The Samsung QE55Q90R looks like a real game changer from an LCD TV. In particular, its black levels, backlight uniformity and its viewing angles remain unique achievements in the world of LCD television. However, while the quality of shadow reproduction is poor, the Samsung QE55Q90R is arguably the most spectacular 55-inch TV, but the larger QE65Q90R is the ultimate in Q90R performance, if you can allow it.
- Beautiful black levels
- Maximum brightness and rich colors
- Full smart TV system, including an Apple TV app
- Details of crushed shade
- A little backlight illuminates with an out-of-angle vision
- No Dolby Vision support
- Price of the review: £ 2299
- 55-inch LED TV with native 4K resolution
- Local dimming system complete with 240 separate zones
- QLED color technology
- Wide angle vision technology
- Apple TV app support
What is the Samsung QE55Q90R?
The Samsung QE55Q90R (£ 2299) is the flagship product of South Korea’s 55in 4K TV brand for 2019. It boasts a direct light emitting diode (LED) engine with hundreds of separately controllable local dimming zones; a maximum brightness claimed of more than 2000 nits; and Samsung’s new wide-angle viewing technology.
Is all this enough to make it the best TV in the city?
Quality and workmanship of the Samsung QE55Q90R – A rugged and robust package
The Samsung QE55Q90R is not as thin as most TVs today, thanks to its high-end direct backlight system, in which the lights are placed behind the screen rather than on its edges. You do not notice this forward, though.
In fact, the frame around its screen is extremely narrow, avoiding in any way distracting you from the images you are watching.
The centrally inclined base is also sturdy and well finished. Better yet, the device has only one cable, no matter how many sources you have.
This is due to the fact that the QE55Q90R comes with an external One Connect box in which all your external sources are powered, feeding the entire screen, including its power supply, via a simple slender cable.
Samsung’s Ambient mode brings more innovation. It’s basically a screen saver with buttons, where the images you can read on the screen when you’re not looking at them seriously can be famous pictures, cool-colored scanned pictures, your own photographs. or even simple but cute animations.
The ambient mode uses minimal power, which allows you to potentially use it all the time as an alternative to putting the TV on standby and creating a black hole in your room.
You can even hide the TV if you take a digital photo of the wall against which it is positioned and set this image so that it becomes the default display of the Ambient mode.
The QE55Q90R comes with two remote controls. One is your usual TV remote, filled with buttons and finished in a pretty light plastic. The other is a much more attractive “smart” remote control, with a glossy silver metal finish and an erased button count.
This remote also features a microphone to activate the TV’s voice control functions and can be used to activate any equipment you have connected to the TV. Note, however, that while its lack of buttons may work well for everyday TV use, it can make universal remote control functions too complicated.
Features of the Samsung QE55Q90R – Less dimming areas, but many features
The Samsung QE55Q90R combines a full-featured local dimmer (FALD) lighting engine with a new video processing that incorporates a chipset entirely dedicated to optimizing its FALD performance. This is promising given the excellent level of previous generations of Samsung LCD LCD TVs, even without a dedicated backlight control chip.
Counting the distinct gradation zones of the QE55Q90R, however, is a surprise: they are only 240, against 480 on the 65-inch QE65Q90R. This means that there are far fewer dimming areas per inch of screen in the 55-inch model, which has consequences that I will discuss in the Performance section.
The new Quantum Processor 4K chipset that Samsung has developed for its 2019 high-end televisions offers a number of image and sound upgrades, including the 4K AI upgrade. This is a 4K version of the all-new scaling approach developed by Samsung for its 8K TVs.
The QLED QE55Q90R also aims to undermine one of the advantages of competing OLED technology by supporting a new wide-angle technology that allows you to watch TV from almost straight angles without black levels or overloads. colors.
Samsung claims that the maximum brightness is 2000 nits. I measured it in 1650 nits standard image mode on a 10% white HDR screen area – although this resolution is halved after a few seconds.
Video Preset keeps its maximum brightness levels indefinitely, but only “hits” 1436 nits in the same window at 10%. The dynamic mode reaches briefly 1945 nits. But this is not a mode that I recommend you use.
In the meantime, the QLED technology I mentioned earlier uses metal-clad quantum dots to produce the color of the Samsung QE55Q90R. And because they can be driven very fast without degradation, they can deliver extremely high color volumes, ideally suited to the extended color gamuts that almost always accompany HDR content.
The intelligent features of the Samsung QE55Q90R are provided by the latest Eden system of the brand. This has gradually evolved over generations to become one of the best intelligent interfaces in the world of television. It now neatly manages a wide range of applications, including all major video streaming and television catch-up services, in a surprisingly affordable and easily customizable two-tiered home screen interface.
There have even been some very important additions to Samsung’s intelligent platform, flavored by Apple, since we tested the QE65Q90R in February. First, Apple AirPlay 2 support makes it easy to share files from Apple devices. Second, and more significantly, the new Apple TV application.
At the time of writing this article, which was still exclusive to Samsung TVs – although it comes for Vizio TVs, Samsung, LG and Sony later this year, the Apple TV app basically gives access to the entire Apple’s television and movie library. It will also support the Apple TV + broadcast service when it is launched.
The only drawback of the Samsung QE55Q90R’s smart features is the lack of support for Freeview Play. Nevertheless, the set still contains separately all land-based catch-up applications that Freeview Play collects.
The Samsung QE55Q90R’s One Connect box connections include four HDMI connectors, three USB ports, and one optical digital audio jack. In addition, of course, it manages Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In fact, Bluetooth is the only way to use a headset with this TV. Samsung abandoned the physical headphone jack on its high-end TVs a few generations ago.
HDMI does not claim full HDMI 2.1 specifications such as those of LG’s high-end 4K TVs this year. However, they support two key gaming-related features associated with the 2.1 specification: the Low Automatic Latency (ALLM) mode and the VRR (Variable Refresh Rate).
The first of them sees the TV automatically switch to quick response mode of the game (where the rendering of images takes less than 15 ms) when detecting a game source. The second allows the TV to adjust its frame rate on the fly to that of the game you play. This stops the famous “tearing” effect of the screen with which console players have become too familiar.
The Samsung QE55Q90R only supports eARC on its HDMI connectors. As such, it can not go through the lossless versions of Dolby Atmos and DTS: X found on many 4K Blu-ray Discs.
Another thing that the Samsung QE55Q90R can not do is Dolby Vision. Samsung still refuses to support Dolby’s premium HDR format, with additional information on scene-by-scene images and 12-bit color control.
It does, however, support the rival developed by Samsung for Dolby Vision, namely the HDR10 +. This also provides additional scene-by-scene image data that is not provided in a standard HDR10 video stream.
At the time of writing, the content available in Dolby Vision is much higher than that of HDR10 + – although the growing number of HDR10 + is increasing, including support for all HDR programs on Amazon Prime Video .
Setting up the Samsung QE55Q90R – The best starting modes are movie mode and standard mode
Before doing anything else, I recommend going to the Samsung QE55Q90R’s main menu and turning off the Eco mode. Otherwise, the picture will become particularly dull each time you turn down the lights and close the curtains to watch serious movies.
Among the four picture settings of the Samsung QE55Q90R, the Movie and Standard settings will be, for most people, the perfect starting point to get the most out of their new TV.
Personally, I tend to use most often Standard, because it offers a dynamic and daring image that makes the best use of the many talents of television. But the backlight will benefit from a slight shift, and it’s best to go from the native color space to automatic.
The biggest problem with Standard mode is that, with its default settings, details in dark areas can be erased from the photo. Therefore, you may need to slightly increase the brightness of one or two notches. Resist the temptation to go too far here: increasing the brightness also changes the color tone of the image.
Completely disable the automatic motion detection settings of the device or choose the Custom option and set the contrast and blur reduction to three or four.
It is also interesting to familiarize yourself with the Digital Clean View feature. I would suggest not using it when looking at high quality sources, but remember when you look at a very low quality HD source or, in particular, an SD source.
Film mode provides a duller and more desaturated image than Standard. Nevertheless, it is well balanced and shows much more detail in its default state. In addition, it is designed to track more closely the original mastering values of the SDR or HDR content you are watching.
Personally, I find the mode yellow film in its default settings, but you can reduce it with the settings provided by the TV. Otherwise, it offers a decent improvement over previous Samsung Movie modes.
Samsung QE55Q90R performance – Exceptional black levels
Having already done a thorough analysis of Q90R’s image performance in this review of the Samsung QE65Q90R, I would like things to be as simple as possible.
The first thing that struck me about this screen was its exceptional black levels. I’ve seen a number of OLED 2019 TVs since testing the QE65Q90R, but the Samsung QE55Q90R’s black levels still look remarkably impressive: the best of all LCD TVs to date and a real challenge for those you get with OLED TVs.
They are remarkably deep and uniform, even when a bright object is in the center of a dark background, like the white Sony logo that appears on a black background at the beginning of Sony’s 4K Blu-ray discs.
The lack of significant bloom (dimming the backlight) around this white logo is remarkable for an LCD TV and speaks volumes about the quality of Samsung’s new local dimming chipset. It is all the more striking on the QE55Q90R that this lack of blooming is only provided by half as many gradation zones as on the previously tested QE65Q90R.
The flagship application of the Samsung QE55Q90R is that, while delivering incredibly deep black levels at one end of the video spectrum, it is also able to present HDR footage with a brightness level – both on the entire screen. And in relatively small areas of maximum brightness – which shine the wide range of brightness of the HDR.
The colors are also superbly saturated. This is particularly impressive in very bright scenes, where QLED TV technology allows the QE55Q90R to track color volumes much further than OLED TVs. They have trouble exceeding 800 nits of maximum brightness.
Combine all this brightness and intensity of color alongside the class’s black levels, the Samsung QE55Q90R, and you’ll probably get the most spectacular HDR images in the world.
Note that the way Samsung’s wide-angle technology works slightly compromises the resolution, but the images in the QE55Q90R are still clean and crisp. And the reduction in the viewing angle seems to be worth the marginal resolution reduction, which allows you to view the QE55Q90R in almost any angle without loss of contrast or color.
The movement is well managed if you follow the suggested configuration tips earlier, and the scaling of all sources below 4K is surprising – especially for easier playback of very low quality sources, such as compressed web videos.
The way a Moth Eye filter on the Samsung QE65Q90R’s screen resists glare is even more impressive than most of its rivals (especially OLEDs).
After again mentioning OLED, there are three areas in which the Samsung QE55Q90R’s new intelligent backlight control system can not completely escape its LED origins.
First, unless you use the Movie preset – which applies a less aggressive local dimming system and thus produces slightly reduced black levels and generally darker images – local dimming can make some small details disappear of the image.
A good example of this is the word “Replicant” at the beginning of Blade Runner 2049 on 4K Blu-ray. This word appears small and red, in front of the blank text of explanation that follows.
In each Movie QE55Q90R preset mode bar, you can not see the word at all until blank text is involved. No settings I tried – be it backlight, contrast, dimming power, or brightness – made no difference.
Since the word “Replicant” is by no means weak (it’s just small enough and appears on a black background), it’s easy to understand why very dark scenes outside the movie mode sometimes give the impression of miss details in the shadows.
The second related problem is that even if they do not completely disappear in the dark, small, isolated light areas may seem noticeably lessened, as the QE55Q90R helps to avoid the fearsome “blooming” effect of LCD backlighting.
You can see it more easily with end credits that appear on a black background because the differences in the intensity of the text appear from one part of the screen to the other, depending the amount of text contained in each gradation zone.
The third problem with backlighting is black levels when the TV needs to display HDR images containing an extreme mix of light and dark content. It seems that Samsung’s desire to avoid the darkening of the backlight with such a complex and extreme content pushes the QE55Q90R to reduce the power of its local dimming system, so that brightness levels change over the entire screen rather than just certain parts.
In reality, this is probably less annoying than the local backlighting atmosphere. But that does not mean that it is not in itself capable of sometimes distracting you from what you are watching. The problem seems stronger on the 55-inch model than on the 65-inch game, probably because of the smaller number of gradation zones of the smaller model.
In fact, all the backlighting problems of the Samsung QE55Q90R seem slightly more pronounced than those of his 65-inch brother or sister.
If you can power all the HDR10 + sources, the images benefit both a little more dynamism and refinement. Of course, we can not know if the same applies to Dolby Vision sources because the QE55Q90R does not support this format.
One last thing to know is that although the QE55Q90R’s wide-angle viewing technology works remarkably well in most cases, people who look to the side will notice a blooming around of remarkable bright objects, which is not the case. obvious to those who look at it head-on.
Joining the Samsung QE55Q90R in often spectacular images is an audio system of a satisfactory power. Although having no front-firing loudspeakers, the QE55Q90R manages to broadcast sound on a wide but coherent and extremely detailed sound stage.
The voices are clear and well located on the screen, despite the lack of projection to the front. In addition, you have enough power to allow the sound to move at least two gears to cope with the ebb and flow of action movies.
The only drawback of the QE55Q90R’s sound is that the extremely low bass can go beyond the low-end capabilities of the TV, causing noticeable distortion and crackling.
Should I buy a Samsung QE55Q90R?
To date, the Samsung QE55Q90R is closer than any other 55-inch TV to combine the strengths of LCD TVs with those of OLED TVs. The result is unprecedented black levels and viewing angles for an LCD, as well as more traditional highlights of high brightness and high color volumes.
There is also an impressive list of smart features, including the recently added Apple TV app.
Although bright most of the time, Samsung’s new local dimming engine can sometimes be a bit too enthusiastic. It costs the image small details and low light when using the most satisfactory image settings. The 65-inch model, with more than twice as many controllable dimming areas, performs better in this respect.
The only LCD TV line that is closer to the QE55Q90R is Samsung’s Q85R series. This greatly reduces the number of local dimming areas, which allows you to see a little more backlighting flourish. Nevertheless, it usually offers excellent black levels and, in contrast to the Q90R range, the £ 1800 QE55Q85R actually has a slightly larger number of dimming areas than the larger 65-inch QE65Q85R . This results in more dynamic and impactful images.
Otherwise, the main competition for the Samsung QE55Q90R comes from LG C9 and Panasonic GZ1000 / GZ1500 OLED TVs. With the ability of each OLED pixel to produce its own light, these two sets outperform Samsung’s capabilities by producing very small areas of brightness without blooming or loss of intensity. They also produce more details about shadows in dark scenes and do not explode when viewing off-axis. But they can not deliver as much light with bright HDR scenes as the Samsung QE55Q90R.
Samsung QE55Q90R Review
Verdict The Samsung QE55Q90R looks like a real game changer from an LCD TV. In particular, its black levels, backlight uniformity and its viewing angles re
The price written on this page is true as the time it is written. It may change at any moment.