support visits and discounted parts. Ideally you’d be wanting to enjoy your new TV without ever needing to call for customer support – and chances are, that’s exactly what will happen. But it’s great to have that peace of mind knowing that if anything does go wrong, you’re covered not only by the retailer, but also the manufacturer itself.
The Premium range starts at just under $2000 for a 55-inch model, heading up towards $7000 for the impossibly huge 82-inch behemoth. It’s this range that represents the best value; the QLED models, while incredible, are very expensive, with the 88-inch flagship costing an eye-watering $30,000 (55-inch models are far more reasonably priced, though!)
On Top for A Reason
It’s clear that consumers love Samsung TVs, and that’s the result of a combination of innovation and reliability. For anyone looking for a 4K TV that’ll last them for years, Samsung is an obvious choice if you’re as thrilled with the end result as nearly a third of Australians clearly are.