Samsung Q8DN (QE55Q8DN) Review
Second in the Q...
What is the Samsung QE55Q8DNATXXU?This is Samsung’s second Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) TV for 2018 and follows on from the success of the flagship Q9FN model. The Q8DN has the full array backlight that Samsung calls ‘Ultra Black Elite’ that divides the screen into the separate zones to be illuminated or darkened to increase black levels and contrast. It also uses a VA panel to achieve the best possible black levels and contrast, and this year it also attempts to show better off-axis performance for an LCD TV.
Of course being a Samsung 4K High Dynamic Range (HDR) TV it supports the open source HDR10+ standard as well as HLG and HDR10. We are however still struggling to find suitable HDR10+ sources of content and while Amazon says they are showing it, there is no way to confirm the TV is actually accepting the dynamic metadata of HDR10+. There is no support for Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos.
The design is a more simplified version for a high-end model, with the one connect box being dropped this time around. The feet are at either end of the chassis and the Q8D comes with the small silver remote control. Samsung UK provided this review sample.
This FALD model was not originally destined for these shores but Samsung changed their mind recently and the Q8DN now sits alongside the Q8FN and Q8CN which are both edge lit. So just how well does the Q8DN perform and is it worth the high price tag for an LED LCD TV? Let’s find out…
DesignAlthough looks are subjective we think the Q8DN is an elegant looking TV. The minimalist approach works really well with a design that is contemporary and easy on the eye. The screen sits on two sculpted feet, which slot into the bottom of the panel and lock in position, with no need for screws or bolts to attach them.
The screen has no bezel and there is a 5mm thick metal strip, which is on all the edges of the screen and is 20mm deep. The rear of the panel also widens out slightly in a bow shape with a black plastic horizontal striped design. This is obviously much deeper than an OLED screen that is usually around 3-5mm deep at the top and slightly wider at the bottom to house speakers and connections. But with this screen being FALD it needs the extra depth for the LED backlight and zones. It may not have that super flat and super thin design but as we usually watch TVs from the front and on a stand or wall mounted, the depth of the panel shouldn’t put anyone off. You should also be able to easily add a soundbar underneath the Q8DN panel as it sits 80mm above the surface. You can also wall mount using the standard VESA mounting points.
The metal strip gives the TV a very upmarket designer look, but beware this is easy to damage or chip, something we noticed as we unpacked this review sample. It has obviously been in and out of the box a few times and had some light damage on the right side of the screen, so take care when unpacking and setting up the TV.
The materials used and the overall build quality is excellent and as you would expect at this price point. It looks and feels like a premium model and the lack of the one connect box is the only slight disappointment.
We think the Q8DN is an elegant looking TV
ConnectionsAs we have mentioned a few times now the one connect box is missing with the Q8DN and as such the connections are on the right rear (looking from the front) of the panel. All the connections are sideways facing and are positioned 280mm from the edge of the screen, so it will be easy to hide the cables from view and not have them poking out the edge of the screen.
After reviewing quite a few well-equipped TVs this year it is disappointing to find a lack of any real cable management to the rear of the Q8DN. There are gaps down the rear of each stand leg, but these are small and only suitable for one cable each. The strips down the back of the panel can also house the cables when pushed in, but we found they always just popped back out again over the course of a day. After the clever use of the one connect box and see-through cable on the Q9FN, this feels a little like an oversight.
Connections wise we have a decent line-up including four HDMI 2.0b ports, with ARC on HDMI 4, along with two USB inputs, a digital optical output, a CI slot, LAN port, two satellite inputs and a terrestrial antenna port.
There is no one-connect box with the Q8DN, all the connections are on the TV
ControlUnlike a number of high-end TVs that ship with a normal remote and a smaller smarter version, the Q8DN review sample came with only the small one-remote. At first glance, this may appear to be lacking in the ability to control the TV completely, but it is actually very clever in its simplicity. We understand that the retail version also has the normal black plastic full remote as well.
Made from metal with a brushed chrome finish the one-remote is well built and fits neatly in the hand, with a decent weight. It is easy to reach the main central buttons and directional pad with your thumb when held in the hand, giving you complete access to the main functions. The home button is centrally placed which opens up the Tizen menu system, while the directional pad and central button make navigation simple. These will be the controls used the most living with the TV long term and as such, they are easy to locate and use, even in a dark room.
The one-remote can also act as an all-in-one controller for your connected sources. When you connect a source to the Q8DN it will try to determine what the device is, and then loads the main control codes automatically so the one-remote can then control these for you. This simple to use interface makes using the Q8DN intuitive for all users of all ages, thanks to its clever and simple set up.
All we are missing here is the pointer found with the LG magic remote, although there is an argument that the Samsung way of doing things are more straightforward.
If you want to use your mobile or tablet to control the Q8DN you can download the Samsung Smart Things app that allows complete access to the Q8 as well as bringing together other IoT devices you may have in your home.
FunctionalityRight from the moment of switching the Q8DN on, you are taken through a few easy to follow steps to make sure the TV is set up, tuned and ready to use within a few minutes. Samsung has set out to make the Q8DN very easy to use on a day-to-day basis. Picture quality is obviously the most important part of any TV but being able to use the set and its features are just as important. Tizen powers the operating system of the Q8 and it is a very easy to use and intuitive smart system.
Samsung has updated the system for 2018 and now call it SmartThings, which basically turns your TV into the hub of all your smart devices in the home. Within the system you can control almost anything that is smart enough in your home and get notifications direct to the TV for things like calendar events, favourite TV show reminders as well as information from your mobile device, to name just a few. Other appliances can also be controlled and monitored from your TV and by signing up to be a Samsung user you can do even more clever things, like setting up your TV.
The Q8DN is a good example of a Samsung smart device and it makes the functionality and usability inclusive for everyone of all abilities in the family. As we already mentioned above, adding a new source via HDMI is a piece of cake with the Q8DN figuring out what the device is and then naming it and, in the case of a games console, switching to the games mode for the best image and lag time. All the codes of that device are also downloaded and made available to your one-remote so you can control it.
Day to day use is also very easy with the Q8 and all your content and devices can be accessed quickly through the home page. This lays out your devices and apps in a horizontal launcher bar and as you highlight them, there is a secondary horizontal bar which opens to show you the latest content available. So if you want to quickly see what Netflix and Amazon are recommending you watch, just highlight the apps in the launcher bar and you’ll then get a number of thumbnails showing you what you can watch.
From the launcher, you can access Notifications, Settings, Sources, Search Function, Apps, Ambient Mode, Live TV, SmartThings and the Gallery.
The selection of catch-up and video on demand services is excellent with most of the major providers also supporting 4K and HDR playback and you also have a choice of content to purchase through the TV Plus app.
We found all the available apps worked flawlessly and the whole smart experience was first class, with quick access to and from one app to the other with no slowdown or crashing. Button presses were instant in almost all cases and we didn’t need to wait for buffering on the majority of content we accessed.
A nice new touch introduced this year is Ambient Mode, which basically lets you use the TV to show the latest news, weather, images from your mobile, galleries, décor and more without putting the TV into standby. This allows you to keep the Q8DN in use with whatever you want onscreen and in a claimed low power mode. You could even take a photo of the wall behind the TV and use this image to hide the TV on the wall if you have it mounted. It’s a neat feature but we are not sure just how many people will actually use it.
The inclusion of the best available VOD apps, usability and the Universal guide to help you navigate the hundreds of thousands of content choices available, we found the functionality of the Q8DN to be excellent and intuitive.
We found the functionality of the Q8DN to be intuitive
Samsung Q8DN FeaturesBeing the latest in the QLED range for 2018 from Samsung the Q8DN has all the Q features you would expect from such a well-specified TV. These features cover everything from colour accuracy, backlight dimming, viewing angles and screen filter.
First up is the brain of this Q operation and that is the Q Engine processing chip. This uses a number of algorithms to handle 16-bit colour mapping for all content as well as multi-curve processing for dynamic metadata from HDR10+ sources. It also controls the local dimming and zone algorithms for the backlight making sure it adjusts quickly enough to give the best contrast performance. Q HDR 1500 is the name for the sets HDR performance which includes HDR10+ and given the number 1500 would hint at the peak brightness Samsung is claiming the Q8DN can reach.
Q Contrast Plus is the name for the backlight local dimming and screen filter to help the Q8DN produce excellent blacks and bright highlights with all content while making sure that ambient light doesn’t reflect on the screen or wash out the image. Ultra Black Elite is part of this and improves perceived blacks and shadow details. Being a VA panel TV should improve the black performance when added to the various Q technologies Samsung has named here and viewing angles are another improvement which falls under the Q Contrast Plus. With an improved panel structure, Samsung is now claiming that off-axis viewing has been improved by up to 40% due to the better diagonal light leakage suppression. This should mean that colour and contrast performance are significantly improved over other VA type TV panels.
With the multi-zone local dimming performance of the Q8DN, Samsung is hoping that it’s algorithms manage to achieve significantly less blooming around bright objects against dark backgrounds, and dimming which is effective without losing picture element details. Unlike OLED that is down to the pixel level, local dimming relies on zones that can be separately controlled, but can’t yet do so at the pixel level. So the local dimming has to try and mimic that level of performance without affecting too much of the details on screen, which are supposed to be seen, but maybe dimmed too much, or missing altogether. It’s a very difficult task indeed.
Q Colour technology refers to the use of quantum dots, which were introduced in 2017 and are upgraded here for the 2018 line-up. Samsung claim 100% coverage of the DCI-P3 colour gamut that also includes saturation and luminance coverage with greater accuracy of the wavelengths of coloured light and a large colour volume. So the Q8DN should manage UHD material with superb accuracy and brightness to its colour performance.
Also new for 2018 is the Ambient Mode which is not connected with any sensor that changes the light output, but rather a new gallery style feature for using the TV instead of standby mode. It has four distinct modes that you can use with the Ambient screen such as the type of décor you want to display, the Info you want on the screen, so news headlines or the weather for example. Plus you can feature professional stills or your own Photos in a slideshow and also choose to listen to music with these features onscreen. The first question that you may ask is about the power being used for all this and while it depends on the screen brightness, it is not much less than using the TV normally, so keep that in mind.
Out of the Box MeasurementsAs always we set about finding the best settings out of the box that get close to the industry standards used to master content for TV shows and movies. It is important that at least one picture mode on any consumer TV is set up from the factory to be as close as possible to show the content correctly and as intended. It is refreshing to see that almost all of the major manufacturers believe in this philosophy and provide such presets out of the box.
The Q8DN has a selection of Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie picture presets and if you’re a regular reader of our reviews you’ll know that Movie is the mode to use here. We also have to make sure that gamma is set to BT.1886, which it is as standard on a Samsung set. If you have a bright room and want gamma to track closer to 2.2 (our recommended normal room setting) then you can adjust the gamma slider upwards to do that. We also made sure that colour temperature was set to Warm2 and local dimming to low or standard depending on the viewing environment – which is also true for the backlight control. If you can, you should also use pluge patterns to check the brightness and contrast for your viewing room. It is important to note that for these out of the box results we measured with the local dimming on low, it is not possible to switch off the dimming completely.
Looking at the greyscale tracking (top left) we can see that for a premium LED LCD TV the results are a little disappointing. We have a lack of red energy and too much green pretty much from 20ire onwards which gives whites a bluish cyan tint which is visible with normal viewing material. DeltaE errors are well over the visible threshold of three, which is why we can see the cyan tint in whites and most images. Gamma however tracks well at the BT.1886 target and the slight dips are caused by the local dimming system, especially at 10 and 20ire where the panel doesn’t have enough time between the measurement run to dim quickly enough, more on this later. Overall we doubt the vast majority of viewers would notice the slight cyan tint to images, but for those looking for more accuracy or those who have an eye for issues, it would be nice if Samsung could do better with the tracking out of the box. Again we are nitpicking here, so while slightly negative, we don’t feel the vast majority of viewers would notice and it is fairly accurate for an out of the box preset. Far better than any other picture mode offered on this TV.
In terms of Rec.709 colour and saturation tracking (top right) we can see the cyan push having its effect on the gamut saturation tracking. This will be corrected with a better white balance (after calibration) and with that in mind, almost all the desired points from 75% and below will fall in place. There is a slight undersaturation of Red and even when the white point is fixed, there will likely still be an issue here. With normal viewing material, we were not aware of the issues in colour accuracy apart from perhaps a slight saturation reduction in red balanced scenes and with skin tones looking a little pale and cyan if we are nitpicking about accuracy. Again the vast majority of viewers will probably not notice this and again this mode is the only one on the Q8DN that gets close to being accurate.
Calibrated MeasurementsThe Samsung Q8DN has a suite of calibration controls, which will allow us to perform a manual calibration for our review testing. We have 2-point and 20-point white balance controls, a gamma slider and a Colour Management System at our disposal to see how accurate we can get the panel.
As always we used our Klein K10-A meter, CalMAN Ultimate Software and Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator.
Turning to the greyscale tracking first of all (top left) and we didn’t need to touch the 20-point controls, as we were able to get perfect results with just the 2-point on this occasion. DeltaE errors were all under one which is well below the visible threshold and while you may still see some slight dips in the graph results, these are not seen with any onscreen material and fixing will not make any difference to the result you see on screen, but it’ll make the graphs look pretty. It will not always be the case that a panel calibrates as easily as this one, so we do like the fact that we have the flexibility of the 20-point to make corrections if required. Our results here though are perfect.
Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut saturation tracking chart (top right) and we can see that correcting the greyscale has pulled the colour points back to where they should be. We used the CMS to make some slight adjustments to balance out the red saturation results, which are still not perfect but as good as we are going to get here. Other points were much better with no major visible issues present and luminance results (not shown) were also excellent. So for SDR content the Q8DN is now as accurate as we are going to get it to the industry standards.
HDR ResultsBeing an LED LCD TV we are expecting the HDR performance of the Q8DN to be bright and colourful given those are the strengths of the technology. We are also interested to see how the local dimming will also perform with fewer zones than the Q9FN to play with. First of all, we set out to see how well the Q8DN tracked the PQ EOTF and if it could also track the DCI-P3 colour gamut accurately.
We used our regular calibration gear including the Murideo which can send metadata to the TV for HDR mastered content to see how it performs. When the Samsung detects an HDR metadata signal it switches to HDR mode but stays in the Movie preset. It doesn’t copy over any settings from the white balance or CMS to the HDR mode, which is ideal as it gives you the ability to enter settings just for HDR content.
It was interesting to see that the Q8DN tracked the PQ EOTF (top left) very well in our tests and it is important to point out that we switched off the contrast enhancer within the menus before running these tests. If you don’t switch that off then the Q8DN does produce a much brighter and less accurate tracking of the EOTF, so keep that in mind. We see no reason to have it switched on for accurate HDR10 content viewing, but it is on by default. We were also happy to see that while not completely accurate, the greyscale tracking was very good for an out of the box setting. For 1000nit content the Samsung tone mapping doesn’t roll off until it hits 1000nits, but with 4000nit mastered material it does map it with a gradual roll off so it doesn’t clip out too much highlight detail and keeps a constant APL.
The colour saturation tracking isn’t quite as accurate with some errors seen (top right) mainly in hue and saturation of 75% marks. However, the Q8DN does a decent job of trying to match the DCI-P3 gamut and is just a tad short of covering it 100%. Colour luminance is also good (not shown) and DeltaE errors are good for HDR content. Despite the results not being bang-on in the graph above, with actual onscreen film content we didn’t see anything that we thought was visibly distracting or not as accurate as possible. The Q8DN managed to produce a bright and vibrant image, but also one that was consistent and as accurate to the existing standards as it possibly could be. In the Movie mode and with the Contrast enhancer turned off we found the HDR performance to be very good indeed with no washout or clipping and no over the top colour tones.
The Q8DN measured 76% of Rec.2020 in XY and 79% in UV coordinates, and against DCI-P3 it was 95% XY and 98% UV. So not quite the 100% Samsung claimed in their marketing, but close, and colour luminance was also good.
We measured the peak brightness of the Q8DN in the most accurate Movie mode to be 950nits and this remained constant, even when a 10% window was kept onscreen for more than a minute, it never dimmed from that point. In Dynamic mode we ran the same test with a 10% window pattern and the initial peak brightness reading was 1450nits (close to the HDR 1500 Samsung state) but this started to dim within a couple of seconds and dipped all the way down to 400nits within 16 seconds. So it can reach very high peak brightness in the most inaccurate Dynamic mode, but it can’t hold that brightness for more than 2 seconds before dimming down. In the accurate Movie mode it was a constant 950nits and maintained that for well over a minute. This is interesting but not that relevant as most modern movies are mastered to just have one or two peak moments where that 1400nits would be used, and in very small areas of the screen, and not for very long at all, so interesting enough, but the accurate Movie mode has you covered for the vast majority of HDR content.
Q8DN General Performance
Panel Uniformity and Viewing AnglesAs this is a FALD set with approximately 40 zones behind the panel, we did expect to see some banding with certain material like football. This is because large areas of the screen are one uniform colour, like the green of the pitch, and as such banding can be seen when the camera or action pans across the screen quickly. We are happy to report that although there are signs of this, it is very subtle when compared to other similar sets. It is there if you go looking for it, or if it is a particularly difficult scene, but for the majority of the football viewing I did while living with the TV, it wasn’t in your face or overly distracting. Putting up uniformity test patterns from 2% brightness and up also showed up some clouding - and dirty screen effect (DSE) was also present with some viewing material, especially when watching in a dim room at night. This was less of an issue when watching the Q8DN in brighter conditions.
Watching the Q8 from a straight on position we didn’t notice any issues with blooming or light pooling from the backlight with nice deep blacks, good shadow detail and excellent colour reproduction. Watching the Q8DN in a normal living room environment with some ambient lighting and a bias light behind the set, we found the performance to be excellent for an LCD TV accepting the limitations of the technology in these areas of performance. It’s not perfect, but it certainly performs better than some recent competition, like the Sony XF90.
Viewing angles are something that Samsung has been keen to improve this year and while poor in comparison to an OLED screen, for a VA panel we found that the image brightness, contrast and colour saturation was excellent until around 20 degrees off axis, where it did start to wash out. For the best viewing of the Q8DN we suggest that the seating positions are, as on axis as possible, so this set would suit a room where the main viewing positions are central to the screen. Again this is an inherent limitation of the technology.
Black Levels and Contrast PerformanceWatching the Q8DN from dead centre of the screen you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching an OLED set, given the deep blacks, excellent shadow detailing and strong, well-saturated colours. The VA panel and direct backlight does work extremely well in these circumstances and the local dimming for the majority of our viewing also performed to a high standard. It was only in the occasions already mentioned above in the review, with the tricky scenes which change contrast quickly, that we felt the dimming was a little slow to keep up. In the instance of the Grand Tour presenters in the studio and the camera cutting to each during an argument, we found the dimming began to get lost and pumped between dark and light settings, which was very noticeable. We also found that setting the local dimming to the highest level also introduced black clipping and crush. Details could disappear altogether with some content in this setting. However, it was only with certain scenes that our attention was drawn to these issues. It was infrequent and we have reported it back to Samsung for their attention.
Because you can’t switch off the local dimming, getting an accurate native contrast measurement is impossible as the dimming switches off completely. There was excellent anti-reflection from the screen on the Q8DN making it a good choice for viewing in a normal living room with lots of lighting present, as it didn’t wash out in such surroundings. Overall for an LCD TV the Q8DN is a very good performer and well above average for black levels and contrast performance.
Motion Handling and Video ProcessingFor the majority of our testing and the material used, the Q8DN did an excellent job with the motion handling. 24fps material was displayed as we would expect with no induced judder or additional motion blur other than that in the content. The very little 60p material we used was also displayed correctly but we did have some slight issues with broadcast 50i material. Now and again we did notice some frame skipping which seemed to happen every few minutes and was only really noticeable in slow pans, but it was there at other times if we went looking for it. We don’t think this is a deal breaker in any way and doubt the vast majority of viewers would even notice it, but we need to be thorough in our assessments. Using the built-in VOD apps we did notice some obvious judder with iPlayer content in particular, which seemed to affect all the programmes we viewed. Movie and video content appeared to be fine on other services such as Amazon and Netflix with no such issues, so it may have been down to the actual app version for the iPlayer and 50hz content.
We get the usual suite of motion smoothing and frame interpolation technologies from Samsung on the Q8DN under the Auto Motion Plus settings menu. Here you have a few options and the TV ships in the default Auto position that does add Soap Opera Effect (SOE) to content. You can, of course, switch this off or use the custom settings to adjust the motion compensation to suit your preferences and without adding SOE. There is also a Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature called LED Clear Motion, which works well with just a hint of flicker seen on high contrast content. Using this does slightly darken the image but not to any degree that you should worry about, and you could always adjust the backlight to compensate if you desire.
Video processing was also impressive with the Q8DN and we didn’t find any issues with the test materials and test discs we used. De-interlacing was spot on along with excellent motion handling and upscaling performance was also top notch. We didn’t notice any backdoor processing or noise reduction going on in the movie mode and straight lines on upscaled material looked good with no ringing or loss of detail from sharpening. Even 576 line content from DVD looked reasonable on the Q8DN although standard definition SD broadcast material varied considerably and we wouldn’t recommend viewing such content on the Q8.
Input LagSwitching on your games console and connecting it to the Q8DN via HDMI allows the TV to recognise what it is and automatically switch the TV into game mode. This means you get the best possible experience for playing console games on the Q8DN with an input lag response of just 16ms, which is an excellent result. This means that almost all games feel responsive and you don’t feel the TV getting in the way of your performance.
We enjoyed a few hours of dying quickly in Far Cry 5, which also looked great in HDR with no darkening of the image and plenty of shadow detail to see what is creeping up on you in the darkness. Overall the Q8DN is an excellent gaming proposition for those concerned about image retention on OLED. Samsung should be adding VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) support to their TVs this year, but we were not in a position to test this on this occasion, however, we do have a long-term 55-inch Q9FN here for testing and will be looking at that functionality when we can.
Sound QualityThe Q8DN doesn’t come with a fancy soundbar or speaker system attached, but the built-in speakers were surprisingly good for a flat panel TV. We found it to sound quite spacious with a nice soundstage and not boxy or muffled like the usual TV systems we test. There was a decent midrange to voices and a nice top end that wasn’t harsh or sibilant in any way at normal, reasonable volumes.
We certainly found no major issues with the sound quality and if you were using this for normal living room TV duties you might decide that there is not a lot of scope to want to upgrade to a stand-alone system. However, if movies are a big part of your viewing habits, then adding a soundbar or separate sound solution would be recommended.
Samsung Q8DN Picture Quality
Out of the Box PerformanceDynamic Mode: This setting is best avoided if you want to see images that are accurate and as intended. Every picture enhancement is switched on and most of them on the maximum settings. Whites are incredibly blue, detail is clipped completely in the highlights and faces and skin tones look very odd and smooth. Everyone looks like they have had a Botox injection with no visible lines or delineation of wrinkles on faces and no subtle shadowing detail to add depth and texture. Everything looks super smooth and super fake with ultra smooth motion that just doesn’t feel natural or lifelike at all. Colours are super saturated and garish to look at. Please don’t subject yourself to this preset.
Standard Mode: This is the setting that the TV defaults to and whilst it's better than Dynamic, it's still not very good if you want image accuracy and a natural feel. Motion is again super smooth and fake and needs to be dialled back or switched off completely. Colours are again oversaturated and are not natural or how colours actually are in everyday scenes. Detail is again clipped in the brighter areas of the image and while not as blue as Dynamic, whites are still blue tinted and far away from what they should look like. This mode is bright and colourful and will likely attract most consumers trying this TV, as when you flick through the modes, the bright ones (and sadly the most inaccurate) will be most appealing to the eye on first glance. Movie mode will likely get ignored.
Movie Mode: This is the best mode to select if you want accurate image quality out of the box to the industry standards. Sadly as stated above, because it is the most accurate it is also dim when compared to the super bright in your face Standard and Dynamic modes so will likely get ignored by anyone flicking between the presets. This is a shame as you would really be missing out on having the most detail-filled, bright and accurately colourful image. There are some issues with this preset with some picture processing switched on including motion by default, so go through these and set as you desire or switch them off.
We found the out of the box picture quality in Movie mode to provide the most satisfying image quality of all the presets available. Blacks were deep and fluid with excellent shadow detail and colours were rich and accurate. Skin tones were natural and lifelike with good facial detail and shadows, adding excellent depth to the image. With motion switched off we found 24fps playback to be as expected with no induced judder from the TV, which is natural for the frame rate along with motion blur inherent in the source material. We did see the occasional frame skip with broadcast material at 50hz which wasn’t overly noticeable and required you to look for it, but it is there and seen on slow pans and after some scene cuts. Overall the out of the box SDR performance is excellent in the Movie mode and is our recommended setting if you don’t intend on having the TV professionally calibrated.
As you would expect for a Samsung LED LCD TV the HDR performance out of the box in Movie mode is also bright and colourful. Blacks remain excellent with even more shadow details visible (the human eye is more acute at seeing detail in dark areas of the image than the highlights). Highlights and specular details are bright, but not overly so that they are distracting. Instead, we found a nice balance to the Movie mode preset in HDR with a consistent APL that added a nice naturalness to the whole image. Even in scenes designed to show off the capabilities of the HDR technology, we found the Q8DN to be an excellent performer with deep rich blacks, good shadows and excellent highlights that were free from clipping.
Even tricky 4000 nits mastered content, such as Pan, was displayed with confidence and swagger by the Q8DN with all the highlights visible and within a consistently balanced overall image. Sitting dead on with the Q8DN gives you the best performance with little in the way of haloing or other issues seen sitting off axis.
Our only criticism of the HDR performance was that unlike our long-term OLED screens that can work on the pixel level, we did tend to see that with a zonal backlight, larger areas of the image would brighten up around a highlight, where the OLED is perfect in this regard. We could also occasionally see blooming around bright objects against dark backgrounds, even when sat directly on to the Q8DN. Finally, the local dimming can be caught out with some fast cuts and changes in scene brightness and it looks like the system lags behind because of this. However even with those slight niggles, the Q8DN puts in one of the best performances we have seen for a while with HDR content and when used in a normal viewing environment with ambient light, it performs at its best.
Finally, we should also mention HDR gaming and the excellent experience you can obtain from this TV. We found motion, lag and image quality to be excellent and a highly immersive experience. I am personally rubbish at games like Far Cry 5 where I get killed on a regular basis, but being killed has never so colourful and bright as it has been on the Q8DN. There is an excellent blend of a cinematic feel to the images, but at the same time, it remains bright enough to see any issues in the darkness and take out the threats early. Image quality never gets in the way of the gaming experience, with tricky dark scenes handled perfectly by the Q8DN. If you are a gamer and fear image retention and some gaming tone mapping not being perfect on other screens out there, the Q8DN certainly has you covered and would be a good choice for the dedicated gamer.
When spending the type of money you are with the Samsung Q8DN we would always recommend having it professionally calibrated to get the best out of it. Even if you are the type of person who doesn’t like accurate images and watch your content in the standard or normal presets with motion engaged, you might just surprise yourself by hiring a professional and having them explain as they go what the benefits are.
Certainly, the Q8DN can be calibrated perfectly with excellent images on offer when viewed directly on to the TV. Blacks really are rich and deep with excellent shadow detail retrieval and colours are perfectly balanced and accurate with superb detail on offer to complete the picture. We watched plenty of our demo scenes and were happy with the results on offer with the Q8DN.
Saving Private Ryan is a stunning piece of filmmaking that uses a subtle grade to look like 1940’s newsreel footage and has a gritty feel. This is perfectly translated by the Q8DN with no backdoor noise reduction or other tampering of the image, so we get every detail on the faces, reds are vivid and the grain has a lovely texture that looks natural and unhampered. Our only concerns are those already highlighted above which are again seen here as they cannot be calibrated out, but none of them is a deal breaker in terms of image quality when viewed in a normal living room.
- Good image accuracy
- Excellent colour after calibration
- Strong black levels and shadow detail when viewed on axis
- Excellent input lag and gaming performance
- Impressive image processing
- Excellent 24fps motion
- Video processing and upscaling is very good
- Some 50Hz frame skipping and judder on some material
- Slow local dimming switching with some material
- Local dimming can be aggressive in highest setting clipping detail
- No Dolby Vision support
- Expensive when compared to competing screens with similar specifications and the Q9FN
Samsung Q8DN (QE55Q8DN) Review
Should I buy one?
The Q8DN is undoubtedly a very good LED LCD TV that has many of the attributes of its bigger brother the Q9FN and also some foibles that slightly detract from the overall package. Our main concerns are the local dimming being a tad slow in some scenes and the price. Everything else with this TV is excellent and as an LCD TV it is up there with the best of the bunch at the moment.
It is difficult to write a review of a Samsung LCD TV with its QLED branding and not compare it with the current crop of OLED TVs from a number of manufacturers. It is important to remember that there is no such thing as the perfect TV or the perfect TV technology. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and it will ultimately depend on how you intend to use the TV as to which technology will suit you best. If you want absolutely contrast and blacks for movie watching in a dim viewing room, with the occasional gaming session, then OLED is the choice for that use case. If however you have a normal living room with bright lighting during the day and at night, you game for hours at a time and are concerned about possible image retention, then an LCD TV is more suited to your use case. So to compare the Q8DN to the current OLEDs is a difficult proposition as it really does depend on where and how you will use your TV.
There are a few slight issues that you tend to find on any TV reviewed these days, which we would like Samsung to look at. First is the motion for 50Hz materials on this set and the random frame skipping and judder with some content. We also think the local dimming needs a few tweaks as it seems slow to react with some scene changes and brightness changes in some material. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is something that needs further scrutiny from Samsung. The last point is the pricing of this TV. At just £300 less than the Q9FN it seems to be too high given the differences on offer between the two TVs. We also don’t feel that the Q8DN is that much better equipped than the current Sony 55XF9005 as both share a lot of common traits such as FALD with local dimming and 4K HDR similarities. The Samsung definitely has the better UI and operating system with Tizen, yet the Sony is Dolby Vision ready and also costs just £1400 compared to the Q8’s £2199. This is the biggest stumbling point for us and while the TV does enough performance wise to earn itself a Recommendation, it comes with that rather large price caveat.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £2,199.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
SDR Picture Quality9
HDR Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money6
Our Review Ethos
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