Friday, March 15, 2019

Samsung Q8FN vs Q80R vs Q90R Review (QN75Q90RAFXZA vs QN75Q80RAFXZA vs QN75Q8FNBFXZA; QN65Q90RAFXZA vs QN65Q80RAFXZA vs QN65Q8FNBFXZA)

Comparison review of Samsung Q8FN vs Q80R vs Q90R in the 75-inch class (QN75Q8FNBFXZA vs QN75Q80RAFXZA vs QN75Q90RAFXZA), 65-inch class (QN65Q8FNBFXZA vs QN65Q80RAFXZA vs QN65Q90RAFXZA), and 55-inch class (QN55Q8FNBFXZA vs QN55Q80RAFXZA).

Since the Samsung Q90R, Q80R, and Q8FN all have a full-array backlight, they are differentiated mainly by the number of local dimming zones. The Q90R has 480 zones whereas the Q80R and Q8FN have significantly less: 96 zones on the Q80R, and 40 local dimming zones on the Q8FN (some screen sizes may have a different number of zones). The higher zone count on the Q90R vs Q80R and Q8FN means that individual zones on the Q90R are considerably smaller in size than on the Q80R, or especially Q8FN, thus the light control is more precise. The Q90R is therefore able to boost the luminance in highlights, and dim the backlight in shadows, even if the highlights and shadows are in close proximity in the same scene. The Q80R and Q8FN are also able to perform local dimming and boosting of the backlight, albeit in larger areas of the screen, so they have more limited capability to increase their dynamic range.

Despite the difference in the number of backlight zones used for both dimming and boosting on the Q8FN vs Q80R, the peak brightness in small specular highlights with HDR content is approximately 1,500cd/m2 on both the Q8FN and Q80R. The Q90R, on the other hand, has a Quantum HDR 16X index, so it is able to reach up to 2,000cd/m2 with HDR content. In comparison, the Q80R has a Quantum HDR 12X index. Nevertheless, all three Samsung QLED TVs are able to display HDR10 or HDR10+ content that is mastered to 1,000cd/m2 without any tone-mapping, so there is no compression of the dynamic range. Considering that the Q90R, Q80R, and Q8FN all have 100% DCI-P3 color volume, they are able to display HDR content mastered to 1,000cd/m2 with fully saturated colors, even in highlights. The Q90R, however, has an advantage over the Q80R and Q8FN when the HDR content is mastered to 4,000cd/m2 since its higher peak brightness reduces the amount of tone-mapping it needs to perform in comparison to the Q80R and Q8FN. The three Samsung QLED TVs also support HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) format of HDR content but are not compatible with Dolby Vision, though.

The Q80R and Q90R are equipped with the Ultra Viewing Angle technology whereas the Q8FN is not. This means that the former two Samsung QLED TVs are able to maintain their rich and vibrant colors (that quantum dots provide) even during off-axis viewing whereas the Q8FN, despite having the spectrum of its backlight optimized by quantum dots, is prone to losing color saturation if you watch it at an angle, which is a limitation of the VA (Vertical Alignment) type of panel that is used. Similarly, the Q8FN tends to exhibit a raise in otherwise deep black levels as you move from a central position to the sides. The Ultra Viewing Angle technology on the Q80R and Q90R, on the other hand, helps them maintain deep black levels in that scenario. The on-axis black level that the VA-panels on the Q80R and Q90R can reach unassisted by local dimming, however, is lower in comparison to the Q8FN because of the optical layer used for the Ultra Viewing Angles on the two 2019 Samsung QLED TVs. That being said, the local dimming system is more than capable (especially on the Q90R) to overcome the effects of the optical layer, meaning the Q80R and Q90R are able to match, and even surpass, the minimum luminance level on the Q8FN (due the last year's TV having less dimming zones). Considering all three Samsung QLED TVs utilize the Ultra Black technology, the ability to minimize reflections and prevent the image from appearing washed out under bright lights is comparable between the Q80R, Q90R and Q8FN. It should be said, though, that there is a difference in how reflections appear on the Q80R and Q90R in comparison to the Q8FN. The optical layer causes more diffuse (and therefore dimmer) reflections on the Q80R and Q90R whereas the Q8FN exhibits more concentrated (and therefore brighter) reflections.

The Q80R and Q90R have a new Quantum processor that relies on AI-generated algorithms for various tasks, such as optimizing the picture and sound based on the content and TV surrounding, which is done when the Intelligent Mode on the Q80R and Q90R is used. Since the Q8FN's Q Engine processor doesn't have machine learning capabilities or AI-generated algorithms, the Intelligent Mode is not present on the Q8FN, so this TV doesn't support the Adaptive Brightness, Adaptive Sound, or Adaptive Volume features that can be found on the Q80R and Q90R. The Adaptive Brightness and Adaptive Sound use information from different sensors (the ambient light sensor, and the microphone on the Smart Remote, respectively) to automatically adjust the brightness of the TV, and equalize the TV speakers so that both the picture and sound of the TV are optimized for the ambient light and acoustic characteristics of your room, as well as the type of content you're watching. The Adaptive Volume on the other hand is able to automatically raise or lower the volume up to 5 levels from your current setting when you open a specific app or change inputs but in order to work, a sufficient amount of historical data needs to be collected (from your manual volume settings).

Another advantage of the Quantum processor on the Q80R and Q90R is that it can provide optimizations to SDR content, such as for image depth and lighting, so having a dedicated SDR-to-HDR upconversion mode is not necessary, unlike on the Q8FN. The Quantum processor also uses AI-generated algorithms (automatically created after analysis of how different resolutions of the same content relate to one another) so that lower resolution signal can be upscaled to near 4K quality. The Q80R and Q90R rely on machine learning for improving the upscaling results over time whereas the Q8FN's Q Engine processor lacks that ability.

The Q8FN and Q80R have an identical on-board audio system configured in a 4.1 channels with a total audio power output of 40 Watts. The Q90R, on the other hand, adds a second subwoofer channel, so the bass is deeper. That being said, there aren't any additional channels for mid-range or high-frequency sounds, so the speaker configuration is 4.2 channel on the Q90R. However, the audio power output is increased in comparison to the Q8FN and Q80R to a total of 60 Watts.

Only the Q90R uses the One Connect Box for housing the connections whereas the Q80R and Q8FN place the ports on the back of the TV. As a result, the Q90R has a total of 3 USB ports while the Q80R and Q8FN have only 2 USB ports. There rest of the connections, however, are the same for all three Samsung QLED TVs since they all have 4 HDMI inputs, an Ethernet port, a Digital Optical Audio output, a RF input, and a RS-232C (Ex-Link). There are some bandwidth differences between the HDMI inputs on the Q8FN and Q80R vs one of the HDMI inputs (HDMI 4) on the Q90R's One Connect Box. While all HDMI ports on the Q80R and Q8FN, as well as the first three HDMI inputs on the Q90R support 4K signal @ 60Hz with 10-bit color depth, chroma subsampling (4:2:2 or 4:2:0) needs to be used. In contrast, the HDMI 4 input on the Q90R can pass-through full 4:4:4 chroma resolution with the 4K@60fps signal, and 10-bit color depth. In case of 12-bit color depth, however, neither HDMI input supports 4:4:4 chroma resolution, meaning the Q80R, Q90R and Q8FN are limited to either 4:2:0 or 4:2:2 (with 4K@60Hz). Only the HDMI 4 input on the Q90R supports 4K@120Hz with 10-bit color depth and 4:2:0 chroma subsampling whereas the Q8FN and Q80R don't support 4K@120Hz.

The Q80R retains the same color (carbon silver) used by its predecessor (the Q8FN) for both the bezels and the stand. Furthermore, both the Q8FN and Q80R provide toolless installation of the table top stand since the two feet have to simply be inserted into the dedicated openings on the TV. The form of the table top stand, however, is different on the Q8FN vs Q80R since on the former the two feet take the shape of the latter A (although the front and rear columns are not connected at the top) whereas on the Q80R they resemble an inverse T. The bezels and the stand on the Q90R are also carbon silver. The table top stand, however, is significantly different from the one used by either the Q80R or Q8FN because the Q90R uses a single, centrally mounted stand in the form of "Bending plate", as Samsung calls it. Unlike the Q80R and Q8FN, the Q90R is compatible with Studio and Gravity stands (sold separately), in addition to being No Gap and Mini Wall Mount ready (these also need to be purchased separately).

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