The QLED series from Samsung builds on the Premium UHD line MU9000 series by adding a wider color gamut via Quantum Dot film. It has excellent black levels and contrast and will capture the intended increased brightness and color of HDR content. The review covers both the flat and curved versions, which are identical except for the curved screen.
What is QLED? Differences with OLED
This new Quantum Dot technology from Samsung makes a play on the OLED lettering but without the OLED technology. OLED and QLED may seem similar as acronyms, but are as different of TV technologies and LCD vs. plasma.
QLED (quantum light emitting diode) is a souped up LCD (liquid crystal display) with LED backlighting and a Quantum Dot QDEF layer between the LCD panel and the LED backlighting. OLED TV technology is lit by the organic light emitting diodes themselves rather than by a backlight and employs no LCD panel. It’s actually more similar to plasma TV technology in this way.
The difference this year in Samsung’s QLED offering and last year’s Nano Crystal technology is improvements in the QDEF layer or quantum dot layer whichever you want to call it. The quantum dot layer is a stack of ultra thin film located between the LCDs (liquid crystals) and the front protective glass or plexi layer.
Samsung has added a metal alloy element to the quantum dot layer that enhances brightness luminance up to 1500 to 2000 nits. Samsung has done this without destroying color volume – or the ability to deliver accurate color at very bright levels. Indeed, tests of the Q7 show that they succeeded in this endeavor. Samsung’s QLED TVs can also read the interior ambient room light conditions and change the brightness needs of the TV to optimize viewing. Think dark room/light room. While adjusting brightness for room light levels technology has been around for a couple of years, this Q7 may do it best.
- Contrast and Black Levels are excellent for an LED TV
- Best in class color performance
- Black Uniformity (no light coming through at corners)
- Dark Shadow Detail
- Brighter than MU9000 due to Quantum layer
- Clarity and depth from Ultra Clear panel
- Strong LED edge lighting produces top notch light flow-through for dynamic images
- HD programming upconversion looks great in 4K
- Very low input lag in Game mode
- Excellent at handling fast motion
- Quad Core core processor makes the Smart Hub run very smooth and fast
- Tizen OS Smart TV is fast, easy to use, has essential Apps
- Appearance of the TV is great from any angle
- Smart remote voice function works well to speed browsing or searching
- Great anti-screen glare properties
- Side angle viewing angle contrast and saturation loss
- AutoMotion Plus really highlights unnatural effects to 2D shows and movies
- Not as bright as some other HDR compatible TVs
- Local Dimming from edge lit LEDs not very effective
Picture Quality Rating: 93/100
Local Dimming (Precision Black) Performance
Samsung’s term for the (“local”) dimming feature in the Q7 series is Precision Black. Local dimming can offer some increased precision regarding contrast, color, and detail levels needed for each part of the screen to coordinate and excellent overall image. Since the dimming mechanism (LED lights) on the Q7 is from the edges, we cant really call it true local dimming – a term that describes a TVs ability to brighten or darken specific areas of the screen independently from one another.
This feature is effectively supposed to increase contrast in various areas of the picture. In the Q7, it at times darkens the screen a lot, especially on the higher settings. Unfortunately, the edge lit LED backlight is a major hindrance to good local dimming. Edge Lit dimming has never been one of the best features to me. I like the full boat, full-array micro dimming much better which has a major impact on contrast. The manipulation of the edge lighting as in the Q7 to my eyes only marginally impacts contrast in the picture and is not much of an improvement. I recommend tuning the setting to low for this feature.
The big focus TV feature for 2017/2018 is again HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, especially outside sunlight effects, or a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. This picture quality improvement varies quite a lot with the HDR content being viewed. The Q7 tests excellent in accuracy with HDR content. It has a wide color gamut and captures even the smallest nuances in color. It gets and A in this area.
Side Angle Viewing
From off center the Q7 has the normal problems associated with LED backlit, LCD TVs despite Samsung’s all out efforts to improve it. Black levels fade as does color saturation. The Q7 panel’s beautiful picture presentation loses some of it’s luster.
Digital Clean View Feature/Upscaling HD and Standard Def Content
Ever wonder if the picture quality is better on a 4K UHD TV with a standard definition or HD signal pumped into it? The answer is yes ONLY if the TV has a stellar upscaling and conversion technology built in. The Q7’s new UHD remastering engine does a phenomenal job upscaling standard definition and lower resolution content. It analyzes the incoming signal, applies video noise reduction techniques, and scales up the lower resolution signal. Lastly, it enhances the detail which may be the most important bit. Anyway, the end result is that yes, you get a much better picture. I would place the Q7 as good as any TV we have tested in this area. This is one of the big differences of the very top end TVs. Better processing produces a great picture quality even with streaming video signals. Digital Clean View is a feature that works well to clean up image edges and create a sharper looking picture from poorer resolution content source. You can turn the feature off for good HD or 4K content.
Motion Rate 240/ Fast Motion/Gaming
This figure represents an enhanced Hz rate for the 120Hz panel. By manipulating the powerful LEDs Samsung is able to produce an “effectively” faster refresh rate. The input lag is excellent at around 20ms when the TV is in Game Mode. The Q7 does a great job with fast motion images on screen. This TV is great for sports and gaming and also has no image retention issues for gamers.
Picture Calibration and Settings
The Samsung Q7 comes with 5 preset picture modes which are Movie, Natural, Standard, Vivid, and then the separate Game mode. Obviously, Game mode is your choice to cut down on input lag from games.
Quick Picture Calibration Settings
Quick Calibration: The following settings are for a medium to dark room light. Since calibrations can vary among different TVs even from the same model number, we no longer post the advanced 10 point White balance calibration settings. However, TV manufacturers have improved at providing a preset picture setting that is pretty close to D65 out of the box. The settings below will get you close. Try the Warm 2 setting and for a couple days to get used to it. If after a couple days picture images still seems to warm (reddish tones), change it to the Warm 1 mode. Also, if you are viewing in a brighter room environment, you may prefer the Warm 1 mode.
|Picture Mode: Movie|
|Digital Clean View||Off||Gamma||0|
|AutoMotion Plus||Off||RGB Only||Off|
|Film Mode||Off||Color Space||Auto|
|HDMI Color||MPEG Noise Filter||Off|
|HDMI Black Level||Normal||Film Mode||Off|
|Dynamic Contrast||Off||Smart LED||On|
|Color Tone||Warm 2|
Auto Motion Plus – Know When to Use this Feature
The Auto Motion Plus feature is something that comes as a blessing and a curse. By default it is set to On in all of the preset picture setting modes. You will likely want to turn it off for streaming content, DVDs, Blu-rays, and TV shows. The feature gives you a dreadful “Telenovela Effect”, making images look unrealistic by eliminating too much natural background blur. Turn it off in the Expert Settings menu and everything will be fine again. You’ll immediately see judder when you disable it, but your eyes will adjust momentarily. The features does not hurt good quality live sports programming so you may want to use it there. Another experiment you may want to try is using it with poor quality DVDs. It can help the viewing experience there, bringing these old movies to life. Just be familiar with how to s and it won’t be a problem.
Another possibly acceptable setting is enabling the feature using the Custom setting and using a low value on the De-Blur portion of the setting.
(Note: to get to the setting click on Menu, swipe across to Picture, Scroll down to Expert Settings and scroll down to AutoMotion Plus.)
Features Rating: 90/100
Tizen Operating Smart TV
This Samsung developed system is included only on Premium UHDs and up and is much faster and more responsive than previous Samsung Smart TV/Smart Hub menu systems. It’s instantaneous response time operation impressed me. Aside from the increased speed it remembers where users are in a program rather than having to fast forward from the beginning like last years models. The Smart Hub menu has also been revamped and upgraded for easier organization of your favorite Program and Apps options. Overall, the Tizen system is pretty strong but not as smooth or interface friendly as the Android TV system included on Sony and Sharp’s best models. The Android system also has a little better offerings.
The included black touchpad Remote Control is light, and easy to operate whizzing around the Tizen Smart Hub menu system. The voice command feature on the remote works well.
Speakers have total 40 watts of audio output, 10w from each speaker and 10w each from 2 subs. In a very large room you might find the 65” model lacking. But the subs do help lay off some of the tininess, and present more full sound. With a TV this nice looking you hate to have to add a bulky unattractive soundbar especially in a modern or minimalist setting, so a decent inbuilt speaker system is necessary. Sound Quality is very average, lacking lustre.
Appearance and Design
The Q7 is a gorgeous TV with almost no bezel frame, silver sides and stand, and a cavity to run your cable through in the back of the stand. Looks great from any angle.
Value Rating 83/100
QN75Q7F – $5999
QN65Q7F – $3999
QN55Q7F – $2799
QN65Q7C (Curved version) – $4299
The Q7 is designed to compete with OLED TVs from LG and Sony for this year. It does a reasonably good job in some areas like upscaling of lower resolution signals, black levels, contrast, color accuracy with HDR, and appearance. Is it better than the OLED TVs? No, but it depends on what you want the most in a TV. It’s a premium model with a premium look and feel and price. It’s not a value hunter’s dream. It’s great for sports and gaming programming as well as movies.
Over Rating 88/100
- Backlight: Edge Lit LED
- QLED by Samsung
- Smart Functionality: Yes – Built in Wi-Fi
- Inputs: 4 HDMI, 3 USB
- Native Refresh Rate 120Hz (240 Motion Rate)
- HEVC for watching streamed 4K content from sources like Netflix® and Amazon Instant Video (requires Internet speed of at least 20Mbps)
- Quad Core Processor
- HDR 1000 (UHD Alliance)
- 4K UHD Certified
- Triple Black Drive
- Full Web Browser (of marginal utility)
- Audio Output 40W 20W X 2 Speakers,
- Smart Remote
- Tizen Operating System
- Dimensions: 55” Size
- 48.4″ x 28″ x 1.8″ without stand
- 48.2 x 31 x 11.2 with stand
- QN65Q7F 57″ x 32.9″ x 1.9″ without stand
- QN65Q7F 56.9 x 36.1 x 13.9 with stand