Hands on: Samsung Q6FN QLED TV (QN65Q6FN) review

A bargain price, but with bargain specs

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Our Early Verdict

Samsung's lower-end 2018 QLED brings HDR10+ streaming and 4K gaming but, from what we've seen so far, doesn't have the specs to fully unlock their beauty.

For

  • Adds HDR10+ and 4K gaming
  • Most affordable QLED TV
  • Ambient mode
  • Smart home UX looks seamless

Against

  • Edge LEDs mean poor contrast
  • Low-level brightness
  • Bad reflectivity at angles
  • More traditional design

Samsung’s 2018 lineup offers a wide range of specs, from its top-end Q9FN to the affordable Q6FN. But while there are a lot of options in this year's catalog, for readers weighing cutting-edge tech against limited budgets, the most tempting TV of the bunch is Samsung's Q6FN.

Sitting at the lowest end of the 2018 QLED TV family, the Q6FN doesn’t have the same processing power and beautiful contrast as its siblings. But it shares most of Samsung’s newest connected tech features, which will let you turn your TV into a voice-controlled smart home hub for all your appliances and devices. 

Read more: Samsung 970 Pro

It will fulfill all of your 4K, HDR10+ and full color volume needs, and sells in a wide range of sizes – but, to make them affordable, Samsung cut much of the processing power and color contrast that makes 4K content worth the trouble. 

Can Samsung’s bargain barrel QLED will fulfill your needs, or are you’re better off either upgrading to better specs or downgrading to Samsung’s more affordable, non-quantum UHD sets? Here are our thoughts on the matter.

Price and availability

The Q6FN comes in five sizes: 82-inch, 75-inch, 65-inch, 55-inch, and 49-inch. Samsung’s other QLEDs don’t come in 82” or 49”, so you get more versatility at this level – which, in turn, provides more affordability.

So far, Samsung has only put the 65” and 75” Q6s on sale. At 65”, you’re looking at $2,199 (about £1,600, AU$2,800), while the 75” sells for $3,499 (about £2,500, AU$4,300). We don’t know yet how the other three sizes will match up. 

For comparison, the Q6FNs immediate upgrade, the Q7FN, is priced at $2,599 (about £1,900, AU$3,300) for a 65”, while the 65” NU8000 (Samsung's new 4K UHD TV) is $1,699 (about £1,200, AU$2,200). 

Design

Because the Q6FN uses Samsung’s Quantum Dot technology, which transmits LED colors through nano-sized crystal semiconductor particles, it doesn’t suffer from burn-in – the defect most LED TVs suffer when their pixels emit the same pattern for too long (like a news logo) and become permanently tinted. 

Why does this matter to you? Because this enables what we think is Samsung’s most innovative use of QLED: Ambient mode. 

Take a picture of the wall behind your TV, and the Q6FN will project a pattern that matches the wall, making it blend in almost seamlessly. While in this mode, your TV will play music, display smartphone updates or enable photo collages, all of these appearing to sit on your wall instead of on a bright screen. 

One problem: the Q6FN and Q7FN both use bottom edge LED lighting instead of the direct backlight LEDs found in the elite models. Consequently, while the Q8FN and Q9FN have virtually no visible bezels on all four sides, the Q6’s bottom bezel juts out somewhat to accommodate the LEDs, which somewhat undermines its Ambient mode’s camouflage effect by comparison. 

Moreover, while the Q6FN sits on four legs and has a standard power cable, the Q7FN uses Samsung’s new One Mount system, which gives your TV interchangeable and easily removable stands, like an easel-like “Studio” stand and computer-like “Gravity” stand. And the Q7FN’s 15 meter-long “Invisible Connection” cord groups power, video and audio into one skinny line. Combined with the removable stand, the Q7FN is a better option if you want to mount your Ambient-enabled TV on a wall. 

Still, although it's not equipped with all the features of its siblings, quantum tech and Ambient mode helps the Q6FN make an indelible design impression compared to Samsung’s plain UHD TVs. Still, it’s a bit unfortunate that affordability means some design sacrifices compared to more advanced models. 

Performance

Samsung’s Q6F TV from last year made quantum TVs affordable, but its specs were definitely underwhelming. And from what we've seen so far, it looks like more of the same this year: The Q6FN doesn’t stack up to its siblings’ power, but it’s still a definite upgrade from last year’s discount model. 

The Q6FN upgrades from HDR compatibility to HDR10 and HDR10+ support, from 60 FPS to full 4K gaming support, and from an incomplete color range to 100% DCI-P3 color volume. It hits UHD resolution and supports SD-to-UHD upscaling. 

Against the Q9FN, Q8FN and Q7FN, however, the comparison is a lot less flattering. The top two models’ direct backlighting enables a much better color contrast and deeper blacks in specific screen zones than an edge LED model like Q6FN is capable of. 

All of the QLEDs last year had edge LEDs, and even the high-end Q9F couldn’t compensate for the problem with a powerful processor. Our reviewers noticed that they tended to cause backlight clouding and gray banding whenever watching content in the dark.

We also noticed that QLEDs tended to have problems with color contrast and deep blacks when watching them at odd angles. Samsung solved this problem by adding anti-reflective screens to every 2018 TV ... except the Q6FN. And where the other sets have local dimming for HDR10+ content, the Q6FN’s less specialized dimming tech is geared towards UHD content. 

So while this year’s set is innovative in terms of adding support for higher-end content, it also spins its wheels in relation to the other QLEDs making huge strides in performance and design. 

When we observed the Q6FN in action, we could see a definite drop in quality compared to the power of the other sets. This is partly because its brightness only hits 1000 nits, well below the Q9FN’s 2000 and the Q8FN and Q7FN’s 1500 nits of peak brightness. 

But the dimmer backlight didn't ruin the experience entirely: the colors and fast-moving action on display still looked impressive. Due to the reduced brightness, the diminishing returns on deep blacks and color contrast just wasn’t that noticeable. It’s only when stacked against Samsung's brighter sets, where dull colors would be more conspicuous, that the improved specs truly stood out. They’d likely be wasted on 1000 nits, and would make the Q6FN less affordable. 

Features

Thankfully, while Samsung skimped on the hardware, the company has made pretty much all of its newest software and interface features available on all of its 2018 sets, so don't worry too much if you're still leaning toward spending less. 

That upgraded experience starts right when you open the TV box, so long as you have their new SmartThings app installed for Android or iOS. When you turn the TV on, it automatically pairs with the app, which will then log the TV into your Wi-Fi network without you having to type out your password. 

Then, it’ll troll your phone apps and highlight any that are available on the Q6FN; choose to download Hulu, for example, and it’ll import your username and password and instantly log you into the TV app. In theory, you’ll have your TV all set up with all your favorite streaming options in minutes. 

But Samsung doesn’t want you to have to enter each app to search for content. Instead, they’ve added Universal Guide, which curates both your live and on-demand content into simple categories like Comedy or Sports. So your new episodes of Game of Thrones from HBO GO and Stranger Things from Netflix could sit side-by-side in one Sci-Fi/Fantasy category. 

On top of universal search and Samsung SmartThings support, Samsung has also added Bixby voice assistant functionality as well. While last year’s Samsung QLEDs had simple voice commands that only controlled your TV set you’ll be able to answer phone calls or check on the status of integrated devices in Ambient (or live TV) mode. It's a neat future that helps a cheaper TV feel a bit more premium.

Early verdict

You’re getting what you pay for with the Q6FN: a 4K HDR10+ enabled TV set, but one that doesn’t have the power to make HDR10+ content pop, or the versatile design you'll find on the other members of the QLED family. 

Still, we’re very optimistic about how Samsung’s new features will make its TVs a hub for your smart tech and various streaming apps. Sure, you’ll find all of those features on Samsung’s cheaper UHDs, but they don’t support Ambient mode or full color volume. 

Overall, we liked what we saw from the Q6FN. It's QLED at an economy price, and honestly many readers may not feel the need to pay hundreds or thousands more for better brightness and contrast. We're impressed with Samsung's base model, however, it's definitely worth checking out the mid-range Q7FN before going all in on Samsung's most affordable (and least powerfully spec'd) QLED TV.

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.