How to buy the best TV
How to buy the Best Samsung TV
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Samsung is a dominant force in TVs, with its range of LCD and QLED sets commanding attention with cutting-edge technology and intriguing designs. We take a look at what its 2019 range has to offer to help you decide which set to buy.
Samsung is a household name and its TVs are some of the most popular in the world. It releases new sets every year from the 4K 7 and 8 Series LCD TVs to the high-end QLED sets.
New TVs means new technology and features. In this guide we'll explain the key differences between all of Samsung's TVs and go into detail on the technology that makes them tick.
You can also read detailed information on the TVs released in 2018, which are still available and are cheaper than they've ever been.
In this guide:
- Video: Samsung's 2019 TV range
- Samsung's TV technology explained
- The TVs in Samsung's 2019 range
- The TVs in Samsung's 2018 range
Video: Samsung's 2019 TV range
There are plenty of features coming to Samsung's QLED and LCD TVs, including ambient mode, invisible connections and a new backlight.
All TVs can upscale content to make it appear to be a higher resolution with sharper lines, but in 2018 Samsung debuted something new to improve its upscaling. AI upscaling analyses every object on screen and refers back to an enormous database of reference images to reduce blur and increase the clarity of whatever's being displayed. Originally this was reserved for 8K sets, but all Samsung's QLEDs can do it.
On an 8K TV, AI upscaling brings SD, HD and 4K footage close to native 8K content. Without this technology, 8K TVs would be completely irrelevant since there's no 8K content available through streaming, broadcast or on disk. We've seen the results and the sharpness is staggering. Since it's now in the 4K range, its 2019 sets could be the best way to watch SD and HD footage, both of which still make up a large portion of the TV that's available through Freeview.
You can learn more about 8K TVs, content and more in our 8K TV guide.
If you've long wished your TV would just blend in seamlessly with your living room decor, then ambient mode is for you.
When in ambient mode, your TV screen will copy the wall behind it - whether it's mounted or not - though the effect will be better if you have your TV on the wall. Wallpaper, brickwork, paint, wood - just about any surface can be displayed on the screen.
First, you take a picture of your wall and send that to your TV. The screen can then mimic your decor, adjusting to the pattern, colour and brightness. This technology, coupled with the new invisible connection and ever-shrinking bezels, means Samsung TVs can go unnoticed when they aren't turned on.
Alternatively, ambient mode can display news bulletins, the weather or your own photos.
Ambient mode is present on all 2019 QLED TVs.
Along with ambient mode, invisible connection is Samsung's way of making its TVs as inconspicuous as possible. None of the HDMI or USB ports are on the TV itself; instead, one thin clear wire connects the TV to a separate box housing the connections. This means you won't have any unsightly cables descending from your TV and you have greater freedom about where you put your connected devices.
In 2018, the invisible connection was on all QLEDs except the Q6FN and Q8DN, but in 2019 only the top two ranges, the Q900R and Q90R, have the invisible cable.
Full array and edge-LED backlights
All of Samsung's TVs, even the QLED sets, use LCD displays with lights behind or around them creating the image. A full-array backlight means the LEDs sit directly behind the screen. Since there are more LEDs in full-array backlights, the TV has more control over which areas of the screen are lit. This minimises colour bleeding onto darker areas of the screen.
Edge-LED backlights put the bulbs around the edge of the TV. This means there are fewer dimming zones and less control over what's lit on screen. Edge-LED TVs are more likely to suffer from halo effects where light bleeds from light images onto a darker background.
You'll find full-array backlights on all the QLED TVs except the Q60R range, which, along with the LCD lineup, has an edge-LED backlight.
While its competitors look to Dolby Vision for HDR, Samsung is putting its weight behind HDR10+. Samsung isn't alone though: Amazon Video, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Paramount and Warner Brothers are all planning to support HDR10+. You can learn more about high-dynamic range in our guide to HDR.
HDR10+ is built in to all the QLED and UHD TVs.
If you have a Galaxy smartphone then you'll be familiar with Bixby. Samsung's voice-assistant is now making the move to TVs, and it's built in to all the QLED TVs and the 8 Series. You'll be able to use Bixby to control your TV. Everything from searching for specific programs to opening apps can be done by speaking into the remote.
To activate the microphone you usually need to press a button on the remote, but in 2019 they will have far-field microphones similar to those found in Amazon Echos. These improved mics enable you to talk to the TV even when the remote isn't in your hand, or you've misplaced it.
It's more conversational now, too. Your first question could be asking to see what Star Wars films are available and you could then ask to watch the third one from the list and Bixby will understand that you're referring to the list drawn up by your first question. These contextual responses are important for assistants to be more useful.
Rather than fiddling with your new and still unfamiliar remote, you can use your smartphone to set up the TV instead. Downloading the SmartThings app lets you use your phone to input any details the TV needs, such as your email address and password, for your Samsung account.
With your permission, it will also copy over the password for your wi-fi and any apps you have on your phone that are also on the TV, so you don't need to enter the same information over and over for every app. This could be for Amazon Video, iPlayer, Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services.
We may not see one of these TVs hit the market until 2020, but Samsung isn't shy about talking about Micro LED technology at every tradeshow, so it's probably worth going over exactly what it is. It's Samsung's first true OLED competitor thanks to its self-emitting pixels that create their own light just like OLEDs do. This means a backlight isn't required to make a picture, allowing the TVs to be thinner.
Where Micro LEDs differ from OLEDs is the pixels. They are inorganic which means, unlike OLEDs, the pixels won't degrade over time. Samsung says this allows them to push the displays harder, creating brighter images than OLED.
Generally, TV screens are made of one sheet of glass with several layers underneath, but Micro LED screens are made of several smaller panels which can be arranged in different shapes and sizes. Samsung hasn't revealed every aspect of the TV yet, but it's possible that one day we could increase or decrease the size of our TV. Imagine moving house to somewhere with a bigger living room and rather than buying a whole new set, you could just add a few panels to it.
Ultra Viewing angle
Several Samsung TVs impressed us in 2018, but one issue plagued many of its sets, even some of our favourites. Too many of Samsung's TVs had poor viewing angles, which meant sitting off-centre led to washed out colours and grey contrast.
We're pleased to see Samsung address the problem with its 2019 range by adding Ultra Viewing angle technology. Changes have been made to the panels in its TV to avoid light leakage by concentrating the light and spreading it out more evenly.
The only drawback is that the technology will only feature in the QLED range and not all of them. Only the Q900R, Q90R, Q85R and Q80R, which means the Q70R and Q60R miss out.
All Samsung's TVs use backlights, but on a QLED TV, the bulbs illuminate quantum dots rather than liquid crystals. This technology is said produce more vibrant colours without compromising realism.
Samsung launched its first 8K TVs at the tail end of 2018 with a 65, 75 and 85-inch model. The smallest model started at £4,999, which is cheaper than many expected for such an advanced TV. At CES in January 2019, Samsung announced a new 98-inch version of the TV.
Making an 8K TV when there's no 8K content to watch on it seems like an odd choice, but this TV gets round that by 'upscaling' SD, HD and 4K content to somewhere close to 8K quality.
As well as the impressive AI upscaling, this TV has all Samsung's other QLED advancements, which includes ambient mode, the invisible connection, Q HDR, Q Contrast and Q Colour which makes up the Q picture engine. These advancements improve colour rendering and the number of colours the TV can draw from, and create better contrast to show more defined detail in dark and bright areas.
8K behemoths aside, the Q90R range is Samsung's top-tier offering for 2019. It's available in four sizes, 82, 75, 65 and 55 inches, and features much of the same technology that you'll find in the Q900R 8K sets.
All Samsung's QLEDs now share the same Quantum Processor that debuted in the Q900R. This intriguing little chip is what's responsible for upscaling any resolution content to somewhere approaching 8K. 8K is irrelevant for the 4K Q90R range, but the same technology should make SD and HD footage look almost as good as native 4K. That's the theory anyway and we hope our test labs finds it to be accurate.
Q90R TVs also benefit from Direct Full Array backlights, which should provide greater control than ever over what portions of the screen are lit. This will minimise light leaking from bright areas into darker ones and improve contrast. Samsung has adopted a tiered system for its backlights and the Q90R has the most advanced version with the most dimming zones. More zones means more control over specific areas.
Viewing angle shouldn't be an issue either with the improvements Samsung has made in the area. With the Ultra Viewing angle tech in tow, the picture shouldn't be compromised regardless of where you're sitting.
The Q90R range is one of only two that has a separate connections box that houses the HDMI and USB ports. This input hub is connected to the TV by one thin cable, which makes for a cleaner less cluttered look and more options for positioning your extra devices.
There's good consistency of features throughout the QLED range and the Q85R range can do most of what the Q90Rs can. They share the same Quantum Processor for superior upscaling from SD and HD to 4K, and they have the Ultra Viewing angle capabilities.
A Direct Full Array backlight creates the picture by illuminating quantum dots. It sits directly behind the screen and while it doesn't have as many dimming zones as the backlight on Q90R TVs, it should still provide impressive contrast and control over light bleeding from bright areas of the picture into dark ones.
Unfortunately, the Q85Rs don't have the separate connections box, but the cables can be hidden in small gullies that run through the plastic at the back of the TV and through the stand.
As will all QLEDs, these TVs will support Bixby and Ambient mode. You can read more about those in the technology section above.
The Q85R TVs will be available in 75, 65 and 55 inches.
The Q80R range is similar to the Q85R. The backlight has same number of dimming zones, and it supports the Ultra Viewing angle feature.
It's possible that only design will separate these ranges. Samsung tends to release some TVs with central stands and some with feet at either end of the screen. These different base designs could be all that separates the two ranges.
The Q80R TVs will be available in 75, 65 and 55 inches.
Though still part of the QLED lineup, the Q70R range misses out on several features found on the series above it.
But first, here's what they do have. The Quantum Processor is still present, so SD and HD content should look closer to 4K than any of Samsung's previous TVs have managed and it still has a Direct Full Array backlight. The number of dimming zones takes another dip, but the mere fact that it's full array is a good omen for the TVs in the Q70R range.
And now what it doesn't have. The Ultra Viewing Angle is out and there's no separate connections box for the HDMI and USB ports. The cables can be hidden in the stand, but in 2018 the equivalent Q7FN range had the separate box and it's a shame to see that it's now reserved for only the priciest 2019 QLEDs.
The Q70R TVs will be available in 82, 75, 65, 55 and 49 inches.
Perhaps the most interesting range of all the QLEDs is the Q60R. Samsung is calling it the 'affordable range' and it features a 43-inch model; the smallest QLED TV ever.
Some concessions have been made to make these TVs truly affordable, but they are still QLEDs with quantum dot screens and the Quantum Processor is built in, so we have high hopes for the picture quality.
Contrast and viewing angle may be worse however - there's no Direct Full Array backlight or Ultra Viewing Angle.
The Q60R range is available in the most sizes: 82, 75, 65, 55, 49 and 43 inches.
The remainder of Samsung's 2019 lineup are LCD TVs and as a result they don't use the Quantum Processor and you won't find Ultra Viewing Angle either.
Not being QLED hasn't held Samsung's cheaper ranges back in the past. We tested several LCD sets in 2018 that impressed us, but it's unrealistic to expect the 8 Series to look as good as the quantum dot-equipped TVs above it.
The 8 Series has a few features that don't trickle down to the other LCD ranges: Wide View Angle, which is fairly self-explanatory and Real Game Enhancer, which will reduce lag and introduce reactive sound when the TV is displaying video games.
As in 2018, all Samsung's 4K TVs will support HDR10+, the advanced format that can adjust contrast dynamically in an effort to stop HDR content looking overly dark or bright.
You'll be able to buy the 8 Series in 82, 75, 65, 55 or 49-inch sizes.
All the models in the 7 Series are 4K and support HDR10+, but there are some notable differences between them.
- RU7400 - exclusive to the RU7400 range is Dynamic Crystal Colour, which could make the image more vibrant or it could be marketing mumbo jumbo, plus Bixby voice control.
- RU7300 - this is Samsung's only new curved range for 2019. It doesn't support voice control and it doesn't have the minimalist One Remote that's light on buttons, but can control a range of other home entertainment devices beyond just the TV.
- RU7100 - the entry-level 4K range from Samsung is bound to be popular and its lack of features doesn't necessarily mean it will perform poorly in our tests.
The RU7400 range is available in 65, 55, 50 and 43-inch sizes. The curved RU7300 range is available in 65, 55 and 49 inches and the RU7100 has the broadest size offering of all, it's available in 75, 65, 58, 55, 50, 49, 43 and 40 inches.
The table below shows the key differences between each of Samsung's ranges. Or you can jump straight to the Samsung TV series you want to know more about.
The Q900R is a showpiece: a TV that's expensive and unattainable for many of us. Q900R aside, the Q9FN is Samsung's flagship range.
Sitting at the top of the range means Q9FN TVs are packed with all Samsung's latest screen technology that makes up the Q Picture engine. The new processor improves colour rendering as well as the number of colours the TV can draw from, and better contrast to show more defined detail in dark and bright areas.
Apart from the Q900R, the Q9FN range is the only one of Samsung 2018 series that benefits from a full-array backlight.
It also has ambient mode and uses the invisible connection to help it blend in with your living room. The Q9FN TVs will be available in 55, 65 and 75 inches.
Samsung is the last bastion for curved TVs and they make up the Q8CN range. There are only two sizes to choose from (55 and 65-inch).
They have the same Q Picture engine as the Q9FN range, so they benefit from the increased colour spectrum and contrast from Q HDR and Q Colour.
Unlike the Q9FN, the Q8CN series TVs have edge-LED backlights. This means the TVs can be thinner, but are unlikely to achieve the same level of contrast as TVs further up the range.
Another key difference is brightness. Q8CN TVs are 1,500 nits, 500 less than the Q9FN range. Nits are a measurement of how bright a TV screen can be, the higher the number the higher the maximum brightness.
Though not as bright as the top QLEDs, they will be as difficult to spot thanks to ambient mode and the invisible connection cable.
Is curved better than flatscreen? Read our review of the 55-inch Samsung QE55Q8CN to find out.
On paper, the 7 Series QLEDs look markedly similar to the curved 8 Series. Both have the same Q Picture engine, invisible connection and ambient mode as well as support for HDR 10+.
The obvious visual difference is that the Q7FN TVs, which are available with 55, 65 and 75-inch screens, aren't curved.
Samsung debuted its entry-level QLEDs at the end of 2017 with the QE55Q6F, and now it appears they will become a permanent fixture.
These are the cheapest QLEDs on offer, but they still benefit from most of the same technology that goes into the more expensive ranges. The Q Picture engine is built-in, as is HDR10+ support. The HDR will help with contrast, but these TVs won't have the Ultra Elite Black or Ultra Black technology that you'll find in other QLED sets. We'll know how big an impact this has on picture quality when we get the TVs in for testing.
These 6 Series QLEDs won't be quite as discreet as their 7, 8 and 9 Series counterparts. Ambient mode is there, but the invisible connection isn't. These TVs will use what Samsung is calling the clean cable solution instead. It's very similar to the invisible connection, but the cable is more, well, visible.
Not as discreet and not as bright either. The QF6N top out at 1,000 nits, which is still high. The Q6 TVs are available with 49, 55, 65, 75 and 82-inch displays.
The 8 Series isn't a QLED TV and doesn't have the Q Picture engine as a result. Instead it has the UHD picture engine, with dynamic crystal colour, which will produce richer more natural hue.
It's the only series outside of the QLED TVs to get HDR Elite. This technology should make blacks appear darker on screen with no loss of detail. As with all the QLEDs and the 7 Series Samsungs, the 8 Series TVs support HDR10+.
Unfortunately, only QLED TVs have ambient mode, but the 8 Series does have the clean cable solution, so there will be less clutter at the back of your TV.
There will be 49, 55, 65, 75 and 82-inch TVs in the 8 Series and a curved option available in 55 or 65 inches.
Unlike the other Samsung ranges, the 7 Series is split in half. TVs with a model number beginning NU74 have different features to those starting NU71.
The NU74 TVs keep the dynamic crystal colour found on the 8 Series TVs, but don't get HDR Elite. Don't worry though, the TVs do still support HDR10+ so you aren't missing out on those deeper blacks and brighter whites.
It's also the last of Samsung's 2018 TVs to get Bixby voice support.
The NU71 TVs are similar to the 74s, but you get PurColor rather than dynamic crystal colour and there's no Bixby voice support. The different colour technology could affect the accuracy of the picture and also the vibrancy of the colours, but it's also possible that it won't make much of a noticeable difference. We'll know for sure when we test the TVs.
Take a look at all our Samsung TV reviews to see how the 7 Series fared in our tests.
The 4 and 5 Series Samsung TVs are full-HD models. Unlike Sony's 1080p models, Samsung's do not have HDR support.
There's no clean cable solution either, so all the cables from your connected devices will go straight into the back of the TV.