Samsung Q85R 4K QLED TV Review

Second best QLED?

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £1,799.00

What is the Samsung Q85R?

The Samsung Q85R is the second level of the high-end QLED range for 2019 and sits just below the Q90R 4K flagship. It is an LED LCD TV with a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight that Samsung calls Direct Full Array Plus which has around 100 separate dimming zones and an advanced dimming algorithm. Also new for 2019 is the viewing angle filter which means you can view the Samsung Q85R from off-axis and not encounter the same kind of contrast and colour drop off traditionally seen with VA panel LCD TVs.

It also has the Quantum 4K Processor for upscaling lower resolution content to the native 4K of the TV with advanced AI using databases to make sure objects appear as clean and sharp as they should when scaled. The Q85R also boasts a One Connect box with the near-invisible cable connection, meaning all the connections and power are placed in the box which can be hidden away in your TV rack, leaving a clean cable-free look to the Q85R.

The Q85R is a 4K TV with support for HDR10+ dynamic metadata high dynamic range along with static metadata HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) broadcast standards. Samsung boasts that the Q85R is capable of over 1000 nits consistent peak brightness along with dynamic tone mapping.

The Samsung Q85R is available in 75, 65 and 55-inch screen sizes. The 55-inch is £1799 at the time of this review in September 2019.

Samsung Q85R Video Review

Our full in-depth review including more charts and measurements can be seen within our video review of the Samsung QE55Q85R



Design, Connections and Control


The first thing that you notice about the design of the Samsung Q85R is the stand. This is a straight bar at the front of the set which has two supports running back toward the TV. These support bars run behind the TV and in a C-shaped curve attach to the middle rear of the panel. There is cable management from the One Connector for the near-invisible cable to be hidden for a clean look.

The panel is a direct backlit VA panel and, as such, it is thicker from the sides than a competing OLED TV. However, Samsung has added a nice silver surround that is chamfered from the screen creating the bezel. There is a slight 5mm black edge on the screen between the bezel and picture.

The back of the set is also nicely designed with just the One Connector and section for the specific Samsung close wall mount getting in the way of the striped design to the plastic back panel. There are no connections or power socket as they are on the One Connect box.

The One Connect box is a long rectangular block with connections on two sides and some cooling vents. The rest of the sides and top are a solid black finish. Connections wise on the back of the box we have the One Connector that goes to the TV, four full-bandwidth 4K 60p HDMI 2.0B ports, an Ethernet port, optical digital output, common interface, one terrestrial and two satellite antenna. On the end of the box are three USB slots. The One Connect box does get quite warm in operation but can be hidden away to give the TV a clean cable-free look. Samsung has not stated whether the One Connect box for the 2019 models will be updated for HDMI 2.1 so don’t buy the Q85R expecting that to happen. However, many of the HDMI 2.1 features are already available on the Q85R, such as ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). 

The remote controls supplied with the Samsung Q85R are the now familiar black plastic full size and slim metal One Remote. The black plastic remote is a traditional design with all the keys laid out in a logical manner and it is intuitive to use. It has direct access keys for the main settings and home screen. The slim metal One Remote has minimal buttons with just the most frequently used keys available along with a jog wheel and enter button. New this year are direct keys for Netflix, Prime Video and Rakuten.

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?

The most accurate picture mode on the Q85R is Movie with gamma set to BT.1886 and colour temperature Warm 2. We switched off all the other picture processing and enhancement controls.

Looking at the greyscale first we can see that out of the box this Q85R is not the most accurate to the industry standards in the Movie mode. There is an excess of green energy from down low in the stimulus scale, with red losing energy and dipping quite low up to the brightest part of the image. This is also reflected in the DeltaE errors which are in the visible range with a green cast visible with onscreen images. Gamma also tracked fairly well but this particular sample of the Q85R had an issue with too dark a gamma around the 90% stimulus point on the graphs, but this wasn’t that noticeable in content.

The colour gamut performance is also affected by the green excess with saturation points pulled over towards green. This introduces some errors in hue and saturation, with red undersaturated and with other points affected by hue errors. This is not as obvious to see within onscreen content as the green tint of the white balance.

The Q85R does have calibration controls onboard and we used these to see how accurate we could get the image quality towards the industry standards and if it is worth having the TV professionally calibrated.

The greyscale was easy enough to fix with the given controls available and we managed to get DeltaE errors of 0.6 which is well below the visible threshold of three. This means that the green cast is gone and white looks correct to the video standards at all brightness levels. Gamma was also tracking well, but we couldn’t do anything with this sample's darkening at 90% stimulus though it didn’t affect image quality at all with SDR content. With managing to fix the greyscale to such a precise level the colour points of the colour gamut also fell back to where they should be in most cases.

We only used small inputs with the available Colour Management System (CMS) and we still had some errors we couldn't fix in the saturation tracking, especially 75% red which is still undersaturated against where it should be. However, every other point was within acceptable tolerances and our average DeltaE came in at 1.24 with the maximum error being 2.24, so well under the threshold. SDR images after calibration look incredible accurate on the Q85R.

Moving to HDR and staying in the most accurate picture mode for correct white point, we measured a peak brightness of 1015 nits. The PQ EOTF tracking was also bright and like previous models out of the box the track against the yellow line standard is a tad bright, so it is on the left side of the line. This is visible in the graph but with actual viewing material, it isn’t a major issue or as bad an error as reported elsewhere. Plus, 4 clicks down on the contrast control has it tracking correctly in the graphs so it is not an issue that majorly affects image quality or brightness, in fact, it is not noticeable when in comparisons. However, with that said it wouldn’t hurt Samsung to make sure that in the Movie preset they tracked the PQ EOTF correctly as they are capable of over a 1000 nits peak brightness. It’s a small issue but worth highlighting. There are slightly different tone mapping results with 1000 and 4000 nit content, with the 1000 nit result brighter than the roll-off on the 4000 nit curve. This does mean that more peak highlight detail is retained in 4000 nits mastered content.

The Q85R doesn’t quite reach the full DCI-P3 gamut coverage but out of the box, the saturation tracking from 75% and below is very good indeed with excellent colour brightness also meaning the colour volume on the Samsung is very good (not shown in the graph).

Overall, with some slight adjustments made we were able to get very good HDR results with PQ EOTF tracking well after a slight adjustment of contrast and the colour gamut points were also looking very good. This means that with HDR the Q85R should produce a very impressive image with details within peak highlights and specular details. Colours should also be full and vivid with excellent brightness when compared to the best OLED screens. We measured BT.2020 at 68% XY and 74% UV and P3 at 94% XY and 97% UV.

Performance

The Samsung Q85R is an LCD TV with a FALD backlight and 100 dimming zones along with the company's moth-eye filter and anti-glare screen, which is superb at rejecting ambient light which hits the screen. We are using a powerful video light and shining it directly at the Q85R but it does a great job of rejecting the light and breaking it down. This will be useful in bright living rooms, but you should still try and avoid placing it directly opposite a bright, sunlit window.

We tested a wide range of viewing material from SDR low-resolution broadcast channels to high-quality 4K Blu-ray and everything in between. We also tested in pitch black and bright environments and over a number of weeks to get a true representation of living with the Q85R.

Starting with Broadcast material the upscaling is very good indeed on the Q85R with no signs of edge ringing or artificial-looking processing going on. HD 1080i is sharp and detailed with no obvious artefacts and colours look good in Rec.709 with natural skin tones. Streaming service images from Netflix in HD are excellent with good detail and sharpness on offer, with very few visible artefacts to pull you out of the movie. Any instances of posterisation are from the source and well handled by the Q85R without drawing the eye to the issues. Blu-ray is also another step up in terms of scaling to the 4K native panel with a superb cinematic look that is incredibly accurate after calibration.

Motion is also good with 24fps material looking correct without telecine judder or induced issues with judder, it looks as it should with correct pulldown. With all the sources we used we found that, with Motion Plus set to off, the Samsung played back frame rates correctly and without any obvious issues. Using Auto Motion Plus adds in interpolation at various levels of intensity and as you go higher, you will see more artefacts within the image. Custom does allow some settings where interpolation is not as obvious and detail is cleared up and motion looks smoother and without obvious soap opera effects, but we preferred it switched off to remain pure to the content, but your mileage may vary and you might want to experiment with fast-moving sports and other video content. With 24fps film and drama, it is best avoided.

HDR content really pops on the Q85R with its consistent high dynamic range and bright detailed specular highlights. Blacks are strong although there is a little bit of black crush seen at times with the local dimming and certain tricky mixed scenes. This is not the case all the time, but with a fluid local dimming algorithm working on a per scene basis, it is possible for some detail to be crushed in the blacks, and we did occasionally see the backlight pumping brightness between dark and light scene cuts. The Q85R only has 100 dimming zones compared to nearly 500 on the Q90R, so the algorithm used is more aggressive as it has more to do with less dimmable zones and this can sometimes be seen within content. The Q85R, 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.

Colours are also superb and strong, with excellent colour volume available within HDR content and this never looks overly processed or false. Skin tones look good and primary colours are strong with no over the top brightness push as seen on some competing sets. With reference material, the Samsung does look incredibly accurate and detailed, with superb colours and strong black levels. The 2018 and 2019 QLED LCD TVs from Samsung have introduced some of the best black levels seen on the technology and with the wider viewing angles and excellent panel filter. The image quality is very good indeed with no obvious signs of dirty screen effect in most content, but with football, there are still some instances seen with camera pans and large areas of the same colour. The uniformity of our review panel was also very good with just some occurrences of dark edges when using full-field slides on-screen. We didn’t notice this with actual viewing material.

Even with tricky viewing content like Gravity, the Q85R did a good job of trying to remain consistent with the dimming in challenging scenes. Finally, as with all FALD based TVs, we did see some instances of blooming, but these were with very difficult settings, like subtitles in dark scenes, such as instances from Pan. We can see blooming and brightness changes from the sides and within the scene as the 100 dimming zones try hard to produce as little blooming as possible. Also, within hard to reproduce examples of a bright object next to a black background, the Samsung will reduce the intensity of the bright object in an attempt to reduce blooming and this can be effective and remain unseen for most viewers. As a FALD backlit LCD TV, the dimming has to work hard to produce the goods and Samsung do it better than most.

Overall, the Q85R produces excellent HDR images with stunning dynamics and details with a strong SDR performance once calibrated. It also produces some of the best black levels and viewing angles we have seen on an LCD TV while retaining a very strong contrast performance. It is a shame, however, that there is no support for Dolby Vision dynamic metadata, but HDR10+ is here and it also looks impressive on the Q85R given the dynamics and highlights possible.

Smart TV and Menus

Samsung’s Tizen Smart TV system has been around for a number of years now and is still one of the very best out there. We found it to be fast and incredibly powerful with almost every major video on demand application available. We also have TV catch-up service apps and you can also access the TVs settings, Sources and Gallery via the incredibly useful launcher bar.

The menu system on all Samsung TVs is also one of the best in terms of the minimal layout and useful controls that are easy to find. Where some have reams of pages to access everything, Samsung has made their system slick and intuitive to operate with every control you could need for picture and TV set up.

Verdict

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

The Good

  • Excellent SDR image quality after calibration
  • Superb bright HDR performance with strong peak highlights and deep blacks
  • Excellent gaming features
  • One Connect Box
  • Excellent Smart TV and OS system
  • 15ms input lag
  • Excellent viewing angles
  • Superb anti-reflective screen filter
  • Good build quality

The Bad

  • Not accurate enough out of the box to the standards
  • HDR PQ EOTF must track the standard in Movie mode
  • Some black crush thanks to aggressive local dimming with some content
  • Some blooming with subtitles and off-axis
  • Mild DSE seen with football content
  • No Dolby Vision support
  • Expensive

Samsung Q85R 4K QLED TV Review

As always, we should point out that there is no such thing as the perfect TV and, as a buyer, you need to understand what it is you need from a TV and then find one that manages to do as many tasks on your list as possible.

The Samsung QE55Q85R is an expensive high-end LCD TV which competes directly with OLED screens in that sector of the market. As such, it offers many attributes that will appeal to many users as well as compromises based on the LCD technology.

It uses a FALD backlight with 100 dimming zones and a VA panel. It also has the latest light rejecting screen filter that is currently the best on the market and shared with other high-end QLED models. It is one of the first LCD TVs that has the type of black levels and viewing angles to try and compete with OLED technology. It does have some drawbacks related to the technology, such as dirty screen effect with sports and football viewing and some dark edges in really bright images with the same colour in large areas of the image. However, other traditional shortfalls in LCD TVs such as viewing angles are no longer an issue with the Q85R and black levels are also impressive. However, given the 100 zones on this model, the local dimming is a little more aggressive and visible than on the Q90R flagship.

Gaming is also a highlight on the Samsung Q85R with input lag measured at 15ms. Added to this is the new gamma shift tool, along with most of the HDMI 2.1 features of VRR (Variable Refresh rate), ALLM and auto game switching, even though the Q85R is an HDMI 2.0b TV, this is an area where the TV will find favour with many users.

And, of course, image quality is important and the Q85R turns in a superb performance for an LCD TV with excellent blacks and above black shadow detail in the majority of content. This is true for the vast majority of content, but be aware that with the local dimming being a little more aggressive here, there will be some scenes in films and TV shows where the dimming does crush blacks, but this is a rare instance and not normal. Colours are strong and accurate once calibrated, with excellent SDR skin tones and saturation, and with excellent contrast. Moving to HDR and the biggest plus point of the Q85R is its 1000 nit peak brightness and tone mapping for those looking for impactful HDR10 and HDR10+ images. You will need to drop contrast by four clicks for the PQ EOTF to look correct on a chart, but in actual use, you will never notice any difference with viewing material. Upscaling, motion and video processing is also good with no obvious artefacts in the most accurate Movie picture preset. If you move away from the accurate modes then the Samsung can start to look overly vivid and garish.

There is definitely a market for the Samsung QE55Q85R and it will meet many end-users needs for film, TV shows and gaming. The price is high and it is in a market with many competing models and technologies, but it is well suited to bright viewing environments and as a living room family TV it is excellent for gaming and HDR viewing in the accurate Movie mode. It also does very well with black levels and shadows with the majority of content viewed, but it still isn’t quite up there with OLED’s per-pixel dynamic range and blacks, but it is closer than ever before in that respect.

Overall, the Q85R is a strong high-end QLED LCD TV that has many talents that will suit plenty of end-users and, as such, it comes with our recommendation.

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

.
.
.
7

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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