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Samsung 75-inch Q950T QLED 8K TV review: Nailing the balancing act

By Ng Chong Seng - 3 Oct 2020
Launch SRP: S$17999

Performance

 

Performance

During testing, I disabled all the modes in the Intelligent Mode Settings menu except for the room-detecting and scene-optimising Adaptive Sound, but you might want to selectively enable a couple more based on your needs. For instance, the volume-boosting Active Voice Amplifier can help to maintain dialogue clarity in a noisy room.

Like all the other QLED TVs I’ve tested before, I found the Movie preset to be the best picture mode (read: accurate). I recommend this mode for most content, including live TV and Blu-ray movies.

Filmmaker mode isn't available at launch, but is added after the Aug firmware update.

 

1.) Bright vs. dark room

The Q950T is ideal for a room with lots of ambient light because it can go very bright to combat glare and reflections.

Viewing angles are also very good, which means family members sitting at different viewing positions will get roughly the same picture quality. Generally, colour shifts and contrast dips only start to get noticeable once you pass ±30° from the centre of the screen — but even then, it's a minor dip.

The Q950T works well in a dark room, too. Blacks still aren’t true blacks like OLED but compared to last year’s Q900R, contrast and black performance are appreciably better this time. The TV’s Ultra Viewing Angle layer scatters light very effectively and complements nicely with the precision-controlled full-array local dimming system to stop blacks turning into greys.

OLED-like inky blacks thanks to precise control of the direct LED backlight unit. (Note: Blown-out highlights due to limited dynamic range of my camera.)

 

2.) Colours

The quantum dot-enhanced Q950T offers very good wide colour gamut performance and is able to cover the majority of the DCI-P3 colour space — good news if you watch HDR.

Overall, colours are very saturated and vibrant, even at high brightness. I was half expecting some colour dullness because of the Ultra Viewing Angle layer, but that fortunately didn’t happen.

Colours really pop.

 

3.) 8K & HDR

According to Samsung, the Q950T has a peak brightness of 4,000 nits, with full-fill at 500 nits. The bad news is I’ve never gotten anywhere near 2,000 nits outside of a test environment, much less 4,000. The good news is that it doesn’t matter.

After trying out different picture mode, brightness and local dimming permutations, I managed to get the Q950T to hit 1,600 nits for HDR. That’s excellent — the best OLED TVs struggle to even touch 1,000 nits.

In an actual HDR movie-watching setting, this means that the Q950T is capable of rendering very convincing specular highlights. And it can do so in a very bright room. Backlight blooming, while not totally suppressed, is largely negligible.

It’s a similar story for content like live TV and non-HDR shows: the ability to crank up the Q950T's brightness ensures you don’t get a washed out picture when you decide to let the sun into the living room.

In terms of upscaling, I won’t say the Q950T is miles better than the Q900R. I saw bits of artefacts here and there, but they were usually gone in a blink of an eye. Overall, I'll say 1080p upscaled to 8K still looks good, below 720p to 8K is meh but watchable.

Other than very minute banding, 8K upscaling works well.

 

4.) Motion

For an 8K TV, the Q950T’s response time is excellent.

Like last year’s Q900R, the Q950T can do motion interpolation all the way to 100Hz, good if you to want smooth fast-moving content with low frame rates. The Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction sliders (both now fall under Picture Clarity instead of Auto Motion Plus) are where you should go to tweak the effects — though as always, turning them all the way down works wonders to eliminate judder for 24p material.

The TV can also do black frame insertion up to 100Hz, thus allowing 100 fps content to still look bright and sharp in motion. My recommendation is to spend some time playing with the LED Clear Motion setting and decide if you like what you're seeing.

While not technically flicker-free, the Q950TS uses pulse-width modulation (PWM) at a super-high frequency to adjust its backlight, which means you’re unlikely to notice anything unless you're very sensitive to flicker.

 

5.) Gaming

With Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Game mode should come on automatically and activate the most appropriate gaming settings when the TV detects your console.

The Q950T supports FreeSync VRR. It also supports VESA’s Adaptive Sync standard, which means it’s technically ready to work over HDMI with recent NVIDIA GeForce cards (GTX 10 series and above) with the proper driver. NVIDIA does have a G-Sync Compatible certification program to enable a baseline G-Sync VRR experience for such displays — and last I heard, Samsung is planning to get its QLED TVs certified.

The Q950T has an input lag of about 10ms when gaming at 1080/50p. That’s about half a frame, the shortest lag I’ve come across for a TV, LCD or OLED. This maintains even at 4K resolution or with VRR enabled.

Other long-time gaming features include Dynamic Black Equaliser (for seeing objects more clearly in dark scenes) and Game Motion Plus. Game Motion Plus is basically motion interpolation but for games and it affects game smoothness and motion sharpness — so adjust the settings to taste.

If I can nitpick, the presence of a sole HDMI 2.1 port baffles me. What if I’ve both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X? Which one gets the port? I don’t want to choose — I love all my consoles.

With a compatible console, Game mode will be automatically activated.

 

6.) Sound

The Q950T has built-in 70W speakers arranged in a 4.2.2-channel-like config. The main draw here is the Object Tracking Sound+ tech, which tracks the action on-screen and directs the audio to the relevant speakers to create a 3D audio experience.

Does it work, though? Yes, there’s plenty of volume and enough separation between the side and top speakers to create a more-than-decent surround imaging. My only gripe is that the bass sounds a bit messy.

Unlike last year’s Q900R, the Q950T supports HDMI eARC so you can do Dolby Atmos passthrough via uncompressed Dolby TrueHD.

Performance Scores
Test Score
Bright room 9.0
Dark room 8.5
Color 9.0
4K / 8K 9.5
HDR 9.5
Motion 8.0
Gaming 9.5
Audio 8.0
 

(Credit: Videos for above illustrations can be found on YouTube here and here.)

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9.0
  • Design 9.5
  • HD Performance 9.5
  • SD Performance 9.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 8
The Good
High brightness great for HDR and bright room viewing
Wide viewing angles make for a good family TV
Good gaming performance thanks to low input lag and FreeSync
Gorgeous, OLED-like design
New audio features like OTS+ and AVA actually work
The Bad
Still one HDMI 2.1 port
No Dolby Vision support
Pricey
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