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Hands on with Samsung's 2023 QN900C 65-inch TV: 8K? I'm starting to be a believer

By Ken Wong - 1 May 2023

Hands on with the 65-inch Samsung QN900C: 8K? I'm starting to be a believer 

Note: This feature was first published on 4 April 2023.

The Samsung 2023 Neo-QLED QN900C 8K TV. (Image source: Samsung.)

The 8K question 

Despite the fact that there is little to no native 8K content currently available, TV manufacturers are telling us that 8K is where we need to be. Almost all of the major brands have released an 8K TV touting the clarity and brightness it delivers. So when Samsung asked us to try out their 65-inch QN900C 8K TV, I took it with a pinch of salt. 

A 1080p TV has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, a 4K TV has 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, and an 8K TV has an incredible 7,680 x 4,320 pixels. That’s four times more pixels than a 4K TV! But do you really get to enjoy it all? Size and viewing distance from the screen come into play here because the ability to resolve details onscreen is crucial in figuring out should you need to get an 8K TV. We have more guidance on this in our 8K TV Buying Guide, but simply said, 4K resolution is sufficient for screens up to 55 inches or even 65 inches if you sit much further away from it. However, if you’re going to be sitting at distances less than two meters with a 65-inch screen or have a larger screen, that’s when you can really enjoy 8K resolution in all its glory.  


Getting cosy with Samsung’s 2023 Neo-QLED TV 

Image source: Samsung.

Back to Samsung’s newest screens for 2023, we managed to get some screen time with their QN900C, which is a Neo-QLED class TV. It replaces conventional LED backlighting with tinier and more precise mini-LED backlighting that is just as bright, or brighter because Samsung can pack quite a lot of mini-LEDs behind the screen. Plus, mini-LEDs are less than 0.2mm in size and can offer far more precise control of the screen’s backlighting which leads to better image quality.

It supports high dynamic range (HDR) content in HDR10, HDR10+, and hybrid log gamma (HLG). The QN900C’s Quantum Matrix Ultimate backlight technology uses 14-bit processing, while its Neural Quantum 8K processor employs machine learning to enhance both video and audio performance.

As we reported earlier, this 2023 Neo-QLED TV comes with a new Auto HDR Remastering feature, which uses AI to convert standard dynamic range (SDR) content into high dynamic range (HDR) on a scene-by-scene basis. This means that it uses AI deep learning technology to analyse and apply real-time High Dynamic Range (HDR) effects on SDR content scene-by-scene, making SDR content brighter and livelier. Working in tandem with auto content upscaling techniques to ensure your HD or 4K content sources look even better on the 8K screen, Auto HDR Remastering now adds an additional layer of improvements. We don’t have a 2022 8K TV of similar calibre to compare and contrast alongside the new QN900C to test out this new feature expressly, so we’ll reserve full comments on the capability of the Auto HDR Remastering in a future story.

Check out the bezel-free design! It's truly breathtaking when you consider the front face is almost all screen. In our case, all 65 inches.

From the front, the Samsung QN900C looks sleek and slim with a virtually bezel-free form factor. Indeed, when watching shows and movies, I did marvel at the slimness of the bezels and the virtually edge-to-edge display I was enjoying. In a word, it was breathtaking. Seeing these screens in the electronics store is one thing, but having one in your own home is another that will bring a smile across your face.

This is the Samsung One Connect Box that can sit snugly behind their TV screen (as seen in one of their events in 2022 with their flagship QN900B Neo QLED 8K TV last year), or it can be detached and placed just about anywhere you need for easy reach on your TV console area.

Now, this comes with Samsung’s One Connect Box where you plug all your AV devices into. But while it is slim, small it is not, coming in larger than a typical laptop. But I have to admit that it is handy having access to the box and all the connectivity options than having to struggle with TV screens that usually manage connections from behind the screen. As far as usability and versatility of deployment are concerned, Samsung is still way ahead of the competition with the Samsung One Invisible Connection that interfaces between the Samsung One Connect Box and the TV screen itself.

The many connection options you get access to on the Smart One Connect Box.

In terms of HDMI ports, the Samsung QN900C Neo QLED 8K TV has 4 HDMI 2.1 ports, that support features like variable refresh rate (VRR), auto low latency mode (AALM), and an enhanced audio return channel (eARC) for your soundbar. Other options include an Ethernet port, three USB ports, and one digital audio out (optical). This is par for the course since Samsung achieved this for their 2022 Neo QLED models too, but it's good to know that all these connections and capabilities are still present in the 2023 models.

A compact, do-it-all remote. You would be surprised by its functional versatility, given the limited buttons it has.

Now the remote has a very familiar look and feel, but it isn’t as long as its predecessor. This serves it well and I really like the feel of this new remote as it sits snugly in hand. One handy feature is the solar charging capability built on its back, in addition to USB charging if you need a quick boost. But I wish that it had number keys and dedicated play buttons to make navigation and entering details a tad easier. To that note, the remote is well designed to give you access to manage these aspects quickly, but it’s invoked and not the same as having the controls directly on the remote (such as on Sony’s remote). Fortunately, there are dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and Samsung TV Plus (although this service isn’t available here).

The solar panel on the remote's rear helps you charge it under the sunny Singapore weather. It's a good eco move by Samsung.

There is also a mic built-in to the remote that supports Samsung Bixby, but not Google Assistant. The lack of Google Assistant shouldn't matter too much as Bixby is adequate to manage the important voice commands to manage the TV and you can connect to Google Home to gain access to your smart home devices.

Furthermore, Google Meet can be installed and used with a compatible webcam (sold separately) to keep in touch with your loved ones and video conference them in the comfort of your couch and via a big screen. 

The new slightly refreshed user interface.

Samsung says that the Smart TV user interface is also refreshed, but if you’ve seen or used StarHub’s TV+ Pro box, or those from other TVs, then this would look pretty commonplace and expected by now as the updates are subtle. There is a line of commonly used apps, last watched, and suggestions. Connecting to an app isn’t difficult. I found it easier to scan the provided QR code using my smartphone and enter the details there rather than using the 4-way navigation wheel to manoeuvre through the onscreen keyboard. 

Samsung also said that the SmartThings Zigbee and Matter Thread One-Chip Module is directly built into the QN900C enabling Calm Tech. This means that it can double up as a smart home hub for non-Samsung and non-SmartThings compatible devices. Users can manage smart home devices directly from the TV, and the new TV can also detect and connect to other applicable smart home devices with Calm Technology. Unfortunately, we had no other suitable smart home device on hand to test out Calm Tech.


TV Performance: Prepare to be blown away!

Easily connect the QN900C to a Samsung soundbar with Q Symphony 3.0. Image source: Samsung.

From what I’ve seen, all the effort that Samsung has put in to develop and deliver a crisp, clear, and bright image has been worth it. At least for 4K content, that would be automatically upscaled to 8K. This is where Samsung’s Neural Quantum Processor 8K with up to 64 neutral networks (compared to 20 neural networks in 2022) come into play. Basically, it means that the more neural networks, the TV is able to upscale videos to 8K resolution with better refinement. However, this is still highly dependent on the original content format as the TV has to work off it to try its best to wow you.

Of particular use here is Auto HDR Remastering (instead of SDR remastering), which we’ve covered earlier. This is a set of deep learning-based AI technology that analyses the difference between SDR and HDR content and automatically enhances contrast, colours and brightness to HDR level. 

Nemo in 4K, but upscaled to 8K by the TV :)

When watching 4K YouTube content, I was blown away by the brightness and clarity of the display and the colours. Our underwater 4K test video was so crisp and bright that I felt like I was swimming in the ocean. The colours were sharp and accurate with no oversaturation, and I wasn't left feeling like I needed to adjust any colour or brightness settings, which is important considering the TV needs to wow and please its users out of the box.

It's slightly tricky to see from an image shot on the TV, but the depth from the Real Depth Enhancer Pro can be seen from the yellow wreckage in the foreground.

The Real Depth Enhancer Pro (which builds upon their non-Pro 2022 edition) detects areas where a viewer's eyes would typically focus on what's happening onscreen to enhance the depth by optimising numerous blocks of mini-LEDs for 3D-like realistic pictures. During our screen test viewing of Avengers: End Game, I found that this helped the foreground stand out while the background wasn’t as distinct when compared to the characters of Captain America and Thanos fighting on the screen.

Nemo in native 8K content format, courtesy of YouTube.

Playback of native 8K content from YouTube was where I felt issues beginning to creep in, mainly because proper 8K content isn’t really available, so what you’re watching is highly dependent on the content source and the QN900C’s processing capabilities.

A very oversaturated manta ray in YouTube's native 8K format.

In some cases, the 8K test video from YouTube made the colours too rich and led to the oversaturation of colours to a point where some seemed distorted. It also made the mini-LEDs easily seen, spoiling the viewing experience. Perhaps YouTube 8K content clips aren’t the best option, but that’s the only major source of such high-resolution content. This is also why we opened this section above that Samsung is doing a really fine job with handling existing 4K content by upscaling them to 8K.

Our test video is clear enough to see all the lines on Tom Cruise's face. If you thought 4K shows a lot of detail, 8K reveals a little too much, sometimes.

Now on the note of content, Samsung eschews support for Dolby Vision in favour of HDR10+. Both formats support up to 10,000 nits of brightness and 8K resolution. HDR10+ has a colour depth of 10-bits and 1.07 billion colours,  while Dolby Vision has a colour depth of 12-bits and 68.7 billion colours. However, the most important aspect of both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision is support for dynamic metadata as opposed to static metadata in the basic HDR10 format. Dynamic metadata support lends scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame application of tone-mapping to ensure HDR content appears more accurate while watching the show at any juncture, whereas static metadata only applies a fixed setting that would carry throughout the show. As such, both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision content would enable viewers to watch a more faithfully reproduced show that handles the needs of a HDR scene be it a character moving from a bright outdoor location to a cave that’s only lit by a torch held in hand.

So what does this mean for Samsung TVs? Since there isn't as much HDR10+ content out there compared to Dolby Vision-enabled content, when you play shows that are designed for Dolby Vision, Samsung TVs would end up supporting only the basic HDR10 format upon which HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are developed. So you won’t get dynamic metadata support, and Dolby Vision-supported content won’t look as great as it should. However, with more and more TVs beginning to support HDR10+, hopefully, this disadvantage could change soon. To be accurate, Samsung's current TVs now support HDR10+ Adaptive standard that takes in room lighting conditions to work alongside HDR10+ content, but our rant still holds true for the lack of such content to begin with.

Some of the TV's speakers. Image source: Samsung.

For the duration of the testing, we had to make do with the speakers from the TV, but this is no ordinary TV. It certainly didn’t disappoint with a 6.2.4-channel built-in speaker system and a total of 90 watts of audio power delivery. It also features Q Symphony 3.0 and Object Tracking Sound Plus to enhance the directionality of sound effects. With Q-Symphony 3.0, the Neo Quantum Processor will pipe dialogue to a connected Q-Series soundbar, while the rest of the audio will be channelled through the TV’s multiple speakers to create a more detailed and three-dimensional sound experience. While we didn’t have access to a Samsung soundbar to try Q Symphony 3.0, we have successfully demoed this capability with an earlier version in our video demo here to showcase its effectiveness

During our playback of Top Gun: Maverick clips in 4K, I was amazed at the depth of audio delivered from the TV. I could literally feel the roar of the jet engines as they swooped across the screen, adding to the overall atmosphere of the scene we were watching. In our Avengers: End Game test scene with Dolby Atmos, the TV delivered every punch and shot with crisp definition, making it feel like I was really part of the action. Even without investing in a soundbar, you won’t feel like you’re missing much with these TV speakers, which are one of the best in any TV’s built-in audio system.

The combined visual and audio excellence like this doesn't come cheap. The 65-inch Samsung QN900C is priced at S$9,899 and is available at retail partners like Harvey Norman, Courts, Best Denki, and others. 


In Summary

Marvel at the level of detail visible in this shot set against the sun.

The Samsung QN900C is expensive but visually perfect at handling 4K content upscaled to 8K with rich, deep, and vibrant colours. While its 8K capability might be a little too much for its 65-inch screen size (unless the screen is really close to your seating position), its audio prowess doesn't disappoint and lets you feel like you're part of the action. Is it really worth the near five-digit asking price? It's tough to quantify as the TV certainly scores high in the design and usability aspects, and it's the sum of features, design and experiences that Samsung is pegging a price to its latest Neo QLED TV.

However, one positive side is that the bigger you go, and if history repeats itself, the QN900C series could be in the running to be the best screen at 75 inches or larger for high-end value. At this size, users can really see the effects of having an 8K Neo QLED TV over an OLED TV of a similar size that can 'only' offer 4K resolution. 2023 TV model prices have yet to be released across all brands at the point of publishing this article, but we'll be sure to revisit this and run in the QN900C more stringently to give it a full review.

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