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Friday April 27, 2018 12:14 pm

Samsung Onyx: A premium 4K HDR movie theater experience


Samsung Onyx Cinema Screen

Earlier this week, Samsung invited me to spend a day in Vegas to attend CinemaCon, where the company was announcing it’s line of Samsung Onyx 4K LED movie theater displays. CinemaCon is the largest gathering of movie theater owners in the world, where seemingly anyone who’s anyone in the movie industry can be found, making this the perfect place to show off trailers and extended previews of upcoming movies, as well as movie theater tech. This made CinemaCon the perfect place for Samsung to debut the Onyx.

Formerly known as Samsung LED Cinema Displays, the easiest way to describe the rebranded Samsung Onyx is to liken it to the high-end flagship 4K HDR displays that you can buy for your home, but on a much grander scale. What this means is you get a crisp 4K picture, you get the insane dynamic range from the HDR luminance, and you get the high contrast thanks to the True Black capabilities.


Oh, and these are tried and true LED displays - this isn’t a projected image. In fact, when using Samsung Onyx screens, there’s no need for a projector at all! Samsung hit this point home to the movie theater industry by pointing out that this means they can fit more movie theater seats (and therefore, earn more money and spend less on building) in a given room, since there would be absolutely no need to build a projector room.

Since these are 4K displays, they’re able to show 2K, 4K, and even 3D images - all with HDR. In fact, since the Onyx is active 3D, you get a much better 3D experience than you’re likely used to. If you’ve attended a 3D movie, you likely noticed fairly quickly that you lose a lot of the brightness due to the glasses, making the movie look dim. In fact, passive 3D results in a loss of up to 35% of the brightness in the picture. You may not have realized that you also lose half of the resolution with an end result of 1920x540. With the Onyx, you not only get unparalleled  3D depth, but you also get enhanced brightness with a loss of just 15-20%, while also getting the full HD image at 1920x1080. While watching 3D clips of Black Panther and The Nut Job, the difference was very obvious.

Samsung Onyx Cinema LED theater

Samsung says that it also works with movies theaters to design the custom seating arrangement in theaters outfitted with Onyx screens, along with the sound experience which is provided by custom JBL speakers. With this, you get another benefit over projection - Samsung Onyx screens work nicely in partial light, which Samsung hopes will have theaters thinking outside the box. Think dine-in experiences where you have some ambient lighting that doesn’t affect the picture at all, e-sports events where you can see your controller and keyboard, and even events for kids like birthdays where everyone doesn’t have to be sitting in the dark.

After being able to sample the Samsung Onyx display, my first thought was “Fantastic. Which theaters near my home have this?” It turns out, the closest one to any of us is at Pacific Theatres Winnetka in Chatsworth, California. Samsung announced this as the first Onyx location, which is just north of Los Angeles. Samsung also has two Onyx theaters in South Korea, one in Switzerland, and two more in China. It’s planning to have 10 installed worldwide by the summer and 30 by the end of 2018. Samsung also announced a 46-foot 4K LED screen which will be available later this year to help the Onyx line better compete with traditional laser projection systems.

Big shout out to Samsung for bringing me out to CinemaCon to check out Onyx, and for sponsoring the coverage and upcoming video.

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