Samsung Q65Q8FN Review
Flat Models: QN55Q8FN, QN75Q8FN, Q65Q8FN
Curved Models: QN65Q8CN, QN55Q8CN, QN75Q8CN
4K QLED TV, UHD, HDR, Ultra Black Elite Panel
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
The QLED series from Samsung builds on the Premium UHD series by adding a wider color gamut via Quantum Dot film and Quantum Dot color. It has excellent black levels and contrast and will capture the intended increased brightness and color of HDR content. This years model focuses more on an anti-reflective screen combined with better contrast through the new Q Contrast Plus technology. Has 240 motion rate.
Differences between the Q7 and Q8 QLED TVs
One of the key differences between the two series is the inclusion of the high end Ultra Black Panel in the Q8.
Ultra Black Elite Panel: Samsung is marketing this panel feature which is included only in the Q8 and Q9 QLEDs for those of us that do not adjust room light conditions when watching TV. This technology built in the Ultra Black panel increases brightness while decreasing glare by using micro dots on the surface of the panel to help redirect light from surroundings that would otherwise cause glare on the screen.
The other differences are minute with the Q8 having one less USB port (2), a slightly different stand, and a price poing between $300 and $400 more than the Q7.
What is QLED? Differences with OLED
This new Quantum Dot technology from Samsung makes a play on the OLED lettering but without the OLED technology. OLED and QLED may seem similar as acronyms, but are as different of TV technologies and LCD vs. plasma.
QLED (quantum light emitting diode) is a souped up LCD (liquid crystal display) with LED backlighting and a Quantum Dot QDEF layer between the LCD panel and the LED backlighting. OLED TV technology is lit by the organic light emitting diodes themselves rather than by a backlight and employs no LCD panel. It's actually more similar to plasma TV technology in this way.
The difference this year in Samsung's QLED offering and last year's Nano Crystal technology is improvements in the QDEF layer or quantum dot layer whichever you want to call it. The quantum dot layer is a stack of ultra thin film located between the LCDs (liquid crystals) and the front protective glass or plexi layer.
Samsung has added a metal alloy element to the quantum dot layer that enhances brightness luminance up to 1500 to 2000 nits. Samsung has done this without destroying color volume – or the ability to deliver accurate color at very bright levels. Indeed, tests of the Q8 show that they succeeded in this endeavor. Samsung's QLED TVs can also read the interior ambient room light conditions and change the brightness needs of the TV to optimize viewing. Think dark room/light room. While adjusting brightness for room light levels technology has been around for a couple of years, this Q8 may do it best.
- Contrast and Black Levels are excellent for an LED TV
- Best in class color performance competition with OLED
- Black Uniformity (no light coming through at corners)
- Competent Anti-reflective technology
- Dark Shadow Detail
- Brighter than other UHD LED TVs due to Quantum layer
- Strong LED edge lighting produces top notch light flow-through for dynamic images
- HD programming upconversion looks great in 4K
- Very low input lag in Game mode
- Excellent at handling fast motion
- Q Engine core processor makes the Smart Hub run very smooth and fast
- Tizen OS Smart TV is fast, easy to use, has essential Apps
- Appearance of the TV is great from any angle
- Smart remote voice function works well to speed browsing or searching
- Great anti-screen glare properties
- 120Hz processing (240 Motion Rate)
- Side angle viewing angle contrast and saturation loss (still)
- AutoMotion Plus really highlights unnatural effects to 2D shows and movies
- Not as bright as some other HDR compatible TVs
- Local Dimming from edge lit LEDs not very effective
- One cable connection
Picture Quality Rating: 93/100
This shot demonstrates amazing clarity of detail and contrast.
Local Dimming (Precision Black) Performance
Samsung's term for the (“local”) dimming feature in the Q8 series is Precision Black. Local dimming can offer some increased precision regarding contrast, color, and detail levels needed for each part of the screen to coordinate and excellent overall image. Since the dimming mechanism (LED lights) on the Q8 is from the edges, we cant really call it true local dimming – a term that describes a TVs ability to brighten or darken specific areas of the screen independently from one another. This feature is effectively supposed to increase contrast in various areas of the picture. In the Q8, it at times darkens the screen a lot, especially on the higher settings. Unfortunately, the edge lit LED backlight is a major hindrance to good local dimming. Edge Lit dimming has never been one of the best features to me. I like the full boat, full-array micro dimming much better which has a major impact on contrast. The manipulation of the edge lighting as in the Q8 to my eyes only marginally impacts contrast in the picture and is not much of an improvement. I recommend tuning the setting to low for this feature.
The big focus TV feature for 2018/2019 is again HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, especially outside sunlight effects, or a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. This picture quality improvement varies quite a lot with the HDR content being viewed. The Q8 tests excellent in accuracy with HDR content. It has a wide color gamut and captures even the smallest nuances in color. It gets and A in this area.
Side Angle Viewing
From off center the Q8 has the normal problems associated with LED backlit, LCD TVs despite Samsung's all out efforts to improve it. Black levels fade as does color saturation. The Q8 panel's beautiful picture presentation loses some of it's luster and still cannot compete with OLED TVs in this crucial area. Well, I should say it's crucial if you plan on viewing a lot of content off center, but if not, it's not much of an issue.
Digital Clean View Feature/Upscaling HD and Standard Def Content
Ever wonder if the picture quality is better on a 4K UHD TV with a standard definition or HD signal pumped into it? The answer is yes ONLY if the TV has a stellar upscaling and conversion technology built in. The Q8's new UHD remastering engine does a phenomenal job upscaling standard definition and lower resolution content. It analyzes the incoming signal, applies video noise reduction techniques, and scales up the lower resolution signal. Lastly, it enhances the detail which may be the most important bit. Anyway, the end result is that yes, you get a much better picture. I would place the Q8 as good as any TV we have tested in this area. This is one of the big differences of the very top end TVs. Better processing produces a great picture quality even with streaming video signals. Digital Clean View is a feature that works well to clean up image edges and create a sharper looking picture from poorer resolution content source. You can turn the feature off for good HD or 4K content.
Motion Rate 240/ Fast Motion/Gaming
This figure represents an enhanced Hz rate for the 120Hz panel. By manipulating the powerful LEDs Samsung is able to produce an “effectively” faster refresh rate. The input lag is excellent at around 20ms when the TV is in Game Mode. The Q8 does a great job with fast motion images on screen. This TV is great for sports and gaming and also has no image retention issues for gamers.
Picture Calibration and Settings
The Samsung Q8 comes with 5 preset picture modes which are Movie, Natural, Standard, Vivid, and then the separate Game mode. Obviously, Game mode is your choice to cut down on input lag from games.
Quick Picture Calibration Settings
Quick Calibration: The following settings are for a medium to dark room light. Since calibrations can vary among different TVs even from the same model number, we no longer post the advanced 10 point White balance calibration settings. However, TV manufacturers have greatly improved the included preset picture settings. Some are pretty close to D65 out of the box. The settings below will get you close. Try the Warm 2 setting and for a couple days to get used to it. If after a couple days picture images still seems to warm (reddish tones), change it to the Warm 1 mode. Also, if you are viewing in a brighter room environment, you may prefer the Warm 1 mode.
Auto Motion Plus - Know When to Use this Feature
The Auto Motion Plus feature is something that comes as a blessing and a curse. By default it is set to On in all of the preset picture setting modes. You will likely want to turn it off for streaming content, DVDs, Blu-rays, and TV shows. The feature gives you a dreadful “Telenovela Effect”, making images look unrealistic by eliminating too much natural background blur. Turn it off in the Expert Settings menu and everything will be fine again. You'll immediately see judder when you disable it, but your eyes will adjust momentarily. The features does not hurt good quality live sports programming so you may want to use it there. Another experiment you may want to try is using it with poor quality DVDs. It can help the viewing experience there, bringing these old movies to life. Just be familiar with how to s and it won't be a problem.
Another possibly acceptable setting is enabling the feature using the Custom setting and using a low value on the De-Blur portion of the setting.
(Note: to get to the setting click on Menu, swipe across to Picture, Scroll down to Expert Settings and scroll down to AutoMotion Plus.)
Features Rating: 92/100
Tizen Operating System Smart TV
The Tizen operating system is very good. It's fast and well laid out for easy navigation.
This Samsung developed system is included only on Premium UHDs and up and is much faster and more responsive than previous Samsung Smart TV/Smart Hub menu systems. The icons look similar to LG's webOS system and function similarly (why reinvent what works right?). It's instantaneous response time operation impressed me. Aside from the increased speed it remembers where users are in a program rather than having to fast forward from the beginning like last years models. The Smart Hub menu has also been revamped and upgraded for easier organization of your favorite Program and Apps options, and the icons can be changed to your preference. Overall, the Tizen system is pretty strong but not as operationally smooth as LG's webOS system or Sony's Android system.
The included black one touch remote is minimalist Roku styled affair with a button for voice recognition operation.
Smart TV Enhancements
The remote voice command feature is vastly improved and works well. Samsung calls this area of the Smart TV functionality Bixby and once you get used to it, it is a faster way to search for most programming. Personally, I dont care for feedback from voice recognition programs (unless they are giving me directions). But to each their own, it may appeal to many and it works well. It's easy to select voice recognition control through a button on the remote.
The One Remote is universal and looks suspiciously similar to the latest Roku remotes.
The new Smart Things phone App may appeal to some that want to control everything on their smart phone. Of course, it will enlighten you to more Samsung products as well as well as take up a good chunk of processing capacity. You can also sync your smart phone to the TV picture.
Speakers have total 40 watts of audio output, 10w from each speaker and 10w each from 2 subs. In a very large room you might find the 65” model lacking. But the subs do help lay off some of the tininess, and present more full sound. With a TV this nice looking you hate to have to add a bulky unattractive soundbar especially in a modern or minimalist setting, so a decent inbuilt speaker system is necessary. Sound Quality is very average, lacking lustre. The TV is Bluetooth compatible, so you can play music via Bluetooth as a room mood-setter.
Appearance and Design/New Cable, Ambient Mode
The Q8 is a gorgeous TV with almost no bezel frame, silver sides and stand, and a cavity to run your cable through in the back of the stand. Looks great from any angle. The new fiber optic cable is nearly transparent and barely shows even when running down the wall. The ambient mode allows the TV to more naturally fit into your room decor or display a photo.
Value Rating: 87/100
The Q8 is designed to compete with OLED TVs from LG and Sony for this year. It does a reasonably good job in some areas like upscaling of lower resolution signals, black levels, contrast, color accuracy with HDR, and appearance. Is it better than the OLED TVs? Is it as good as OLED TVs? The answer to both is a firm No in my opinion, but it depends on what you want the most in a TV. It's a premium model with a premium look and feel and price. It's not a value hunter's dream, but it's getting there. It's great for sports and gaming programming as well as movies. A little off center contrast loss will not annoy most.
Overall Rating: 91/100
- Backlight: Edge Lit LED
- QLED by Samsung
- Smart Functionality: Yes - Built in Wi-Fi
- Inputs: 4 HDMI, 3 USB
- Native Refresh Rate 120Hz (240 Motion Rate)
- HEVC for watching streamed 4K content from sources like Netflix® and Amazon Instant Video (requires Internet speed of at least 20Mbps)
- Quad Core Processor
- HDR 1000 (UHD Alliance)
- 4K UHD Certified
- Triple Black Drive
- Full Web Browser (of marginal utility)
- Audio Output 40W 20W X 2 Speakers,
- Smart Remote
- Tizen Operating System
|Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert|