Samsung QN90B TV Panel REVIEW
This Samsung panel rocks so hard that PAT PILCHER was in televisual heaven soaking up its crisp, smooth picture and its copious smarts.
Meanwhile, back in the present…
Samsung has launched their flagship 4K television, the QN90B. Having been offered the chance to review the 65-inch model, I leapt at the opportunity to spend quality time with it.
The one thing that pains me greatly (and literally) when reviewing TVs is the unpacking/setting up and their eventual disassembly and re-packaging. They’re big, heavy and awkward. But with the QN90B, the grief was a price I was willing to pay as the TV packs some really clever cutting-edge tech.
The big news with the QN90B is its micro-LED backlighting. This gives an unprecedented level of local area dimming. In concert with the QN90B’s Neo Quantum 4K image processing chops and quantum dot technologies, the on-screen video had brilliant colour accuracy, super impressive contrast levels, and buttery smooth motion processing.
Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Riveting writing on music, tech, hi-fi, music, film, TV and other cool stuff. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.
I could bang on for half a page waxing lyrical on the technical cleverness of the engineering used in the QN90B. Still, in the interests of not boring the living shit out of you, our dear reader, the gubbins is this. The video output of the QN90B is stunning. With old-school LCD TVs, whites were usually light grey and blacks dark grey. The on-screen motion was juddery. I could have easily mistaken the QN90B’s LCD display’s crisp contrast levels, vivid colours and pin-sharp footage for something delivered on an OLED panel. Samsung has taken LCD and refined it to the point where it has come of age.
Even better still, from a reviewer’s standpoint, the panel was an absolute doddle to set up. A glance at the quick start guide saw me attaching its hefty stand with a few screws, and I was good to go. It took longer to get it connected to my Wi-Fi and Freeview tuned in than unpacking and assembling it! That said, there is still a bunch of redundant plastic used in its packaging, which is irritating.
Setup is greatly streamlined thanks to Samsung dumping the connect box. Instead of finding a home for a tuner box and farting about with its many cables, I connected a power cord and antenna and was good to go.
The TV has tiny bezels, and its stand is a subtle affair. While the 65-inch unit I reviewed was no shrinking violet, the ambient wallpaper mode that can display artworks helped it blend into the room rather than dominating it.
The QN90B’s remote deserves its own review. It might not look like much, but its zen-like simplicity meant getting to grips with the panel was dead easy. The remote is also battery-free. Instead of batteries, it uses capacitors. On its underside, there are solar cells. Flipping it over allows it to charge up from your TV room lights. If you don’t have enough light, no problem! The remote also harvests energy from your home’s 2.4ghz Wi-Fi to stay charged. The upshot is that less harmful rare earth materials are used for batteries. Clever or what?
Once the QN90B was set up, I snooped around its many menus. I liked the sheer volume of settings available for tweaking its video and audio. They were intuitively laid out, so tweaking to my needs was no chore. Amazon’s Alexa is baked into the TV. This handily meant I could dim the TV room lights, check my Ring Doorbell and Ring Cameras, all from the comfort of my sofa by hitting the Mic button on the remote and saying, “Alexa show me Ring camera” or “Alexa dim TV room lights twenty per cent”. That said, I had to disable automatic Wake Word detection. It was constantly being activated by all sorts of noises, none involving anyone uttering “Alexa…”
The QN90B also plays nice with Xbox games. All you need is an Xbox GamePass account, fast broadband, and a paired Xbox controller – no Xbox console required! After I’d downloaded the Xbox app, I installed Forza and Halo. Both played seamlessly, and there was no large black box underneath the telly. Brilliant! If you’re an Xbox gamer, this feature makes the QN90B a must-buy.
If you’re a console or a PC gamer, the TV has plenty on offer. AMD FreeSync Premium Pro keeps everything super-smooth. Distracting video stutter is gone. There are four 120Hz HDMI ports. The PlayStation 5 and PC never looked so good.
On the video front, it was abundantly clear that Samsung had put a lot of time and effort into updating the Neo Quantum 4K video Processor. The upscaling of a standard definition DVD was surprisingly clean and crisp. Freeview upscaled from HD to ultra-HD looked awesome. YouTube at its native 4k resolution was dazzling.
As mentioned earlier, the backlighting comprises millions of micro LEDs, which gives new meaning to full-array local area dimming. With near pixel level dimming, halo artefacts around white text on black backgrounds – as in movie credits – were non-existent. Quantum dot doped LCD allows for super vivid (and accurate) colour delivery. Combined, the result is extremely impressive and not LCD-like at all. As remarkable as the video dished up by the N90B is, Dolby Vision has no support. Still, the available HDR proved to be pretty capable.
It isn’t just all about the video, either. The QN90B’s sound is not half bad. Where most TVs offer thin audio that might as well be mono, Object Tracking Sound delivered surprisingly directional sound. Then there’s also Dolby Atmos (driven by upward-firing speakers at the top of the screen). Bass is also plentiful, which, considering the tiny space available for speaker drivers, points to some clever engineering on Samsung’s part.
You’d be right to think that I am taken with Samsung’s latest telly. Sure, it isn’t cheap, but its sheer versatility as a smart home and gaming addition makes it a solid investment for years to come. Add in the fact that 4K TV from Sky isn’t too far off, and a growing number of streaming services are supporting 4K plus HDR, and there’s plenty to like.