Samsung Q950TS 8K TV REVIEW
Samsung Q950TS 8K TV REVIEW
PAT PILCHER stares longingly into Samsung’s latest 65-inch 8K TV screen and deems it a dramatic and very clever improvement over last year’s model.
Samsung’s latest TV features a totally bonkers 8K resolution, big video and audio tweaks as well as a tonne of other refinements. While no one is broadcasting or streaming in 8K, the sheer hype surrounding 8K makes it huge news and a new 8K capable Samsung TV even bigger still.
I got my sweaty paws on Samsung’s new top of the range Q950TS. The review unit was a 65-inch behemoth.
From a design standpoint, Samsung has outdone themselves and raised the bar on the industry with their new Infinity screen design, which is almost edgeless – an impressive 99 per cent of the screen is well, you know, screen.
What is even more astonishing is what the clever Trevors at Sammy managed to cram into the Q950TS. Even though it’s got a full-array local dimming backlight system, and eight speakers and actuators crammed its frame, it’s a mere 14.9mm thin. If I was to sum it up in a few words, I’d use huge, slinky and shiny.
My first impressions of the video quality are positive, based on Amazon Prime 4K streamed content, Samsung 4K and 8K demo footage and Freeview HD. Samsung has added to earlier improvements made to brightness and contrast levels and added enhanced up-scaling to deliver finer details as smoothly as possible.
In my review of last year’s model, I mentioned how Samsung made use of machine learning for upscaling to the 8K panel. This time around, Samsung has refined the upscaling process with improved AI code based on a neural network that uses a constantly updated database of static images and video footage. On top of this, there are other algorithms, each intended to tweak different aspects of on-screen footage.
A testimony to the sheer amount of processing oomph under the Q950T’s hood is that upscaling happens on a pixel-by-pixel basis. That might not sound all that impressive but consider this: An 8K capable TV has 7,680 horizontal and 4,320 vertical pixels which equate to 33 million pixels. Boggling, eh?! The net result is HD and 4K images that look like they’re almost native 8K. There is a greater sense of texture, detail and depth. On-screen images are super crisp but do not look over-sharpened or over-processed.
Upscaling aside, brightness and contrast levels have been given an overhaul. The Full Array Local Dimming system makes use of a new Local Power Distribution capability that redistributes power from darker onscreen areas to the brightest parts of the screen. Samsung says that this results in a 20 per cent improvement in brightness levels with no increased power consumption. In fact, some quick Googling shows that the Q950TS appears to draw a little less power overall than the QE75Q900R of 2019.
As exciting as 8K is, the reality is that the sheer bandwidth needed is a serious challenge to its adoption. The folk at Samsung say they’ve got this solved thanks to what they call AI ScaleNet technology. It’s a clever form of intelligent compression that downscales 8K data streams so its transmission isn’t so onerous. (Samsung says it’s roughly equal to the bandwidth needed for 4K). Intelligent decompression is then applied to scale it back up to 8K. Its an interesting move, but its uptake will depend on widespread adoption by the entertainment industry.
The other picture tweak that helps the Q950Ts deliver the goods is what Samsung calls Adaptive Picture+ mode. It tweaks the picture automatically, based on room lighting conditions, which Samsung says involves more than tweaking brightness levels.
These tweaks combine to deliver an impressive visual experience. Brightness and contrast levels impressed, as did the Q950Ts vivid and accurate colours. Combine this with an efficient full-array local dimming capability, and the Q950Ts gives OLED a run for its money.
It isn’t just all about video, though. Samsung has also put a lot of effort into tweaking the Q950’s sonic capabilities via Adaptive Sound+. It makes dialogue a lot clearer when other noise in what you’re viewing increases. For anyone who is even moderately hard of hearing, Adaptive Sound+ is likely to be a real bonus. On the sound front, there is more.
The big news is OTS (otherwise known as Object Tracking Sound), which moves sounds around different audio channels to correspond with the on-screen action. Helping things along on the Q950Ts are speakers on the sides and rear of the set. Using eight speakers (a tweeter and mids on each side, plus tweeters at the top, and woofers at the set’s bottom), and reflected sound, the output from the Q950 does a passable job.
Then there’s Q-Symphony. While most TVs disable their integrated speakers when you add a soundbar, the Q950T uses its unique speaker setup along with Samsung Q-series soundbar. This gives the sound-field a sense of space. If you’re lucky enough to pair up a Q70 soundbar with its wireless sub, you’ll also get gut-rumbling bass. Trust me, your neighbours will love it!
If you’re thinking I’m impressed with The Q950Ts, you’d be right on the money. There’s plenty to like. By this I am talking about the clever upgrades over last year’s already excellent QE75Q900R model. These combine to deliver visuals that really pop, regardless of them being HD, 4K or even 8K. Add to this audio capabilities that bring a real cinema feel to viewing and you’re onto a real winner.