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Samsung QLED Q9F 2018, analysis and opinion

Discover our impressions in this review and analysis of the new Samsung QLED Q9F 2018. A spectacular HDR 4K TV with which the Korean manufacturer aims to assault the high-end and face the emerging thrust of TVs with OLED technology.

The great sports events such as the  World Cup or the Olympic Games are undoubtedly one of the favorite moments for consumers to change TV, aware of them manufacturers usually take into account these circumstances when it comes to launch their new products.

If you are one of those who are thinking of changing TV for the 2018 World Cup that has just begun, you should not miss this analysis of the Samsung Q9F of 2018 in its 65-inch version QE65Q9FNATXXC , which at the moment is the QLED television of reference within the extensive range of the Korean manufacturer.

Presented the past last March , Samsung has the important challenge of counteracting the good image campaign of its top OLED technological competitor that little by little is getting into the collective imagination as “the future of television” , in front of a LED LCD technology that for many already forms (wrongly) part of the past.

True to his beliefs, Samsung continues its commitment to bring LED LCD technology to excellence by using small nanoparticles known as Quantum Dots or Quantum Dots, a technology dubbed by Samsung as QLED .

For the non-initiated in the matter indicate that basically these small nanoparticles are integrated into a traditional LED LCD panel and have the mission of converting the light of the blue LED backlight system in pure primary colors, which results in a significantly more image rich in color in front of a conventional LED screen.

With respect to the previous generation, the great difference is found in the fact that the material of the quantum dots has been reinforced with a shell and a metallic core destined to improve the stability and purity of the color. The result is a TV capable of reproducing 100% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum with peaks in brightness levels of up to 2,000 nits .

But here are not the improvements and technical differences compared to the previous generation that so good taste left us last year in its analysis . This new Samsung Q9F of 2018 that we are now testing has a new backlight system with local attenuation of full matrix FALD or Full-Array Local Dimming of about 500 zones(although this is not confirmed by the company) that allows to adjust the LED by sectors, increasing the intensity of the illumination in the brightest areas and reducing it in the darkest areas, this way the dynamic range of the images is improved, the contrast levels are increased and, most importantly, front positions are approached  to the pure black of OLED TVs .

But here the news is not finished, an improved system of connectivity and assembly or the new Ambient Mode that keeps the TV always on (not to be scared), are just some of the interesting advances and better of this new generation of televisions of the Korean manufacturer that We have been able to test first hand for this review and analysis of this Samsung QLED Q9F 2018 65 inch . We start!

Brand Samsung
Model QE65Q9FNATXXC
Dimensions 1450.1 x 899.9 x 353.4 mm (with stand)
Weight 30.9 kg (with stand)
Type of screen LCD LED with Direct Array
Screen size 65 “
Screen resolution 3840 × 2160 pixels
Aspect ratio 16: 9
AV / USB inputs 4 x HDMI / 3 x USB
Audio outputs Optics
Camera / control by gestures and voice Voice control from the remote control
Sound 4.2 CH (60 W)
WiFi / DLNA support Yes Yes
3D technology Do not
Energy efficiency Class B

Installation and design

The first thing I thought after removing the TV from its bulky box is in that expression so castiza “is not as fierce the bull as they paint” , as I was scared something about having to install in my modest room a beast of no less that 65 inches, fears that were diluted to see that despite the large screen size the whole was much more manageable and compact than expected.

While the frame around the screen has been reduced to the extreme, with practically no appreciable bevel, the whole is somewhat thicker than most of today’s televisions – about 3 cm to be exact – something that may clash with the minimalist trend that surrounds us but that is bound to make room for the new direct backlighting system mentioned above.

In this aspect Samsung can compete little against the OLED TVs whose organic material is capable of generating its own light, allowing to dispense with any source of lighting, although in my opinion it is irrelevant if 95% of the Spanish are going to place the TV over a table I prefer to sacrifice the thickness of the screen, something irrelevant that does not go beyond the anecdote, in favor of a better performance of the image.

The QE65Q9FNATXXC manages to hold the heavy screen on a T-shaped metal support with an attractive design and with a single central point of attachment to the screen. Despite this the TV remains stable but with the small problem of not being able to tilt or rotate it unless you move the set in block , foot included.

The back is made of rugged plastic of good quality, although in my opinion with a touch something less less premium than the previous generation . The assembly is extremely simple, although for safety two people are necessary for the process of placing the television on the pedestal.

As in previous versions all the connectivity of the screen will be emancipated from the screen being centralized in a known external box or One Connect. This time it is striking that despite not increasing the number of connections available, among which are the four HDMI 2.0a connections compatible with HDCP 2.2 and the three USB ports, in addition to the Ethernet data connection or optical audio output – check how the size of the One Connect doubles compared to the 2017 version , which makes it more difficult to “hide”.

The considerable increase in size is not a whim of the brand and is fully justified. On the one hand , an active ventilation system has been incorporated to keep the temperature controlled (a problem we could see in the previous generation and which is fully solved), in the other the need for a larger power supply, and that is that This Samsung Q9F is able to supply the image, sound and energy through the only cable that connects the One Connect to the screen, removing the power cable from it.

The result is a cable substantially thicker than the almost invisible cable supplied with the QLED TVs of 2017. However, the great reward is that now we only have a single cable that leaves the screen .

The new cable has a thickness of only 3.35 mm, it is not completely invisible but it is still easy to camouflage. In spite of everything it is still a cable with an optical part so that despite being reinforced it is not convenient to bend it or twist it excessively . The included cable has a length of 5 meters, more than enough for the vast majority of installations.

Once turned on the installation process is extremely simple, not only for the intuitive menus and clear explanations on the screen. To make everything easier we can now make the configuration from the mobile thanks to the free app for iOS and Android SmartThings , which makes our work much easier avoiding having to enter the access credentials and passwords with the remote control . In addition the application serves as an alternative remote control, it is true that it is light years away from the wonderful One Remote, but it can be useful to get out of the way on those occasions when you do not know where # &! ##? You have put the command.

As in the previous generation, the system guides you step by step through everything important, automatically tuning the TV channels in the background and automatically detecting the make and model of any device or external tuner that you have connected to its four HDMI ports. . In my case of the three connected devices: TiVo from Vodafone, PS4 and Apple TV, I only had to make some manual modification with the first one in order to control the decoder with the control of the TV.

A small toll if we bear in mind that the reward is being able to control the devices with the wonderful One remote. I already commented my impressions a year ago and I maintain my position: “One Remote is possibly the best remote control I’ve ever tried. Beyond its noble materials and elegant design fascinates me its simplicity and how it is able to achieve, despite having a few buttons, you do not miss any functionality present in the conventional controls packed with colorful buttons .

Ambient Mode

Interestingly, it is striking that in order to enjoy the most innovative design feature of this Samsung Q9F 2018 you have to turn on the TV.

And it is only in this way that it is possible to access the Ambient Mode, a new way of using it that allows us to take advantage of the screen as a decorative or even informative element, while we are not using it.

Think of a kind of large screensaver with a preloaded illustration or custom photo mosaic that replaces the boring black screen when we are not actively watching the TV .

One of the most outstanding options of this Ambiente Mode or Ambiente Mode of the new Samsung QLED 2018 televisions is the possibility of matching the image on the screen with the color and decorative pattern of the wall . To do this, you just have to take a photo of the wall following the instructions of the application. The result is still not perfect, especially if the wall has some type of decoration or pattern, although it must be taken into account that this functionality is still in the development phase.

The effect makes it appear that the TV panel is a transparent glass integrated with the wall, an effect that is accentuated if the TV is hung instead of with the mounting foot. Next to this option it has screensavers and predefined decorative images, the possibility of selecting one, two, or a collage of your own photographs, and an Info mode in which you can choose between the weather information or a compilation with the main holders of the day supplied. for the exclusive Upday news service for Samsung devices .

The configuration can be done from the TV itself or with the app, although some of the functions are only available from the latter, so I personally have found it much more comfortable.

Such is the importance of this new mode for Samsung that has even looked for a gap in the remote control to a dedicated button for immediate activation. But not only that, the TV will automatically adapt the image to the ambient conditions of the room, both in terms of brightness and color temperature.

Samsung-QLED-Q9F-2018-32

In addition, the TV is able to detect the presence of a person in the room making use of the BLE signal of the registered mobile, turning off the screen if we separated more than 10 meters away in order to save energy.

At this point it is inevitable to ask the question: what energy cost is having the Ambient Mode of the Samsung QLED TVs active? According to the calculations of the company with a usage time of about 3 hours a day our electricity bill would be increased by approximately 1,19 euros per month.

Seen the seen, is it worth it? I have to admit that it is not a functionality that drives me crazy (decoration is not a priority for me), although I have found interesting the way in which Samsung wants to take advantage of something as ugly as a screen off.

Of the three modes of use, the option to show news is the one that has most attracted my attention , I also believe that the Ambient Mode is only a first step, the starting point of an idea that can give a lot of play. I am sure that soon the TV will be fully integrated with the smartphone autonomously when you get home, and can serve as a support to view our WhatsApp messages or notifications of social networks, for example.

Image quality

So far everything is very beautiful, but we can not forget that without image quality we have nothing. Under the umbrella of the Q Picture nomenclature Samsung has agglutinated a series of technologies aimed at improving the image quality of its new QLED Q9F TVs .

As we discussed the starting point of this new generation is a new backlight unit (rear backlight unit) that allows a much more precise control of light in order to improve the blackness and clarity of the edges, or reduce the blooming or halo effect especially in the areas of higher contrast cut.

Samsung QLED Q9F 2018 Full Array

In an attempt to increase performance in black, Samsung has added two antireflective layers composed of low and high refractive index materials designed to minimize internal light leakage and external glare, in addition to a modification in the polarizer of light with in order to reduce up to 40% the loss of light at extreme viewing angles outside of the ideal viewing positions.

In my case, despite having a large window to the left of the TV the anti-reflective technologies used make the image to be clean on the screen in conditions in which most TV would be difficult to see anything clearly.

But this not only affects the reflections, the high quality of the blacks, together with an outstanding brightness make it unnecessary to darken the environment to enjoy all the details of the image .

In viewing angles, an improvement is also perceived compared to previous generations, thanks to the use of microprisms that help to scatter light at wider angles allowing angles without any loss of up to 50 degrees from the center.

Samsung-QLED-Q9F-2018-32

However, the set is less tolerant with vertical viewing angles , from about 20 degrees the losses are appreciable so if you decide to hang the TV you should not place it excessively high in front of the viewing position.

The most noticeable result at first glance is the enormous quality jump in black colors, the dark areas of the image now look spectacular, with an extremely pure black .

And is that the depth of blacks is simply impressive, something that is perceived irrefutably in that the bars that appear at the top and bottom of the widescreen movies are jet black.

Of course, indicate that this qualitative leap in the depth of black colors has a side effect. In its eagerness to bring the depth of black color closer to that of OLED technology, the television gets to “erase” certain details of the image in dark areas or scenes . In these cases, it is necessary to pull the expert mode of image configuration to slightly increase the brightness with respect to the default image mode and raise the Local Attenuation of the lighting to A lto , an adjustment that I certainly recommend to always keep in this way.

The uniformity of the general illumination is also excellent, there is no trace of clouding (white spots in black or very dark areas) nor any artifact that alters the uniformity of color. In the same way , the halos of light around the bright objects like the white letters of the subtitles have been mitigated and practically eliminated , a problem that was quite pronounced in the previous generation and that is solved to a large extent thanks to the new direct lighting system.

Regarding color one, the first aspect that strikes one is the improvement in skin tones , it is something that is perceived almost instantly, for this Samsung have improved the purity of color by decreasing the width of wavelength what has allowed to cover 100% of the so-called digital cinema color spectrum DCI-P3, fundamental for HDR reproduction. Also, because they do not depend on white sub-pixels, it is easier to maintain color saturation levels at high levels of brightness compared to screens that use white sub-pixels such as OLEDs.

In practice this translates into very bright colors, especially with native HDR images, with a very broad color spectrum that allows gradients and extremely precise details.

A more precise control of the lighting not only affects the black and therefore the contrast, it also has a positive effect on the color since the areas of discoloration or white spots are eliminated in large areas of color(especially in the center of the image), a common problem in LED LCDs with side lighting.

The colors are very balanced at all times, without dominant tonalities and the skin, as I commented previously, is realistic without that artificial effect “plastic skin” so complicated to avoid.

Regarding the default image modes, the movie mode is still the most recommended, practically for any use, even for games. The Natural Mode is strangely saturated, and the HDR Dynamic Mode for my taste saturates the color excessively, abuses the brightness level and sharpens the images.

My recommendation is to take the Movie Mode as a starting point and make small adjustments until the image is adapted to the type of content (it is possible to assign an independent mode for each source) and to our personal tastes. One of the adjustments that I do recommend to change is the local Attenuation to High.

Indicate that this Samsung Q9FN supports the high dynamic range modes HLG, HDR10 and HDR10 +, an improvement over the HDR10 format driven by Samsung itself with dynamic metadata that allows adjusting the luminance analyzing scene by scene. It is difficult to see the improvements with respect to the HDR10 standard version without being able to establish a direct comparison, but if I can say that HDR series like Amazon Prime Grand Tour looks absolutely spectacular this Samsung QLED Q9F of 2018.

The open and free nature of HDR + (can be implemented through a simple firmware update), the support of manufacturers such as Panasonic or Philips, producers such as Warner or 20th Century Fox, and streaming platforms like Amazon Prime seems to take away the possibility that Dolby Vision (of payment) arrives in the short term to the TVs QLED of Samsung.

Smart TV and applications

In terms of software, the QLED TVs of 2018 maintain Tizen as an operating system and present the same Smart Hub user interface as last year, with a row of large icons at the bottom of the screen that allow access to the settings , functions, and installed applications.

There are not many changes with respect to the QLED of 2017, something logical without considering that we are surely facing the best optimized and efficient interface within the high-end televisions of the market . It is wonderful the way in which apps like Netflix or Bein Connect are integrated into the system and the agility and ease with which they access the same, pure magic of good.

The most striking novelty comes from the hand of the new Programming Guide that offers access content from all available sources such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vodafone (in my case) or YouTube, an interesting way to have in one place the more interesting contents according to our preferences and what we have seen before.

Although Samsung indicates that the recommendations improve the more it is used, I believe that at the moment it is more of an aspiration than of something effective, since there is still much to improve. The notification system does not finish working well, since not all the available content appears as you would expect and the recommendations are too random .

Sound

With an integrated audio system of 4.2 channels and a total sound power of 60W this Samsung QLED Q9F will leave satisfied the vast majority of users in terms of sound quality.

Do not expect explosions that leave you stuck to the seat, nor absolutely transparent dialogs, for that you would need a home cinema system or a sound bar , but taking into account the dimensions of the screen and the scarce margin to place speakers, the result is more what is acceptable

Samsung-QLED-Q9F-2018-32

The integrated loudspeakers are powerful enough to offer a broad and dynamic range of intermediate frequencies, supported by discrete but distortion-free bass and sometimes overly predominant bass.

This QLED Q9F features a new ‘Smart or Optimized Sound’ technology from Samsung that automatically adjusts volume levels and sound settings according to the ambient sound data picked up by a microphone . In this way you try to balance the output volume depending on the environment and the type of content, since volume and parameters are modified depending on whether you are watching a movie, a football game or the news, and sudden spikes are avoided. sound, so annoying when we watch TV at night.

I really like not having to go into complicated sound configurations, just a small “but”, the average volume level is somewhat low, at least compared to the previous generation.

Conclusions

After the great taste of last year I have to admit that I did not expect such a sharp jump in terms of image quality compared to the previous generation. And is that after this analysis of the Samsung QLED Q9F of 2018 if something has made it clear to me is that the Korean brand has managed to recognize very well the criticism to become virtues in just 12 months.

Samsung has previously responded to obvious defects such as light leakage and the purity of blacks – thanks to the new direct back light system -, or the overheating of One Connect – with a new larger unit with active ventilation system – has been able to improve even more positive aspects, such as the single connection cable or the Smart things configuration and control app, maintaining what could hardly be improved, such as the Smart TV interface , and contributing new and interesting differentiating elements such as Ambient Mode or the new programming guide.

Without a doubt a leap of quality more than evident and above the expected that make this Samsung QLED Q9F one of the best Smart TV of 2018 .

Of course, the quality has a price and buy a QLED Q9F will not be anything cheap, the starting price is 2,699 euros for the 55-inch version, reaching up to 3,499 euros for the model of 65 “(tested for this article) and ending with the almost 5,000 euros if you want the largest version of anything less than 75 inches.

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