A TV ahead of its time.
Samsung’s very proud of its new 8K television, and it’s understandable – the 75” Q900R ($15200) is a beast, in both size and power. But, at the end of the day, it’s arrived too far ahead of the supporting technology.
8K, the latest TV buzzword, is shorthand for a resolution of 7680 pixels horizontally by 4320 vertically. This is four times as many pixels as there are on a 4K TV.
And there’s no denying Samsung’s 8K QLED screen (using quantum dot technology rather than OLED) looks spectacular. It creates deeply detailed and vibrant images.
My first problem was that there simply isn’t any 8K content out there. The best I could get was 4K content, but that’s also hard to come by.
This meant I was watching everything upscaled. Upscaling is where the TV’s software takes lower-resolution input images and outputs them as 8K images. It does this by “guessing” the colours between two pixels on the screen.
The Q900R did a great job of upscaling 4K content. The screensavers on my Apple TV, which are all mastered in 4K, looked breathtaking, as did video games, such as Red Dead Redemption 2, through my PlayStation Pro and Xbox One X (both game consoles only output a maximum of 4K).
This is an 8K TV displaying a 12K image that's been output in 4K and then upscaled to 8K, shot by me in 4K 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/XvYZvL1hLM— H.A.D.Y.N. (@hadyngreen) June 25, 2019
However, what didn’t look so good was anything that came from a lower resolution source, such as older TV shows. Images that should’ve had a smooth gradient had chunky blocks of colour. Mistakes in images became exaggerated and the images could, at worst, turn granular with noticeable large blocks of pixels.
The TV was clearly working at improving the image all the time. I noticed the screen would unexpectedly dim, as though the software was anticipating darker or brighter scenes. It didn’t happen a lot as the upscaling was usually good and did its job without me noticing, but these few dimming moments were noticeable and annoying.
When it’s not showing content, the Q900R is a giant black rectangle sitting in your living room. Thankfully, Samsung has loaded it up with live screensaver tech. There’s a range of moving artwork that can be customised to match the colours of your home décor, either through the TV menu or using the Smart Things app to make it match your wallpaper. I personally loved having glowing “fluorescent tube” artwork doing its thing in the background.
However, leaving the screen on 24/7 will chew through a fair bit of power (Samsung claims the typical power consumption to be 482W, similar to running a heater on quarter power). So, it’s a good idea to limit screen use to when you’re in the room.
You probably aren’t buying a $15,000 TV on a whim, but, even so, plan exactly where you’re going to put this monster. I put the Q900R on top of an entertainment unit, in the same space I have my 65” 4K TV, thinking it would be fine, but the weight of the big Samsung (51.2 kg) started to bend the unit in half!
The thing that surprised me the most about this big, expensive TV was it only has four HDMI inputs. It’s not just a Samsung issue – I’ve never come across a TV that has more than four. But in this age when there are so many media devices to plug into your TV, sometimes you need just one more. As such, my Nintendo Switch and Freeview dongle were left sitting unconnected.
This TV was loaned to the writer by Samsung.