Samsung 75” Q90 QLED TV Review

Samsung’s Q90 QLED is the company’s flagship 4K TV for 2019. It offers excellent picture quality, slick design and advanced smart functionality. Thanks to new technologies including Ultra Viewing Angle along with Direct Full Array Elite FALD backlight, the Q90 (aka Q90R) offers an amazing viewing experience.

With a screen size of 75” the Q90 featured in this review can deliver a cinematic viewing experience. And thanks to Samsung’s unparalleled anti-reflective screen coating this maintains picture quality even in bright environments such as a living room during the daytime, while also excelling at “lights out” home theater-style viewing.


Features and Specifications

This 75” TV is a Samsung QLED, meaning it relies on quantum dots to achieve a wide color gamut and high levels of brightness with no risk of burn-in. What makes it stand out is how well it performs in many uses. Besides being great for movies and sports, the Samsung Q90 QLED may well be the finest TV you can buy to experience 4K HDR gaming.


The 75 Samsung Q90 4K QLED HDR TV

Samsung’s Q90 uses a Direct Full Array 16X FALD backlight to achieve high contrast. It’s the combination of a high native ANSI contrast (3200:1 according to rtings.com) along with an effective backlight that delivers 11,000:1 contrast (65” model, according to rtings.com) that makes this TV’s picture “pop” even if you are not seated centered to the screen. My subjective experience was that this TV has overcome the viewing angle issue of VA LCD panels.

Not only does the Q90 have a 120 Hz panel, it also offer VRR (variable refresh rate) using FreeSync, which is a feature previously only found on gaming monitors. This allows the TV to adapt in real time to the frame rate of a video game, which fluctuates depending on the complexity of the graphics and capability of the gaming machine. With this TV you get 4K, HDR and lightning-fast response for an unparalleled gaming experience. At its most extreme, 1080p VFR at 120 Hz offers a 6-millisecond input lag that’s helpful for playing games where reaction time is paramount.

This TV is an accomplished HDR playback machine. More important than any peak brightness figure is the fact it offers sustained luminance well over 1000+ nits and can do so in 2% to 25% test pattern windows and with real-world HDR content. This behavior assures that it renders HDR highlights as they are meant to be seen, and that HDR content retains its impact even when viewed in a room with ambient light.

The anti-reflective screen coating of the Q90 QLED is among the TV’s best features. Its impact on picture quality is obvious and highly relevant to most TV buyers. It’s surprising how quickly and easily ambient light ruins “perfect” blacks when a screen is acting like a mirror. With this TV, regardless of whether you are in a dark room, bright room, or something in-between, what’s on screen is clear and totally reflection-free. The effect is almost like looking at a projection screen (which never suffer from reflections). Under the conditions most people watch TV, the combination of the Q90’s contrast and anti-reflective screen provide a picture-perfect presentation.

Advanced picture processing as part of the Q90 package, powered by the Quantum Processor 4K. This TV uses AI upscaling and features advanced noise reduction that also reduces banding artifacts.

The Q90’s OneRemote that serves as an intelligent universal remote capable of controlling a wide variety of compatible connected devices, and providing navigation of apps. Voice search with Bixby on TV lets you control the Q90 as well as search for content. You can also use Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant with this TV. Plus the Q90 supports the new Apple TV app that includes streaming channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz. Moreover, this TV supports AirPlay 2.

A notable feature of this TV is the One Invisible Connection cable, which carries both the video signal into the power to the screen. This allows for a simple, clean installation even in apartments and condominiums where it is not possible to run in-wall wiring. Combined with Ambient Mode, which can match colors and décor or show info, artwork or photos, this TV has looks to match its performance.

For a full rundown of the Q90 QLED TVs capabilities, check out Samsung.com as well as the review on rtings.com.


Setup and Use

Assembling this TV is easy enough, insert the legs, secure with screws, attach the One Invisible Connection cable to the One Connect box that houses the power supply, processing and inputs for the TV. Plug it in, see if the remote pairs (it did) and proceed with setup (connecting to the internet) etc.

During setup, the Q90 scans its HDMI inputs; if it recognizes a device, it names the input accordingly and offers remote control over that device through the OneRemote. 

Since this is not my first rodeo with Samsung TVs, I immediately dialed in the settings I’ve long relied on, which are effectively the same as what rtings.com uses. That includes switching to the Movie picture mode, setting Sharpness to 0, and setting Color Tone to Warm2. For my HTPC, while I appreciate the TV going to PC mode on its own, I changed the source type to Game Console, which allows me to use Movie mode and the superior color balance it offers. Key point: You can enable Game Mode while in the Movie setting, and I prefer the accurate color balance to having 4:4:4 chroma at 4K/60p. FWIW, the Q90 does such a good job interpolating 4:2:2 chroma that even for text on a PC, it looks sharp. Having said that, PC mode gives you “the whole enchilada” in terms of supporting 4:4:4 so if you need it, it’s there.

I put this Q90 through its paces by using it for a solid 10+ hours per day, encompassing everything from watching Ultra HD Blu-ray to live sports via YouTube TV, gaming on a console and PC, and using the TV as a monitor for Photoshop work, plus video editing and playback of 4K content.


TV and Movies

What struck me about the Q90 is how it aced every task and was genuinely devoid of anything that would distract you from what’s up on screen. I marveled at how this TV made it possible to watch sports in the middle of the day and not have any reflections on screen despite there being multiple windows in the room.

TV shows, even in SDR, really popped on this TV. But it’s the 4K HDR streaming that really blew me away. Gone are the days when you had to buy a disc to see pristine image quality that matches (or beats) a movie theater in overall fidelity. Now, it’s just a matter of having an internet connection that’s fast enough for streams from Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, YouTube (and more) to look utterly amazing.

Much of my movie watching consists of UHD titles, purchased and streamed via the Vudu app.

With this TV you can use voice search to hop from watching a game, to streaming the latest videos on YouTube, to checking out your favorite popcorn flick, any time of day, using just your voice, and it serves it up fast and with fidelity that was undreamt of just a few years back. The whole experience of using this TV is futuristic.

I checked for FALD artifacts like halos and clouding and “floating” blacks in letterbox bars using scenes that in the past have posed a challenge to local dimming algorithms, including a nighttime overhead aerial view of a motorcade at the beginning of Roger Waters: The Wall (2014) that makes some FALD TVs look like a discotheque. With the Q90, the scene was rendered properly, with a stable image exhibiting deep blacks and bright pinpoint highlights simultaneously.

This TV also did a good job keeping letterbox bars dark, even when showing HDR content. One key thing to remember is the TV needs to be optimized for lighting conditions, you do not want to use the same settings for daytime sports viewing and nighttime movie watching of letterboxed content; that won’t work. But for most people, one generally bright setting and one setting tweaked explicitly for nightime, lights-out viewing should do the trick.  I hope that someday a TV maker puts a dedicated button directly on the remote that lets you cycle through picture modes.


Gaming

I used an Xbox One X with the 75” Q90, a combo that impressed with its hyper-vivid graphics. That console is my ticket to FreeSync graphics and it reported that the feature was working. Gameplay looked smooth and felt very responsive in the games I tried, including Assasin’s Creed: Odyssey and Forza Horizon 4.

Because my living room PC has an Nvidia RTX 2070, I was not able to use FreeSync with it. But I was able to run games at 4K/60p and witness incredibly sharp, vivid graphics that complement the 75” screen size. With the rich color and punchy contrast, game worlds had depth and definition that’s almost hyper-real. The Ultra Viewing Angle feature lets you sit close to the screen while maintaining uniformity—the edges of the screen don’t start to “fade out” when you sit close (I was about 5 feet from the screen when I gamed, or 1.5X screen height where the FULL “benefit of 4K” is visible, according to the often-shared viewing distance charts.

Thanks to the 75” screen size, you don’t have to sit all that close to the screen to have it become immersive, with an effect that’s like going to a movie theater with stadium seating. It puts you right in a game and thanks to 4K, you can see tiny details that you’d miss on a smaller TV viewed for further away.


Image and Video Editing

The Movie mode on the Q90 is quite accurate right out of the box and can be optimized quickly and easily with settings such as these. But this QLED is capable of even more. A professional calibration transforms this TV into a reference monitor I trust for photo and video editing. You can get color error down to imperceptibly small levels. Thanks to a 20-point grayscale/white balance adjustment as well as CMS controls, it’s possible to get granular and approach colorimetric perfection with the Q90.

Not only is color accurate, it also covers a very wide gamut with almost complete coverage of the P3 color space. It is therefore able to 100% accurately represent the sRGB color space that’s used for almost everything that goes on the internet (except HDR). The point being that you can use this TV to create photos and videos and trust that what you see is truly accurate because a pro calibration results in reference-quality color accuracy (for SDR).

And if you do want to work in HDR, the Q90’s ability to show a 25% white window as well as real content and maintain peak luminance over 1000 nits makes it a viable choice for HDR video editing as well. And if you think a 75” TV is overkill for Photoshop work and video editing, that’s because you have not tried it! I use a standing, rolling desk to find the optimum position for working with the TV this way and it is the nicest monitor I’ve ever used, by far.


Some additional observations:

– The anti-reflective coating on the 75″ Q90 QLED is the best I have seen and makes a notable difference in real-world viewing.

– Dark shadows and deep blacks are free of clouding. This TV has great contrast, regardless of room lighting.

– Ultra Viewing Angle technology is a major leap forward for VA-LCD FALD TV picture quality,

– There is no visible color shift when viewing off-axis; from typical viewing angles color shift is not perceptible.

– The Quantum Processor 4K reduces banding and other digital artifacts often seen in streaming content. It also eliminates macro-blocking in bandwidth starved streams.

– The Dynamic Gaming EQ features allow you to see into dark corners while dynamically adapting to brighter scenes, preventing them from looking washed out.

– The TV menu confirms that it is playing HDR10+ content in the info menu. Amazon streams HDR10+ and it is also available on some Ultra HD Blu-rays.


Conclusion

This is the finest 4K TV Samsung has ever made. Thanks to a combination of features like Ultra Viewing Angle and Quantum Processor 4K, plus a remarkably anti-reflective screen, this TV delivers tremendous picture quality regardless of what you are watching or where you watch it.

Excellent aesthetics, intuitive operation and excellent picture quality you can enjoy day or night make the Q90 QLED a definitive Top Choice 2019 selection.


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