Samsung 65-inch Q9F QLED TV (2018) review: Closing the gap
Intro & Key features
Available in four series - Q6F, Q7F, Q8C, and Q9F - Samsung's 2018 QLED TVs are still quantum dot-enhanced LED-lit 4K LCD TVs. Looks-wise, the most obvious difference between them is that the Q9F, Q7F, and Q6F are flatscreen TVs, while the Q8C is a curved TV.
Now, I've covered Samsung's QLED tech quite extensively in the past; but since Samsung is re-using the model names for its 2017 TVs this year, it'd be remiss of me not to point out what's really changed in the 2018 Q series.
(Pro-tip: The way to know if you're looking at the 2017 or 2018 model is to look for the TV's longer model name. For example, the 2017 Q9F's product name starts with Q9FA (followed by a few more letters), whereas the 2018 Q9F's has Q9FN. In short: if you see the letter "A" after the name (e.g., Q9FA, Q8CA), that means it's the 2017 model. If you see the letter "N" after the name (e.g., Q9FN, Q8CN), it's the 2018 model.)
Similarities between 2017 and 2018 QLED TVs
1.) 100% color volume
Thanks to their use of metal-coated quantum dots, Samsung’s QLED TVs offer 100% color volume measured to the DCI-P3 standard certified by VDE Germany. This basically means the colors are able to maintain their accuracy under different conditions, such as across different levels of brightness.
2.) Ultra HD Premium certification
The 2017 and 2018 Q9F, Q8C, and Q7F TVs are certified by the UHD Alliance as Ultra HD Premium, which means they support a 10-bit color depth signal, wide color gamut with at least 90% coverage for DCI-P3, and more than 1,000 nits peak brightness and less than 0.05 nits black level.
3.) HDR10+ support
The 2017 and 2018 QLED TVs support HDR10+ (the 2017 models after a firmware update), so with compatible HDR content, it can do dynamic tone-mapping (i.e., adjust color and contrast levels scene by scene) to get even better picture quality than the baseline HDR10 format.
4.) One Remote Control
The QLED TVs also come with a One Remote Control, which is able to automatically detect, connect, and label other connected devices. Yes, this means you can navigate the TV, search content, and control multiple peripherals in your A/V setup (e.g., set-top boxes, game consoles, speakers) with just one remote. If you use Samsung SmartThings, you can also use this remote to control your smart devices.
5.) No-gap wall mount
For users who want to mount their TVs, the Q9F, Q8C, and Q7F offer a no-gap wall mount that enables the TVs to be hung flush with the wall.
Samsung also sells two designer stands - Gravity Stand and Studio Stand - for its 65 and 55-inch QLED TVs.
Key improvements on 2018 QLED models
1.) FreeSync support
The 2018 QLED TVs have a native refresh rate of 100Hz (the exception is the 49-inch Q6F at 50Hz). More importantly, since firmware update 1103, they (again, except the 49-inch Q6F) now support FreeSync (the setting is found under Game mode), an adaptive synchronization technology designed to eliminate screen stuttering and tearing during gaming. And this variable refresh rate (VRR) tech works in 4K too. In short, if you've a PC with a compatible AMD/Radeon GPU or a gaming console such as the Xbox One X to take advantage of VRR, you'd get a smoother gaming experience.
2.) Improved One Invisible Connection + One Connect Box
To further reduce cable clutter, the 2018 Q9F, Q8C, and Q7F have merged the power cable and optical cable into a single cable. Called One Invisible Connection 2.0, this cable is all that’s needed to carry video and audio signals and power from the One Connect Box (which is the external box you connect your A/V devices to) to the TV.
Also, since this cable can be extended up to 15 meters, you now have the freedom to place the TV far away from the power source or from the rest of your peripherals.
3.) Magic Screen
The 2018 QLED TVs have this Magic Screen feature that lets you put other content (e.g., your own photos, time and weather) on the screen when you aren’t actively watching movies and TV. You can also apply your own interactive background so that the TV can blend with your environment.
Notably, Samsung says the TVs can operate in this ambient mode 24/7 without suffering from burn-in. Connect Testlab from Germany recently conducted a test on the 2018 QLED TVs, and found that they didn’t exhibit any undesirable visual effects after stress-testing them for 72 hours straight.
What's the difference between the 2018 Q9F and the other 2018 QLED models?
The flagship Q9F is the only 2018 model with direct full-array LED backlighting (Samsung calls it Direct Full Array Elite); the rest use edge-lit backlights. Versus edge-lit systems, this should make for better local dimming performance. In general, TVs with full-array local dimming backlights exhibit deeper blacks and purer whites, with less ‘blooming’ effects than their edge-lit counterparts. It goes without saying that the Q9F is the brightest QLED TV in the lineup.
While the Q8C and Q7F have an anti-reflective screen, the Q9F is the only one to have an additional anti-reflection technology (Ultra Black Elite) on the film covering the display and panel itself. Samsung says this treatment dramatically reduces glare on the Q9F’s screen and enhances contrast levels.
What about the Q6F? Is that a low-end model?
With a starting price of S$2,699 (for the 49-inch model), the Q6F is the Samsung’s most affordable QLED TV series.
Despite its wallet-friendlier price, the Q6F shares many features with its higher-end and higher-priced siblings. For one, it too is a quantum dot-enhanced 4K TV with 100% color volume. It also supports HDR10+, Magic Screen, and SmartThings.
An edge-lit TV, the Q6F isn’t Ultra HD Premium-certified. While it comes with the One Remote Control, it doesn’t support the One Invisible Connection and One Connect Box. As such, you’ll find all the ports at the back of the TV. Connectivity-wise, it too has four HDMI ports, but it does have one fewer USB port (two) compared to the other QLED models.