Samsung Electronics recently unveiled its Q90R series 4K QLED TVs. As the company’s 4K flagship models, these TVs offer exceptional picture quality thanks to the company’s QLED technology. Recently, I had hands-on time with a 65” Q90R (2599.99) , which I used to check out movie clips, video upscaled at various resolutions, and to compare it to a 2018 QLED.

The hands on provided to me the first opportunity to experience the latest Samsung 4K TV technologies since CES 2019 in Las Vegas. But unlike that show, where the TVs are prototypes and demonstrations are necessarily short, this hands-on is with a shipping Q90R that I had full access to, both in terms of content and the menu settings.




During this hands-on session, after witnessing the Q90R playing Samsung’s demo material, I played some scenes from Blu-rays and Ultra HD Blu-rays that I brought with me. Based on what I saw, the results spoke with themselves; it's clear Samsung has made a huge leap forward in overall picture quality and performance with the Q90R series, which are easily the best 4K TVs the company has ever released.

Notably impressive is how the 2019 Q90R series tackles the TV consumer “pain points” of viewing angles, screen reflections, and FALD artifacts—and defeated them! Ultra Wide Viewing Angle is a light concentrating/diffusing technology that is far more effective than anything Samsung’s competitors offer. Plus, the Quantum Processor 4K gives this TV advanced upscaling and image processing capabilities that leverage AI to choose optimal algorithms. The result is an impressively sharp and accurate picture, which can be enjoyed by anybody (regardless of where they are seated) and under just about any lighting.

One of the most exciting things about these Q90R series 2019 flagship 4K QLED’s is the debut pricing. The 65” 2019 Q90R I saw is available to order now for just under $2600 , with a 75” and 82” model coming soon.

As I had already seen at CES, the Samsung Q90R QLED represents a sizable leap forward in overall capability and picture quality. This is especially true when viewing cinematic HDR content, whether it’s in a dark room or a bright room. Specifically, if you turn up the lights the antireflective qualities kick in, allowing you to see deep Blacks despite the presence of ambient light. And you’ll never see yourself reflecting off the screen, this TV makes many other screens look like mirrors.

If you turn out the lights, you’ll appreciate how this TV’s FALD (full array local dimming) backlight provides high contrast HDR without the issues usually associated with the technology (such as halos and blooming artifacts). I came equipped with a test clip that had tripped up the FALD array on a 2018 Q9, the 2019 Q90R QLED played the same clip perfectly. Furthermore, the ultra-wide viewing angle technology maintained this impressive performance, even when you view the TV significantly off axis.

Upscaling and image processing demos definitively demonstrated newfound capabilities in terms of cleaning up and sharpening both low-quality Internet streams and standard-definition broadcasts. I was impressed with how the TV could clean up the blocking artifacts of a bandwidth-starved streaming video, giving it a broadcast TV-like "clean" look. And upsampling of low-resolution video added some extra sharpness without introducing ringing artifacts. In other words, this TV will make just about any content look better, even if it’s not so great to begin with.

Feed the Q90R top-notch content and the results are spectacular. For that, I relied on the IMAX Enhanced release of A Beautiful Planet on Ultra HD Blu-ray. This disc is encoded in HDR10+, which that format supported by Samsung QLEDs that adds dynamic metadata to the HDR experience, for an presentation that is optimized scene by scene to the TV you're watching it on.

When showing A Beautiful Planet's pristine IMAX imagery (shot from the International Space Station) including intricate textures and colors like polar landscapes with blue water, deserts, cities at night—not to mention the Aurora Borealis and the darkness of outer space—the Samsung Q90R QLED truly shines. Even with the lights out, the TV handled challenging high contrast scenes—including a portrait of the ISS itself with outer space as the backdrop—perfectly.

The 2019 Q90R QLEDs are able to reproduce both deep blacks and ultra-bright highlights, for vivid HDR. Thanks to the use of quantum dots, you get full color volume and wide color gamut that deliver the DCI/P3 color of HDR titles. You can choose Vivid mode if you want the brightest highlights or you can choose the Movie mode that’s extremely color accurate, but not quite as bright.



Hands On

The 2019 Q90R series are the best 4K TVs Samsung has ever offered. The company has improved the viewing experience with more powerful processing and a screen that produces a vibrant, accurate, contrasty picture—no matter where you sit.

The Ultra-Wide Viewing Angle and anti-reflective properties of the 2019 Q90R screen raise the bar for what home viewers should expect from a TV. Here are some additional notes from the hands-on session:

- The anti-reflective coating used on the Q90R (and the 8K Q900 plus the more affordable Q80 series) works better than any I have seen before. In many cases it completely eliminates in-room reflections.

- I was unable to spot my own reflection in the Q90R screen, even with the lights turned on.

- Dark shadows and deep blacks look inky and pure, regardless of room lighting.

- The wide viewing angles improve screen uniformity when viewing off-axis, in addition to preserving color and contrast. this includes an apparent reduction of the dirty screen effect aka DSE.

- Wide viewing angles maintain contrast at the edges of the screen, even when seated close. Viewers see deeper blacks and more vibrant colors from edge to edge, when compared to a 2018 QLED. Unlike OLED TVs, there is no visible color shift when viewing off-axis.

- Samsung’s Q90R QLED reduces banding and other digital artifacts often seen in streaming content. It eliminates macro-blocking in bandwidth starved streams.

- The Dynamic Gaming EQ features allow you to see into those dark corners while adapting so that brighter scenes look normal, not washed out while offering a competitive advantage by allowing you to see enemies lurking in shadows.

- This TV confirms that it is playing HDR10+ content in the info menu.



Conclusion

Samsung’s Q90R QLED raises the bar for 4K TV technology with picture quality that easily surpasses its predecessors. This is a TV that shows content at its best, regardless of where you put it. It handles bright living rooms, dark media rooms and everything in between.

A full editorial review will soon follow this hands-on, but the improvements in performance described here are self-evident to a casual observer. The superior processing plus hardware (like anti-reflective properties and wide viewing angles) are all significant leaps forward when it comes to picture quality.

Based on my initial hands on with the 65" Samsung Q90R, it gets a Top Choice designation among premium big screen 4K TVs for 2019. Stay tuned for the full review.





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