Samsung have begun to launch their new TV line in the UK with pride of place going to their Ultra HD 4K HDR QLED range.
We first got a look at the Q9F, Q8C, Q7F and Q7C models at CES 2017 and despite some reservations about the QLED name, there's no denying that Samsung are pushing the envelope as far as LED LCD TV technology is concerned. The big selling point of these new TVs, and the technology from which they derive their name, is their use of Quantum Dot. Samsung feel that their developments in quantum dot technology have produced a precise nano-sized material that can deliver superior colours, increased brightness and durability. Samsung are using the Q prefix for all the branding related to the QLED range, which means that the new range is broken down into three key areas – Q Picture, Q Design and Q Smart.
Q PictureSamsung's new QLED range of TVs boast a number of innovations and improvements over last year's models but the main area of development has been in terms of the quantum dot layer that covers the LED backlight. This new version uses a metal core and an improved metal coating that protects the core, keeping its colour properties pure, and increases the luminance (brightness). This new quantum dot can deliver a very precise wavelength for the three primary colours of red, green and blue, along with a 15% increase in the brightness efficiency. As a result the new QLED TVs can deliver 100% of DCI-P3 and over 1,500 nits of peak brightness, which means they can cover the entire colour volume used for HDR content graded at 1,000 nits. Although content graded at 4,000 nits will still require a degree of tone mapping to match the larger colour volume of the content to the display. Samsung demonstrated the QLED's colour volume at a one-on-one meeting we had this week and this year we will be measuring the colour volume of every display we review.
Along with a wider and more accurate colour gamut and increased peak brightness, the new QLED range also has an improved contrast performance thanks to an improved black filter that rejects light reflections. This new filter on the outer surface of the LCD panel only reflect 0.1% of ambient light, whilst an additional layer on the inside of the LCD panel reduces reflections to 1.35%, which means only 1.45% of all ambient light is reflected, which Samsung claim is the world's lowest. There were no issues with reflections on the QLED models that we saw and the room was often brightly lit. All of the new QLED TVs use edge LED backlighting but in the case of the Q9 the number of zones has been increased from the 12 on last year's edge-lit TVs to 32 zones, which it's claimed results in a superior contrast performance. This certainly appeared to be the case when we compared the Q9 to last year's KS9000. In terms of High Dynamic Range (HDR) the QLED TVs are the brightest that Samsung have released to date, with a peak brightness of at least 1,500 nits. The QLED TVs that we saw definitely looked impressive with HDR content in terms of both colour volume and image accuracy and we will be measuring the performance as soon as review samples arrive.
Another area that Samsung say they have addressed this year is adapting the image depending on the content and the environment. We have long advocated using two picture modes, one optimised for daytime viewing and one optimised for nighttime viewing, and the QLED TVs now automatically adjust the image based upon the content and environment to optimise the contrast performance. Thanks to the pixel structure and the latest quantum dot technology, combined with a new System-on-Chip (SoC) that uses four-way processing, it's claimed the QLED range has a wider optimal viewing angle. We were able to compare the viewing angles on the Q7 against those on the KS8000 and the performance was noticeably better on the Q7. This SoC also includes the Q Engine, a new processor that is 30% faster than the previous one and along with the new algorithms designed to improve viewing angles, the image engine also analyses the source signal and applies picture processing to optimise the picture quality.
Q DesignThe new QLED TVs take the 360 degree design of last year's KS range and enhance it by adding a bezel-less screen and full metal construction that adds a premium finish and greater durability. The QLED models come with a newly designed premium stand included but there will also be a range of alternative lifestyle stands available separately. The QLED TVs can be wall mounted using a 'Nano Gap' bracket that fits into a recess in the chassis that allows the TV to be fixed flush against the wall. Samsung will continue to support both flat and curved models with the Q9F only coming in a flat version and the Q8C only available as a curved option. However the Q7 offers a choice, with the Q7F using a flat screen and the Q7C being curved. As with previous years, the curved models will include the Auto Depth Enhancer which is a feature only available on Samsung's curved TVs.
The QLED range has been designed for tidier cable management and any cables that are attached to the TV, like the power cable, can be run inside the stand to keep them hidden. There is also the latest version of the One Connect box which not only includes IR receivers but is connected to the TV via a fibre optic cable that is almost invisible. The TVs will ship with a 5m cable included but there is also a 15m cable available for those who have their equipment rack a long way from the TV. The One Connect box includes four HDMI inputs, three USB ports, dual tuners, Bluetooth and WiFi, along with auto-detection that is now 2.5 times faster and covers the majority of popular external devices.
Q SmartThe auto-detection feature is just one aspect of the QLED range's smart platform, which has had an upgrade and now comes under the overall title of Q Smart. The Tizen-powered platform offers a launcher bar with a single access point for all your content which doesn't just include apps but also various smart devices, making the TV a genuine smart hub in your home. There is a newly designed EPG that includes IP channels, as well as all the premium UHD HDR content such as Netflix and Amazon.
The QLED TVs not only include auto-detection but also allow for integrated control using the Smart Remote. This has been redesigned this year and uses an all-metal construction and improved ergonomics. It also has a built-in microphone which allows for intuitive voice control, which means that if you want to engage the game mode, all you need to do is say "game mode on". Although the downside is that the game mode in the actual menu system has now been relegated back to the General sub-menu. There is also a new version of the remote app that increases the level of convergence between the TV and mobile devices, allowing you to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote, a second screen or even as a game controller. The new remote app will be freely available for both iOS and Android.
In terms of the menus themselves, these are very similar to last year although there have been some minor changes. As mentioned the game mode is now under the General sub-menu and the HDR + feature is now within the Picture sub-menu. Unlike previous years where the Gamma option was -2 to +2, you can now select between BT.1886, HDR and HLG, although the TV will automatically detect HDR and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG). The 2017 Samsung TVs still have a 2-point white balance control but now they also have a 20-point rather than the 10-point used in previous years.
Samsung Q9FThis is the flagship TV in the QLED range for 2017 and it includes all the features we have mentioned so far. So it uses a flat Ultra HD 4K 10-bit 100Hz panel with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and HLG), a peak brightness of over 1,500 nits and a wider colour gamut that is 100% of DCI-P3. It uses edge LED backlighting with 32 dimmable zones and the improved black filter to reduce light reflections. Along with the picture the sound has been improved and the Q9F includes a 4.2-channel speaker configuration and 60W of amplification. The Q9F uses the 4-sided bezel-less design with a 360 degree metal construction and finish, along with the interchangeable stand, the cable management system and the Nano Gap wall mount. There's also the One Connect box with 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB ports, dual tuners, Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as the fibre optic connection to the TV and auto-detection of connected devices. The Q9F has the newly designed Smart Remote, the Q Smart platform and the remote app. The Samsung Q9F is available in 88- and 65-inch screen sizes.
Samsung Q8CThis is the mid-range QLED TV for 2017 and includes many of the features found on the Q9F. It uses a curved Ultra HD 4K 10-bit 100Hz panel with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and HLG), a peak brightness of over 1,500 nits and a wider colour gamut that is 100% of DCI-P3. Since it uses a curved screen it has the Auto Depth Enhancer and it has the improved black filter to reduce light reflections, along with the 4-sided bezel-less design and 360 degree metal construction. The Q8C also has the interchangeable stand, the cable management system and the Nano Gap wall mount. There's the One Connect box with 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB ports, dual tuners, Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as the fibre optic connection to the TV and auto-detection of connected devices. The Q8C has the newly designed Smart Remote, the Q Smart platform and the remote app, it also has improved sound quality with the 4.2-channel speaker configuration and 60W of amplification. The Samsung Q8C is available in 75-, 65- and 55-inch screen sizes.
Samsung Q7F and Q7CThis is the entry level QLED TV for 2017 and comes in choice of flat (Q7F) or curved (Q7C) screens. Aside from the shape of the screen, both models use an Ultra HD 4K 10-bit 100Hz panel with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR10 and HLG), a peak brightness of over 1,500 nits and a wider colour gamut that is 100% of DCI-P3. Since the Q7C uses a curved screen it has the Auto Depth Enhancer feature and both the Q7F and Q7C have the improved black filter to reduce light reflections, along with the 4-sided bezel-less design. They also have the interchangeable stand, the cable management system and the Nano Gap wall mount. There's the One Connect box with 4 HDMI inputs, 3 USB ports, dual tuners, Bluetooth and WiFi, as well as the fibre optic connection to the TV and auto-detection of connected devices. They also both have the newly designed Smart Remote, the Q Smart platform and the remote app. The Samsung Q7F is available in 75-, 65-, 55- and 49-inch screen sizes, whilst the Q7C is available in 65-, 55- and 49-inch screen sizes.
Pricing for all the QLED models can be found here.
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