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Samsung Q80R (QE55Q80R) QLED TV Review

Q a bargain?

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,999.00

What is the Samsung Q80R?

The Samsung Q80R is the third level of the high-end QLED range for 2019 and sits just below the Q90R and Q85R 4K flagship models. It is an LED LCD TV with a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight that Samsung calls Direct Full Array Plus which has around 50 separate dimming zones and an advanced dimming algorithm. Peak brightness is rated at being over 1000 nits.

The Q80R also has the viewing angle filter which means you can view the Samsung from off-axis and not encounter the same kind of contrast and colour drop off traditionally seen with VA panel LCD TVs.

It also features the Quantum 4K Processor for upscaling lower resolution content to the native 4K resolution with advanced AI using databases to make sure objects appear as clean and sharp as they should when scaled. It also supports HDR10+ dynamic metadata high dynamic range along with static metadata HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) broadcast standards.

Sadly, for some users who are looking to wall mount their TV, the Q80 does not have the One Connect box and the connections are at the rear of the TV.

The Samsung Q80R is available at the time of this review in December 2019 in 55-inch for £1299 and the 65-inch will set you back £1699. Of course, searching online will also find you better deals.

MORE: What is 4K HDR Dynamic Metadata

Samsung Q80R Video Review


Design, Connections and Control

The design of the Q80R is almost identical to the Q85R we recently reviewed with just a slight change in the stand support and the loss of the One Connect box and the invisible cable. The VA FALD panel used means that the chassis is deeper than competing OLED designs with a silver surround that is chamfered from the screen creating the bezel.

Samsung QE55Q80R

The stand is a straight bar to the front in a silver finish with a C-shaped support that connects to the rear of the panel in the centre. The rear of the set is plastic and has a striped design with the connections on the rear left when looking from behind.

Samsung QE55Q80R

All of the connections are sideways facing with 2 USB ports and an optical digital output, four full-bandwidth 18Gbps HDMI ports with ARC on HDMI 4 and below these are a LAN port along with Satellite and RF antennas. The power connection is to the right of the panel and there are some cable management grooves.

Samsung QE55Q80R

The remote controls supplied with the Q80R are a traditional full-size plastic affair with all the buttons you’ll ever need, along with a thick one remote which is made from black plastic. The one remote is paired down with minimal buttons, a directional pad and enter key along with direct buttons for Netflix, Prime Video and Rakuten.

  The VA FALD panel used means that the chassis is deeper than competing OLED designs

Measurements

Out of the box

As we always do within our reviews, we measured the out of the box picture presets to find those that get as close as possible to the industry standards. The idea is that a TV must get close to these standards in at least one of its picture modes so end users can see content as it was mastered and intended to be seen.

Calibration is a goal for some users, but for the majority, this is not an option, so actually knowing how accurate the out of the box presets are is very important in any honest TV review.

We see absolutely no point in assessing and reviewing TVs in only the perfectly calibrated picture modes as this doesn’t reflect what the vast majority of buyers will experience with the TV.

Calibration and measurement are important for the overall assessment of the TV, but we don’t only focus on the calibrated performance here at AVForums. So, just how close do the picture presets get to the standards out of the box?

  This is a very good result for this Q80R and encouraging if Samsung can make sure that all consumer versions are this good in the Movie preset

The most accurate picture mode on the Q80R is Movie with gamma set to BT.1886 and colour temperature Warm 2 along with Local Dimming set to Standard. We switched off all the other picture processing and enhancement controls.

Samsung QE55Q80R

Looking at the greyscale and it turns out to be quite accurate with a lack of blue energy and a rise of red as the image gets brighter, giving us a slightly warm look to images onscreen. DeltaE errors are just under the visible threshold of three and gamma also tracks well with no major issues.

Samsung QE55Q80R

The Rec.709 colour gamut out of the box is also very good indeed with a few more issues present in the graph. Green has a hue error and we know white is a little yellow and warm, but everything else looks like it is there or thereabouts at 75% saturation and below.

This is a very good result for this Q80R and encouraging if Samsung can make sure that all consumer versions are this good in the Movie preset.

Calibrated

The Samsung Q80R has all the necessary calibration controls in the menu system to make sure we can get more accuracy from the greyscale and colour gamut.

Samsung QE55Q80R

We were able to achieve reference level results with the Q80R for greyscale with a superb track from black to white and gamma was also extremely good. This gave us DeltaE errors well under the visible threshold of three with a maximum of 0.9.

Samsung QE55Q80R

Our calibration of the colour gamut was less successful but still reasonably accurate as we just couldn’t get all the points to track as they should for saturation and hue. The CMS on the Samsung is also basic and doesn’t allow full 3D manipulation of the points. In the end, we balanced out the Rec.709 colour saturation points, along with the luminance levels so we had the smallest possible DeltaE errors possible. With our results here we are well under the visible threshold of three with a maximum of 2.8 and an average of 1.1. This means that the errors seen within the graph here are not visible or noticeable with film and TV content viewing.

  The CMS on the Samsung is also basic and doesn’t allow full 3D manipulation of the points

HDR Results

With the Samsung using a VA LCD panel and a full-on FALD backlighting system with 50 zones, we were expecting the Q80R to get at least 1000 nits in the 10% window test. We also expected to see the blooming suppression algorithm present in our measurements. We used a continuous measurement cycle in CalMAN from 1% to full 100% brightness in stages within the graph.

Samsung QE55Q80R

What you can see is an impressive peak brightness of 1108 nits in the industry-standard 10% window in the most accurate Movie present to D65 white point. This is better than the result we measured on the Q85R recently for that window size. But if you look at the full chart you will see that unlike our recent OLED tests where 1, 2, 5 and 10% were all the same brightness before dropping off sharply, the Samsung is different. This is because it has a blooming suppression algorithm built-in that suppresses small areas of brightness so you don’t get bloom appearing around them, such as a street light at night or white text on a black background. This, in my opinion, accounts for the smaller nit values at 1, 2 and 5% points. It is seen within HDR film material where small lights are dimmer than they should be, so you don’t see any backlight blooming around them. This does take away from some of the image dynamics.

Samsung QE55Q80R
Samsung QE55Q80R

In terms of the PQ EOTF tracking in the out of the box Movie mode, it does have the now-standard Samsung brightening track that doesn’t quite follow the standard, but again, setting contrast to 44 on the Q80R does bring the result back in line to where it should be on the graph. Samsung does this because testing with normal consumers suggested they preferred the brighter approach, but in the Movie mode, we would suggest that Samsung should be going for accuracy to the standard we currently have for the PQ EOTF tracking. In terms of image quality out of the box and once dialled down, we saw nothing untoward that introduces any clipping or over-brightness in the image in Movie mode. Go to other picture modes and it really is an issue, but in Movie mode, we didn’t see anything distracting or untoward.

Samsung QE55Q80R

Wide Colour Gamut
coverage was also decent but a little short of being 100% of the coverage of DCI-P3 and we did have some hue and saturation errors in the graph. But colour volume was very good with well saturated, but natural-looking colours onscreen with HDR10 content.

We measured BT.2020 coverage at 68% XY and 75% UV and P3 coverage was 94% XY and 97% UV.

  The local dimming is aggressive but impressive most of the time and it produces excellent images with a nice dynamic range

Performance

The Samsung Q80R uses a FALD backlight and 50 dimming zones on the VA panel along with the company's moth-eye filter and anti-glare screen which is superb at rejecting ambient light which hits the screen.

Panel uniformity was decent with just some slight unevenness and faint dirty screen effect with football content when you go looking for it. There are also slightly darker edges seen with fully white or bright screens. With almost all other content we didn’t have any issues with the uniformity that would put us off watching. These small issues are caused by the technical limitations of the technology. Viewing angles are very good indeed from the Q80R with no immediate loss of contrast or colours like other LCD TVs at this price point.

  Gaming is also a strong point with the Q80R with superb technologies available within the gaming menu

Video processing was excellent with very good upscaling of SD and HD images to the panel's 4K native resolution with no signs of edge ringing or artefacts. Motion with 24fps material is also very good with no signs of induced judder or excessive blur to images. You can of course experiment with Auto Motion Plus with video and fast-moving sports content, but be aware of artefacts and soap opera effect if you do so.

The use of a FALD backlight and the advanced local dimming algorithm with blooming suppression works well with the vast majority of SDR and HDR content. It's not perfect and some content will catch it out now and again, such as the star scene from Gravity, but these are infrequent. With some HDR content, you may notice that small bright areas within dark surroundings may be dimmer than expected and this is due to the suppression to stop blooming. But again, you really need to be looking out for this to notice it within most content.

The local dimming is aggressive but impressive most of the time and it produces excellent images with a nice dynamic range. It will never match OLED for the ultimate blacks and shadow detail, but it can get much brighter for certain peak brightness areas within an image. It can look incredibly impressive and cinematic with strong contrast and excellent colour saturation. Even old classics on 4K Blu-ray really standout with superb sharpness, detail and colours. The Q80R, however, doesn’t need as much tone mapping with 1000 and 4000 nits content as competing sets do, thanks to it high peak brightness capabilities and that does show with strong, detailed and bright specular highlights that pop off the screen with stunning clarity. Only tricker mixed scenes cause the set to crush blacks or dim the highlights to stop blooming, but, again, these are infrequent.

  Viewing angles are very good indeed from the Q80R with no immediate loss of contrast or colours like other LCD TVs at this price point

Gaming is also a strong point with the Q80R with superb technologies available within the gaming menu, such as Game Enhancer, Dynamic Black Equaliser, Game Motion Plus and Freesync. The use of Motion Plus does add extra lag to your games so you need to be careful with its use, but the Samsung is capable of an input lag of 13.7ms.

Rounding up the performance, we have the excellent Tizen Operation System and Smart TV which is one of the very best on the market for speed, flexibility and stability, with an excellent choice of applications including Apple TV.

  It offers excellent smart TV apps and flexibility with voice assistants for the modern living room

Verdict

The Good

  • Decent accuracy out of the box
  • Superb SDR and HDR image quality
  • Superb HDR brightness
  • Excellent gaming features
  • Excellent OS and Smart TV
  • Very good viewing angles for an LCD
  • Very good anti-reflective screen filter
  • Decent build quality

The Bad

  • No Dolby Vision
  • HDR PQ EOTF must track the standard in Movie mode
  • Some black crush due to aggressive local dimming with some content
  • Mild DSE
  • Blooming suppression can dim some HDR mixed scene content

Samsung Q80R (QE55Q80R) QLED TV Review

As we keep saying within our reviews there is no such thing as the perfect TV and the technology that matches you will come down to your needs and uses. For those AVForums members and readers who want a TV for watching film content within a dim room, we would still steer you towards an OLED TV at this price point and market level. However, for those who need an all-round workhorse for a normal living room with a mix of uses from movies to gaming and more, the Q80R is an excellent entry point to the QLED Quantum Dot LCDs from Samsung. We do however feel that the lack of Dolby Vision will cost the Q80R some sales against almost all the competition who do offer it.

It offers excellent smart TV apps and flexibility with voice assistants for the modern living room. Add in excellent viewing angles from an LCD TV which allows better placement choices with your home and a nice modern design, with excellent picture quality and the Q80R really starts to make sense. It is also an excellent choice for those gamers who want long HDR sessions without the worry of image retention with superb bright images and over the top colours. But it also does accurate movie modes for watching SDR and HDR content in a normal room with ambient lighting, with a superb moth-eye filter to reject strong light hitting the screen surface.

As we have covered within the review it will not suit everyone’s use case, but for many normal users the Q80R offers very good image quality, features, low gaming input lag and a modern-looking design that will suit the role of normal living room workhorse and as such it comes recommended.

Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
8

Screen Uniformity

.
.
8

Colour Accuracy

.
9

Greyscale Accuracy

.
9

Video Processing

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
8

SDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

HDR Picture Quality

.
9

Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

.
.
8

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Smart Features

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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