Simply if you thought the AV world will need to have run out of complicated acronyms, Samsung has determined to hit you with one other one: QLED, and the Samsung Q9F is its flagship.
[Replace: The Q9F continues to be a superb TV on the finish of 2017. We lately awarded it the title of best TV for gaming on account of its low enter lag which it combines with distinctive picture high quality (which is essential if you happen to’re selecting up one of many 4K consoles in the marketplace, specifically the Xbox One X or PS4 Pro). It is nonetheless Samsung’s flagship TV, and it affords the very best instance of what Quantum Dot know-how is able to.]
Whereas Samsung hasn’t trademarked the QLED title, leaving it open to be used by any model that employs Quantum Dot know-how in its screens, the QDs utilized in Samsung’s personal QLED TVs are uniquely encased in a brand new metallic alloy sheath. This allows them to supply a wider color vary and extra of the brightness and distinction which have change into such key image necessities within the excessive dynamic vary (HDR) age.
Add to all this promising QLED know-how a brand new display screen filtering system claimed to do an unprecedentedly good job of absorbing ambient gentle, and it’s honest to say the Q9F talks one heck of a superb speak. Because it actually must contemplating the 65-inch model of the display screen prices £four,899 within the UK, and $5,999 within the US.
It seems like somebody on Samsung’s TV design crew has been watching 2001: A House Odyssey.
The QE65Q9FAM (because it’s known as within the UK or QN65Q9FAM within the US) is a ringer for that movie’s mysterious black monolith because of the way in which each its back and front sides are utterly flat and have ultra-robust, polished finishes.
The TV is barely deeper than most we see today too, with its gleaming metallic sides reinforcing the monolithic impression. It won’t enchantment to followers of the present development for ultra-skinny designs, however we personally suppose it’s fairly attractive in a vaguely cyberpunk sort of manner – simply keep in mind, although, that the 2 small ft it sits on if you happen to’re not wall mounting it sit fairly huge aside, that means you’ll must put the TV on a reasonably huge piece of furnishings.
The 65-inch Q9F additionally goes to unprecedented lengths to protect the integrity of its ultra-minimal design by not solely retaining all of its connections on an exterior field but additionally connecting that field to the TV by a single ultra-thin, nearly clear fibreoptic cable.
The QE65Q9FAM’s new ‘sensible’ distant management is a fairly little factor too. It seems and feels beautiful with its metallic silver end and minimal button depend, making it a suitably premium companion for such an unashamedly high-end TV.
Even the exterior connections field is engaging in its shiny black end – and it’s properly geared up too, boasting highlights of 4 HDMI 2.0a ports, three USBs and built-in Wi-Fi. The one factor that may annoy some is the dearth of a headphone port; as with Samsung’s premium 2016 TVs you possibly can solely use Bluetooth headphones with this TV, nevertheless.
Display sizes obtainable: 65-inch now, 75-inch (US) later within the yr, 88-inch (Europe) later within the yr | Tuner: Freeview HD | 4K: Sure | HDR: Sure (HDR10, HLG/HDR10+ by way of upcoming firmware replace) | Panel know-how: LCD with horizontal edge LED lighting, native dimming and Samsung’s new QLED Quantum Dot know-how | Good TV: Sure, Samsung’s Eden interface | Curved: No | Dimensions: 1450 x 829.three x 24.9mm (W x H x D) | 3D: No | Inputs: 4 HDMIs, three USBs, tuner enter, Ethernet port, optical digital audio output, PCMCIA slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Design TL;DR: The Q9F’s monolithic design is imperious and futuristic, laughing within the face of the puny skinnier TVs that make up a lot of the TV market. The exterior connection field/‘invisible’ single connection cable combi helps wall mounters keep away from the same old cable spaghetti points too.
Good TV (Samsung Eden)
It’s taken awhile to get there, however Samsung can now declare a extremely sturdy sensible TV engine with its newest ‘Eden’ interface. For starters, it manages to ship swift and logical entry to a wholesome quantity of content material from a house display screen that takes over impressively little of your display screen actual property.
In addition to letting you customise the row of icons on the house display screen at will, the addition final yr of a second tier of ‘contextual’ hyperlinks that adjustments relying on what app you’ve received chosen in the principle tier has reworked the system’s velocity and ease. It’s good to see, too, that Samsung has tried more durable this yr so as to add reside TV options to its Eden interface.
Even higher, Samsung has launched a brand new voice management system which – drum roll please – really works. The model has realized from previous errors to ship a brilliantly easy system that now not wants you to be taught sophisticated new syntax or observe tortuous multi-step paths. Now all it’s a must to do is say stuff like ‘swap to HDMI 1’, ‘quantity up’, ‘channel up’ , ‘Sport mode’ and so forth.
In addition to now responding to typically one- or two-word directions, the brand new voice management system covers a outstanding vary of the TV’s features; you possibly can even tweak the set’s white steadiness and color administration settings utilizing simply your voice if you happen to actually wish to! The one factor lacking is recognition of channel names moderately than numbers.
Samsung delivers a reasonably excessive app depend on its newest sensible TV system. Netflix and Amazon streaming is supported in 4K and HDR, which is one thing we’ve nearly come to anticipate at this level within the sport.
One final aspect of the QE65Q9F’s sensible platform price mentioning is its ‘one controller for the whole lot’ system. This combines superior auto recognition of sources you hook up with the TV with a distant management in a position to take over management of all these exterior sources.
Whereas that is an formidable and worthy thought, our check TV didn’t recognise our hooked up , and we’re not completely satisfied many customers will choose continually pondering via the best way to use the minimal buttonry on the Q9F’s sensible distant to regulate different units moderately than simply selecting up these units’ personal remotes.
Good Options TL;DR: Samsung has slowly however certainly turned its Tizen-based Eden sensible system right into a slick, efficient, simply customisable interface that now advantages from arguably the TV world’s only voice management system.
Despite the fact that the Q9F has 4K HDR optimisation in its DNA, it’s able to trying critically good with excessive definition customary dynamic vary content material too.
For starters, its HD-to-4K upscaling is excellent. As long as you resist the temptation to push the sharpness setting greater than round 35-40, Samsung’s set provides element with out exaggerating noise and underlines the sense of additional element with some remarkably acute and delicate color administration throughout all these additional pixels it’s including to HD sources.
The large HDR-friendly color vary of the QLED system handles the far more restricted color and light-weight necessities of normal dynamic vary content material as if it’s the best factor on this planet, delivering superbly wealthy however pure tones towards a backdrop of actually glorious black ranges for an LCD TV.
As with Samsung’s high-end 2016 HDR TVs, although, the Q9F carries an ‘HDR+’ function that turns SDR content material into one thing that at the least resembles HDR.
Whereas many AV fanatics will shun this function on precept, we really suppose a whole lot of Q9F house owners will actually prefer it. It really works higher than most HDR ‘upgrading’ programs because of the way in which it will increase color saturation in proportion with brightness, in order that colors usually (although not fairly at all times) keep away from the marginally bleached, strained look you get with typical HDR upgrading programs that are inclined to develop brightness greater than color.
Pores and skin tones can look a bit peaky with the HDR improve processing, particularly if you happen to go away the set’s Digital Clear View function operating. Introducing a lot additional brightness to SDR photos can even trigger some occasional backlight clouding that you simply don’t get if you happen to go away HDR+ off. That mentioned, although, that many customers will take into account this a reasonably small value to pay for the richer colors and extra luminous highlights HDR+ delivers with even the drabbest SDR content material.
HD/SDR TL;DR: The Q9F can do a startlingly good job of turning HD SDR content material like digital broadcasts and Blu-rays into 4K HDR. Although if you happen to’d moderately stick with the native gentle ranges and color vary of SDR, Samsung’s flagship set handles these superbly too.
Extremely HD HDR playback is what the Q9F was created to do and, given Samsung’s potent HDR monitor file, it is no shock to search out that it does it supremely properly.
First off, let the file present that its photos actually are intensely brilliant. The set delivers round 1500 nits of brightness on a 10% white HDR window, and manages to achieve nearer 1800 nits in smaller areas, making it the one brightest TV we’ve ever examined. Because of this the lightest highlights in HDR content material look nearly explosively brilliant. What’s extra, because of class-leading dealing with of HDR’s PQ curve, the Q9F manages (as long as you flip off its Distinction Enhancer function, anyway) to ship excellent quantities of delicate tonal detailing even in its brightest areas, avoiding the tendency to clip delicate data in such areas that you simply get with most different HDR-capable TVs.
Though we described the brightness peaks the QE65Q9F can ship as explosive, this doesn’t imply they’re uncomfortable to look at. They simply make photos look extra life like. Actually, no different TV up to now has delivered a lot of the brightness and color spectrum our eyes can understand in the actual world.
It’s essential to emphasize, too, that not solely can hit excessive brightness ranges in small areas of the image, but it surely’s additionally able to sustaining super-bright HDR content material throughout its whole display screen. Consequently, it delivers a few of my favorite sequences from the excellent, high-brightness Planet Earth II Extremely HD Blu-ray extra powerfully and successfully than we’ve ever seen them look earlier than.
One other remarkably trait of the QE65Q9F is how properly it retains the influence of its brightness in a traditional daylight front room scenario. The mixture of recent filters in its display screen and a brand new multi-directional lighting system addressing the Quantum Dots implies that the TV’s photos scarcely have their brightness, black ranges or color dynamism diminished in any respect by hefty portions of ambient gentle.
The influence of that is so putting at instances that it’s nearly uncanny, even leaving 2016’s excellent KS9500 TVs (KS9800 within the US) trying oversaturated and peaky in ambient gentle by comparability.
Returning to the dark-room scenario through which we normally do most of our testing, the Q9F nonetheless excels in areas past its excessive brightness. Colors, specifically, look extra pure throughout a wider vary than any I’ve seen earlier than, because of the mixture of a color vary that hits just about 100% of the DCI-P3 digital cinema spectrum, and the flexibility of all of the display screen’s brightness to unlock extra of the color ‘quantity’ that’s change into the newest scorching property within the HDR TV world.
The opposite good thing about the set’s excellent color and light-weight administration is that its native 4K photos look stunningly detailed and textured. This attractive particulars stay largely intact, too, when there’s movement within the body – despite the fact that Sony is the model to beat the place movement dealing with is anxious.
It isn’t all saturated pixels and rainbows, nevertheless. There are a few areas the place even the QLED cleverness can’t utterly escape its basically LCD roots. First, its use of edge-mounted backlights firing horizontally throughout the display screen may cause slight backlight clouding and gray banding throughout photographs the place a really brilliant object seems towards a darkish backdrop.
To be honest, these points aren’t as aggressive as may need been anticipated from an edge lighting system that’s delivering a lot brightness, they usually just about disappear if you happen to’re watching the TV in ambient gentle. The usage of a horizontal lighting system additionally implies that you’re far much less prone to see undesirable gentle within the black bars above and under huge side ratio movies than you’re with TVs which use vertical edge LED lighting (which almost all of them do).
In a darkish room, although, backlight clouding can sometimes change into distracting, and with content material containing significantly excessive distinction variations the backlight clouding may even barely influence the display screen’s in any other case excellent color efficiency.
The opposite LCD-related challenge is that the Q9F’s photos lose distinction markedly if it’s a must to watch the display screen from an angle of greater than 25-30 levels.
Samsung had beforehand urged that QLED know-how would ship viewing angles much like these you get with rival OLED TVs, however for some cause this hasn’t come to cross.
The final image challenge to report is that there is the occasional look of color striping in subtly blended areas of HDR photos – particularly expanses of sky. This actually could be fairly noticeable when it seems, so it’s simply as properly it solely reveals up fairly not often.
4K HDR TL;DR: Samsung’s QLED flagship units new brightness and color benchmarks, and is probably the most watchable TV in ambient gentle we’ve ever seen. That mentioned nevertheless, even QLED can’t overcome all of LCD know-how’s conventional limitations. (Or at the least hasn’t but.)
Becoming a member of the Q9F’s visible pyrotechnics is an nearly startlingly regular simple audio system.
It’s completely respectable – even fairly good for a TV with no seen audio system – in terms of the size of sound it might produce with out distorting or buzzing, and its decently open, expressive and detailed mid-range.
There’s not sufficient bass depth or forward-firing assault to make its sound actually stand out from the TV audio crowd, although, and voices sometimes change into a bit quiet amid a really intense combine. But it surely’s adequate, actually, for a TV that could be partnered with some type of exterior sound system given the type of uncompromising AV fan it’s aimed toward.
Sound TL;DR: Whereas the Q9F’s sound could also be fairly mundane in contrast with its ground-breaking photos, it will get the job completed properly sufficient.
Different panels to ponder
The closest rivals to the QE65Q9FAM in spirit and value are LG’s newest OLED TVs and the . LG’s OLED65E7 prices only a hundred kilos or so extra, and may ship a degree of efficiency in step with that of the lately reviewed (we’ll be trying on the OLED65E7V within the subsequent few days). This implies it ought to ship higher black ranges and viewing angles, however much less brightness and doubtlessly a couple of noise points.
The Sony 65ZD9 clips element noticeably within the brightest areas versus the QE65Q9FAM, however its use of direct lighting with an unprecedented variety of native dimming zones helps it ship spectacular black ranges alongside brightness peaks solely barely behind these of the QE65Q9FAM.
Samsung’s debut QLED TV doesn’t immediately remedy each limitation of LCD TV know-how as we’d as soon as hoped it would. In contrast with rival OLED know-how there are nonetheless occasional backlight distractions, and efficient viewing angles stay restricted. Nevertheless, the Q9F additionally units new HDR-friendly requirements for brightness and color response, whereas its new panel construction and cutting-edge display screen filters allow it to fight ambient gentle higher than another TV, making it uniquely watchable in a typical everyday front room atmosphere.
So whereas it won’t make the ‘OLED or QLED’ argument redundant, it actually does a hell of a job of showcasing the latter’s strengths.