Hands-on review: Samsung QLED 8K 950TS TV
In this week’s episode of ‘I didn’t know I wanted this’, Samsung’s newest top of the line TV offering enters the fray, making me wish there were just a few more zeros in my bank account.
The Samsung Q950TS is superlative in almost every way – screen size, pixel count, resolution, audio quality – and as a person who has mostly only interacted with mid-range televisions throughout the years, these qualities have combined to create a home viewing experience that knocks every other TV I’ve watched out of the park.
I was sent the 65-inch, 8K version, along with the Q900T soundbar and subwoofer – which, at a combined eye-watering $15,000 is a hefty price tag for any home entertainment system.
So, does its performance back it up?
First, let’s start with the obvious – the picture.
Knowing that 8K technology was still in relative infancy, and that 8K resolution videos and films were rare, I came sceptical to the idea that an 8K screen could make a standard-resolution picture look good.
But it seems Samsung was ahead of the curve. Its quantum processor uses AI upscaling to offer pixel-by-pixel enhancement, through a machine learning protocol which compares pictures it's being asked to display with a database of other images.
This knowledge-building technology makes content on Netflix, YouTube and BluRay look better than ever, even at 1080p. What is truly mind-bending is the fact that this TV is taking content which is giving two or three million pixels of information, and somehow making it look good on a screen with about 10 times that amount.
But it’s not just AI and machine learning that makes the display look good.
It has 25 million more pixels than its 4K counterparts, at a whopping 33 million. Going up close to the screen, I had to squint to see the bezels.
This obviously made films look great, but I noticed the biggest difference when I played video games via my PS4. Games that support HDR, like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Uncharted 4 looked absolutely incredible – especially when surveying these games’ natural environments, which all three games already excelled at.
Colour dynamics were also spectacular – never has a sunset on Red Dead Redemption 2 looked so realistic, or spilled more oranges, reds and yellows across the room.
The 65-inch screen, the perfect size for my apartment, truly excelled at bringing cinema-level images to my living room – and this was only compounded by the addition of the soundbar.
The Q900T soundbar and subwoofer truly brought the whole experience together – if, for some reason, you find that the experience of watching Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight isn’t cinematic enough with just the TV’s speakers, you will surely change your tune when you switch on the added audio set.
The TV has the option of combining both the in-built TV speakers and the soundbar, which creates sound dynamics that envelop the room.
With 7.1.2ch sound, and Dolby Atmos and DTS:X integration, the soundbar packs a whole lot of punch, and with the bass cranked up, any action movie watching experience is kicked up a notch.
This is to say nothing of the TV speakers, which feature Samsung’s cutting edge Object Tracking Sound +, which lets the TV calculate where things are happening on the screen, and adjust sound throughout its eight speakers accordingly.
The TV is sleek and minimalist, and sits at a slight, upward facing, angle, which while unadjustable, is not a deal-breaker – it actually improves overall viewing experience, especially if watching from a 1.5-ish metre distance.
With an astounding 1.5cm of chassis depth, it is also remarkably thin – achieved chiefly through Samsung’s decision to divert all compute power to an external One Connect box, which can be hidden away in a cabinet for convenience.
All possible input requirements are fulfilled – four HDMI ports (one of which is 2.1 enabled), three USB inputs, RF and satellite TV aerial posts, and an ethernet socket.
This also means there is only one chord leading to the actual display, maximising aesthetics and providing for an overall good-looking machine.
Of course, the TV is smart, with access to virtual assistants and with every major streaming service enabled. The Intelligent Mode recognises both its surroundings and the content it’s playing, and adapts the video and audio accordingly – this feature actually did make a discernible difference when I concentrated on it, but if it wasn’t on I probably wouldn’t notice.
The ‘hub’ of the TV was simple to navigate with the sleek silver remote, and automatic HDMI input switching meant that I didn’t have to manually switch from Netflix to PS4 – always a welcome feature.
There are many, many more features offered by Samsung in its newest, top of the line TV that are probably deserving of being mentioned here – which goes to show how much Samsung has stuffed into this product.
This machine has everything that I could possibly want in a TV – more pixels than I can perceive, the ability to scale up content supplying many fewer, an understated and thin design, superb audio quality, an immersive Intelligent Mode… and more.
It was truly like bringing the cinema into my house, especially when supported by the impressive Q900T soundbar.
At $13,000, it’s no small thing to spend money on, but if you’re in the market for the best home viewing experience, and your bank account wouldn’t implode after its purchase, then I’d be surprised if you lived to regret it.