The most innovative TV tech of 2022

The world of TV technology has always been pretty cutthroat as the race for bigger, brighter, clearer, darker, and more powerful pushes ever forward to blow our minds with every pixel. The past decade alone has seen many innovations in televisions: 4K and 8K resolution, OLED, QLED, mini-LED, micro-LED, High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, and Dolby Atmos surround sound — that’s a lot of progress since 2012.

And whether you’ve recently purchased a new TV or are just starting to Google around for the latest and greatest panels on the market, you may be aware of the two major frontrunners of television tech: OLED and QLED. While the former, championed by LG, is considered the leader in terms of black levels and contrast, the latter, led by Samsung, has been wearing the crown for unparalleled brightness. But 2022 may go down as the year that leveled the playing field or, rather, smashed it together, with the introduction of QD-OLED, a combination of the best of both worlds that has brought us some of the most stunning and beautiful televisions we’ve ever seen. But this year’s developments in TV tech also go beyond just the QLED/OLED battle and have felt the most exciting in years. Here’s what got TV nerds’ (ahem, enthusiasts’) juices flowing in 2022.

Winner: QD-OLED panel technology

QD-OLED panel technology

Developed by Samsung Display and implemented in the award-winning Samsung S95B and Sony A95K QD- TVs, QD-OLED panel technology stands out as the most innovative move in TV tech for 2022. The moment I got my first look behind closed doors at CES 2022, I knew we were in for an exciting year. On its face, QD-OLED may seem like an obvious and simple approach — pair quantum dots with OLED — but in practice, its implementation is much more complicated and, thus, impressive.

In QLED TVs, quantum dots enhance the light output of LED backlights, which is later handled by a color filter that splits the light into red, green, and blue subpixels. In QD-OLED, the quantum dots have a heavier lift, serving as sub-pixels themselves. That means that the red and green light they emit must stand independently. Paired with the Blue OLED light that activates them, the Quantum Dots are responsible for two-thirds of the image you see on a QD-OLED screen.

And what an image it is! QD-OLED tech increases color gamut and color brightness to a degree not possible with QLED or OLED technology. Thanks to QD-OLED, we can see colors that we’ve never seen on TVs before. The deep black levels of OLED are mixed with the brightness levels only seen on QLED TVs, giving us the best of both worlds.  No wonder QD-OLED TVs like the S95B and A95K are universally hailed as the best you can buy.

Runner up: Hisense U8H 4K HDR ULED TV

The Hisense U8H.
The Hisense U8H 4K HDR ULED TV. Zeke Jones/Digital Trends

Over and over again as I reviewed the Hisense U8H TV, I kept asking myself, “how is this even possible?” No TV shattered my price-to-performance expectations quite like this TV, and at this point, I don’t see how even Hisense could outdo itself in the next few years.

What makes the Hisense U8H so impressive is its ability to produce incredibly high-contrast images, with intensely bright HDR highlights and colors set against inky black levels. Some credit goes to the mini-LED backlight system at work in this TV — tech that normally begs a big price premium on its own — but the rest is some kind of unearthly magic.

The Hisense U8H’s performance on its own makes it one of the best TVs you can buy in 2022, but its price makes it a slam-dunk choice for videophiles on a budget. You can score a 65-inch Hisense U8H for about $1,000, which is an incredible deal, considering TVs with comparable performance from brands like Sony, Samsung, and LG usually go for double that amount.

Honorable mention: 144Hz Gaming on TVs

Video game being played on the TCL 6-Series Google TV.
The TCL 6-Series features a crazy 144Hz refresh rate.

High refresh rates were once the exclusive purview of PC gaming monitors, but in 2022 several TV models, such as TCL’s beautiful 6-Series, offered up to 144Hz refresh rates, bringing ultra-smooth graphics performance to living room-sized screens for the first time.

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