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Samsung Q8C review: 4K HDR QLED 55-incher is the best choice for those who still hanker for a curved TV

If you’re after a 4K TV with cinematic flair, a curved set could be just the box office ticket. It’s a form factor Samsung has long championed. As a bonus, the QE55Q8C puts the bend into a high performance QLED panel.

Not to be confused with OLED, QLED is a variation on Quantum Dot technology, which offers improved colour fidelity and off-angle viewing with LED LCD TVs. Samsung may be the only major TV brand still hawking curved screens, but the Q8C is undeniably a head turner. If you want a telly that’ll look good in a bright viewing environment, it’s also got the backlight brightness to oblige.

Samsung Q8C (QE55Q8C) review: Design

Slick and contemporary sum up this set’s dress sense. The black and silver frame is classy, while the central stand is eminently practical. The quality of finish is high; even the rear panel has a metallic finish.

Connectivity is off-loaded to Samsung’s discrete One Connect junction box. This accommodates four HDMIs, a trio of USBs and an Ethernet connection. The One Connect box routes AV to the TV via a single cable, which keeps things nice and tidy.

The set itself still needs its own power lead though. Obviously the main thing to be addressed with the Q8C’s design is its shape. With its gentle curve, you do get some odd reflections at times, but it’s certainly striking.

You either like curved tellies or you don’t, so I’ll leave that one up to you. There is probably a reason there are no other curved tellies in T3’s list of favourite TVs[1], though…

Samsung Q8C: the range

Samsung Q8C review: 4K HDR QLED 55-incher is the best choice for those who still hanker for a curved TV The Samsung QE55Q8C is positioned between Samsung’s Q7F and Q9F ranges and comes in 55-, 65- and 75- inch screen sizes.

Their full names respectively, then, are Samsung QE65Q8C and Samsung QE75Q8C.

Samsung QE55Q8C 4K HDR QLED: Performance

Despite its various functional niceties, the key attraction of the Q8C remains its QLED panel technology. A refinement on Quantum Dot filtering, which has been around for some time, it’s key attraction is that it offers wide, deep colour and high brightness.

HDR support covers everyday HDR10 and broadcast HLG HDR. The screen is also compatible with the dynamic metadata standard HDR10+, a rival of sorts to Dolby Vision. It remains to be seen if HDR10+ gains wide traction with content suppliers (being an open standard, expectations are high).

Let’s hope so, as there’s no support for DolbyVision. The Standard image preset is our go-to viewing mode for most content. It offers a high average picture level, while retaining balance and depth.

The set’s inherent brightness comes into its own in brightly lit spaces. It really cuts through with colour and contrast. The Q8C is tailor made for daytime viewing.

For regular SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content, there’s an upscale mode dubbed HDR+ . This ramps up brightness and colour vibrancy, although some might feel the end result is overwrought and oversaturated. It’s ultimately a matter of taste.

Peak brightness with genuine HDR sources is very high – upwards of 1500 nits. The curved screen favours square-on and direct, close viewing. The curve can throw up odd reflections though, and when viewed off axis tends to look wonky with onscreen EPGs.

To help fine tune motion handling, a Custom setting individually tailors judder and blur. Keep both low and you’ll get an acceptable performance for fast moving sports. If you don’t like the kind of soap opera effect you get from image interpolation, motion processing should be turned off.

Audio provision is perfectly fine, although we suspect buyers might ultimately want to partner this set with a matching Samsung curved soundbar.

Samsung QE55Q8C: Features

Samsung Q8C review: 4K HDR QLED 55-incher is the best choice for those who still hanker for a curved TV Smart functionality is good, if not class leading. Samsung’s Eden interface is easy to navigate and supports a range of catch-up services, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and My5.

This icon-based interface allows users to customise which apps and sources appear on the Home screen. All key third party streaming services are onboard, and both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video support 4K and HDR streams. However there’s no support for Freeview Play, which has become ubiquitous on rival up-market connected 4K TVs.

It’s disappointing that Samsung continues to snub Freeview Play (it’s now the only major TV brand holding out against this connected update to subscription free TV) , but at least all the main TV catch-up players are provided. The Q8C comes with two remotes, a Bluetooth zapper with voice integration, and regular wand. The TV supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Once online, it’s compatible with networked DLNA devices, and will play files from NAS and USB devices. You can also timeshift from the set’s tuner onto a USB hard drive.

Hisense 55-inch U7A: Verdict

Samsung Q8C review: 4K HDR QLED 55-incher is the best choice for those who still hanker for a curved TV This Q8C is currently available for around GBP1,299, which represents a significant saving on its GBP1,699 launch price.

While there are 55-inch flatscreen UHD models available for less, they tend not to have the impact or HDR chops of Samsung’s QLED technology. It’s a good value buy. If your three tick boxes are (1) QLED, (2) HDR and (3) curved, then Samsung QE55Q8C is an easy recommendation.

That aside, it’s a superior 4K HDR LED TV that’s particularly suited for daytime and bright room viewing.

References

  1. ^ T3’s list of favourite TVs (www.t3.com)

Sony ZD9 KD-65ZD9 review: a TV that goes big, goes bright and offers true luxury

To cut a long story short, the ZD9 represents the current pinnacle of Sony LED LCD TV design. It combines class-leading HDR brightness and accuracy, courtesy of a full-array Master Backlight Drive, with top-flight imaging processing and design. As a result, even the ‘entry-level’ 65-inch model is not going to be cheap, but whatever the screen size, the ZD9 is a hell of a lot of telly for your money.

Those looking for more understated but equally excellent visuals might find themselves more swayed by its OLED sibling, the Sony KD-55A1 or its 65-inch big brother.

Sony KD-65ZD9 review: Design

The ZD9 is a bit of a show-off’s telly, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Sony just about keeps it classy. The screen has an ultra thin slate bezel, trimmed with a faux gold strip, and unpretentious pedestal stand.

The rear panel sports a neat pattern which helps disguise the various pop-off panels used to hide connections and cable management. The set has four HDMI inputs, all HDCP 2.2 compliant; however only inputs 2 and 3 support 4K 60p, and 3 is also the ARC connection. This rather limits system options if you’re not coupling the set with a 4K AV receiver.

There’s also Scart and component if you really need them, a digital optical audio output and wired ethernet as well as Wi-Fi, for network matters. This premium vibe is only let down by the remote control, which is a fairly horrible, rubber-buttoned clicker.

The Sony ZD9 range

We’re featuring the 65-inch ZD9 here: Sony KD-65ZD9 to its friends.

Also on the shelves, so long as said shelves are big enough, are the 75-inch KD-75ZD9 and 100-inch KD-100ZD9. These can respectively be described as, ‘a tad pricey’ and ‘ouch’.

Sony ZD9 65-inch review: Performance

Sony ZD9 KD-65ZD9 review: a TV that goes big, goes bright and offers true luxury Hands up, the ZD9 is a breathtaking beast. When it came out in 2017 it was right on the cutting edge of what LED tellies can do, and a steady stream of firmware updates have kept it near there, even as 2018’s tellies start to appear in the shops.

The only down side to that is we’re still not seeing any amazing TV deals on the ZD9 at this point although the RRP has come down from its Alpha Luxe launch level. Capable of extraordinarily dramatic images, this 65-inch ZD9 pushes the envelope in terms of realistic HDR, while copious fine detail and texture is unlocked by Sony’s X1 Extreme HDR processor. The latest firmware update has added support for Dolby Vision from streaming services, and broadcast HLG.

They join the industry standard HDR10. The ZD9’s black level accuracy is largely due to its Backlight Master Drive. An unspecified number of precision calibrated LED lights, controlled by a unique lighting algorithm, allow the screens backlight to react with astonishing precision.

Picture modes are many and varied. You can choose from Vivid, Standard, Custom, Cinema Pro, Cinema Home, Sports, Animation, a trio of Photo modes, Game and Graphics. The Standard setting is ruthlessly revealing, and as such my recommended go-to setting.

Of the two Cinema modes, Home pulls out more detail than Pro, and is generally the better option. For example, when Electro goes nuclear in Time Square on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, UHD Blu-ray, the lens flare, billboard lights and the blue-man himself are ravishing. But the ZD9 doesn’t just look dandy with native 4K.

It does a cracking job with HD sources too, using Object-Based Remastering to give an HDR-style lift to SDR content. Motion handling is above average. Of the various Motionflow settings, Clear is our choice for fast-moving sports, while True Cinema keeps movies looking suitably filmic.

Unlike the A1 range, Sony’s flagship LED set makes no clever provision for audio. That said, the two downward firing stereo speakers have enough volume and clarity to satisfy everyday viewing.

Sony KD-65ZD9 review: features

Sony ZD9 KD-65ZD9 review: a TV that goes big, goes bright and offers true luxury Recently updated to Android Nougat, the set’s TV OS is still something of a mixed bag.

The platform remains cluttered and prone to weird error messages, but functionality is high. Integrated streaming services include Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, both with 4K HDR streaming support, plus Youtube and lesser options. A YouView overlay opens the door to a full complement of mainstream catch-up, accessed via the rollback programme guide.

The ZD9 has a generous 8.2GB of internal storage for app and game downloads. There’s also voice interaction with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. The screen remains one of the few to still offer 3D.

Two pairs of active shutter glasses ship in the box, and 3D effects are excellent. Dimensional pictures offer pronounced depth with minimal ghosting and no flicker. Great news if you have a collection of 3D Blu-rays you want to continue to enjoy.

Sony ZD9 review: The verdict

I rate the Sony ZD9 as a 4K HDR TV for picture quality connoisseurs. Firmware updates continue to keep it at the forefront of image performance, enabling it to more than hold its own against the very best from rival brands. If you want HDR brighter than anything available from OLED, then it literally demands to be seen.

Aside from the cheap remote control, it’s also beautifully built and finished, as it should be: being the jewel in Sony’s LED LCD crown, the ZD9 is seldom going to turn up in T3’s list of bargain buys.

Viewed as a premium, flagship screen, however, the ZD9 – at least in its ‘smaller’ 65- and 75-inch guises – offers good value for your admittedly large sums of money.

Samsung C49J89 review: the ultimate Fortnite gaming monitor

|Posted 1 hour ago

Samsung’s CJ89 is a little bit ridiculous. This 49-inch display is essentially two 1080p monitors glued together seamlessly so that it takes up almost all of your periphery. With a 144Hz refresh rate, this expansive monitor isn’t sluggish, either.

But can you ditch the gaming branding for a business model and still get Grade-A gaming performance?

That’s a necessary question to ask, because the Samsung CJ89 isn’t actually a gaming model – that’s the CFG90 – but it’s a damn sight cheaper at GBP899. Samsung has stripped out all the AMD Freesync tech and HDR capability that the higher spec, yet older, gaming monitor features.

Won’t settle for less than 4K? Here are the best 4K monitors[1] around.

It’s actually a pretty good tradeoff, as you still get that 144Hz refresh rate, ridiculous aspect ratio, and 5ms response time.

Only 25% of gamers actually use AMD graphics cards, anyways.

The CJ89 is built for businesses, but as far as personal productivity in the office goes, I’ve found it lacking compared to a traditional dual monitor setup. Sure, the bezel-less, uninterrupted screen space is lovely, and if you partake in any video / photo editing work it’s a dream (although the lack of IPS panel may not be to your liking).

But while a dual monitor setup allows me to ‘snap’ four web pages across my entire screen real estate, the C49J89 limits me to just two full-width pages, and I found it endlessly frustrating.

That may seem pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but this small knock-on effect of a single panel changed my entire workflow during everyday tasks. I suppose I could get two Samsung C49J89 monitors side-by-side, but then I’m back to bezels.

Unless…

Eureka! Vertical stacking is the answer. Two of these monitors, at GBP899 a pop, and I’m back to four apps at once.

Worth it? Sure, so long as I can put it on the company expenses….

Regardless, the C49J89 still has plenty of utility for a variety of tasks, not to mention incredible immersive properties for gamers. Overwatch[2] is my go-to game in the office but it sadly doesn’t support the ludicrous 32:9 aspect ratio of the C49J89. Still, there’s a ton of titles that make the most of the Samsung’s 3840 x 1080 resolution.

One such game is Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5[3], which allows for the full breadth of the monitor to be occupied by deep south shoot ’em up chaos.

The C49J89 features a slight curvature, at only 1800R, and that allows it to completely occupy your vision – horizontally anyways. As a result, wingsuiting out of helicopters and sniping enemies from a distance instills a feeling of incredible depth of environment and locale that is otherwise muted by more reasonable aspect ratios.

But seeing as nearly all – insert today’s astronomic number of gamers here – of you are playing Fortnite[4], you’ll be glad to know Epic’s battle royale title supports the weird and wonderful 32:9 aspect ratio. I’m not particularly well-versed in the ways of winning a Fortnite battle royale, but the wide aspect ratio could be a seriously dangerous weapon in the hands of someone a little more talented than I.

Opponents diving into the map clustered together are easily spotted across the C49J89’s panel, and the breadth of real estate adds a little more competitive edge when you’re searching across the horizon for combatants.

While the nitty gritty of up-close and personal combat is still largely down to player skill – not that I lack an abundance of that, of course – the ultrawide aspect gives you more chance of being forewarned of encroaching opponents sneaking up on you.

Samsung C49J89 review: the ultimate Fortnite gaming monitor

While Fortnite’s not all that demanding on your system, ultra-grade gaming on an ultrawide at 144Hz is no easy task for any GPU. However, a GTX 1080 Ti isn’t necessarily vital for decent frame rates. Overall, the ultrawide resolution of the C49J89 adds up to roughly 4.1 million pixels in total, while 1440p is somewhere around 3.7 million pixels.

That means any of the best 1440p graphics cards[5] will suffice for smooth operation. Plus, without the FreeSync tech, you aren’t limited to a single GPU manufacturer – there’s always a silver lining.

As for panel performance and tech specs, it manages a typical contrast ratio of 3000:1, and a brightness rating of 300 nits. While contrast is solid, the black levels aren’t anything to write home about and dark greys are a little tough to discern at times.

White saturation doesn’t suffer the same fate, however, and viewing angles are very good to somewhat make up for it. The slight curve is not detrimental to the viewing experience even in the far reaches of this ludicrous panel, and that still applies even if you don’t sit perfectly squared up with the centre of the screen.

Samsung C49J89 review: the ultimate Fortnite gaming monitor

There are two HDMI 2.0 ports, and a single DisplayPort 1.2, but seeing as business monitors hold a little more esteem in connectivity than their gamer counterparts, you also get a healthy dose of USB connectivity in the back. There are two USB Type-C ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and a single USB 3.0 port.

Those USB Type-C ports could always double up for display connections, which may be pretty handy for a streamer running their stream from another system or device.

So is the Samsung C49J89 a worthy substitute for the gamer-spec CFG90 on a lower budget? Absolutely. HDR and FreeSync 2 are great, but they’re the newest of the new for premium features, and, frankly, Windows HDR isn’t quite up to spec to make it a must-have feature just yet.

You can forget the business brief with the C49J89; it’s as worthy of gamer credentials as its pricier sibling. Whether intended for productivity or not, that ultrawide 32:9 aspect is built for gaming on.

Samsung C49J89 review: the ultimate Fortnite gaming monitor

There are few things you can do with your PC setup to gain an advantage in gaming without breaking the rules. High-end audio, mechanical switches, and accurate mouse sensors all belong in that category, even high refresh rate monitors in general, but if the GBP849[6] Samsung C49J89 proves anything, it’s that extremely ultrawide monitors need to be added to that list.

Unfortunately, the C49J89 doesn’t seem to be available in the US at this time.

If that’s you, then Samsung’s CHG90 at GBP1,080[8] may be your best bet.

PCGamesN verdict: 9/10

References

  1. ^ best 4K monitors (www.pcgamesn.com)
  2. ^ Best overwatch characters (www.pcgamesn.com)
  3. ^ Far Cry 5 review (www.pcgamesn.com)
  4. ^ Fortnite tips (www.pcgamesn.com)
  5. ^ best 1440p graphics card (www.pcgamesn.com)
  6. ^ GBP849 (www.amazon.co.uk)
  7. ^ £1,100 (www.samsung.com)
  8. GBP1,080 (www.amazon.co.uk)

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