QLED 65 QE65Q9FNAT XC UHD HDR 1500 SMART 3200Hz
There’s no denying that last year’s QLEDs were good, but there’s also no denying that last year’s OLEDs were better. They generally worked out cheaper, too.
2017 was not a stellar year for Samsung, then, but rather than join the ever-expanding OLED army, the Korean giant is sticking to its guns. It maintains that when it starts producing self-emissive quantum dots, QLED will smash OLED.
But self-emissive quantum dots are still a long way off, and the edge LED backlights of last year’s QLEDs definitely held the TVs back a bit.
The short-term solution? A direct LED backlight that allows the set to go astonishingly bright without sacrificing black depth in other parts of the image, and that is so well controlled it’s almost as if the quantum dots are self-emissive.
We’ve not yet tested that new LG, but it’s really going to have to go some to surpass this scintillating Samsung.
It might seem odd to get all over-excited about a backlight, particularly as direct (also known as full array) backlights aren’t exactly a new thing, but it has a genuinely transformative effect on performance here.
What’s more, the backlight produces practically no bleeding or blooming around the object being lit. It’s a pure, sharp, beacon in the darkness, and it looks incredible.
The backlight also combines with those super-vibrant-but-accurate quantum dots to deliver perhaps the most colourful picture we’ve yet seen. It’s not simply that colours are more vivid, although they are, it’s that more colours are revealed, particularly at the brightest end of the spectrum.
Put on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and skip to the chapter that sees Gamora sitting in the open landscape of Ego’s planet, and you’ll be dazzled by not just the vibrancy of the colours that pop from the screen, but also in the extra subtlety of the gradations and the lighter shades that are washed-out or missed entirely by other TVs.
While we’re on the subject of more, how do you like the sound of more detail? Thought so, and that’s what the Samsung gives you, particularly in the brightest and darkest parts of the picture. That makes clouds, for example, more defined and distinct, resulting in skies that are more dramatic, and the amount of detail the TV digs up from darkness makes dimly-lit films such as Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy more revealing than ever.
The backlight is probably also responsible for the significantly improved viewing angles over last year’s QLEDs, which were really rather poor in that regard. Here there’s still a little drop off in vibrancy as you move off-axis, but by and large everyone in the room will get a great picture
There’s variation in every TV and you should always calibrate to your taste, but if you’re after some basic tips and the settings we preferred during testing, here you are.
First things first, head straight to the Eco settings and turn them all off - they’re a serious drain on performance. Next, motion processing. As is the case with most TVs, the Auto mode is far too aggressive and unnatural but, surprisingly, the default settings in the Custom mode work really rather well. The resultant motion handling isn’t quite up there with what Sony can do, but it’s not far off, which is a fairly long stride in the right direction.
Still, some may prefer to turn the Motion Plus settings off entirely. That’s all you need to do to get HDR stuff looking its best, but for standard dynamic range (SDR) content you’re going to need to tweak a bit further. For us, dropping the Contrast setting by about ten points, Sharpness by around 5, taking a point off Brightness and upping the Local Dimming to High results in the best balance of punch and black depth.
Some may find that level of Local Dimming a bit much with SDR, though, in which case drop that back down to Medium and return Brightness to its default setting.
Samsung has long been a favourite for gamers, generally offering the lowest input lag of any manufacturer.
The 15.5ms we measured on the Q9FN is a new low (which is a good thing), but Samsung has gone much further this year than simply reducing lag. Hop into the Game Mode menu and you’ll find features for smoothing motion, which works and only increases input lag to the 29ms mark, and for variable refresh rate (VRR), which allows the TV to match the frame rate of a game in real-time and therefore reduce screen tearing.
VRR has previously only been available on fairly high-end gaming monitors and only PCs are currently able to take advantage, but the Xbox One X and One S should be boarding the VRR train when FreeSync is added as part of the spring update.
Even without those fancy features the Q9FN would be a superb TV for gaming thanks to its extraordinary contrast and vibrancy. It’s the perfect foil for HDR blockbusters such as Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War and Far Cry 5.
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