Hands on: Samsung 75-inch Q60R 4K HDR TV review

Giant QLED TV on a budget

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

Offering deep, wide colour gamut hues, and an advanced AI-based image processor, Samsung’s slimline style icon is a tempting challenger for the mid-range TV throne.

For

  • Huge screen size choice, slimline design
  • Outstanding colour vibrancy
  • AI-based Quantum 4k image processor
  • Apple iTunes Movies and TV Shows app

Against

  • No Dolby Vision HDR
  • No Freeview Play
  • Audio reservations

The Q60R is Samsung’s entry-level QLED flatscreen for 2019. It’s positioned below the Q70R, Q80R, Q85R and flagship Q950R, and for many will be the most accessible ‘premium’ screen from the brand this year. A combination of style and mid-range low cost is certain to make this a hot model in the Samsung line-up. It’s also the model most likely to find itself subject to sales promotions, which will make it of particular interest to canny buyers over the coming months.

We had an opportunity to take a closer look at the Q60R, during the brand’s European trade Forum, held in Porto Portugal. Like all such showcases, we couldn’t investigate the telly at a granular level, but a close inspection gave us an indication of its strengths and weaknesses.

Price and availability

The Samsung Q60R will be available in 43-, 49-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 82- inch screen sizes, and will hit stores in March.

Right now there's no pricing information to share, but this will be the entry level line up for Samsung's QLED range in 2019, so should be a little easier on your wallet.

Corner cutting?

The first point to note is that the Q60R is fundamentally different from its more expensive stablemates. Sure it uses the same quantum dot panel technology, semiconductor nanocrystals doped in metal to offer high brightness and a wide color gamut, but it’s not a direct LED backlit model. Instead it uses conventional (and cheaper) edge lighting.

This means that it can’t handle HDR highlights with the same precision, nor deliver images of comparable brightness. But, and it’s a significant but, it equally isn’t saddled with the same girth as those FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) models either.

On the evidence of its Forum showing, it’s not short on dazzle or sparkle either. 

Design and image quality

When it comes to design, the Q60R has a fashionably thin bezel, with clever cable management to the rear. The feet are distanced left and right, so you’ll need wide AV furniture if you’re not wall-mounting.

The Q60R is available in the widest range of screen sizes. You can pick one up in 43-, 49-, 55-, 65-, 75- and 82- inch screen sizes. That should cover most bases. At the Forum, we took a gander at the 65- and 75-inch models. The latter is the hot new size being promoted by Samsung this year, and in terms of sheer impact and emotional engagement, it takes some beating.

Key to the Q60R’s performance is Samsung’s new Quantum 4k processor. This image chip uses AI (artificial intelligence) algorithms to process images, with the promise of greater picture clarity and more accurate colour rendering. It’s a spin-off from the Machine Learning Super Resolution (MLSR) image processing developed for its 8k panels. 

The Quantum processor will upscale any source, from SD TV to streaming YouTube videos, to 2160p, using tricks like detail creation and edge restoration.

Demo footage, designed specifically to pop, showcased the set’s color and contrast. Despite the lack of direct backlighting, it displayed a good deal of high impact contrast, although screen uniformity may be an issue on the larger models. Something to look out for…

Amid the usual slow moving reference footage, Samsung offered up some footie action, which allowed us to gain a brief look at the screen’s motion handling. 

We did note some motion blur on an 82-inch Q60R, but given that we didn't have access to the mode in play, this observation is passed on without extra comment.

HDR support covers regular HDR, HLG and HDR10+, the open standard dynamic metadata rival to Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision itself isn’t supported, as Samsung continues to dig its heels in regarding the technology. With Dolby Vision in widespread use, on Netflix, Apple TV and UHD Blu-ray, you can’t help feel the brand is cutting off its nose to spite its face. 

Samsung groups these various HDR formats under the umbrella Quantum HDR. ‘Quantum’, it seems, is its buzzword for 2019.

One feature the model lacks is the brand’s new Ultra Viewing Angle technology. It didn't look too bad off-axis at the Porto preview, but best plan to view it mainly square on if you want to preserve color intensity and contrast.

Smart features and audio

The set boasts Samsung’s Tizen smart OS, albeit with a surprise of two. In addition to the usual collection of OTT services (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video) and Catch-up (BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub etc), there’s an Apple iTunes Movies and TV Shows app. Exclusive (for now) to Samsung, this allows iTunes users to access their content library directly from the TV, with no additional set top box required.

The TV will also support Apple Airplay 2, which should simplify the playback of content from any fruit-based device.

Search has also been enhanced. The Q60R employs Samsung’s Bixby platform, allowing users to search for content by voice commands, and navigate the brand’s Universal Guide, which curates content based on viewing preferences. 

If you need more, there’s the brand’s Ambient Mode, which can help the set blend chameleon-like into its surrounding environment, as well as display fine art (you’ll need to subscribe to access the full catalogue), news and weather, when in Stand-by.

It wasn’t possible to assess the set’s audio performance at the Forum, but given the slim-line cabinet design, we wouldn’t expect anything too special. Luckily Samsung has a variety of soundbars to enhance the listening experience. The obvious best match would be the Dolby Atmos enabled HW-Q70.

Early verdict

The Q60R combines a stylish, thin design with a host a class-leading smart features, and a powerful image processing solution. It may lack a fancy FALD backlight, but at least on this outing doesn’t short-change when it comes to clarity and color pop.

With a low input lag, said to be around 15ms, allied to a new Game Enhancer feature, it could be an excellent option for gamers. The set has a Dynamic Black Enhancer to raise the brightness of dark areas without compromising the overall picture level, to better spot nasties hidden in the gloom.

If you fancy upgrading from a smaller set to a 75-incher, or even 82-incher, then the Q60R is shaping up to be a delicious temptation come March.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.