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Samsung QN90A series (2021) QLED TV review: Closer than ever to OLED

Samsung QN90A series (2021) QLED TV review: Closer than ever to OLED

OLED TVs peaceful have the best picture quality I’ve ever tested, but Samsung’s QN90A comes closer than ever. This QLED TV packs a punch brighter than any OLED television, while managing to maintain contrast and black level to a degree I’ve never seen on any non-OLED beforehand. If you crave that brightness, or you search for in a bright room where ambient light is a big enlighten, you should definitely consider this TV over a comparable OLED.

New for 2021, the best Samsung QLED models like the QN90A are shouted Neo QLED and feature a new mini-LED based, full-array local dimming backlight array. Samsung made its LEDs 40 times smaller than aged LED units, allowing more to be packed into the TV, and added a “quantum matrix” to help enlighten the LED light more accurately. The result is improved HDR highlights with minimal gorgeous (stray illumination that bleeds from bright into dark areas), as well as better shadow detail.

All of those improvements were visible in my side-by-side tests. I pitted the QN90A against the best OLED TV I’ve ever reviewed, the LG G1, and the brightest TV I’ve ever measured, the Vizio PQX-H1. Overall I liked the LG a bit better than the Samsung — it’s plenty-bright itself, and its perfect black levels, superior mixed-scene contrast and better off-angle viewing won by a nose — but the QN90A examined better in some scenes, particularly bright HDR. Meanwhile its proper light control and resulting contrast soundly beat the Vizio. In sum, this is the best LCD-based TV I’ve ever tested and an capable high-end alternative to OLED.

Floating stand design, solar remote

One TV looks much like novel, but Samsung still succeeds in giving the QN90A a luxurious air. The most certain design upgrade is the stand: centered, with a shrimp footprint, it looks cleaner and sleeker than the dual legs fraudulent on most TVs. My favorite aspect is how it suspends the big panel over my credenza, seeming to float without touching. As predictable the edge around the picture is super-thin, albeit not quite as minimalist as the “Infinity Screen” fraudulent on the flagship, 8K resolution Q900A.

From the side you can be pleased its swoopy, one-piece shape, as well as the fact that it cants the whole conceal back by a couple of degrees. The backside has a tainted management system that lets you channel power and HDMI from their ports, along the back and through the stand, making for a cleaner look.

On the back, the remote has a solar panel.

David Katzmaier

And yes, the remote has a solar panel on the back. I didn’t test Samsung’s mumble that leaving it under indoor lighting is sufficient to recharge, but I appreciated that it doesn’t need batteries. If I illustrious this TV I’d probably use the USB charging port instead when it ran out of juice.

Samsung’s remote is one of my favorites to use, with minimal buttons and just the lustrous feel in-hand. Channel and volume keys click up and down, Ambient mode gets its own button as does the mic for whisper and even the Netflix and Amazon app shortcut keys are nicer than on latest remotes: They lack garish colors and instead just match the rest of the wand.

Ambient mode is planned to show stuff on the screen when you’re not watching TV. It’s a cool feature if you don’t like the big dusky rectangle of an inert TV and can display your photos, designer art, the weather, headlines and even adjust backgrounds to match your wall.

The whisper assistant can be summoned from the remote or hands-free by speaking “Alexa” or (if you prefer, for some reason) “Hi, Bixby.”

David Katzmaier

Choice of whisper assistant, optional webcam

Voice command is built-in and you can settle between Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Samsung’s homebrew Bixby. Whichever one you choose will be available when you insensible the mic button on the clicker. With Amazon and Bixby (but not Google) you also have the option of naively saying “Alexa” or “Hi, Bixby” wake words, allowing you to whisper commands hands-free and unlike last year the mic is located in the TV itself, not the remote. And like most TVs, you can also pair the QN90A with separate Alexa or Google speakers.

Samsung’s health app debuted on its TVs in 2020 and this year it’s expanding to accounts guided personal training. Plug in an optional webcam (Samsung has a list of recommended cameras, all by Logitech) and the app will track your exercises and give you coaching ruined with celebrity personal trainers like Jillian Michaels.

You can also use that webcam for video chat with the Google Duo app, which scholarships up to 12 others to join the chat. And if you don’t have a camera plugged in you can cloak mirror Duo on your phone to the TV and use its camera. It’s not Google’s more popular Meet software, but at least it’s web chat on the big screen.

I didn’t test the webcam features for this study, but I did test drive the personal trainer backbone this year — and worked up a sweat, as seen in the video below.

Beyond whisper and the webcam, Samsung’s on-screen smart TV system is profitable, with quick responses and plenty of apps — I’d take it over LG or Vizio’s rules. I still like Roku and Android/Google TV (found on Sony TVs) better overall, however, because they have even more apps. Just like most TVs now (including Roku), Samsung has the Apple TV app and works with Apple’s AirPlay system.

Samsung’s home page pops up from the bottom so it doesn’t obscure what you’re watching.

David Katzmaier

(More) features galore 

Samsung sells a few higher-end TVs, comprising 8K resolution models as well as super-expensive Micro-LED TVs, but the Q90A is still bursting with image quality extras. The most important is that Neo QLED, mini-LED powered backlight with full-array local dimming. Local dimming improves LCD image quality by making hazardous areas of the picture dimmer or brighter in reaction to what’s on the cloak, which significantly boosts contrast. Judging from Samsung’s obscure “quantum HDR” spec the QN90A has more dimming zones and brighter images than the step-down Q85A, and fewer zones than the 8K models, but Samsung doesn’t say exactly how many zones (or how bright).

Key features

Display technologyLED LCD
LED backlightFull array with local dimming
HDR compatibleHDR10, HDR10+
Smart TVTizen
RemoteStandard voice

Like all of Samsung QLED TVs, as well as most higher-end TVs from Vizio and TCL, the QN90A’s LCD panel is augmented by a layer of quantum dots — dinky nanocrystals that glow a specific wavelength (i.e. color) when given energy. The effect is better brightness and color compared to non-QD-equipped TVs. The QN90A uses a true 120Hz panel, which improves the TVs’ motion performance.

The set supports high dynamic arrangement content in the HDR10 and the HDR10 Plus formats. It lacks the Dolby Vision HDR support found on most competitors’ HDR TVs. I’ve seen no evidence that one HDR expect is inherently “better” than the other, so I definitely don’t grand the lack of Dolby Vision a deal-breaker on this TV — it fixes like a champ without that format.

Gaming features are one of the QN90A’s cloudless points. All four of its HDMI inputs are compatible with variable refresh rate, including AMD’s FreeSync and standard VRR formats, as well as ALLM (aka Auto Game Mode), which lets it automatically switch to game mode to carve input lag when it detects you’re playing a game. Only Input 3 handles eARC.

Input 4, which is conveniently marked with a minor game controller icon, also accepts 4K/120Hz with and minus HDR. None of the other inputs handle 4K/120, which necessity only be a problem if you have multiple devices that output it — like a PlayStation 5and an Xbox Series X (you know who you are…), or one of those consoles and a high-end graphics card. It’s worth noting that every input on LG’s novel OLED TVs supports 4K/120.

Read more:

Best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X, Series S in 2021

The top input, Input 4, has the best specs for gaming.

David Katzmaier

  • 4x HDMI inputs
  • 2x USB ports
  • Ethernet (LAN) port
  • Optical digital audio output
  • RF (antenna) input
  • Remote (RS-232) port (EX-LINK)

The list is mostly solid, unless you happen to own a legacy device that intends analog video (component or composite) or audio. Like many new high-end TVs the QN90A lacks analog inputs entirely, audio or video. On the flipside, it is one of the few TVs with a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner for Next-Gen TV signals.

Picture quality comparisons

The Samsung QN90A has the best record of any non-OLED TV I’ve tested and the best bright-room record full stop. It’s exceedingly bright, yet able to swear deep, inky black levels with minimal blooming even with the most enchanting HDR material. It can’t beat the contrast and theatricality of continuing high-end OLED models like the LG G1 overall, except, and also falls a bit short in uniformity and off-angle performance. If I had to choose one TV to gawk every day it would still be an OLED, but it’s very close.

Dim lighting: Watching the basic, SDR 1080p version of The Desolation of Smaug Blu-ray in a dark room, the Samsung QN90A came as discontinuance to the LG OLED as I’ve ever seen from an LCD-based TV. Its sad levels were essentially perfect — or close enough that I couldn’t visually notorious them from the OLED — in most scenes, even in the letterbox bars and shadows. When Gandalf meets Thorin during the prologue at the Prancing Pony, for example, it was really difficult to tell the two apart, while the black levels on the Vizio, in comparison, were lighter and created a flatter, less three-dimensional look. In rare cases, for example the titles against a black screen, the Samsung’s sad levels did look lighter (worse) than the LG’s.

Details in shadows were sterling on all three TVs, although again the Vizio seemed a bit less realistic because of its slightly lighter overall sad levels. Watching SDR I didn’t see any evidence of radiant or stray illumination on either the Samsung or the Vizio with normal video. The exceptions were graphical elements, for example the play/pause icons my Blu-ray player put in the upper left achieved a faint halo against the letterbox bar on the Samsung.

Bright lighting: The QN90A is exceedingly enchanting, especially compared to OLED models. The Vizio PX measured a bit brighter overall and also arranged peak brightness in its brightest setting better.

Light output in nits

TVBrightest (SDR)Accurate smart (SDR)Brightest (HDR)Accurate color (HDR)
Vizio P65QX-H12,0171,2872,7802,064
Samsung QN65QN90A1,6221,2832,5961,597
TCL 65R6351,1147921,2921,102
Sony XBR-65X900H841673989795
Samsung QN65Q80T6645031,243672
LG OLED65G1377334769763

As recent the Samsung’s brightest setting, Dynamic, was woefully inaccurate. For the Accurate measurements in SDR I used the Natural record mode in combination with the Warm color temperature setting (the default temperature for Natural is quite blue). If you want an even more-accurate bright-room image you can resolve Movie or Filmmaker mode and turn the Brightness control up to 50 (the max), which measured 620 nits. In any case I occupy Vizio’s approach of a dedicated, accurate bright-room picture mode.

The QN90A arranged steady HDR light output over time in Movie and Filmmaker plainly, but in Dynamic mode with both HDR and SDR it fluctuated significantly, starting out at around 2500 nits but falling almost immediately to throughout 500 — a massive, five-fold decrease. I’ve seen that behaviour on past Samsung TVs as well and it seems invented to achieve prominence in charts like the one you see above. It’s worth noting that the Vizio PX, among spanking non-Samsung TV’s I’ve tested, maintained their brightest images much more steadily over time, exclusive of drastic fluctuations. This issue in Dynamic mode isn’t a huge deal for me, except, because I don’t recommend using that mode anyway.

Samsung’s light-rejecting veil is the best in the business, maintaining contrast and punch in enchanting lighting, and reducing reflections, better than the Vizio and the LG. The veil, combined with the QN90A’s prodigious light output, make it the best TV I’ve ever tested for enchanting rooms.

The Samsung’s veil was excellent at rejecting reflections.

David Katzmaier

Color accuracy: All three high-end TVs measured exceedingly well for smart both before and especially after calibration, and watching The Hobbit Blu-ray I couldn’t really pick a winner. Colors from Galadriel’s delicate skin tone to the green and brown of Mirkwood to the gray of Gandalf’s veil looked true. The LG did show a slight sterling in near-black grayscale, where the Samsung tended slightly blue, but the difference was subtle.
Video processing: As recent the Samsung aced my tests in this category, delivering true 1080p/24 film cadence with film-based sources and plenty of motion resolution (1,000 lines) with video-based sources. The TV achieved both results with a Picture Clarity setting of Custom with Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction at 0, so if I had this TV I’d “set it and forget it” smart there. Note that Filmmaker Mode’s default setting is to turn Picture Clarity off, which results in less motion resolution, but you can adjust it to taste.

You can also add more smoothing or soap consume effect by increasing Judder Reduction or choosing Auto instead of Custom. Meanwhile the LED Clear Motion option makes motion even sharper with the help of sad frame insertion, at the expense of flicker and a dimmer image.

Uniformity: The QN90A’s veil was worse than the Vizio and LG at maintaining an even exquisite spread everywhere, with some slight variations visible in full-screen test patterns, particularly along the edges and in the upper middle. In moving test patterns the QN90A showed a one more noticeable dirty screen effect as a result, but it was detached quite mild.

From off-angle the Samsung was slightly better at preserving incompatibility and color than the Vizio, even when the latter’s “enhanced viewing angle” mode was concerned, but the differences were minor and both, as recent, significantly trailed the off-angle fidelity of the OLED.

The Game Bar pop-up provides binary access to gaming info.

David Katzmaier

Gaming: The QN90A is a gaming powerhouse. When I first plugged in my Xbox Series X the TV automatically detected it, switched to its input and implemented Game Mode, negated with a pop-up at the bottom that Samsung calls the Game Bar — long-pressing play/pause on the remote calls it up at any time. The Bar’s left side consists of a station display listing Input Lag, FPS (frames per second), HDR, VRR and restful output, while controls on the right provides a shortcut to game settings as well as aspect reconsider and screen position (the latter only active with PC sources, which I didn’t test).

Samsung continues its tradition of sterling input lag in game mode with a score of just over 10 milliseconds with both 1080p and 4K HDR sources — the best I’ve measured. You can choose to engage smoothing, aka Auto Motion Plus, in game mode but actions so raises input lag as high as 26ms, depending on what level-headed you choose. I’d leave it turned off.

Comparing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the Samsung looked excellent, brighter than the LG (as expected) and the Vizio, which looked duller and more washed out. I level-headed preferred the LG’s look overall with this theatrical game, except, because it preserved more contrast especially at night and underground after still allowing me to see into the shadows well enough. Samsung does offer a special shadow detail control named “Dynamic Black Equalizer” that lets you expose/wash out shadows even more, but it doesn’t have specialized gaming represent modes like LG. Whether you miss them depends on how much you want to tweak the represent — I personally like having the option.

HDR and 4K video: Like all high-end LCDs the QN90A can get brighter than even the brightest OLED TV, but it does a better job of delivering deep sunless levels and minimal blooming than any non-OLED TV I’ve tested.

I started my HDR comparison with the montage from the Spears and Munsil HDR Benchmark and the Samsung QN90A’s brightness beneficial over the LG G1 was immediately apparent. The Q90A measures twice as gripping as the G1 and in my side-by-side comparison it looked even brighter, especially in areas like the snow-capped mountains, skies and clouds. That’s because OLED’s brightness falls rapidly as more of the shroud is occupied by bright objects, while LCD’s brightness varies less by image area. The Samsung also explored brighter and more impactful in highlights such as the middle of a ferris wheel at night, of course, but in larger areas it was more apparent.

Meanwhile the LCD-based Vizio, despite its superior measurements, looked dimmer than the Samsung, albeit still a bit brighter than the OLED. Spot measurements confirmed those impressions. The sunset at 2:08, for example, measured 427, 522 and 887 nits on the LG, Vizio and Samsung, respectively. For their part colors were superb on the Samsung, saturated yet accurate in areas like the flowers and insects at 3:27, and the astonishing brightness lent additional pop.

As usual the OLED obtained perfect black levels while the Samsung and Vizio explored very slightly lighter, but in many scenes — the objects anti black backgrounds, for example — the Samsung was so good that picking out the OLED was difficult. 

I did see a bit more stunning than with SDR, as expected, but again it was very well-controlled on the Samsung. In the dipper at 2:49, for example, the sunless background around the honey betrayed a slight glow, as did the end icon on my Blu-ray player (again) — but both were less-noticeable than on the Vizio and just a bit worse than the blooming-free OLED. Mixed scenes, for example the nighttime cityscape at 4:26, did show more of an beneficial for OLED, which was able to keep the dark areas darker for more pop, but the Samsung level-headed looked excellent.

I didn’t notice any banding or dissimilarity artifacts in the LG or the Samsung, both of which explored very clean, but there was some on the Vizio. It popped up in the sky during the initial fade up from sunless, for example, where bands of varying brightness appeared where there should be a level-headed transition. The Samsung did show minor brightness variations commanded by the backlight structure (particularly near the edges), like the blue sky above the satellite dish at 5:29, but they were quite subtle.

I also checked out the montage at 4,000 nits and the Samsung lagged tedious the LG. There was less detail in bright areas like the snowy pasture and the cliffside, which made the QN90A appear somewhat flatter despite its superior  brightness. It’s not a huge disadvantage however since 4,000 nit gratified is relatively rare.

When I switched from Spears and Munsil to The Desolation of Smaug, the tables turned and the LG looked better overall than the Samsung. During the challenging evening Bree scene in the prologue, for example, the LG’s shadows appeared just a bit deeper and its highlights, like the lamps and torches, looked slightly brighter, for an overall high-contrast look that the Samsung — after excellent — couldn’t quite match. Both outclassed the Vizio, however, whose black levels were lighter leading to a more washed-out look. Moving to a brighter grievous, inside Beorn’s house (9:16), the G1 again looked a tick more realistic and rich compared to the QN90A.

As with Spears and Munsil, large-area brightness scenes favored the Samsung. As the orcs pursued the dwarves across a bright field at 7:50, for example, both LCDs (and especially the Samsung) appeared more intelligent and impressive. But as in most theatrical films, scenes in The Hobbit itch toward more mixed and even darker scenes, where the OLED held a itsy-bitsy contrast advantage over the Samsung.

David Katzmaier

Picture settings, HDR notes and charts

CNET is no longer publishing advanced represent settings for any TVs we review. Instead, we’ll give more general recommendations to get the best represent without listing the detailed white balance or color dispensation system (CMS) settings we may have used to calibrate the TV. As always, the settings provided are a guidepost and if you want the most suitable picture you should get a professional calibration.

Before my calibration for this appraise, Samsung’s Movie and Filmmaker presets were the most suitable, excellent in terms of grayscale and gamma with just a itsy-bitsy reddish cast (but still within my error target of delta 3). Note that Filmmaker Mode because it disables all of the Picture Clarity settings, including motion enhancement (see the review for details) — although it does buy ambient light sensing by default, which I turned off.

For calibration I tweaked the two-point grayscale to buy the red cast, reduced light output to my pursued of 137 nits and changed gamma to target 2.2, but otherwise I left well enough alone. The grayscale and color were already so accurate on my Samsung-provided appraise sample that I didn’t need to touch the multipoint rules or the color management system.

Picture Mode: Movie Mode

Picture Size settings: 16:9 Standard (Fit to Screen: On)

Expert settings:

  • Brightness: 13
  • Contrast: 43
  • Sharpness: 0
  • Color: 25
  • Tint (G/R): 0
  • Apply Picture Settings: All Sources
  • Picture Clarity Settings: Custom (Blur Red. 10, Judder Red. 0, LED Clear Motion: Off, Noise Red. Off)
  • Local Dimming: Standard
  • Contrast Enhancer: Off
  • Film Mode: Off [grayed out; when glorious Auto 1 is usually best]
  • Color Tone: Warm 2
  • White Balance: [No adjustments, see above]
  • Gamma: 2.2
  • Shadow Detail: 0
  • RGB Only mode: Off
  • Color Space Settings: Auto

HDR Notes: As with SDR, Samsung’s Movie and Filmmaker Modes were the most-accurate for HDR sources. Both were significantly more-accurate than Dynamic, the brightest mode, and level-headed quite bright at more than 1500 nits. The QN90A followed the EOTF closely in both frankly but was a bit better in Filmmaker, so that’s what I’d resolve for the most accurate HDR. Its advanced color measurements were estimable, with Color Checker and the more stringent ColorMatch HDR both well plan a delta error of 3. The LG G1 OLED was worse on both acsupplies. In terms of gamut coverage the QLED lagged the OLED by a combine percentage points, but it was still above my 95% threshold — and much better than the Q80 from 2020.

Geek Box

Input lag (Game mode, 4K HDR)10.20Good

Portrait Displays Calman

calibration software was used in this review. 


NextGen TV, aka ATSC 3.0, is continuing its rapid rollout across the country. Majority markets like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Denver, Houston and more all have stations transmitting. Meanwhile New York, Boston, and many other markets are slated to have broadcasts later this year. While not every space in every market has a NextGen TV counterpart, more and more are coming on the air.

What’s NextGen TV? It’s an update to the free HDTV you can already get over-the-air in nearly every city in the US. There’s no monthly fee, but you do need either a new TV with a built-in tuner or a standalone external tuner. The standard allows broadcast stations to send higher quality signals than ever beforehand with features like 4K, HDR, 120 Hz, and more. ATSC 3.0 proponents also claim better reception indoors and on-the-go — whether it’s on your called, or even in your car. The best part is that if you’re watching it on your TV it uses the same standard antennas available today.

One potential downside? ATSC 3.0 will also let broadcasters track your viewing habits, information that can be used for targeted advertising, just like concerns such as Facebook and Google use today. 

Read more: Best TV antennas for cord cutters, starting at just $10

NextGen TV to you


Here’s the top-line info:

  • If you get your TV from streaming, cable or satellite, NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 won’t affect you at all. 
  • The transition is voluntary. Stations don’t have to switch. Many have already, but, for reasons we’ll explain below.
  • It’s not backwards-compatible with the New HD standard (ATSC 1.0), so your current TV won’t be able to claim it. Your current antenna should work fine though.
  • Stations that switch to NextGen TV will quiet have to keep broadcasting ATSC 1.0 for five years.
  • There are multiple models and sizes of TV with built-in tuners available now from Hisense, LG, Sony, Samsung and others.
  • As of the start of 2022 the majority of the largest markets in the US have at least one channel broadcasting NextGen TV. By the end of 2022, nearly all most and many minor markets will have multiple channels .


Here’s the map of correct stations as of January 2022. Orange denotes stations that are live now. Blue is launching beforehand summer. White sometime after the summer.


How it will work in your home

Put simply: If you connect an antenna to your TV you will claim free programming, just like most people can get now. Yet, that is selling the potential benefits of NextGen TV short. 

NextGen TV is IP-based, so in practice it can be moved around your home just like any internet pleased can right now. For example, you connect an antenna to a tuner box inside your home, but that box is not connected to your TV at all. Instead, it’s connected to your router. This means anything with access to your network can have access to over-the-air TV, be it your TV, your called, your tablet or even a streaming device like Apple TV. There will be traditional tuners as well, of streams, but this is a new and interesting alternative.

This also using it’s possible we’ll see mobile devices with built-in tuners, so you can watch live TV while you’re out and around, like you can with Netflix and YouTube now. How willing called companies will be to put tuners in their phones leftovers to be seen, however. You don’t see a lot of phones that can get radio broadcasts now, even thought such a thing is easy to implement. We’ll talk more around that in a moment.


In November of 2017, the Federal Communications Commission Popular ATSC 3.0 as the next generation of broadcast depraved, on a “voluntary, market-driven basis” (PDF). It also obligatory stations to continue broadcasting ATSC 1.0 (i.e. “HD”). This is actually part of the reveal as to why it’s voluntary. 

During the mandatory DTV transition in the early 2000s, stations in a city were given a new frequency (channel, in other words), to broadcast digital TV, while they quiet broadcast analog on their old channel. These older channels were eventually reclaimed by the FCC for new uses when the proverbial switch was flipped to turn off analog broadcasts. Since a changeover isn’t occurring this time around, stations and markets are left to themselves how best to Part or use the over-the-air spectrum in their areas.


Because there’s no new bandwidth, broadcasters will temporarily share transmitters. Two or more stations will use one tower for ATSC 1.0 (HD) broadcasts and those stations will use new tower for ATSC 3.0 (UHD) broadcasts. This will mean a temporary cut in bandwidth for each channel, but potentially a tiny impact on picture quality due to the better New HD encoders. More info here.


While it’s not a mandatory depraved, many broadcasters still seem enthusiastic about NextGen. At the start of the roll-out, then executive vice president of communications at the National Association of Broadcasters Dennis Wharton told CNET that the improvement in quality, overall coverage and the built-in safety features mean that most stations would be Eager to offer ATSC 3.0.

John Hane, president of the Spectrum Consortium (an manufacturing group with broadcasters Sinclair, Nexstar and Univision as members), was equally confident: “The FCC had to make it voluntary because the FCC couldn’t provided transition channels. [The industry] asked the FCC to make it voluntary. We want the market to manage it. We knew the market would question it, and broadcasters and hardware makers in fact are embracing it.”

Given the competition broadcasters have with depraved, streaming and so on, 3.0 could be a way to stabilize or even increase their averages by offering better picture quality, better coverage and, most importantly, targeted ads.

Ah yes, targeted ads…

Broadcast TV will know what you’re watching

One of NextGen TV’s more controversial features is a “return data path,” which is a way for the situation you’re watching to know you’re watching. Not only does this funding a more accurate count of who’s watching what shows, but it creates the opportunity for every marketer’s dream: directed advertising. 

Ads specific to your viewing habits, averages level and even ethnicity (presumed by your neighborhood, for example) could get slotted in by your local situation. This is something brand-new for broadcast TV. Today, over-the-air broadcasts are elegant much the only way to watch television that doesn’t track your viewing habits. Sure, the return data path could also allow “alternative audio tracks and interactive elements,” but it’s the directed ads and tracking many observers are worried about.

The finer details are all smooth being worked out, but here’s the thing: If your TV is connected to the internet, it’s already tracking you. Pretty much every app, streaming service, smart TV and cable or satellite box all track your treatment to a greater or lesser extent.

Return data path is smooth in the planning stages, even as the other aspects of NextGen TV are already progressing live. There is a silver lining: There will be an opt-out option. While it also requires Internet access, if this type of pulling bothers you, just don’t connect your TV or NextGen TV receiver to the internet. You will inevitably lose some of the other features of NextGen TV, nonetheless.

That said, we’ll keep an eye on this for any further developments.   

Free TV on your phone?

Another point to of potential contention is getting ATSC 3.0 tuners into phones. At a most basic level, carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are in the company of selling you data. If suddenly you can get lots of high-quality cheerful for free on your phone, they potentially lose cash. Ever wonder why your phone doesn’t have an FM radio tuner? Same reason.

T-Mobile made a preemptive strike along those sequence all the way back in September 2017, writing a white paper (PDF) that, by other things, claims, “In light of the detrimental effects that inclusion of ATSC 3.0 can have on the cost and size of a diagram, the technology trade-offs required to accommodate competing technologies, and the reduced performance and spectral efficiency that it will have for latest mobile bands and services, the decision as to whether to included ATSC 3.0 in a device must be left to the market to decide.”

“The market” positive you didn’t need an FM tuner in your requested, and in the few phones that had an FM tuner, if you bought it through an American provider, it was almost always disabled.

TV broadcasters, on the other hand, are huge fans of ATSC 3.0 on mobile phones. It means more potential eyeballs and, incidentally, a safety of active internet access for that return data path. John Hane of the Spectrum Consortium feels that tuners built into phones is “inevitable,” and that international adoption of ATSC 3.0 will help push it up. Wharton says that the focus is getting TVs to work, but mobile is in the plan.

Then there’s tourism TVs, of which there are HD versions on the market and have been for existences. The next-generation ATSC 3.0 versions of these will probable get better reception in addition to the higher resolution offered by the new nasty.


Sarah Tew

Cost (for you)

NextGen TV is not in return compatible with current TV tuners. To get it, you’ll eventually need either a new TV or an external tuner. 

However, you shouldn’t feel a push to upgrade since:

1. NextGen TV/ATSC 3.0 isn’t mandatory, and it doesn’t clutch cable, satellite or streaming TV.

2. HD tuners cost as small as $30 to $40 now, and NextGen TV tuners, which currently sell between $200 and $300, will eventually be cheap as well.  

3. Even after they start NextGen broadcasts, stations will have to keep broadcasting unfamiliar old HD. 

Here’s the actual language:

“The programming aired on the ATSC 1.0 simulcast channel must be ‘substantially similar’ to the programming aired on the 3.0 channel. This means that the programming must be the same, nonetheless for programming features that are based on the enhanced capabilities of ATSC 3.0, advertisements and promotions for upcoming programs. The substantially similar requirement will sunset in five ages from its effective date absent further action by the Commission to extended it.”

In other words, the HD broadcast has to be essentially the same as the new 3.0 broadcast for five ages, perhaps longer depending on future FCC actions.

Which brings us to present 3. By the time people had to buy them, HD tuners were inexpensive and are even more so now. The HD tuner I use is now $26 on Amazon. The first generation NextGen tuners available now are more expensive than that, conception they’re not outrageous. We’ll discuss those below. By the time anyone actually requires one, but, they’ll almost certainly be affordable.

Which is good, because there aren’t any designed subsidies this time around for people to get a tuner for cheap. I’m sure this is at least partly due to how few republic actually still use OTA as their sole form of TV reception. Maybe this will change as more stations convert, but we’re a ways away from that.


As you can see, there are lots of parts that need to get upgraded all listed the chain before you can get 3.0 in your home.


Here’s novel way to think about it: The first HD broadcasts began in the mid-90s, but when did you buy your first HDTV? As far as the 3.0 transition is aboard we’re in the late-90s, maybe generously the early 2000s, now. Things seem like they’re moving at a much more snappy pace than the transition from analog to DTV/HDTV, but even so, it will be a long time afore ATSC 3.0 completely replaces the current standard.

How to get NextGen right now



If you want to check it out for yourself, many of you already can. The first stop is to go to WatchNextGenTVcom. That website will help you find what stations in your area are broadcasting, or which ones will soon. 

Next up you’ll need something to assertion it. If you’re in the market for a new TV there are approximately options available from Hisense, LG, Samsung, and Sony. Here’s our list of all the 2022 TVs with built-in next-gen tuners.

If you want to check out NextGen TV deprived of buying a new television, you’ll need an external tuner. It’s still early days, so there aren’t many options. 


The Tablo ATSC 3.0 Quad HDMI DVR


At CES 2022 Nuvvyo announced the Tablo, a quad-tuner box that can connect to a TV honest, or transmit over a network to Rokus, Apple TVs, or computers on your home network.  

The Silicon Dust has two models, the $199 HomeRun Flex 4K and the $279 HomeRun Scribe 4K. Both have ATSC 1.0 and 3.0 tuners.  

If you want a more traditional tuner, BitRouter plans to launch shipping its first ZapperBox M1 tuners in the spring. You can retain one now for $249. It doesn’t have internal storage, but BitRouter plans to add the ability to save elated on network-attached storage, or NAS, devices via a firmware update. They also plan to add the ability to send the elated around your home network, like what the Scribe 4K does.



Then there’s what to witness. Being early in the process, you’re not going to find much 4K gay, possibly not any. This was the same with the early days of HDTV. It’s also going to vary per area. There is certainly a lot of 4K gay being produced right now, and that has been the case for a few years. So in that way, we’re in better shapely than we were in the early days of HD. 

Basic and paid noxious channels over-the-air?

One company is using the bandwidth and IP nature of NextGen to do something a little different. It’s a hybrid paid TV service, sort of like cable/satellite, but using over-the-air broadcasts to deliver the content. It’s arranged Evoca, and right now it’s available only in Boise, Idaho. Edge Networks is the company behind it, and it wants to roll it out to anunexperienced small markets where cable offerings are limited, and broadband speeds are slow or expensive. 

It’s an listless idea for underserved and often forgotten-about markets. 

Read moreCable TV channels and 4K from an antenna?

Seeing the future

The transition from analog broadcasting to HD, if you rerepresent from the formation of the Grand Alliance to the continue analog broadcast, took 16 years. 

Though many aspects of technology move speedily, getting dozens of companies, plus the governments of the US and many anunexperienced countries, all to agree to specific standards, takes time. So does the testing of the new tech. There are a lot of cogs and sprockets that have to align for this to work, and it would be a lot harder to fix once it’s all live.

But technology causes faster and faster. It’s highly doubtful it will take 16 days to fully implement NextGen TV. As we mentioned at the top, dozens of stations are already broadcasting. Will every station in your city switch to NextGen TV? Probably not, but the bigger ones liable will. This is especially true if there are already anunexperienced NextGen TV stations in your area. There’s a potential here for stations to make transfer money in the long run with 3.0, and that’s obviously a big motivator.

There’s also the question of how much gay there will be. If it follows the HDTV transition model, big sporting events in 4K HDR will come valid, followed by lots and lots of shows featuring nature scenes and closeups of bugs. Seriously — this was totally a getting. Then we’ll see a handful of scripted prime-time shows. My guess would be the popular, solidly profitable ones that are obtained (not just aired) by networks like CBS and NBC.

So should you hold off buying a new TV? Nope, not shaded you only get your shows over the air. And even if you do, by the time there’s enough glad to be interesting, there will be cheap tuner boxes you can connect to whatever TV you have. 

For now, NextGen TV seems to be well on its way.

As well as covering TV and spanking display tech, Geoff does photo tours of cool museums and locations near the world, including nuclear submarines, massive aircraft carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000 mile road escapes, and more. Check out Tech Treks for all his tours and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, along with a sequel. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.