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Hands on: Samsung Q95T 4K QLED TV hands-on review

Top of the range 4K screen makes a great first impression

What is a hands on review?
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

Smart new features go hand-in-hand with superb image quality.

For

  • Clever audio features
  • Great image
  • Easy to share mobile content

Against

  • Volume boosting feature could be expanded

Last year’s Samsung Q85 QLED 4K TV line-up was a great progression for the company’s near top-end Ultra HD range. Though it was expensive, it earned its price tag through a comprehensive smart TV interface, a great viewing angle and fantastically good HDR picture quality.

Set to be super-ceded this year by the Samsung Q95T, a few new tweaks to the display tech and smart sound improvements look set to make for an even better screen overall.

(Image credit: Future)

Price and availability

Samsung has yet to offer a price point for the Samsung Q95T models, but they’re set to release in the first half of 2020, in sizes ranging from 43 to 85-inches. For the sake of comparison, last year’s Europe-only screens topped out at £3,000 – about $3,900 / AU$5,800.

(Image credit: Future)

Design

It’s the top-dog of Samsung’s 4K QLED range, and it shows. With a near-bezelless display, the Q95T is imposingly sharp.Whether you’ve got the 85, 75, 65 or 55-inch design, you’re getting a centrally-mounted stand, sat like a foot dead center of the screen. It’s been designed to accommodate the latest range of Samsung soundbars, which will ship with optional feet that raises them just a touch above the foot so that they don’t rattle around on top.

(Image credit: Future)

Incredibly thin, the Q95T is also making use of Samsung’s nifty One Connect box – a breakaway element that houses all audio, power and HDMI ports, connecting to the panel with a single cable for a “no gap” wall mount. It also gives easier access to the ports than having to go around the back of the screen. Note that there will also be a near-identical Q90T set – the only difference is that it will not off the One Connect box, and will be slightly thicker towards the bottom to accommodate the built-in connections. It’s more intended for the custom install market.

Samsung’s Quantum Processor 4K powers the show, giving it smart upscaling capabilities and a swiftly-performing user interface and smart home connectivity that now includes Alexa and Google Assistant voice control. The Universal Guide smart interface has also got an upgrade – the home of all your catch up and TV services, it’ll now (in the UK at least) aggregate content from the likes of Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer all in one place, rather than make you have to jump between different catch up services. 

(Image credit: Future)

Features

Before we get to picture quality, the new QLED TV models are packed with new features, and the Q95T is the most feature-rich of all the new 4K models.

Let's start with audio. The new screen makes use of “Object Tracking Sound”, or OTS. A real-time algorithm, it analyses motion and events onscreen and uses that to interpret where to place sound coming from speakers built into the sides, top and front of the TV. If you’ve got one of Samsung’s compatible soundbars, you can beef this effect up even further with a new feature called Q-Symphony. This makes the built-in TV speakers run seamlessly alongside the output of the soundbar to give even more directional oomph to the audio. A demo we witnessed, showing a speedboat circling a bay, proved very convincing, especially considering it’s being generated on the fly, rather than pre-mixed as would be the case with Dolby Atmos.

The screens are also getting better at adapting to your surroundings. Adaptive Picture will use sensors in the screen to tweak contrast and brightness settings automatically based on ambient lighting conditions, meaning you shouldn’t get a washed out image in brightly lit rooms, or a painfully bright image when watching at night – without you having to lift a finger. It takes a few seconds to kick in, but works remarkably well at balancing out shadow detail whatever your viewing environment.

(Image credit: Future)

Another interesting automatic feature is the Active Voice Amplifier. If the screen detects a noisy disturbance in your room (say, someone switching on a vacuum cleaner), it’ll dial up the frequencies related to dialogue, so you don’t miss a beat. It’s a welcome feature, and we’d have been happy to see it go one step further – say, raising the overall volume briefly, at least to a maximum limit that is set by the user so as not to lead to shocking volume leaps.

If you’re looking to watch smartphone content on the Q95T, that’s a cinch too. Tap View will let select smartphones (confirmed devices to follow, but expect newish Samsungs to support the feature) to tap a phone on the side of the screen and instantly mirror to it. Not only that, but a Multi-View option will allow for a split screen view, in 14 different layouts, for side-by-side viewing of mobile and TV content. Samsung thinks this will be good for gamers looking up walkthroughs while playing, but could prove great for settling the “who’s going to watch the big TV?” argument among families, with a Bluetooth audio connection to a phone and another to the screen allowing for genuine TV sharing.

Picture quality

As ever at a hands-on event, our time assessing the display and its intricacies is limited – we had about five minutes maximum with a dozen or so screens, back to back. But the Q95T impressed without question.

(Image credit: Future)

Under the harsh lighting of the show floor, its anti-reflective screen did well to remain clear and vibrant, without distracting glare. Making use of 100% color volume, the demo imagery (admittedly likely quite saturated for added punch) looked exhilarating, from clips of food to primary-color exercise routines. 

There’s also the Direct Full Array at work, giving more uniform lighting across the display where light and dark elements of a screen sit side by side. It’s still not quite as accurate as OLED, where the self-emitting pixels avoid almost any bleed, but it’s among the best we’ve seen from an LED screen, with QLED’s peak brightness beating OLED in that stake any day.

Early verdict

There’s still lots to learn about the Samsung Q95T – namely price, which has been a bit of a stickler against similar Samsung TVs in the past. But at first glance, Samsung’s got a wonderful-looking set, packing a distinct and useful set of new features into the mix. We can’t wait to put it through its paces with a full review.

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.