Tuesday 16th August 2022

Samsung QE65QN900A Review: An 8K spectacle | Trusted Reviews

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Verdict

The QN900A is an outstanding TV, a great audition of what 8K can bring to the TV experience even without much 8K content available. With a wide range of gaming features, an interesting take on smarts and some terrific upscaling, the QE65QN900A is one of the best TV experiences to be had in 2021.

Pros

  • Irrepressible picture quality
  • Well-conceived smart features
  • Speedy gaming response
  • Superb upscaling of lower quality sources
  • Premium construction

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Speakers susceptible to bass distortion
  • No Dolby Vision

Availability

  • UKRRP: £4999
  • USARRP: $4999
  • EuropeRRP: €5999
  • CanadaRRP: CA$7499
  • AustraliaRRP: AU$12049

Key Features


  • Quantum Matrix Technology ProNew Mini LED backlight

  • Samsung Neo Quantum Processor 8KUpscales content to near 8K quality

  • HDR10+ AdaptiveOptimises screen brightness for bright and dark rooms with supported content

Introduction

Every year is the year 8K is meant to invade living rooms worldwide. For a variety of reasons 2020 saw that prophecy pushed back, but 2021 looks like it will see 8K on the front foot.

And heading the line is Samsung. The South Korean electronics firm has aggressively pushed the format, driving prices down to more agreeable if not always affordable levels.

As 8K still suffers from a lack of content, the emphasis has turned to bringing lower quality sources up to par with Samsung’s latest upscaling system. And with Mini LED assisted brightness, the QE65QN900A TV might be the perfect way to audition 8K’s capabilities.

Design

  • Excellent build quality
  • Slim depth to screen

It’s a repeated refrain where Samsung is concerned, but its TVs all look very familiar. However, the level of construction for the QN900A is as reliable as ever.

The introduction of the Mini LED backlight lends the QN900A a slim frame. The 65-inch model I tested has a screen depth of 15.2mm sans stand, thinner than either Samsung’s QN94A 4K TV and LG’s G1 OLED. Mini LED scales down the size of the LED in the backlight, reducing the depth and enabling more to be allocated. This has profound effects not just on the design but the set’s brightness and contrast.

Samsung QE65QN900A stand

Perforated acoustic holes in the top and sides disperse audio, while the Infinity Screen offers edge-to-edge viewing with no distracting bezel. The rear of the TV is uniformly flat, and along with the detachable One Connect module, the QN900A is perfect for wall-mounting.

Samsung QE65QN900A acoustic holes

The One Connect box contains all the connections and feeds the TV with power, audio and video. It’s been redesigned to slot into the stand, reducing the TV’s footprint. It’s a very smart idea and I wished Samsung had brought it to more models.

Samsung QE65QN900A One Connect stand

Interface

  • Full house for digital assistants
  • TV Plus as alternative Freeview Play
  • Battery-less remote

Samsung’s onto version 6.0 TV of its Eden-based Tizen OS. It’s the same reliably functional effort that’s easy to navigate but may lack personality for some.

Freeview Play is not present, but all the UK catch-up and on-demand apps are. Most of the major apps are here, too, with the likes of Prime Video, Disney+, Netflix, Apple TV, BT Sport, Tidal, Spotify and NOW. Prime Video, Disney+ and Netflix support Atmos.

Samsung QE65QN900A apps

The alternative to Freeview Play is Samsung’s TV Plus service. Like Freeview it doesn’t require a subscription, with an EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) that lists VEVO, CNN, Bloomberg TV+ and a channel called Comedy (yes, really), as well as the Baywatch channel that’s an endless loop of all 9 series.

Samsung QE65QN900A TV Plus

Multi View splits the screen into four windows. With Sport and Fitness presets, users can cast from a smartphone and watch what’s on TV at the same time. You can attach a USB camera or sync your camera’s phone to the TV too, though not all apps support Multi View. For digital assistants there’s Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung’s own Bixby to choose from.

Samsung QE65QN900A Multi View

The QN900A ships with two remotes: a standard one and a smart version that’s the better of the two. Turn it over and there’s a solar panel that uses ambient light to charge it – a clever little innovation that requires no batteries.

Samsung QE65QN900A solar remote

Features

  • Class-leading latency
  • Four HDMI 2.1 inputs

The Samsung QN900A is up to date with most of the latest gaming tech in Auto Low Latency Mode, Variable Refresh Rate, High Frame Rate (120Hz), as well as AMD’s FreeSync Premium Pro for reduced visual tearing and stuttering. Samsung TVs are also compatible with Nvidia G-Sync but not certified.

While LG has hoovered up gaming features left and right, Samsung still has the edge with latency. At 4K I measured latency at 10.1ms and at 120Hz you can expect that to be even lower.

Other gaming functions include Game Bar, which gives gamers quick access to settings at the bottom of the screen. Game Motion Plus improves image quality at a hit to latency, while HGiG HDR brings a more consistent HDR performance across games. The Super UltraWide Game View mode that stretches PC games to a 21:9 or 32:9 aspect ratio is included, too.

Samsung QE65QN900A One Connect ports

Connections on the external One Connect box weigh in at four HDMI 2.1, with HDMI 3 the eARC port for sending high-quality tracks such as Dolby Atmos to external sound systems. Ethernet, optical, a CI+ 1.4 connection, satellite, and aerial inputs, plus three USB 2.0 ports make up the rest. Wirelessly there’s Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi, the latter enables DLNA, AirPlay 2 and Chromecast.

Picture quality

  • Brilliantly bright and colourful images
  • Excellent black depth with little blooming
  • Backlight still flummoxed by bright objects on black screens
  • Impressive upscaling, especially with 4K sources

HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ are on the menu, with Samsung’s 8K TVs featuring HDR10+ in its adaptive form, too, which finesses the TV’s brightness in bright and dark rooms.

HDR10+ is available in Prime Video’s catalogue but it is nowhere near as widespread as Dolby Vision, which Samsung continues to lock out. Samsung would argue its TVs are bright enough to not need Dolby’s tone mapping and that HDR10+ is more considerate of a panel’s characteristics, but it would be nice to have Dolby onboard.

The QN900A offers a suite of picture modes in Dynamic, Standard, Natural, Movie and Filmmaker. With some processing features turned off, Dynamic offered the highest brightness (2600 nits) but only briefly and colours were too garish in look. Standard is good for everyday viewing, while Natural works for sports. Movie and Filmmaker are virtually identical, the latter limiting the impact of the QE65QN900A’s processing to preserve the creative intent of a film or TV series.

The addition of Mini LED to the 4K QLED range worked wonders, and with this 8K model, the brightness in combination with the Quantum Dot panel is even more brilliant to behold. The colours in The Pursuit of Love (iPlayer, HLG) are varied and natural in appearance, the Christmas dinner scene in the first episode looks absolutely dynamite.

Samsung QE65QN900A The Pursuit of Love dinner scene

The brightness of the candle and Christmas tree lights is precise and intense, which makes them stand out quite beautifully in the dimly lit room, with very little blooming evident head-on. Switch the lights off or move to the side and there’s blooming but it’s not too distracting. Whites are depicted with a searing intensity, the shirt of Uncle Matthew’s shirt contrasting fabulously with the deep black of his dinner jacket. It’s a delicious looking image.

Samsung QE65QN900A The Pursuit of Love Uncle Matthew

The 8K models boast the Neo Quantum Processor 8K that uses 16 neural network models to upscale images. As Samsung explains it, the 16 networks are 16 cooks in a kitchen, each with their own speciality as opposed to one or two cooks working on a range of recipes. Focusing on one thing brings specificity.

The effect is brightness, sharpness and contrast are fed with more information, and watching standard definition content may not initially ‘wow’, until…

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