Here at Kagoo, we do like ourselves a big television. We’ve fallen in love with beautiful 65” OLED TVs, 75” QLED displays fit for an art gallery, even a 100” laser TV (everything is better with lasers!) However Samsung’s newest consumer tech looks like it’s going to beat all of those - meet ‘The Wall’.
Samsung have managed to craft a truly impressive beast - a bespoke, modular ‘MicroLED’ television that measures up to 293 inches! Yes, you read that correctly - this is an absolute monster of a television! Designed for those who really want a unique centrepiece for their living room, The Wall is a luxury beyond luxury - and we love it!
All for One, and One for All
The secret to the Wall is modularity - you aren’t looking at a single unbroken screen, but instead a collection of borderless panels, seamlessly linked together and working in unison as a single display. It’s similar to how digital signage works, such as the famous adverts in Piccadilly Circus or Times Square.
However Samsung’s tech has taken that to a whole new level: individual panels are used as building blocks - with a standard panel measuring about 36” diagonally. Unlike digital signage, these panels are designed to be far higher-definition, fit seamlessly, and be comfortably viewed up close.
This modular nature allows The Wall to effectively take any form you may want - from a standard 16:9 widescreen format, to something more unusual like a horizontal ‘smartphone’ configuration, or even an asymmetrical alignment for some truly funky visuals!
The Wall was originally announced back in 2018, but the proper home consumer models will be available to order from Samsung later this year. Samsung has split the tech into two tiers:
Smaller ‘fitted’ versions (75”, 88” & 93”) which have a frame like a standard TV, and 4k resolutions.
Larger bespoke models - these come in 110”, 150” and the aforementioned 293”. These will support 8k resolutions for top-quality visuals.
The sub-100” models will function similar to a normal television, while the larger versions of The Wall will have to be custom designed and installed by Samsung’s engineers. Whichever model you get, you’ll not only be getting an incredible screen - you’ll also be buying into the cutting edge of television display technology!
What’s the damage?
As you’d expect, such an enormous, cutting-edge television isn’t going to be cheap. There aren’t any official prices available from Samsung yet, but reports put the price of the 150” model at an eye-watering £100,000. The final sum could easily exceed that, when you factor in custom design costs, shipping, installation… not to mention the insurance costs on such a giant screen!
Begun, the LED War has
The sheer size of The Wall may be it’s most obviously-impressive characteristic, but under the hood hides an even more exciting technology: ‘MicroLEDs’. This is tipped to be the next evolution in display technology - a competitor to LGs OLED TVs with the potential to beat the industry leaders. Ultra-thin, ultra-bright, with the best visual quality of any television on the market!
The principle behind MicroLEDs is similar to OLED - instead of having a bulky backlight to shine light through pixels and onto the screen, they use ‘self-emissive’ LEDs. These give off their own light, which allows the TV to be:
Thinner - because there is no need for a backlight, TVs can shrink as thin as 5mm.
Better Contrast - individual pixels have their own light, meaning they can be turned on and off without affecting their neighbours. This stops light ‘bleed’ lightening dark parts of the screen.
Lower Power Consumption - backlights drain a lot of power, so removing them significantly lowers the juice required for the TV.
Unfortunately there are a couple of downsides to OLED technology - primarily the limited life of the ‘Organic’ LEDs (which can cause the display to dim after extended use) and a limited brightness level.
With that in mind, Samsung is positioning MicroLEDs as the next step after OLED: they boast their non-organic LEDs are more energy efficient, have a longer lifespan and are capable of 4-times the brightness of a single organic LED. That’s some serious claims right there!
The Future’s Bright… and expensive
Are MicroLEDs right to lay claim to OLED’s crown of ‘top display technology’? Right now, it’s hard to judge because the tech is still so new. Samsung has been quick to demonstrate their MicroLEDs at tech shows like CES, and the reports have been very promising indeed! Those lucky enough to view the tech at CES 2020 earlier this year praised the high brightness, as well as the super-high picture quality - impressive on any size screen, and overwhelming so on a 150” monster!
However right now this is mostly hypothetical: The Wall is effectively the market’s first introduction to MicroLED tech, and is aimed squarely at the ultra-rich and large businesses - outside of the buying power of almost everyone. This is set to change within the next few years - Samsung will be releasing their 75” model later in 2020, and Sony are set to launch similar MicroLED TVs with their ‘Crystal LED’ technology. Moreover, other tech firms such as LG and Apple are reported to be experimenting with MicroLED and modular display architectures - no doubt we will soon see the fruits of their research appearing on the market.
They won't be cheap though! New technology is always expensive, and Samsung aren’t bucking that trend anytime soon. The Wall is eye-wateringly expensive, even taking into account the enormous size. According to reports this is due to the prohibitively high costs of producing enough LEDs to fill such a large area - not only is a single MicroLED more expensive to build than an Organic LED, but one panel of The Wall uses three times the LEDs of a comparatively-sized OLED TV.
Of course, with time these costs will reduce - but don’t expect bargain-bin prices. 293 inches of pin-sharp visuals will never come for cheap. Start saving those pennies!