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HomeGADGETSPOCKET GADGETSSamsung QN95C review (QE65QN95C): Watch out OLED...

Samsung QN95C review (QE65QN95C): Watch out OLED…

Samsung’s latest Neo QLED 4K TV isn’t wildly different from last year’s QN95B, but the QN95C offers enough advancements to not only elevate its performance compared to the previous generation, but also give even the best OLED TVs a run for their money in terms of black levels and contrast.

The key to this performance upgrade is a Mini LED backlight that doubles the number of dimming zones from last year, and when combined with Quantum Dots for purer colours and AI-enhanced processing, delivers SDR and HDR images that are often stunning in their visual impact.

The QN95C is now available for pre-order and comes in 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch screen sizes. The model reviewed here is the 65-inch QE65QN95C, which retails for ?3,699 in the UK, and $3,299 in the US.

Samsung/Pocket-lint
Samsung QN95C
Editor’s Choice

5/5

This Mini LED TV nearly doubles the number of dimming zones in its backlight compared to last year, producing HDR images capable of competing with, and often exceeding, the best OLEDs. Sadly the One Connect Box is gone, but a stylish design, solid build quality, comprehensive streaming apps, and extensive gaming support make this 4K TV hard to resist.

ProsIncredibly bright, colourful images Peerless LCD black levels Superb gaming features
ConsNo Dolby Vision support

Infinity One design Solar-powered remote control 4 x HDMI inputs with eARC; 2 x USB; Ethernet Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; AirPlay 2

The Samsung QN95C looks the same as last year with one notable exception. While the overall appearance is basically identical, the connections are now part of the TV rather than in a separate box. This is presumably a cost-saving exercise, but a shame nonetheless.

Otherwise it’s business as usual, with an identical slab design that’s all clean lines and minimalist styling. The dimensions are surprisingly slim for an LCD TV, mainly due to the LEDs used in the backlight, which are 40 times smaller than those found in Samsung’s bulkier panels.

The QN95C looks particularly striking when wall mounted, although not quite as tidy without the single cable from the One Connect Box. If you’d rather use the elegant stand, it provides solid support but has a minimal footprint, which means it will fit comfortably onto narrower surfaces.

The connections are located to the rear right as you face the screen, with four HDMI inputs, one of which supports eARC. All of the HDMI inputs can handle 4K/144Hz, VRR and ALLM, which makes this a great TV for any gamers looking to get the most of their new consoles.

There are also two USB 2.0 ports, twin tuners for terrestrial and satellite broadcasts, a CI slot, an optical digital output, and an Ethernet port. In terms of wireless connectivity, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and support for Apple AirPlay 2.

The QN95C ships with two remotes: a standard zapper with a myriad of buttons, and a stripped down Solar Cell controller that’s designed for day-to-day use. The latter is a bit small, and both are rather plasticky, which is a shame considering this is the flagship 4K TV for 2023.

The Solar Cell remote is doubly eco-friendly these days, not only because it’s rechargeable, but also because it’s made of recycled plastic. The batteries aren’t just recharged using the solar panel built into the back either, but also by repurposing the Wi-Fi signals bouncing around your house – helpful if you live in places where the sunshine doesn’t always cooperate.

Features

Mini LED backlight with 1,344 dimmable zones 4K Neural Quantum Processor Object Tracking Sound Plus 4K 144Hz and VRR gaming support

The Samsung QN95C sports a set of features that are largely the same as last year, but some significant improvements have been made when it comes to the backlight. The number of independently dimmable zones has been nearly doubled to a massive 1,344 (48 x 28) zones.

When you combine all these zones with Samsung’s class-leading local dimming algorithms, Quantum Matrix Technology and Shape Adaptive Light control, the result is a superior backlight performance where the delivery is more precise and the implementation more efficient.

The AI-enhanced Neural Quantum Processor also plays its part, bringing together all these disparate picture elements and adding a new Real Depth Enhancer that combines object detection and image manipulation to create a greater sense of depth and dimensionality.

The upscaling is also first-class, taking standard and high definition content and mapping it to the 4K resolution of the panel. The results are clean and artefact free, and even 4K content benefits from processing that eliminates the impact of compression to deliver clear and detailed images.

The picture quality is further enhanced by the inclusion of a Filmmaker Mode, and this delivers very accurate images in both SDR and HDR. However, if you fancy tweaking this accuracy without paying a professional calibrator, Samsung’s Smart Calibration feature allows you to get closer to the industry standards using just your smartphone. It’s very clever, and it actually works.

The Tizen-powered smart system is similar to last year, although the interface now offers a useful Media section where all the apps and connected devices can be found, along with a curated Game section where you can access streamed gaming apps and connected consoles. As with previous years, Samsung offers a comprehensive choice of video streaming apps, along with an expanded choice of channels on its free live-streaming TV Plus service.

In an unexpected blast-from-the-past, Samsung includes a slim-fit camera in the box. The idea of video calls or hand gesture control might seem a bit 2014, but it can be useful with apps like Google Meet, Workout, and Samsung Health, along with the two-screen Multi View functionality.

The QN95C has some serious gaming credentials too, with support for 4K up to a refresh rate of 144Hz if you use a PC, and 120Hz for those with Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Variable refresh rates are also supported, thanks to the inclusion of AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and Nvidia G-Sync, although the latter isn’t formally listed.

The Game Bar remains a useful feature, collating all the main game-related information and settings into one easy to understand and access location. It pops up when you first go into the Game Mode, but if you ever need it just hold down the play/pause button to bring it back up.

Thanks to the automatic low latency mode, the QN95C goes into Game Mode whenever ever it detects a console, and this mode is highly effective. We measured an input lag of just under 10ms, which is incredibly fast and ensures a responsive gaming experience. Of course, since this TV uses an LCD panel, there’s also no danger of screen burn – even after long hours of gaming.

Unusually for a modern TV, the QN95C sounds genuinely good thanks to its Object Tracking Sound Plus audio system. There’s a 4.2.2-channel speaker layout powered by 70W of amplification, and the result is a fairly big and expansive delivery, plus a decent amount of bass.

The speakers are located around the screen, which adds height to the overall delivery, and the onboard Dolby Atmos decoding also helps create a greater sense of immersion. Although if you want to add an outboard audio solution, Samsung’s Q Symphony feature now adds AI-enhancements to better integrate the TV’s speakers with those in the supporting soundbar.

Performance

Incredible brightness and accurate HDR tone mapping Almost OLED-like black levels and contrast ratios Extremely wide but naturally rendered colour gamut

The Samsung QN95C immediately looks better in comparison to last year’s model, and that TV was no slouch, which is a great indicator of things to come. The substantial increase in the independent dimming zones allows the QN95C to deliver incredibly deep blacks and precisely rendered shadow details with virtually no blooming or haloing, even when viewed at an angle.

That’s not to say the local dimming is flawless, and occasionally it can struggle with really challenging material, such as when the Apollo 11 command module first goes into the shadow of the moon in the film First Man. For the most part, though, the QN95C impresses with its ability to simultaneously display inky blacks and bright highlights in the same image.

In this respect it’s superior to even the best OLEDs, and with a peak brightness of over 2,000 nits on a 10% window, HDR is often stunning. The QN95C can also hit over 700 nits on a full-field pattern, which means HDR content graded at 1,000 nits requires almost no tone mapping (the adjusting of content to keep the creative vision intact in less capable conditions).

If it is necessary, the Samsung tone maps 1,000, 4,000 and 10,000 nits content by tracking the target curve precisely, thus ensuring the blacks aren’t crushed and the highlights aren’t clipped. In terms of HDR formats, there’s support for HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, but no Dolby Vision, which might be a sticking point if you’re a big Netflix fan.

The colour performance is equally expansive, covering the DCI-P3 gamut used for HDR, and doing so with a pleasing level of accuracy. If you choose the Filmmaker Mode, you’ll be rewarded with an incredibly accurate picture that still retains bright specular highlights and deeply saturated colours, ensuring HDR that not only pops but also stays true to the original artistic intentions.

The class-leading processing squeezes every last pixel out of 4K content, delivering images that are bursting with fine detail. It can even make some of the more compressed standard definition TV channels look watchable – which is nothing short of a miracle. There’s no doubt that the combination of accuracy, backlight and processing produces lovely pictures from any content.

The motion handling is also impressive, although the default Auto setting results in excessive smoothing and an obvious soap opera look, so it’s best avoided. If you’re not bothered by 24p judder and love film-like motion, the Picture Clarity setting should be switched off completely, while those looking for the best of both worlds can try creating a custom setting of their own.

In terms of more general picture qualities, the overall screen uniformity is excellent, with no clouding, banding or dirty screen effect. Finally the screen filter is a definite improvement on last year, not only absorbing light from the front, and rejecting any ambient light in the room, but also handling strong light from the side, which caused annoying reflections on previous generations.

Verdict

The Samsung QN95C certainly isn’t cheap, especially compared to competing OLEDs, but this flagship model offers enough to justify its price premium. From the design and build quality to the smart platform and gaming features, this capable Neo QLED 4K TV is a great high-end choice.

It’s also a stellar performer when it comes to picture quality, with incredibly bright HDR and wonderfully saturated colours, all of which are delivered with a nuanced accuracy. Cutting-edge processing and an increased number of dimming zones deliver images to rival the best OLEDs.

The QN95C doesn’t just look good, it sounds good thanks to an immersive sound system and support for Dolby Atmos. In fact, it’s hard to fault this TV, although Samsung dropping the clever One Connect Box is a shame. Otherwise, it’s a classy performer that’s sure to please.

To test the Samsung QN95C we used Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software.

 

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