How to buy the best TV
How to buy the best Samsung TV
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Samsung is a dominant force in TVs, and its range of LCD and QLED sets command attention with cutting-edge technology and intriguing designs. We take a look at what its latest ranges have to offer, to help you decide which set to buy.
CES 2020 was a big one for Samsung. It announced a slew of 8K and a few 4K sets: some with the ability to rotate, some with a virtually non-existent bezel, and some were modular.
The biggest tech trade show in the world is all about demonstrating the latest technology and less about showing off the TVs that most people end up buying. We'll learn more about the cheaper 4K ranges Samsung is due to release as the year goes on and we'll update this page as soon as we hear anything.
Samsung is a household name and its TVs are some of the most popular in the world. It releases new models every year, from the 4K 7 and 8 Series LCD TVs to the high-end QLED sets.
New TVs mean 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 2019, some of which are still available and are cheaper than they've ever been.
In this guide:
Best Samsung TVs
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 now 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 disc. We've seen the results, and the sharpness is staggering. Since it's now also 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 proportion 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 or not the TV is mounted - although 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 transparent 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 lights 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 HDR TV guide.
HDR10+ is built into 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 into 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. 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 repeatedly for each app. This could be for Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services.
We may not see one of these TVs hit the market in 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 that 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.
All Samsung's TVs use backlights, but on a QLED TV the bulbs illuminate quantum dots rather than liquid crystals. This technology is said to produce more vibrant colours without compromising realism.
Samsung's current announcements have only scratched the surface of its entire range, but we'll continue to add information to the table as it becomes available. Jump straight to the Samsung TV series you want to know more about.
The bezel is the enemy. Whatever the colour, finish or material, the rectangle that frames a TV screen is something all TV manufacturers would like to see the back of. The Samsung Q950TS comes closer than any other TV to managing it. The bezel is there, but it's tiny. Most of what you're seeing is screen: it makes up more than 99% of the front of the TV. Samsung calls it the 'Infinity display' and it's not far wrong.
The sheet of glass between that tiny bezel is 8K, which presents a few problems. Firstly, it means the Q950TS range is likely to be pricey, and secondly, there just isn't any 8K content to watch. Samsung can justify releasing an 8K TV thanks to the smarts of its AI quantum processor. It boosts just about every aspect of the TV from picture to smart features. Upscaling is perhaps its most important job. It pushes the quality of anything below 8K, which is pretty much everything, to pristine and true-to-life 8K resolution, according to Samsung.
If this upscaling works well then this TV could be a success. If it doesn't then you're paying a premium for a screen that can display something that doesn't exist; 8K broadcasts and streaming are still years away.
Most TVs have sensors that can adjust the brightness of the TV based on the level of ambient light in the room, but the new Adaptive Picture tech in the Q950TS goes further. It accounts for light levels in the scene being displayed to tweak the picture while keeping the contrast rich.
Speakers ring the almost bezel-free display and work in harmony with Object Tracking Sound+ to match the movements of objects on screen. Sound should be more positional as a result and better able to create the surround-sound effect many TVs promise, but few deliver.
Just as the screen adjusts to the light in your room, the speakers adjust to the sound. It will listen for distracting ambient noise, such as vacuum cleaners, and improve the vocal clarity to compensate.
We don't what sizes the Q950TS will be available in, but if its predecessor, the Q950R is anything to go by then the smallest model will be 65 inches.
The Sero is something we never expected, and we're not entirely sure if it's necessary. The Sero can rotate to display in landscape or portrait, just like a smartphone. In fact, that's who it's aimed at: people who want to display their phone screen on a TV and not have the black borders around it. Usually that's what you get because a phone screen isn't a natural fit for the 16:9 aspect ratio of a TV.
It’s a traditional TV too, of course, with tuners, HDMI inputs and everything else you would expect from a high-end QLED. It will be available in South Korea first of all, but Samsung has promised a wider release later in 2020.
It started with The Wall back in 2017, a megalithic TV that was made up of many smaller ones. It was impossible to see the joins, and tough to see how it would be implemented beyond corporate use, but there's more to the MicroLED TVs, which are due to go on sale for home use in 2020.
MicroLED is an entirely new type of screen that has more in common with OLED displays than the LCD and QLED ones Samsung usually makes. The millions of tiny bulbs that make up the display produce colour and light, so there's no need for a backlight. This means the MicroLED TVs are thinner than LCD and QLED ones. They should have more contrast control and Samsung claims that the peak brightness is an astonishing 5,000 nits. Most TVs manage less than 1,000.
5,000 nits is dazzlingly bright, but we're unlikely to see much content that can take advantage of it just yet. The modular screens will be available in sizes starting at 75 inches, and the 88 and 150-inch models will have almost bezel-free 'Infinity display'. It's not yet clear how this display works with the modular nature that allows people to add additional display modules to their TV.
The table below shows the key differences between each of Samsung's ranges launched last year. Or you can jump straight to the Samsung TV series you want to know more about.
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 was 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.
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.
Head to our Samsung TV reviews to see how this flagship range fared.
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. Find out if these mid-range QLEDs are the best option and compare models with our Samsung TV reviews.
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.
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 were 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. 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.
All Samsung's 4K TVs support HDR10+, the advanced format that can adjust contrast dynamically in an effort to stop HDR content looking overly dark or bright.
You can buy the 8 Series in 82, 75, 65, 55 or 49-inch sizes. See how Samsung top of the line LCD range fared in our Samsung TV reviews.
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.