Samsung 8K Q900R QLED hands-on review

Things look bright for Samsung's new 8K TVs

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For

  • Contrast and colour look good
  • Upscaling abilities look promising

Against

  • Won't come cheap

Doubling down on a mightily strong year for its flagship 4K QLED models – one in which the technology has come to realise its potential – Samsung is wasting little time in wowing us once more with these four 8K offerings.

The Q900R range unveiled at IFA earlier in the week comprises sets of 65in, 75in – a size the sales of which Samsung predicts will double by 2020 – 82in and 85in.

Features

Key to the range’s potential success is the aptitude of its 8K AI upscaling.

With a resolution of 7680 x 4320, four times that of a 4K panel, the trick for these 8K sets is in how that gulf is bridged when handling native 4K, Full HD and even SD content, improving detail and depth while reducing noise and motion to deliver a picture with quality nearing that of 8K – from any source.

Unlike conventional sets that use filters for smoothing, and detail enhancement and restoration processing for greater perceived detail, Samsung’s 8K AI upscaler technology (delivered by the company's proprietary Quantum Processor 8K) is based on ‘machine learning’ and can cleverly learn (and store in its database) what processing tools to use depending on the content type.

According to a Samsung explainer, the technology “compares low and high-quality versions of the same content to learn the technological differences between the two and form a vast database. It analyses millions of pieces of video content and finds a correlation. Based on its analysis, it can select the optimum filters that support brightness, the level of blackness, spread and other errors from all inputs, and transform low-definition content to close to 8K high definition.”

This quartet of Q900R TVs also boast a 4000-nit peak brightness, which Samsung points out is a standard met by most film studios, and use Direct Full Array Elite backlighting for enhanced contrast.

They also feature 100% Colour Volume, which the Korean company claims has the Q900R displaying the purest colour accuracy to date.

Audio also falls under the TVs’ AI upscaling technology. A sound optimisation feature aims to enhance audio performance depending on content type by identifying the content’s metadata and continually analysing and rendering the sound signal accordingly.

Performance

We don’t care to be dishing out double helpings of superlatives before we get any product in our own testing rooms, but it’s fair to say the Q900R 8K TVs have the ability to dazzle on first meeting.

Just like Samsung’s 4K QLEDs we’ve so enjoyed this year, the contrast and colour looks to be extremely and eye-catchingly good. Stock 8K footage is quite difficult to judge for subtlety, but it does serve to highlight the sharpness and punch that appears to be on offer.

But a large portion of these sets’ day-to-day task will be upscaling. Obviously we weren’t able to test using the array of sources we will when we have one at What Hi-Fi? towers – a day for which we’re already longing – but a demonstration of stock footage in various resolutions looked promising.

Initial verdict

It’s difficult to judge with true conviction until we’ve lived with the Q900Rs long enough – and of course at the minute we don’t have much for comparison – but it’s also difficult not to be enthusiastic about their potential.

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