Color Gets a Quantum Boost
A better TV picture isn’t just about resolution—it’s also about the depth and range of colors you can see.
This year, Samsung, LG and TCL are joining Sony in selling LCD TVs with a technology called “quantum dot,” that amps up the color palette and brightness. (They all have different flavors, and names, for this tech: LG’s ColorPrime, Samsung’s SUHD, TCL’s Color IQ and Sony’s Triluminos.)
The science behind this involves a film of nanocrystals that emits different colors. The technology has been around for decades, using toxic heavy metals, but only recently have manufacturers figured out how to produce it at scale in an environmentally friendly way.
I haven’t yet had an opportunity to test any quantum-dot TVs at home, but in displays on the CES show floor, the quantum dot TVs shine. Imagine a sunset that contains thousands of shades of pink, orange and red that your eye can see—but your old TV can only show 100. Quantum dot TVs are meant to bring video closer to reality.
Until now, the leading technology for providing better color and contrast has been OLED. It’s a technology that’s successful on phones, but has never been affordable to produce in larger screens. Only LG markets an OLED TV at the moment, and is pushing it at the show, but buyers have to pay a hefty premium. Samsung, on the other hand, has shown off OLED technology at CES for years, but currently is playing it down in favor of its quantum dot sets.
There’s just one problem with improving the color range of TVs: that wider color gamut it can display doesn’t really exist outside of movie theaters. Samsung has teamed up with Hollywood studios including Fox to remaster a few films like “Life of Pi” to stunning effect, but just as the 4K catalog is growing, so too will it take time for more content with such realistic color.