What is the Samsung Q80T?
The Samsung Q80T is a mid-range QLED model for 2020 and is the replacement for last year’s Q70R. The 8K models are the higher-end QLED TVs for Samsung going forward, but that doesn’t mean that the 4K models, like the Q80T, are the poor relations. The sets are bursting with the latest features seen on most of the rest of the range, including the use of 4K AI Upscaling with the Quantum Processor 4K chip.
There is a new, almost bezel-less design along with a FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) panel with 50-dimming zones and an advanced local dimming algorithm to make the most of the available zones. Object Tracking Sound (OTS) is also a new feature with sound moving around the screen in relation to objects in the scene. There is also Adaptive Sound+ and AI sound effects that can enhance dialogue if required, as well as Q-Symphony when using a Samsung Q soundbar, where the sound is synchronised with the speakers in the TV to create an expansive sound stage.
The Q80T also sports one HDMI input with 40Gbps bandwidth that can playback 4K/120 and also supports AMD FreeSync and VRR, along with ALLM and an input lag of 11ms (with and without HDR), making it a great option for gamers. HDMI 3 also supports eARC for uncompressed immersive audio playback with suitably equipped sources and soundbars.
The Smart TV system is powered by Tizen and has received a few little tweaks to make it one of the very best OS systems currently used on the market. You have a full suite of catch-up apps for terrestrial channels as well as every possible VOD service you could want from Netflix, Prime Video, Now TV, Apple TV+ and Disney+ to name a few. Plus, there is full support for Google Assistant and Alexa voice control, as well as Samsung’s own Bixby system. Content discovery is also very good within the Samsung Smart eco-system, along with a new Ambient Mode+ which mirrors the TVs surroundings so you can have it stay on when not in use, or display news headlines and artwork, rather than having a black rectangle on a stand or on the wall. Also new this year is the change in colour for the main menu system, which is blue instead of bright white, saving your eyes when in HDR mode.
The Q80T is also competitively priced for such a well-featured TV with some retailers selling the set for around £899 at the time of this review in November 2020, down from an SRP of £1099.
Design, Connections and Control
The Q80T sports a contemporary design that is extremely minimalist and sleek. There is an almost bezel-less look with the picture going right to the edge of the screen. This means that there is nothing else around the edges apart from a small Samsung badge at the bottom centre. It is a FALD panel but the thickness is also reduced when compared to the 2019 models, with a flat rear to the panel and an inch thickness to the panel edge, which is covered in a brushed gunmetal finish.
The panel sits on a pedestal stand with a rectangle metal base and a single pole that raises to the rear centre of the panel. This has a plastic cover that allows for cable management, along with plastic grooves on the bottom rear of the panel, where cables can be routed. The build quality is good with decent plastics and metal finishes used throughout. The finish to the stand is the same gunmetal style as the panel edge.
Around the back, we have all the connections in a sideways configuration to the right rear when looking from the front of the TV. From top to bottom we have two USB 2.0 inputs, digital audio input, four HDMI inputs, a LAN connection and two satellite and one terrestrial antenna. HDMI 3 accepts eARC and HDMI 4 is a 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 input that can playback 4K/120 and also supports AMD FreeSync and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), along with ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode).
The Q80T sports a contemporary design that is extremely minimalist and sleek
The Samsung Q80T comes with two supplied remote controls, a traditional solid black plastic affair with plenty of direct access buttons, including a direct settings key, along with a sleek smaller control with just the main access buttons and directional keys. The smaller remote is also black plastic and it loves fingerprints but is also a fine everyday remote. You also have access to Bixby, Alexa and Google voice assistants to help with controlling the set.
Out of the Box
As we do with all review TVs, we measured the best out of the box image presets to find those that get close to the industry standards for TV and film production and mastering. The idea is that at least one picture preset should be able to get close to these standards so you can view content as it was intended to be seen.
On the Samsung Q80T, the best picture preset is Movie with some adjustments made to frame interpolation and noise reduction settings to switch these off. Samsung will be introducing Filmmaker Mode (FMM) in the near future, but this wasn’t available when we tested the Q80T.
It is a shame that FMM was not yet available on this review sample, as the out of the box results in Movie mode were not as accurate as we would have liked. Most of the lower end greyscale tracking, in the darker ranges, is fairly accurate, but when we get to 60% and above we have a dip of green and blue and an excess of red. Gamma tracks well enough but, because of our red issues, the DeltaE errors are well over the visible threshold of three, which means that errors could be seen within normal TV and film viewing, as I noted red-tinted whites for example with some content. This, however, is much more preferable than the incredibly blue whites of Standard mode.
The out of the box Rec.709 colour gamut results are also slightly disappointing as the red push in white has also moved some of the saturation tracking points away from where they ideally should be. Having said that, there is only one major issue and that is magenta moving towards red with a hue error, but most other points are not terribly far away from where they should be. For an out of the box preset the movie setting is disappointing for purists but is still significantly better than normal or vivid settings.
The Samsung Q80T has the same calibration controls as most of the 2020 range and these should be enough to improve the SDR results. The Colour Management System is starting to get a little long in the tooth and could do with an upgrade to a full HSL CMS, which we hope Samsung will implement in future models, as well as AutoCal via Wi-Fi for all QLED models.
Using the 2-point and 20-point white balance options, we were able to dial in reference calibration results for the greyscale. Tracking was perfect with DeltaE errors all below one and with an average of 0.4, which means that no errors will be visible in any normal TV and film viewing. Gamma also tracks well to BT.1886 with any blips in the graph down to the local dimming at work. Overall, we couldn’t fault the calibrated results, it is just a shame that out of the box wasn’t as accurate.
The CMS on the Q80T is clunky and not ideal for making fine adjustments to the colour gamut, but we were able to tidy up most of the saturation tracking points from 75% stimulus and below, which is where the vast majority of everyday images are made up. We still had a few hue and saturation point blips in the graph, but our overall average DeltaE error was two, which is well under the visible threshold of three and therefore you will not see any colour errors within normal TV and film viewing. Once calibrated, the Q80T produces some nice accurate SDR images.
... the colour volume is greater than you would find on an OLED, but the gamut coverage is less.
Being a FALD panel with local dimming and an advanced algorithm, we should see a good peak brightness from the Samsung Q80T and decent colour volume performance. We start as always by measuring the peak brightness from a series of window sizes in the most accurate to D65 picture preset out of the box, which is Movie mode.
As you can see in the results above, the Q80T doesn’t hold onto the same peak brightness at different window sizes and actually looks more like the performance you would see from an OLED panel. The reason for this is the local dimming algorithm and blooming suppression in the 1, 2 and 5% window sizes, so whites are not blooming against black backgrounds. At 10% we get the full 1000 nits performance capability of the Samsung, but this then falls back as the windows get larger to a reasonable full-screen brightness of 559 nits. This appears to be deliberate use of the local dimming to achieve better performance and less blooming with HDR content.
The PQ EOTF tracking for 1000 nits mastered content is decent, but remember to reduce the contrast down to 45 from the default of 50 in Movie mode, so the PQ tracking is correct and follows the ST.2084 standard. With 1000 nits content, the Q80T tracks the standard before hard clipping at 1000 nits.
With 4000 nits mastered content, there is a gentle roll-off from around 150 nits to the peak brightness of 1000 nits, so it preserves highlight details in the brightest section of 4000+ nits mastered content.
If you look at the 100% saturation point in the DCI-P3 saturation chart within BT.2020, you can see that the Q80T can’t quite reach out to cover the whole gamut size. There is also a push toward cyan with the white point out of the box, which does move some points slightly with hue errors. The coverage is decent enough for a TV at this price point and technology, and the colour volume is greater than you would find on an OLED, but the gamut coverage is less.
BT.2020 coverage measured in at 66% XY and 73% UV with P3 coming in at 91% XY and 95% UV.
The Samsung Q80T uses a VA FALD panel with 50 zones of local dimming and is marketed as a living room TV for movies, sports and gaming. It drops the anti-reflective screen layer seen on the higher QLED models as well as the wide viewing angle technology, but it retains the 4K AI Upscaling with the Quantum Processor 4K chip, and adds in new tech, such as the Object Tracking Sound (OTS) and Q-Symphony when used with a Samsung Q soundbar.
... those with a keen eye will pick up on it, especially with HDR content
Black levels are decent with the Local dimming left in the default Standard setting for SDR and HDR content and while the dimming is aggressive with anti-blooming, it doesn’t have as many issues with tricky scenes like those found in Gravity with Sandra Bullock rolling against the starfields. The performance was certainly better than last year’s Q70R with fewer fluctuations being visible. What the Q80T does is dim down extremely bright highlights to combat blooming and this can be seen within certain scenes, such as lights or windows on a wall looking dimmer than they should, or white objects having a slight vignette around the outer edges. It’s not immediately obvious, but those with a keen eye will pick up on it, especially with HDR content. The end result is a more balanced image in terms of black levels, and shadow details without crush or clipping, but the bright specular highlights are tamed down to balance the image and avoid bloom. The local dimming shuts down the entire background when fed a 0% black slide, even in the low setting, so contrast measuring is difficult in real-world usage, but on an ANSI board pattern, blacks measured in at around 0.003 cd/m2 in the standard dimming mode.
The speakers are powerful enough for normal living room use with intelligible dialogue and a nice wide stereo soundstage
Panel uniformity was good but there are still instances where bloom and clouding of the backlight can be seen with some material when watching in the dark. We also noticed Dirty Screen Effect (DSE) from around 50% stimulus and above in both bright room and darkroom viewing, which was noticeable within football content and the clouds of some films, games and TV shows. It is slight, but if you have a pet hate for DSE, this is not the TV for you. Viewing angles were also an issue once you moved around 20 degrees off-axis and really noticeable over 30 degrees with contrast and colour washout. Sit directly in front of the Q80T and the image quality is very good indeed with excellent brightness and contrast in dim rooms and normal living rooms with the lights on.
The Samsung Q80T is also a very good upscaler with clean and artefact free upscaling of 576i, 1080i and 1080P content to the native resolution of the panel. We didn’t notice any ringing to straight lines and sharpness was decent and without any backdoor noise reduction or edge enhancement being applied.
Motion was decent but we did notice the odd frameskip with some content from our Sky Q 50Hz input and Picture Clarity settings switched off. With 24fps material we had no issues and no instance of induced judder, with films playing back with the correct 5:5 pulldown when Picture Clarity is switched off. With it switched on, you have custom and auto settings available so you can either let the TV do the interpolation or you can use the Judder and Blur reduction sliders to set your own preferences.
You can also add Black Frame Insertion (BFI) by switching on the LED Clear Motion option which can improve the perceived motion but at a lower brightness due to the insertion of black frames. We also found it added artefacts due to undefeatable Judder reduction being applied and greyed out, so it is probably best left off. You can of course experiment with all these settings for your video and sports content, but we recommend switching Picture Clarity off when watching 24fps film content.
HDR looks dynamic and the black bars in scope films remain solid and black
Moving to viewing tests, and with SDR content the Q80T is good out of the box with no immediately obvious image issues due to its out of the box settings. Normal TV viewing in a bright room is the perfect environment for this TV and we saw no obvious problems with picture quality. Indeed, after calibration, the SDR picture quality with TV and movies is excellent, with superb skin tones and very good contrast performance adding a nice dynamic range to content. Blacks are good and in a well-lit room, there are no obvious signs of crush at any point. Colours look natural and with good detail and not overly neon or fake as they can be in standard and dynamic modes. Movie Mode is a great preset which allows accuracy and the ability to set the brightness to match your viewing environment. Even in the pitch black, the Q80T makes a good effort with SDR content with solid black bars with scope film and decent blacks and shadows. We only encountered the occasional issue with clouding of the backlight in these conditions and were pleasantly surprised with the image quality on offer for a FALD VA LCD TV.
HDR was also very good in normal living room conditions with the lights on. Blacks were again solid with decent shadow details and only the odd instance of crush being present. There was no distracting blooming with HDR content, and even subtitles remained solid with just the slightest of edge blooming against black backgrounds. You will notice the dip in brightness of lights within dark scenes, most noticeable for me in the opening of John Wick: Chapter 3 in the alleyway scene and when hailing a cab. The brightest specular light was dimmer than normal, but the image remained balanced as a result with no obvious LCD issues we sometimes see, such as clouding and excessive bloom. HDR looks dynamic and the black bars in scope films remain solid and black with just a hint of vignetting to the edges of the image.
If you want a screen for gaming and free from the potential risk of image retention you may get with an OLED, the Q80T is an excellent choice
Gaming was probably the strong point of the Q80T with excellent HDR performance adding some great dynamics to the image. There was no washout sometimes seen on Samsung QLEDs, with rich and deep blacks mixed with superb colours and image brightness. Input lag was also very good at 11ms and HDMI 4 is a 40Gbps 2.1 connection, compatible for use with AMD FreeSync and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), along with ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and 4/120fps (although we were unable to check this at the time of our review). If you want a screen for gaming and free from the potential risk of image retention you may get with an OLED, the Q80T is an excellent choice, especially at the price point.
The sound was also a surprise as the Q80T produces a very good performance given there is no soundbar attached. The speakers are powerful enough for normal living room use with intelligible dialogue and a nice wide stereo soundstage. The Object Tracking Sound (OTS) is also a new feature this year and helps add the wider sound to the Q80T with sounds moving around the screen. While there is no sense of bass weight to make movie soundtracks come to life, everyday tasks like watching soaps, the news and reality TV (if that’s your thing) will be perfectly matched with the sound on offer. You could also upgrade the TV sound by using the Q-Symphony technology for adding a Samsung Q soundbar, where the TV speakers join the soundbar to further enhance and widen the sound performance. Unfortunately, I didn’t have Q soundbar to hand to try this during my review period.
... the real strength of the Q80T is its role as an all-rounder in the living room
Finally, the Q80T also features Samsung’s Tizen smart TV platform which remains one of the best current systems on the market. It is fast and slick in use with superb choice when it comes to terrestrial catch up apps and the major VOD services like Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+ and many more. It's just a shame that there is no Dolby Vision or Atmos support on the TV.
- Excellent design
- Very good SDR image quality
- Very good HDR picture quality
- Very good motion with 24fps content
- 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 features on HDMI 4
- Input lag of 11ms
- Great all-rounder and gaming TV
- Good value for money
- No Dolby Vision support
- Mild DSE visible
- Could be more accurate out of the box
- Poor viewing angles
Samsung Q80T (QE55Q80T) QLED Review
The Samsung Q80T replaces last year’s Q70R and is a strong addition to the 2020 4K QLED TV line-up from the company. It is a well-designed TV with smart looks and decent features including a FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) panel with 50-dimming zones and an advanced local dimming algorithm to make the most of the available zones. Added to this is at least one 2.1 equipped HDMI input with 40Gbps bandwidth and AMD FreeSync and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), along with ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and 4K/120fps.
It has a few downsides as it uses LCD technology, such as no reflective filter on the screen and no wide-angle filter, plus there are a few slight image issues, such as mild DSE with sports viewing and the aggressive local dimming can dim the brightest specular highlights to combat bloom. We doubt many of these points will be a deal-breaker for most users using the Q80T in normal living rooms, but it is important to point out the issues that are present. What may be a deal breaker for some is the lack of support for Dolby Vision HDR, which could be seen as a must have for 2020 TVs.
Overall, the real strength of the Q80T is its role as an all-rounder in the living room. It can do normal day to day TV viewing with no issues at all. It also has a decent movie pedigree in SDR and HDR, with excellent colour accuracy and deep blacks with decent shadow details on offer. Black bars are black and there are very few issues to spoil your enjoyment with SDR and HDR movies, plus it does correct 5:5 pulldown for 24fps movies. Normal day to day viewing also posed no issues for us during our two weeks with the TV in the testing room and even dark room viewing fared well. There are more obvious issues with the backlight in such surroundings and the black crush was also more noticeable in some scenes, plus the anti-bloom nature of the dimming algorithm does dim down the peak highlights more noticeably.
Gaming is where the Q80T will probably find its biggest fans and if you are looking for a 55-inch gaming screen with superb input lag, really good HDR performance and one HDMI 2.1 capable input, the Samsung has all of this on offer and without the risk of image retention (if that concerns you). Added to this is the recent price cut and at the time of the review, Black Friday is almost here, so it could end up an even better gaming option.
Overall, the Samsung Q80T is a strong LED LCD TV. It offers a lot for those looking for a living room workhorse for soaps, reality TV, movies, sports and gaming with a premium build and design, along with very good image quality and features. It easily picks up a Recommendation.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
SDR Picture Quality
HDR Picture Quality
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box
Picture Quality Calibrated
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
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