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Samsung S95D OLED TV hands-on: Its innovative "anti glare" coating is quite unlike any others in the industry

By Aaron Yip - 27 Apr 2024

Samsung S95D OLED TV hands-on: Its innovative "anti glare" coating is quite unlike any others in the industry

Note: This hands-on was first published on 19 April 2024.

At first impressions, the Samsung S95D is easily one of the top OLED televisions of 2024.

The Samsung S95D OLED TV stands out as the pinnacle of Samsung’s OLED offerings this year. Last month, I had the opportunity to spend a few days playing games on the Xbox Series X and binge-watching Netflix and Disney+ shows on the 65-inch version – all in the name of work, of course. From what I've seen, it's set to be one of the top OLED televisions of the year.

OLED Glare Free Technology is no gimmick

Here's an example of how the S95D's anti-glare tech diffuses bright lights in a black background and turning them into 'glows' that does not distract you as much as bright spots do.

The most significant improvement in the S95D isn’t just an increment in the refresh rate or the brightness of colors (which are notably upgraded), but what Samsung has termed OLED Glare Free Technology. Although this technology was announced at CES 2024 (read about it here), it was only by seeing it in action in my own study room that I truly appreciated the extent of Samsung's innovation.

You see, OLED displays are celebrated for their deep blacks and vibrant colours, yet they are notorious for their glare issues caused by glossy surfaces – be it from table lamps or sunlight if the TV is near a window. The usual workaround that most TV manufacturers apply involves using an anti-reflective matte finish or coating, which typically dulls the colours slightly and diminishes the depth of blacks.

On coloured backgrounds, the lights are barely noticeable. It's also worth noting that my reflection (when taking photos in front of the TV) is not shown too.

Samsung’s new “glare free” technology, however, allows much greater flexibility in television placement, doing an excellent job of either completely blocking or quickly diffusing reflections. In my time with the S95D, I tested it with a standing lamp and overhead LED lights. The technology impressively diffused the bright lights, turning them into very faint, contained light 'balls' or glows. Combined with the OLED panel’s colour and brightness, it effectively overpowers reflections from light sources, making them minimally distracting – if at all.

Some of our more astute readers would probably remember that Sony was actually a forerunner to reduce screen reflections and glare from their lead models in their 2022 TV launch. We tested the Sony A80K 4K OLED model that sported a matte finish, and while it did technically work, the actual usage resulted in a screen that's not as bright as its predecessor, which didn't have a matte finish. Have a look at the following images shot in bright (focused on the glare from the test room's florescent lighting) and dark rooms respectively:-

This is a classic example of OLED screen glare and the TV doesn't have an anti-glare coating or finish. Photographed on a Sony A90J Master OLED TV. (Click to view a larger image.) Here's an example of an early screen reflection reduction present on the Sony Bravia A80K OLED TV. It helped diffuse some of the glare, but much of it is still visible. (Click to view a larger image.)

Left: Sony A90J Master OLED (2021) vs Right: Sony A80K OLED (2022). Granted the 2021 model was a 'master' tier, in-so-far as large screen TVs are concerned, the A80K was Sony's lead 2022 model and the first to feature anti-glare coating. The result was the newer TV was less vibrant and some details were harder to discern, whereas the older TV had more convincing HDR delivery worthy of your OLED purchase. Onscreen show: Bumblebee movie streamed from Amazon Prime. (Click to view a larger image.)

It didn't make the Sony A80K any less desirable, but as the lead 2022 model, it wasn't necessarily better than the 2021 edition. That's not the case with the Samsung S95D OLED, and that's why we're impressed. It is more than sufficiently bright and vibrant while also repelling almost anything that could distract you by way of reflections with its innovative anti-glare coating. Take a look at our video comparison of a Sony A95L OLED TV (2023 lead model) without glare treatment vs. the Samsung S95D OLED with its Glare Free matte screen finish to see the difference:-

@hwztech We thought it's a gimmick, so we had to put Samsung's new S95D OLED TV and it's Glare Free matte screen to test! #samsung #brightroom #2024tv #glare #matte #oledtv #oled #tiktoksg #fyp ♬ Funk It Up - Official Sound Studio

In essence, the TV's major advantage over its competitors is its ability to let you enjoy all the pros of OLED technology without its key downside, even in a well-lit room. This allows you to stay immersed in whatever you are watching or gaming, free from the need to adjust blinds, draw curtains, or reposition objects that reflect light onto the screen.

Part of the reason why Samsung can execute this very well is because they've been dabbling with lifestyle TVs (The Frame, The Serif and The Sero) for several years now, which addresses a very different usage model. In 2022, they debuted anti-glare, anti-reflection and even anti-fingerprint properties to their matte screen lifestyle TVs and I guess the rest is history.

There are other upgrades too

The 4.2.2-channel speaker system on the S95D is pretty impressive on its own merits.

Aesthetically, the S95D is almost identical to last year’s S95C, although the OLED Glare Free Technology gives it a less glossy appearance on the front. It maintains a sleek, minimalistic design down to its slender 11-millimeter frame and the external One Connect box for cable management, which can be installed at the back of the TV's stand, placed beside it or even further away in your TV console.

The One Connect box, together with its One Invisible Connection, is a wonderful option that no other TVs offer: a truly flexible, neat and accessible option for you to reach and manage physical input options and the conventional unsightly power cable. While this feature has existed for many years, Samsung is the only TV brand to offer such a solution. Have a look at this photo we shot at an event on its elegant rear:-

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

The audio capabilities of the S95D have also been enhanced. It features a 4.2.2-channel speaker system driven by 70 watts. My initial impressions, particularly while streaming The Mandalorian Season 1, were positive. I found the audio clean, and the dialogue was well-handled. However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t quite reach the benchmark set by the Sony Bravia A90J Master, which in our view, still holds the gold standard for TV built-in audio (read about it here). By contrast, the S95D still yearns for your attention to pair it with a good soundbar for wholehearted audio delivery to round out the mid notes with more weight and enjoy the lower bass frequencies, while Sony's flagship TV is quite self-sufficient on its own.

Tizen OS is still clunky

For gamers, the S95D offers a boatload of settings and on-screen information such as the current refresh rate.

On the software side, Tizen OS includes a gaming mode menu that simplifies the process of adjusting your settings, confirming the correct refresh rate, and activating features like an on-screen crosshair (although I have never found this to be useful, but it’s just me).

I've never been particularly fond of Samsung’s Tizen, finding it somewhat complex to navigate, but gamers will be pleased to know that the S95D supports a broad range of cloud gaming services, including NVIDIA GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass, right out of the box – a feature Samsung has offered on selected TVs and monitors since 2022. You can even connect a controller via Bluetooth to start playing games on it immediately.

My quick thoughts

We'll need to spend more time thoroughly assessing the performance of the Samsung S95D OLED TV, but my initial impressions have been very positive. While there is much to like about the S95D, it is the introduction of Samsung’s OLED Glare Free Technology that stands out the most for me. This new anti-glare coating is quite unlike any others in the industry and is a feature we never knew we needed; it is a game-changer.

The Samsung S95D OLED TV 65-inch (that I tested here) is available for purchase at Samsung's website with an SRP of S$6,198.75 (Samsung is running a special promotion for the S95D 65-inch, retailing the television at $5,499 for a limited time).

The S95D is also available in 55-inch and 77-inch sizes and is retailing for S$4,299 and S$10,499 (both are promo pricing), respectively.

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