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21 Jan 2022

4 new TV technologies and features we're excited about in 2022

From smaller TVs to more sustainable ones, here's what impressed us at CES 2022
Samsung CES booth showing a large 8K QLED TV and a

TVs are an annual market - every year, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and the rest release hundreds of new TVs between them. Is it necessary? Not really, but that doesn't mean there aren't new features and technology to get excited about.

In fact, in an attempt to justify an entire revamp of their ranges every year, the manufacturers need to work hard to cram something to whet the appetite of jaded TV journalists like us and eager buyers looking to upgrade their tired old TV.

At CES (Consumer Electronic Show) the TV big hitters unveiled their 2022 secret weapons and we've picked out the four technologies and features we're excited to test.

This early year window is a prime time to buy a TV from 2021 - take a look at our TV reviews to find an excellent model for an excellent price

1. QD-OLED: a whole new screen


Nothing gets our blood pumping quite like a whole new screen technology. The QD-OLED is a bit of a Frankenstein's monster as it combines bits of a QLED TV with bits of an OLED (feel free to scream 'It's alive!' the first time you turn it on).

OLED screens are made up of self-emitting pixels, so each tiny section of screen is creating its own light. That tech has been revolutionary for TVs and catapulted OLEDs to pinnacle of most top TV lists.

QLED screens are backlit, so there's a layer of bulbs shining onto liquid crystals and quantum dots (the Q in QLED). The dots are designed to produce more vibrant colour and that's why they've been paired with OLED technology.

Adding more colour-producing layers onto OLED screens has the unfortunate side-effect of diminishing brightness. The light is literally passing through more layers and each one eats a bit more light. The QD-OLED strips away several of these layers in favour of one layer of quantum dots, so you should see dazzling colours with no cost to brightness.

Sony has already announced a QD-OLED, the A95K Master Series. Interestingly, the screen on it is made by Samsung, who won an innovation award for it at CES. So it's highly likely we'll see a QD-OLED from Samsung in 2022 as well.

Our expert lab tests reveal the best TVs to buy right now.

2. Smaller OLEDs at last

42-inch LG OLED C2 TV

Staying on the OLED train, we were delighted to see LG and Sony announce a 42-inch model. We know 43-inch TVs are still a popular size in the UK, but previously 48 inches was as small as OLEDs got.

Small TVs have struggled in our tests in recent years, too, partly because several manufacturers stopped making high-end or even mid-range 43-inch TVs. These two OLEDs look to be the most high-end small TVs we've seen for half a decade.

What's even more promising for these TVs is that they appear to have feature parity with bigger models. There's always the risk that smaller models will be pared back versions that pale in comparison to their larger cousins, so it's reassuring to see that's not the case.

Both models are likely to be costly, but will still be the cheapest OLEDs from either brand purely due to their size, and the costs will come down as we get deeper into 2022.

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3. Upward-firing speakers for some semblance of surround sound

Grill around the edge of Samsung Neo QLED TV TO sh

Oh how TV manufacturers love to make claims about TV surround sound. All kinds of software is utilised to try and turn stereo into surround sound and... it never works.

We've never got any real sense of surround sound from a TV, but that could change in 2022 with the advent of upward firing speakers.

You may have heard of Dolby Atmos (it's one of those pieces of software manufacturers are always banging on about) - its job is to send sound over your head. Imagine a helicopter soaring past or a flock of birds.

It's been a fixture of TVs for years but, as we know, the simulation doesn't work. Having speakers pointing upwards means the TVs don't need to simulate the effect any more.

Finally having some speakers pointing in the right direction isn't a guarantee that the overhead effect will be good, but it's far more likely to be.

The Panasonic LZ2000 OLED and Samsung's top-end Neo QLED TV both have these upward firing speakers, so it's hardly a common feature. But, as ever, these high-end features always end up filtering down into cheaper ranges.

Sometimes struggle to hear dialogue? Find out how to hear your TV better.

4. More sustainable TVs

There's nothing sustainable about revamping your entire TV line every year, but at least manufacturers are committed to using recycled materials and cutting down on energy use.

Sony announced some of its TVs are made with SORPLAS, a Sony developed material made up of 99% recycled plastic. It didn't say how many models use it or how much of the TV was made of SORPLAS, but apparently its reduced the use of virgin plastic by 60%.

It's said it's using less packaging to ship its TVs, too, which will help cut down waste.

Samsung is continuing to cut down on battery use in its remotes. Last year it announced the One Remote could be recharged using solar energy, or energy from your lights at home. In 2022 the battery will also recharge using leftover wi-fi. Samsung also pledged to increase the amount of recycled plastic it uses to make its products up to 30% by 2024, up from from 5% in 2021.

Panasonic's CES pledge was broader. CEO Yuki Kusumi said his company would introduce a range of technologies targeting efficiency in its electronics with the aim of being a net zero company by 2030.

Changes to energy efficiency ratings in 2021 meant most TVs went from A and B ratings down to F and G. We're looking forward to seeing how these new Panasonic technologies bring its TVs back to the right end of the efficiency scale.

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