Sam­sung QE65Q9FN,

The set that, at last, shows us the po­ten­tial of Sam­sung’s QLED to be a real OLED beater. This is a truly im­pres­sive tele­vi­sion

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As­ton­ish­ingly punchy, bright and vi­brant images


While Sam­sung’s 2017 QLEDS turned out to be far more than the cyn­i­cal mar­ket­ing ploy some sus­pected, they weren’t the ul­ti­mate re­al­i­sa­tion of quan­tum dot tech­nol­ogy. It will prob­a­bly be a good few years be­fore we get to the point where quan­tum dots emit their own light in the same way as OLEDS. In the mean­time, Sam­sung is re­ly­ing on back­lights to pass light through the quan­tum dots of its QLED TVS.

The back­lights of last year’s mod­els were all of the edge va­ri­ety, con­sist­ing of LEDS run­ning around the edge of the dis­play and send­ing light across the back of the panel to the area that needs light. It’s an ef­fec­tive tech­nol­ogy, but it does have draw­backs – most no­tably that the back­light gen­er­ally raises the bright­ness of the whole dis­play.

The back­light zone

The so­lu­tion, at least un­til self-emis­sive quan­tum dots be­come vi­able, is a di­rect back­light, with a thin sheet of LEDS be­hind the quan­tum dots. These LEDS can be lit in zones, where the more LEDS a back­light has and the more zones it can con­trol in­de­pen­dently, the greater the con­trol it has over pic­ture qual­ity.

The QE65Q9FN is the first of Sam­sung’s QLEDS to get a di­rect LED back­light, and it’s no co­in­ci­dence that it’s also the best QLED yet. This is a gen­uine threat to the re­cent dom­i­nance of OLED.

The Q9FN (the N sig­ni­fies a 2018 model) is avail­able in 55in, 75in and the Sony does even bet­ter mo­tion


65in model on re­view here. Com­pared with the cur­rent crop of OLEDS, it’s rather thick – per­haps as a re­sult of the LED back­light – but Sam­sung hasn’t tried to dis­guise the thick­ness with ta­pered edges, in­stead opt­ing for flat sides.

Neat and tidy

The Onecon­nect box that comes with Sam­sung’s 2018 QLEDS is twice the size of last year’s, but it not only han­dles the con­nec­tions and pro­cess­ing for the TV, it also sup­plies the power, mean­ing the dis­play needs no di­rect con­nec­tion to a wall socket. In­stead there’s just one ca­ble run­ning from it to the Onecon­nect box, which has a bun­dled 5m ca­ble (or op­tional 15m ver­sion).

The ca­ble is a touch thicker than last year’s, but still as­ton­ish­ingly thin con­sid­er­ing the data and cur­rent it car­ries. The whole de­sign is neat, and there’s a rather el­e­gant pedestal with a chan­nel for run­ning the ca­ble through.

Get­ting started is a dod­dle thanks to Sam­sung’s first-time set-up, which in­cludes back­ground chan­nel tun­ing and au­to­matic recog­ni­tion of your Hd­mi­con­nected sources, many of which can be con­trolled via the TV’S re­mote. In fact, the set-up can be stream­lined fur­ther with the Smart­things app on your phone, which trans­fers app pref­er­ences and lo­gins. Un­for­tu­nately the iphone ver­sion of the Smart­things app didn’t work dur­ing test­ing; the An­droid ver­sion, how­ever, was fine. The Q9FN is rated to around 2000 nits, which is about as bright as TVS cur­rently get. It de­ploys ev­ery one of those bright­ness lice (we may have mis­un­der­stood the whole nits thing) in the open­ing of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2. This 4K HDR disc pro­vides a stern test, but the Q9FN is a se­ri­ously ca­pa­ble set. We have praised the Sony KD65XF9005 for its punch and vi­brancy, but this Sam­sung makes it look flat in com­par­i­son. There is a sig­nif­i­cant price dif­fer­ence, but the ex­tent by which the Q9FN bet­ters Sony’s set is rather eye-open­ing.

Max­i­mum punch

Colour is sim­i­larly vi­brant and vivid on both sets. Both ma­jor on de­tail in the brightest and dark­est parts of the pic­ture, and both de­ploy di­rect LED back­lights to max­imise punch and bright­ness. But, in all ways but one, the Sam­sung im­proves on ev­ery­thing the XF9005 does.

There’s an ex­tra level of vi­brancy and lush­ness in the green fields of 1980s Mis­souri, and more warmth from the set­ting sun. The yel­low text pops from the screen with greater lus­cious­ness. And all of this is de­liv­ered with­out for­feit­ing any real­ism or nat­u­ral­ness. Tricky el­e­ments, such as skin tones, have even greater nu­ance and sub­tlety of gra­da­tion as ev­ery shade is rep­re­sented and blended.

“A gen­uine threat to OLED… It’s the brightest, punchi­est, most vi­brant TV we’ve re­viewed”

Pause as the ac­tion hov­ers in space and the Sam­sung’s peak bright­ness is as­ton­ish­ing; the golden por­tions of the globe glint against the dark­ness of space to a de­gree we’ve not seen be­fore.

Back­lit heaven

So much of the Q9FN’S suc­cess is down to that di­rect LED back­light. Not only can it pro­duce ex­cep­tion­ally bright high­lights, it does so in com­bi­na­tion with gen­uinely deep blacks. There’s prac­ti­cally no dis­cernible bloom­ing around light ob­jects on black back­grounds.

Full HD con­tent from the on-board Free­view and satel­lite tuners is also im­pres­sive; punchy, sharp and de­tailed to an ex­tent that few ri­vals can match. The Q9FN does its very best with stan­dard-def, too. Choose the Op­ti­mised mode and the au­dio is big, bold and spa­cious, but with voices that, while not quite as pos­i­tively pro­jected as they are from some ri­vals, are clear and dis­tinct, even within the ca­coph­ony of an ac­tion set piece.

As son­i­cally ca­pa­ble as the Sam­sung is, it’s not quite up there with the Sony A1’s in­tu­itive, screen-shak­ing so­lu­tion, and nei­ther telly can match the au­dio qual­ity of a ca­pa­ble sound­bar.

There’s Net­flix and Ama­zon in full 4K HDR form, Now TV for con­tract-free Sky con­tent, plus Google Play Movies & TV, Rakuten and Sam­sung’s own (but Rakuten-pow­ered) Tv­plus app for on-de­mand stream­ing of block­buster films. Apps for all of the UK’S catch-up ser­vices are present, too.

This is the brightest, punchi­est, most vi­brant TV we’ve re­viewed.

It’s an ex­tremely close call be­tween this and the Sony KD-65A1, and while we’ve not yet seen LG’S 2018 OLEDS for test­ing, this is cer­tainly a con­tender for one of the best TVS around right now.

The Q9FN has a di­rect zonal back­light for greater bright­ness The re­mote is iden­ti­cal to last year’s but with an am­bi­ent mode but­ton

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