Just in time for the World Cup, my review loan of Samsung’s top-flight telly arrived.
The Samsung QLED tech is all set to challenge OLED. But, does LCD still have the chops to take on the latest thing? Only one way to find out.
We have been loaned a Samsung QE55Q7F to see how it performs.
Samsung QE55Q7F design
The back of the set is plastic but it is of great quality and solid.
Keeping everything neat around the rear is a single cable that runs from a separate box that contains most of the tech and connection ports. That single cable can be run up the central post of the stand, behind a plastic cover. Very neat.
You get four HDMIs (all 4K and HDR compatible), a trio of USB ports, a couple of aerial connections for satellite or Freeview, optical out and Ethernet.
The One Connect cable is also plenty long enough to run away from your slinky set too. Furthermore, it is practically invisible at just 2mm thick.
It is all a very beautiful sliver of tech.
Samsung QE55Q7F performance
Let me kick things off here with a quick explanation regarding QLED. Samsung says that they manage to get a greater range of colour, brightness, contrast and improved viewing angles using this new tech. Samsung’s QLED is their latest evolution of Quantum-Dot technology. The practical side of this is that the company wraps its Quantum Dots in a metal alloy. This enables the dots to be placed closer to the front as well as be pushed harder to get the improved output.
As mentioned earlier, this is not OLED as Samsung’s QLED still uses LED LCD panels. It is, however, an edge-lit TV and boasts a peak brightness of 1500 nits.
Obviously, it has 4K UHD resolution and 10-bit colour compatibility. This translates to over a billion shades. It can handle high dynamic range in HDR10 and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). However, there’s no support for Dolby Vision,. That said, Samsung has been working on its own metadata-friendly alternative, called HDR10+.
Last but not least, there’s no 3D. Like nearly all the other TV manufacturers, Samsung has decided it’s dead. I think I’ve used the 3D glasses with my Panasonic twice, and one of those were to review it.
Samsung QE55Q7F picture quality
When it comes to picture quality, the Samsung Q7 matches how good it looks from a design point-of-view with how good it performs.
Both brightness and colour are outstanding. Thanks to that 1500 nits, picture details is still great even in light. That, along with the pin-sharp 4K makes for very enjoyable viewing.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi had many vibrant moments to show off the Q7’s colour-handling. What was particularly remarkable was scenes on Crait where the salty white layer of the planet’s surface gives way to a ruby-red. What could have been a featureless white expanse before being disturbed to reveal the red underneath, instead had texture and realism. The various degrees of white and the brightness of the panel really made this shine. But it isn’t only about vibrance, there is also a great deal of subtlety. Additionally, skin tones were presented more naturally than on some sets, even OLED, that I have previously encountered.
Moving to Blade Runner 2049 I wanted to see how the Samsung handled darker scenes. Again, no need to worry here as the contrast is as impressive as its brightness and colour. The blacks sumptuously deep. Is it as good as OLED? Not quite. I still feel OLED has the lead on shadowy details but the Q7 is still darned impressive.
I was also impressed by the motion of the Samsung Q7. Whether it was space-based dogfights or a World Cup game, there were little evidence of artefacts and trails.
Testing the Samsung Q7 with some HD DVD and Blu-Rays the 1080p content is upscaled with minimal noise. Older, standard-definition content does start to get a little blurrier, but not too soft so as not to be still watchable.
Finally, viewing angles. In my small room there are limited options to see the TV, so I’m fine. However, when moving around I did notice that the contrast is mildly affected at more obtuse angles. Also, the Eco setting uses the ambient light sensor can mess with the image if you watch telly with the curtains open. The changeable British weather with its spots of cloud, sun, cloud, rain, sun, can make for annoying watching as the sensor continuously tweaks the picture brightness in order to compensate. This meant that I turned the Eco settings off.
Samsung QE55Q7F audio quality
Before hooking up my soundbar and sub, I was interested to hear how poor the speakers in the Q7 were. However, this truly surprised me. Audio from the TV was pretty good, to be honest. Granted, for movies you still need some extra weight, but for day-to-day viewing, sound is impressive. There’s decent tonal balance and voices are clear with decent presence. Also, soundtracks maintain most of their dynamism.
Samsung QE55Q7F user interface
The speed and responsiveness of the smart hub launcher bar is pretty good. This makes navigation slick and quick. The app tiles offer up your most recently viewed programmes, which is also a handy shortcut.
Additionally, you get the 4K and HDR versions of Netflix and Amazon Video, too. Also linked are Google Play Movies and YouTube, plus BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. As I was using this with my TV box too, the lack of All 4 and Demand 5 and other catch-up services posed no real problem.
For me, voice control on televisions is still a bit gimmicky. I can’t explain why this is, as I use Alexa daily for other voice-controlled duties. But, as I am reviewing the telly, then I did try out this option. I am pleased to say that it works pretty well and enables you to change the brightness or inputs, etc.
Lastly, ditching the black rectangle in the room. The Q7 offers some natty stand-by screens that display lovely vistas or arty backgrounds along with the time, date, weather and such. This was another one of those things that I didn’t think I’d use but actually did. I also liked the ambient sounds that were also on offer. Coming into the living-room on a morning to the soft sound of twittering birds and a calming image on the screen was quite nice.
Samsung QE55Q7F review conclusion
The Samsung Q7 is truly impressive. It is also good to have such an excellent alternative to OLED too. Brightness and colour are outstanding, with top-notch blacks and motion handling. Audio output is surprisingly good too!
True, if your viewing is mostly night scenes or sci-fi and you value black uniformity and shadow detail over all else then, just as Plasma was king for that, OLED now wears the crown.
For me though, with its design and performance, the Q7 will be hard to beat at this price.
Price and availability
You can buy the 55-inch Samsung Q7F television right now for £1,999.
For more information and to buy direct online go to Samsung.com/uk.