If there’s one thing we know from recent sales, it’s that Samsung’s Q80T models are incredibly popular. As one of the company’s upper-end QLEDs, it’s clear the Samsung name and the reasonable price are big draws, and the Q80Ts occupy a sweet spot between price and on-paper performance.
The Samsung QE65Q80T we have on test here is the 65in panel size of a range that also includes a slightly lower-specced 49in, a 55in version to which we've already awarded five stars, plus 75in and 85in models. Compared with the flagship Q90T range that has just three models, the Q85T with four and the Q70T with three again, it certainly feels as though Samsung is positioning this as the 'people’s TV'.
Samsung’s central plinth design means this TV can stand on anything that will take its 28kg weight. It’s not quite the sculpted, single-piece C-shape of the Q90T, but it has a modern look to it. The whole TV is only 54mm thick and there are cable management stripes on the rear to help keep things tidy.
There’s not much bezel either, which adds to that appeal. It’s not quite the edge-to-edge picture you might find on more high-end TVs but, at less than 4mm of frame, its near-bezel-less Boundless design is easily swish enough for the price.
Screen type QLED
Operating system Samsung Tizen
HDR formats HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
Dimensions (hwd) 91 x 145 x 29cm (with stand)
Samsung’s Q80s don’t feature a One Connect box, but all the connections are neatly placed around the back, including an optical-out, two USB 2.0s and four HDMIs. While not officially HDMI 2.1certified, the set is complete with eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) and the ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) and VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) technologies aimed at next-gen console gamers. There’s no headphones socket, but that’s what the Bluetooth connection is for.
The panel itself has Samsung’s Direct Full Array local dimming for close control of tone and colour in the picture. It’s a step down to the Direct Full Array Plus of the Q85T as is the Wide Viewing Angle compared to Ultra-Wide Viewing Angle, but otherwise, there are few differences on the spec sheet. Powering the experience is Samsung’s Quantum Processor 2.0 4K, which is as good as any in Samsung’s 2020 4K line-up.
The OS is Samsung’s class-leading Tizen, controlled by a choice of two remotes – the standard black Samsung remote seen throughout the range and the handy pared-down One Remote Control in curved black rather than premium metal. No matter the colours, it’s still arguably the best TV remote out there.
With the Tizen OS comes lots of apps. There’s no Sky Store, no VLC and no Twitch, but otherwise, there are few streaming services you won’t find here. You can access lots of 4K HDR content from the likes of Apple TV, Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and more.
The only pity is that you won’t be able to access all the Dolby Vision content on those services, as Samsung doesn’t support it. HDR10+ is available on Prime Video and Google Play Movies and TV, but elsewhere you’ll have to make do with HDR10 and HLG.
Tizen also brings access to all the mod cons you’d expect from an up-to-date smart TV, including voice control from Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung’s own Bixby. You can mirror content from your mobile and customise your TV with art and wallpaper from Samsung’s Ambient Mode+ too.
One of the things that makes the QE65Q80T such as joy is how simple it is to use – and that goes for calibration, too. Samsung has done an excellent job of streamlining its filters down to the ones that really count.
Of the presets, Dynamic mode makes the best starting point here. Ease back on the contrast and you’ll find a brilliantly punchy image with bright colours and plenty of detail in all tonal areas. It’s as good an advert for HDR as you’ll find.
We play John Wick 2 on 4K Blu-ray and the opening pans of Rome at sunset are stunning. Motion processing is very good, with the pillars in the foreground largely holding their shape as the camera swings by. It’s an improvement in this regard on last season’s already capable range, but Samsung is still just a step behind both Panasonic and Sony on this front.
The lights of St Peter’s Basilica are tight and controlled against the twilight sky and there is some beautiful variation to the glow of the fountains on the square. Turning the sharpness up gives these details even more edge, but it also steamrollers some of the shading with the result that the picture feels quite flat.
Ultimately, subtlety is where you could find improvements in this picture, but that’s what the step-up to the Q85T, Q90T and Q95T are for. Another choice is the cheaper Panasonic TX-65HX940, which is a touch better than this Samsung for shading, but less accomplished in most other departments. Only the Award-winning Sony KD-65XH9005 offers something of a best of both worlds here. It’s far closer in character to the Q80T, but nicks it for its better three-dimensional solidity.
The black depth really takes this Samsung TV to the next level, though. Heading to Rome’s Continental hotel in John Wick 2, we get some magnificent shots of the squeaky clean, jet black limousines parked out the front and Wick’s dark clothing. It’s enough to give OLED TVs a good run for their money.
The dark detail offers enough quality for this price to give a good sense of texture to the receptionist’s wonderfully rich velvet attire and Wick’s winter wool overcoat. Colours take a fair bit of toning down to get everything looking at its most natural in the lobby, but there is still plenty of vibrancy. Reds are just a bit too much, but the balance is generally good.
Stepping down to SDR with Age Of Ultron on Blu-ray, there’s plenty of excellent detail on show. There are good skin features on Tony Starks’ face in close-up as he flies around a floating Sokovia in his Iron Man suit. The Dynamic preset remains the best choice, but you’ll want to pull back on the processing modes to keep hold of the refinement in the bright areas of the picture. That means sacrificing some of that wonderful punch, but toning down the local dimming and switching off the contrast enhancer is well worth the reward.
The result is a more natural, less dynamic looking image but it still makes for a picture that’s easy to like. The colours remain enjoyable whether it’s the more muted tones of Cap’s suit or the fireball as the truck explodes in battle. We’d switch to the Standard colour temperature from Cool to get the best picture here.
Some noise creeps in to the picture when watching upscaled content with a more heavily graded aesthetic but, again, toning down the contrast and sharpness helps mitigate that.
Watching the BBC News channel, it’s less noticeable in standard def, but pulling back further on contrast and brightness becomes essential to maintain a watchable image.
Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound 3D audio technology has been a game changer for its 2020 TVs and is present in all Q80T sets apart from the 49in model. For this Samsung QE65Q80T, it means there are six drivers positioned around the panel and seems to have done wonders for tonal balance and dynamism too.
There are two mid-range drivers and two woofers along the bottom, and two extra drivers at the top. Watching the opening scenes of John Wick 2 is a delight. There’s some glorious muscle to the growl of the hitman’s recovered Ford Mustang Boss as it comes flying out of the lock-up. The 3D audio does a superb job of both projecting the sound way out wide and round to the sitting position, and also of bringing an authentic sense of movement across the space too.
After playing around with the EQs, we’re pleased to report that the Amplify preset is as good as it gets. The bass is heavy, but never overpowers the detail. Wick’s hand-to-hand combat deals deep, threatening thuds and crunches but we can still pick up every syllable of the script.
This is a huge improvement on 2019’s Samsungs and the Q80T feels like a real coming of age. Naturally, a soundbar will take your audio to another level, but if you cannot add an external speaker system, then rest assured you’re getting decent sound by the standards of TVs at this price.
The Samsung QE65Q80T will be many people’s idea of a great value, high performing 4K TV for 2020. It has a big screen with a bold picture and superb HDR images; it delivers impressive sound and has just about every smart feature and app streaming service under the sun.
What’s more, the Tizen OS makes calibration and navigation easy, meaning this set is a good choice for those who want to tweak, as well as those who wish to do no more than take it out of the box, place it on the stand and switch it on.
The Q80T range’s popularity is well-founded, but before you get out the credit card, you should also consider the Award-winning Sony KD-65XH9005. For a little less money, you get a picture with a touch more maturity, just as much impact and even better motion processing. There isn’t a huge amount in it, though – both are killer TVs.
- Picture 5
- Sound 5
- Features 5
Read our guide to the best 4K Ultra HD televisions
Read our Samsung QE55Q80T review
Read our Sony KD-65XH9005 review
Read our Panasonic TX-65HX940 review