Samsung QE75Q900R 8K TV Review $15,999.95
PAT PILCHER gets to wrestle with and finally, feast his eyes on the humungous 75-inch 8K flagship from Samsung.
Tech is a funny business. Fuelled by the shiny and the new, there’s always something exciting happening. TVs are of course no exception to this rule. And this Samsung 8K TV review is a good example.
When Freeview launched HD broadcasts (at a crisp and fresh resolution of 1920×1080), and HD televisions hit retailer shelves, they were a quantum leap over old school standard definition TV.
HD capable Blu-ray discs were around the corner. And upscaling DVD players were also hitting retailer shelves. In short, there was plenty of HD available and consumers upgraded to flashier HD tellies like there was no tomorrow.
“That didn’t deter consumers though. They still went bananas, even if it was purely for bragging rights.”
To 4K … and Beyond!
Next came 4K (also known as Ultra HD or UHD) sporting a 3840×2160 resolution – a whopping four times higher than HD. It was a huge leap upwards in terms of picture quality over HD. There was only one gotcha – UHD content was lacking. That didn’t deter consumers though.
They still went bananas, even if it was purely for bragging rights. Soon 4K Blu-ray discs appeared, and 4K-streamed media from the likes of Amazon Prime became widely available. Nonetheless, 4K took a little longer than HD to gain traction.
Standing still in tech is a lot like going backwards, and now 8K TVs are here. Offering 8x HD or double the screen goodness of UHD, 8K TVs sport a boggling screen resolution of 7680 x 4320 or a whopping 33.2 million pixels. Compare this to the mere 8.3 million of UHD and the paltry two million of HD.
So what’s the deal with the ever-expanding pixel quota? The thinking here is that more pixels equals more picture information and that this should equate to more detail and that this should, in turn, translate into enhanced tube time.
Which is great if you have 8K source content right? Maybe.
To date, there is effectively no 8K content. The only broadcaster dabbling in 8K is NHK in Japan who are doing 8K content over their BS8K channel. (They’ve also committed to broadcasting much of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K).
“It’s a vexing issue and a frequent source of heated debate amongst AV geeks.”
But in NZ there will be no native 8K content available for the foreseeable future – we still haven’t got around to broadcasting UHD yet. So do we need 8K TVs such as this one covered in this Samsung 8K TV review?
It’s a vexing issue and a frequent source of heated debate amongst AV geeks.
I looked into this a while back and think that the answer may lay in the upscaling capabilities of 8K TVs (Check out that story here).
Either way, the debate is now mostly academic. As Samsung have launched the oh-so-shiny Q900R range, all of which are 8K capable.
I got hold of the positively huge 75-inch QE75Q900R model to test. It is more like a windowless building than a TV; so much so that I needed help just to unbox it. Once unboxed and set up, it turned out that the QE75Q900R is a beautifully constructed piece of gear with neat quirks to make it more than just a pretty face.
First and foremost is the One Connect box. This is followed up in a one-two punch fashion by the in-built Ambient Mode.
The One Connect box acts as an external hub for inputs into the TV. It’s about the size of a DVD player with a bit of a steroid habit and connects to the TV via a semi-transparent cable. This makes wall mounting a far tidier undertaking as the volume of cable spaghetti running down your wall is reduced to just one small, semi-transparent and barely visible cable.
It’s a smart piece of engineering as this wee cable supplies not only 8K video, but also power and audio, yet it is so thin that standard HDMI cables look like they need a trip to Jenny Craig’s by comparison.
Ambient Mode also impresses. It allows the Q900R to display photos, paintings, clocks and interactive screen savers when in standby. These can be tweaked to match the colour and pattern of any wall behind the TV via the Samsung Smart Things app.
Given the sheer size of this QE75Q900R I was testing during my Samsung 8K TV review, this played a significant role in helping it not become a giant rectangular 16:9 black hole that dominated my lounge. This is a frequent complaint of long-suffering spouses, so it’s fair to assume that Ambient Mode will help to boost WAF (wife acceptance factor).
“This played a significant role in helping it not become a giant rectangular 16:9 black hole that dominated my lounge”
As well as a generous serving of extra pixels, the Q900R has been tooled up to make the most of them thanks to HDR (high dynamic range) video. There’s broad support for the alphabet soup of the many HDR specs with HLG (as used by broadcasters), HDR10 and HDR10+ (which is used by Amazon Prime). That said, Dolby Vision was conspicuous in its absence.
The Q900R isn’t wanting for inputs, and the One Connect box is not only equipped with four HDMI 2.0 inputs, but it also has three USB ports, Ethernet and Wi-Fi plus a Freeview terrestrial aerial socket, SPIDIF and Bluetooth. In short, I found the only thing missing during on the input front during this Samsung 8K TV review … is a kitchen sink.
Wall mounting requires a separate kit, but the Q900R also comes with two feet that attach to its base. They’re straightforward to fit, but they really need a height adjustment as they were too short for my Sonos PlayBase to slide under the TV.
Having ruptured my spleen hefting the massive QE75Q900R out of its box, fitting its feet and lugging it up onto my AV cabinet, I powered it up. The setup process took just 5-10 minutes and was so idiot-proof that even I got it right first time (even if I struggled to remember the login details for my Samsung account).
After tuning in Freeview, identifying attached devices and supplying my Wi-Fi network details, I fed in my account details for Amazon Prime Video and was soon working on my 8K tan.
“The bundled remote… looks as if it was hewn out of a single block of unobtanium.”
I found during this Samsung 8K TV review that Samsung’s smart TV user interface is both clean and intuitive. Navigating it is also a doddle thanks to the bundled remote which manages to be easy to drive and uncluttered. It deserves special mention thanks to its premium feel.
It looks as if it was hewn out of a single block of unobtanium. Thanks to the wonders of HDMI CEC, the remote can also control other CEC compatible HDMI connected devices. This is a winning and smart addition that helped reduce the pile of remotes cluttering up my TV room.
Hitting the remote’s home button reveals a menu along the bottom of the screen that provides access to streaming services, inputs and settings plus ambient mode. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and Google Play Movies are there by default and more can be downloaded and added.
On the minus side, the Q900R I was reviewing seemed to sometimes randomly forget that my Skybox was attached, forcing me to do a full system reset. This may be due to the TV being an early release model and is likely to have already been resolved by a software update, but given its steep sticker price, this held the QE75Q900R back from scoring a perfect 10.
How Does it Look?
Grizzles aside, upscaled 4K content looked gorgeous, and it’s almost impossible to discern from native 8K footage. Everything looks richly detailed. While it is hard to tell the difference between HD and UHD from typical viewing distances, 8K detail holds up even if you are just mere inches away from the Q900R’s screen. Pixels are invisible too.
Upscaled HD content also looks good, but upscaled SD footage is still a bag of nails, looking like a larger version of blurred standard definition video. The 8K content demonstrated by Samsung consisted of stock standard demo video (slow pans over flowers and landscapes etc), but thanks to the wonders of HDR, shadow detail was fantastic. The video processing is also rock solid. There was no banding, compression artefacts and edge noise was barely noticeable.
“As these pass through the Quantum dots they generate very accurate and vivid on-screen colours.”
The colour volume is bright and detailed. HD Guru’s bench tests reveal that it covers 95 per cent of the P3 colour space. This is not shabby at all, being above the 90 per cent that is stipulated by Ultra HD Alliance for their Premium Certification process.
QLED – and What It Is
The Q900R uses Samsung’s “QLED” technology. In non-geek parlance, this translates into a Quantum dot film being placed in front of the LCD panel and backlighting. It takes photons from the backlighting and as these pass through the Quantum dots, they generate very accurate and vivid on-screen colours.
The use of quantum dots and all those extra millions of pixels along with up to 4000 NITs of brightness creates an on-screen image that is more like looking out of a spotlessly clean window than watching a TV. The Q900R also has a whopping 1000 full array local dimming zones, so black tones are inky deep yet still capable of conveying subtle brightness variations as required by HDR, resulting in excellent contrast levels.
As good as the Q900R is, the lack of native 8K content is the elephant in the room. While the eye-popping demo footage has to be seen to be believed, the reality is that there are no 8K Blu-ray discs, 8K broadcast, or streaming formats available now (or planned for the foreseeable future).
This means that Samsung needs to talk up the upscaling capability of the Q900R range. Credit where it is due, the upscaling on the Q900R is brilliant. Where upscaling used to mean larger (but still blurred) images, HD and UHD footage looked extremely watchable on the Q900R.
“The Q900R literally makes up three-quarters of each video frame out of thin air and does this at the speed of light”
There are probably already a million other Q900R reviews that have already said all of this, but a look at the numbers reveals just how remarkable the upscaling on the Q900R actually is. Displaying 8K footage requires a massive amount of processing.
It takes a 4K signal consisting of 8.6m pixels and stirs in a healthy additional 25 million pixels to generate a convincing 8K image. Put simply, the Q900R literally makes up three-quarters of each video frame out of thin air and does this at the speed of light. This is no small feat.
Checking out Amazon Prime’s Grand Tour in UHD, which reveals crisp and richly detailed video. With the Rugby World Cup looming large, giant could be big enough to give cashed up rugby mad viewers the feeling of actually being there at each game – assuming that the Spark Sport app is available and will stream in passable HD or even better, UHD.
If the video from the Q900R impressed, so too did its audio. Increasingly thin and slick TV designs present a challenge when it comes to delivering decent sound as there is next to no room for good-sized speaker drivers or tuned audio cavities.
Samsung seems to have navigated this sonic challenge to deliver agreeable audio. While you won’t mistake it for anything created by a decent home theatre system, the sound cranked out to my ears wasn’t half bad.
Summary: Samsung 8K TV Review
So, here’s the thing. As I found in this Samsung 8K TV review, the Q900R range delivers eye pleasing video – even if the source footage is not native 8K. It is also future-proofed and smart to boot. But realistically, its steep $15,999.95 sticker price means it is really a TV for those who can afford to live on the bleeding edge of tech.
Many might grumble that they don’t need it, but many (me included!) will still want one.