Placing a 8K resolution TV on the market at a time when the 4K UHD resolution is still struggling to take hold seems a risky gamble. And to a large extent it is. If we also add to the equation that 8K content outside of Japan is neither expected nor expected in the medium term, the context does not seem appropriate for this Samsung TV to do well.
In spite of this a priori climate so unpleasant, the panorama, in fact, is not as unfavorable to this proposal as it may seem. And it is not because the South Korean brand has opted to “sell” the 8K resolution as a technology to improve the image quality more, comparable, to some extent, to the nanocrystals or HDR. In fact, thanks to an escalation that uses automatic learning, it promises to improve our experience even if we limit ourselves to playing 4K UHD or Full HD content.
This is what Samsung says. And, on paper, it does not sound bad. Undoubtedly, it is an intelligent argument that can contribute to the adherence to the latest in image quality be fixed on this television despite the absence of 8K content. But this strategy will only work if it really fulfills what was promised and its image quality is up to par. This is, precisely, what we intend to find out throughout this analysis dedicated to one of the most disruptive products that have fallen into our hands during the last months.
Samsung QLED 8K Q900R: technical specifications
The most interesting components of this TV for its innovation are its panel with native 8K resolution and its algorithm of scaling to 8K from lower resolutions. In fact, today, given the absence of content with this resolution, this last element is the one that can have more weight as an argument in favor of choosing this model and not another of Samsung itself or any other brand equipped with a 4K panel UHD
Like the other models of the QLED family, the panel that incorporates this television is of type VA VA, and not IPS. VA technology stands out for its high native contrast ratio, high gloss delivery capacity and relative immunity to light leaks that are usually present on the edges and corners of TVs and monitors with IPS panel. But VA technology is not free to also have some weaknesses.
The most relevant is that their viewing angles are significantly lower than those offered by OLED or IPS panel TVs. In this model Samsung has tried to alleviate this disadvantage by implementing a technology that they have called Q Viewing Angle, and that during our analysis of the model 65Q9FN , which also has it, it proved to work really well.
The LCD panel that incorporates this TV is VA type and its matrix brings together the more than 33 million pixels needed to make possible the reproduction of 8K content
The other disadvantage of VA panels versus IPS is their lower color reproduction capacity, something we already know that Samsung has managed to solve in a convincing way thanks to QLED technology, which, without going into complicated details, resorts to nanoparticles with metallic coating to generate a very wide color space.
In LCD panel televisions the implementation of backlighting has a very important impact on the overall image quality because it not only affects the contrast and depth of the blacks, but also in the recovery of information in dark areas and the most illuminated This television supports a Direct Full Array backlight scheme with 480 zones whose light emission capacity can be dimmed independently.
The matrix LED Direct Full Array of this television has 480 zones whose attenuation can be managed independently
Placing the LED diode array behind the panel, which is the strategy for which Samsung has bet on this TV, and not on the edges, allows to distribute the light in a very homogeneous way. In addition, the matrix is divided into a very large number of areas, so that the ability to emit brightness can be adjusted individually in each of them to get much information in both the shadow and lightest areas of a same frame.
Another very important component of this TV in which it is worthwhile to stop is its image processor. Its name, Quantum Processor 8K, allows us to guess which is its most relevant function: to carry out the scaling to 8K from lower resolutions with the highest possible quality.
In this TV Samsung has resorted to an automatic learning algorithm that is able to analyze each frame and compare it with a database of images to determine which is the ideal scaling method for that particular frame. In the section that we will devote later on to the image quality of this television, we will check if this technology fulfills what was promised.
A very interesting feature that can help us to intuit how this model will perform during the playback of HDR content is its ability to deliver brightness. Interestingly, the Q900R family consists of three models that do not have the same maximum brightness delivery.
The 65-inch TV, which is the one we have analyzed, achieves, according to Samsung, deliver peak brightness in certain areas of the screen of 3,000 nits, while the models of 75 and 85 inches reach 4,000 nits. In any case, both figures are really high and we anticipate that, on paper, this family of televisions should offer us one of the most convincing HDRs on the market. We’ll check it a little later.
|SAMSUNG QLED 8K QE65Q900R||FEATURES|
|PANEL||LCD VA QLED 8K (7,680 x 4,320 points) of 65 inches with 480 backlight zones of type Direct Full Array|
|IMAGE PROCESSOR||Quantum Processor 8K|
|HDR||HDR, HDR10 + and HLG|
|MAXIMUM BRIGHTNESS||3,000 nits (65 “model) / 4,000 nits (75 and 85” models)|
|SOUND||4.2 topology speakers powered by a 60-watt amplifier (RMS)|
|DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS||Yes|
|TUNER||2 x DVB-T2 / 1 x analog tuner|
|CONNECTIVITY THROUGH ONE CONNECT||4 x HDMI 2.0b (up to 8K at 30 Hz)
3 x USB
1 x Ethernet
1 x optical digital audio output EIAJ / TosLink
1 x IC card slot
1 x RS-232C
1 x RF input
|WIRELESS CONNECTIVITY||WiFi 802.11ac
|ENERGY LABEL||Class D|
|DIMENSIONS||1,452.2 x 898.2 x 304.9 mm (with supports)|
|WEIGHT||30.5 kg (with supports)|
Samsung Q900R QLED 8K
In this family of televisions Samsung has opted for the same strategy that has been used in its latest models of high and premium ranges: the connectors are not housed in the chassis of the TV itself, but reside in a separate device called One Connect that is communicates with the television through a single cable, which, in addition, is quite thin. The most interesting thing is that this cable that connects the junction box and the TV not only transports the audio and video signals, but also the power supply.
This solution is essentially the same as we saw a few months ago on the TV of the Q9FN series that we had the opportunity to analyze, and it is very practical, especially if we want to hang our TV on the wall, because it allows us to access the connections of a comfortable way. However, it raises a somewhat disturbing question: what will happen when the deployment of HDMI 2.1 connectivity begins, which is the ideal to extract the full potential of content with 8K resolution?
The HDMI connectors that the One Connect connection box incorporates satisfy the 2.0b specification, and, therefore, are capable of transporting 8K signals with a maximum rate of 30 images per second.
The four HDMI connectors that clusters the One Connect box implement the 2.0b specification. This standard can transport, in addition to the relevant 4K UHD and Full HD signals, 8K signals with a maximum rate of 30 images per second. For cinema in principle it is enough, but if we want to extract all the potential to 8K signals enjoying higher rates, it is necessary to bet on the HDMI 2.1 specification, which reaches 60 Hz to 8K (even 120 Hz at this resolution using VESA compression). DSC 1.2a) and the 120 Hz to 4K UHD.
One of the most attractive consequences of removing the connectors and a part of the logic outside the main chassis of the TV is that it is possible to update them without having to renew our TV. Simply change the One Connect box for another that introduces the latest specifications. And ready. In fact, those responsible for Samsung Spain have told us that when the deployment of equipment with the HDMI 2.1 specification begins, the South Korean brand will change the One Connect boxes to customers who have purchased their current 8K televisions for others that will incorporate HDMI 2.1 connectors, and Therefore, they will be able to take advantage of signals with 8K resolution.
Stylized on the outside and with one of the best interfaces “inside”
The design of this TV strictly respects the trend we have observed for several generations in many of the high-end models not only Samsung, but also its competitors. Its frames are very thin and the legs are very stylized, so the panel is the element that demands all the attention when we are using the television.
Interestingly, its chassis is thicker than that of many LCD and OLED TVs that can be found in stores, although it is not exaggerated (measures 3.41 cm). But there is a good reason for it to be so. And is that the “fault” has the array of LED diodes that is placed behind the panel. LCD TVs with peripheral backlighting are usually thinner because the LEDs are placed on the frames and not behind the panel.
Placing them in this last location increases the thickness of the TV slightly, but, in turn, as we have seen a few paragraphs above, it has a very positive impact on the image quality because it allows to control with more precision the attenuation of the backlight in each one. of the 480 independent zones implemented in the LED matrix of this model. If we aspire to achieve the best possible image quality from an LCD panel, it is definitely worth betting on the subsequent backlighting to the detriment of the peripheral, despite the increased thickness that it entails.
On the other hand, the finish of this television is what we can expect to find in a premium model of a first brand. The frame is made of aluminum and is impeccably machined. Behind the TV is plastic (you can see the back in one of the photographs that we have included in the gallery that illustrates this analysis), but uses a polycarbonate of quite quality that does not detract from the whole. And the feet are also made of aluminum.
Its frames are very thin, but its thickness is greater than that of other TVs due to the location of the LED diodes that are responsible for the backlighting
A curious feature of this TV is that it allows us to fix our feet in two different locations : close to the central axis of the chassis, and therefore very close together (as we put them), or near the two ends of the chassis, and , therefore, more separated. This option is well thought because it allows us to adapt its location to the characteristics of the furniture on which we place the TV. Although we can also let ourselves be carried away by the choice that we like the most from a strictly aesthetic point of view.
A final note interesting: if we decided to fix the TV directly on the wall, either with the Samsung support, or with a support compatible with the VESA specification, we can save the feet in two compartments housed in the back of the TV chassis. Once they are placed there they do not protrude. In fact, they barely see each other. This option seems a good idea because it prevents us from losing them.
One of the qualities that allow this television to outperform some of its rivals, especially those that incorporate Android TV, is its operating system. Samsung is still committed to Tizen, and I think it’s a wise strategy because this platform is reasonably light and its interface from an aesthetic point of view is less intrusive and more stylized than its competitors. In my opinion, the models with Android TV in this section are worse off.
With this television we can interact using our voice, but this option seems impractical, beyond the impact it can have on the user initially, because usually, not always, it will take less time to achieve the desired effect by using the remote control, which , by the way, is minimalist and intuitive. In any case, it is a matter of taste. In addition, the speed at which we can move through the menus and with which we initiate the applications is quite high, so the experience of use that this TV offers us in this context is not but not bad.
Without 8K content it is the image quality that may or may not make sense to this TV
And finally we come to what is undoubtedly the most interesting section of this analysis. To test the image quality of this TV, which is currently the “flagship” of Samsung, I turned to my usual battery of Blu-ray 4K and Blu-ray Disc movies: ‘The reborn’ , ‘The arrival’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ . All of them have an impeccable picture and a really careful image quality. In addition, I also played content with 4K UHD and HDR resolution from the Netflix application integrated in the TV and tested the scaling from standard resolution by playing the DVD of the first installment of ‘Kill Bill’ .
One of the qualities that initially surprised me most about this television are its wide viewing angles. As we saw at the beginning of the article, its panel is VA type, and this technology usually offers us quite limited angles. But not in this model. In fact, we can look at the images from a very wide horizontal angle without our color perception just degrading. And this feature is quite an achievement on a screen equipped with a VA panel, which, although it does not match the performance of IPS panels in this area, performs reasonably well.
On the other hand, it has one of the deepest blacks that I have found so far on a television with LCD panel. They do not reach the intensity of the blacks of the best OLED models, but they are so good that sometimes, with certain contents, like the initial sequence of ‘The reborn’, you get the feeling that you are seeing the images generated by an OLED TV . And these are big words.
The second sequence of the film by Alejandro González Iñárritu is great to check the ability of the panel, the processing algorithm and the backlight to recover and restore information in the darkest and lightest areas of each frame. And, again, this television complies with the note. Its native contrast is not as high as that of OLED TVs, and, for this reason, in this test scenario is slightly behind the best models that use this latest technology. Even so, it is the LCD panel television that recovers more detail in dark areas of all that I have had the opportunity to analyze, closely followed, however, by the Sony MASTER Series ZF9 that I dissected just a few weeks ago.
As far as color reproduction is concerned, this television is at a great height. In fact, Samsung claims that its nanocrystal technology with metallic coating allows it to reproduce 93% of the DCI-P3 color space . And this data is not bad. However, it does not perform in all display modes. The one that offers us the most precise restitution of tones, the most balanced white balance, and also the most cinematographic aesthetic is, without a doubt, the Cinema mode. Factory calibration is quite accurate, but even so, users can fine-tune it a bit more.
The unit that we used to carry out this analysis was good for us to reduce the intensity of the backlight (with the original value the colors appear a bit “washed” in the most illuminated areas), the contrast, and, finally, also of the sharpness parameter. We can execute these adjustments from the “Expert Settings” menu of the image quality management panel (you can see it in the photograph below this paragraph).
As regards the ability to deliver maximum brightness in certain areas of the screen, this TV stands out. When the content accompanies the HDR it looks great (more with the movies than with the games), and its administration of the backlight, which, as we have seen, is quite accurate, contributes to the recovery of a lot of information in high light. However, it suffers from a burden that, although it does not tarnish its overall performance, we can not ignore it, especially if we bear in mind that the starting price of this family of televisions is high (the 65-inch model costs 5,000 euros).
This defect usually appears in the regions of the image where a very dark area (usually an intense black) and a very bright area are in contact. It manifests as a faint shadow that the dark area projects over the edge of the illuminated area, and sometimes can be seen with some clarity next to the horizontal black bars that usually appear at the top and bottom of the screen when we see most of the the movies. It is not a serious problem, and I am convinced that many fans will not even realize that it is there. But it exists and, for this reason, users are interested in knowing it.
As I anticipated in the first paragraphs of this analysis, one of the most interesting tests to which we had to submit this television requires placing our algorithm of scaling to 8K under our magnifying glass from resolutions lower than the native one of the panel. Samsung emphasizes that, thanks to machine learning , the Q900R family TVs make 4K content look better than TVs with native 4K UHD panel. And this affirmation are major words.
To find out we would have liked to compare the 65-inch models of the Q900R families, with panel 8K, and Q9FN, with the 4K UHD panel, both from Samsung, but for logistical reasons it was not possible. Even so, we were able to face the TV of the South Korean brand that we are analyzing and the top model with Sony LCD panel, the KD-65ZF9 whose analysis we published a few days ago, and which we still have in our laboratory.
Its scaling algorithm uses automatic learning to improve its performance, so in the future it may be able to perform even better
After examining in detail the conflicting regions of several selected frames of our reference films, it seems fair to me to defend that, indeed, the scaling of this television is fantastic. I find it risky to ensure that 4K UHD contents are globally better on this 8K TV than in a high-end model with 4K UHD panel, but the truth is that, at least, they do not look worse. In fact, the scale is so fine that in some regions it gives us the feeling that its level of detail is slightly greater than that recovered by a 4K UHD panel.
I propose that you draw your own conclusions by looking at the image that you have below these lines, which belongs to a frame of the film ‘Blade Runner 2049’. The image on the left has been taken from the 8K panel on the Samsung TV, and the one on the right belongs to the 4K UHD panel on the Sony TV. The 8K scaling from Full HD resolution content is not as impressive as the 4K UHD scaling, but it is also outstanding and guarantees an experience at least comparable to that offered by the most sophisticated 4K UHD TVs.
I have left the sound section expressly for the end of this section because I am afraid that it leaves me much less room for maneuver than its performance in the visual context. And this TV does not sound bad, but, of course, its sound is not up to its image quality. Like other televisions with a comparable level, this proposal from Samsung reproduces convincingly the mid and high frequencies, but with the extreme end it does not feel comfortable at all because it lacks the punch and detail required by the soundtracks of the movies nowadays.
In addition, if we decide to increase the volume until reaching a realistic sound pressure level, the distortion will appear in a very perceptible way. And if we expose ourselves to it during the footage of a complete movie it is likely that we will end up with some auditory fatigue. The solution? As usual the ideal is to bet on a good sound bar. Or, better yet, by a dedicated multichannel audio equipment that manages to recreate a real surround acoustic space.
With the games it is understood like a charm
All the conclusions we have reached in terms of the image quality of this television when playing cinematic content is perfectly valid when we use it with video games. To put it to the test we have connected to our Xbox One X , and, among other titles, we have played ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ and ‘Forza Horizon 4’ .
Other QLED TVs that we have seen have performed very well with video games thanks to their low input latency, and this model is no exception. In FlatpanelsHD have measured a latency of just over 16 ms both 1080p and 4K UHD, with and without the HDR enabled, and is a figure that fits well with my feelings to use the titles I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
In addition, an attractive feature of this TV is that the game mode is activated automatically , so to disable most of image processing in order to reduce latency input do not have to do anything. Just start playing. The TV identify the characteristics of the incoming video signal and disable most of the image processing.
One last interesting note in this field: when connected to an Xbox One X console, the adaptive refresh is activated. This technique allows you to synchronize the images that the console’s GPU emits with those that the TV reproduces, thus minimizing some annoying defects such as tearing and stuttering. The first causes the image to be deformed by a line that crosses it horizontally from one end to the other, and the second induces the appearance of small jumps in the cadence of images that reduce fluidity and can ruin our experience.
Samsung QLED 8K Q900R: Our opinion and note
The strongest asset of this television, and the reason why it is worthwhile to notice it, is its global image quality. If we stick to its maximum delivery of brightness is the most impressive TV that we can find on the market today, including here both the LCD and OLED models, and this quality allows you, when the content accompanies, recreate a vibrant HDR that, in addition, it is managed by dynamic metadata (it is compatible with HDR10 +).
Its color management and the level of detail it is able to recover in dark areas are also outstanding, two characteristics that have a direct impact on its overall image quality. And, of course, I can not forget its great scaling from resolutions lower than 8K and how good it is with video games.
Even so, it’s not perfect. As we have seen throughout the analysis in its “must” it has a sound clearly inferior to its performance in the field of the image, the absence of 8K content and that faint shadow that the areas with deep blacks can project on the regions illuminated by “fault” of the limitations introduced by the attenuation of the backlight.
In any case, in my opinion, his hardest rival has it inside the house. And it is that the televisions of the family Q9FN of Samsung offer us a quality of global image very near to the one of this model with panel 8K in all the scenarios of use. Even with video games. In addition, its price is much lower. In fact, we can now effortlessly find the 65-inch Q9FN model for less than 2,700 euros, a figure significantly more attractive than the 5,000 euros that Samsung asks us for the 8K panel of the same inches. Even so, whoever is looking for the latest of the latest and do not be intimidated by the price of this proposal will do well to introduce it in their list of candidates.
- Your overall image quality is outstanding
- If the content accompanies the HDR it is impressive thanks to its ability to deliver brightness
- The scaling algorithm works really well, especially from content 4K UHD and Full HD
- Makes great with video games thanks to its low input latency
- Areas with very intense blacks can project shadows over the most illuminated areas
- Its sound is not up to its high global image quality
- The absence of content with 8K resolution plays against this TV
- The models of the Q9FN family have a more attractive price / performance ratio