Samsung QN90A series (2021) QLED TV review: Closer than ever to OLED

    OLED TVs nonetheless have the most effective image high quality I’ve ever examined, however Samsung’s QN90A comes nearer than ever. This QLED TV packs a punch brighter than any OLED tv, whereas managing to keep up distinction and black stage to a level I’ve by no means seen on any non-OLED earlier than. If you crave that brightness, otherwise you watch in a shiny room the place ambient gentle is an enormous concern, it is best to positively think about this TV over a comparable OLED.

    LikeBest non-OLED image high quality we have ever examinedIncredible brightness with minimal bloomingStylish design, full of options

    Don’t LikeExpensiveSlightly worse distinction, off-angle and uniformity than OLED

    New for 2021, the most effective Samsung QLED fashions just like the QN90A are known as Neo QLED and have a brand new mini-LED primarily based, full-array native dimming backlight array. Samsung made its LEDs 40 instances smaller than standard LED models, permitting extra to be packed into the TV, and added a “quantum matrix” to assist direct the LED gentle extra precisely. The result’s improved HDR highlights with minimal blooming (stray illumination that bleeds from shiny into darkish areas), in addition to higher shadow element.

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    All of these enhancements have been seen in my side-by-side assessments. I pitted the QN90A towards the most effective OLED TV I’ve ever reviewed, the LG G1, and the brightest TV I’ve ever measured, the Vizio PQX-H1. Overall I favored the LG a bit higher than the Samsung — it is plenty-bright itself, and its excellent black ranges, superior mixed-scene distinction and higher off-angle viewing gained by a nostril — however the QN90A appeared higher in some scenes, notably shiny HDR. Meanwhile its exact gentle management and ensuing distinction soundly beat the Vizio. In sum, that is the most effective LCD-based TV I’ve ever examined and a very good high-end various to OLED.

    Floating stand design, photo voltaic distantOne TV appears very like one other, however Samsung nonetheless succeeds in giving the QN90A an expensive air. The most blatant design improve is the stand: centered, with a small footprint, it appears cleaner and sleeker than the twin legs discovered on most TVs. My favourite facet is the way it suspends the massive panel above my credenza, seeming to drift with out touching. As anticipated the sting across the image is super-thin, albeit not fairly as minimalist because the “Infinity Screen” discovered on the flagship, 8K decision Q900A.From the aspect you’ll be able to admire its swoopy, one-piece form, in addition to the truth that it cants the entire display again by a few levels. The bottom has a cable administration system that allows you to channel energy and HDMI from their ports, alongside the again and thru the stand, making for a cleaner look.On the again, the distant has a photo voltaic panel.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    And sure, the distant has a photo voltaic panel on the again. I did not check Samsung’s declare that leaving it underneath indoor lighting is ample to recharge, however I appreciated that it would not want batteries. If I owned this TV I’d most likely use the USB charging port as a substitute when it ran out of juice.

    Samsung’s distant is one in all my favorites to make use of, with minimal buttons and simply the correct really feel in-hand. Channel and quantity keys click on up and down, Ambient mode will get its personal button as does the mic for voice and even the Netflix and Amazon app shortcut keys are nicer than on different remotes: They lack garish colours and as a substitute simply match the remainder of the wand.Ambient mode is designed to point out stuff on the display whenever you’re not watching TV. It’s a cool characteristic if you happen to don’t love the massive black rectangle of an inert TV and may show your photographs, designer artwork, the climate, headlines and even alter backgrounds to match your wall.The voice assistant will be summoned from the distant or hands-free by saying “Alexa” or (if you happen to choose, for some cause) “Hi, Bixby.”
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    Choice of voice assistant, non-compulsory webcamVoice command is built-in and you’ll select between Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Samsung’s homebrew Bixby. Whichever one you select will likely be out there whenever you press the mic button on the clicker. With Amazon and Bixby (however not Google) you even have the choice of merely saying “Alexa” or “Hi, Bixby” wake phrases, permitting you to concern instructions hands-free and in contrast to final 12 months the mic is positioned within the TV itself, not the distant. And like most TVs, it’s also possible to pair the QN90A with separate Alexa or Google audio system.Samsung’s well being app debuted on its TVs in 2020 and this 12 months it is increasing to supply guided private coaching. Plug in an non-compulsory webcam (Samsung has an inventory of really useful cameras, all by Logitech) and the app will monitor your workouts and provide you with teaching full with movie star private trainers like Jillian Michaels.You may use that webcam for video chat with the Google Duo app, which permits as much as 12 others to affix the chat. And if you do not have a digicam plugged in you’ll be able to display mirror Duo in your cellphone to the TV and use its digicam. It’s not Google’s extra widespread Meet software program, however a minimum of it is net chat on the massive display.I did not check the webcam options for this overview, however I did check drive the private coach earlier this 12 months — and labored up a sweat, as seen within the video beneath.

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    Beyond voice and the webcam, Samsung’s on-screen sensible TV system is great, with fast responses and loads of apps — I’d take it over LG or Vizio’s programs. I nonetheless like Roku and Android/Google TV (discovered on Sony TVs) higher total, nonetheless, as a result of they’ve much more apps. Just like most TVs now (together with Roku), Samsung has the Apple TV app and works with Apple’s AirPlay system.Samsung’s house web page pops up from the underside so it would not obscure what you are watching.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    (More) options galore Samsung sells a couple of higher-end TVs, together with 8K decision fashions in addition to super-expensive Micro-LED TVs, however the Q90A remains to be bursting with picture high quality extras. The most necessary is that Neo QLED, mini-LED powered backlight with full-array native dimming. Local dimming improves LCD picture high quality by ensuring areas of the image dimmer or brighter in response to what’s on the display, which considerably boosts distinction. Judging from Samsung’s obscure “quantum HDR” spec the QN90A has extra dimming zones and brighter photographs than the step-down Q85A, and fewer zones than the 8K fashions, however Samsung would not say precisely what number of zones (or how shiny).Key options

    Display know-how


    LED backlight

    Full array with native dimming



    HDR appropriate

    HDR10, HDR10+

    Smart TV



    Standard voice

    Like all of Samsung QLED TVs, in addition to most higher-end TVs from Vizio and TCL, the QN90A’s LCD panel is augmented by a layer of quantum dots — microscopic nanocrystals that glow a selected wavelength (i.e. shade) when given power. The impact is healthier brightness and shade in comparison with non-QD-equipped TVs. The QN90A makes use of a real 120Hz panel, which improves the TVs’ movement efficiency.The set helps excessive dynamic vary content material within the HDR10 and the HDR10 Plus codecs. It lacks the Dolby Vision HDR assist discovered on most rivals’ HDR TVs. I’ve seen no proof that one HDR format is inherently “better” than the opposite, so I positively do not think about the shortage of Dolby Vision a deal-breaker on this TV — it performs like a champ with out that format.Gaming options are one of many QN90A’s robust factors. All 4 of its HDMI inputs are appropriate with variable refresh price, together with AMD’s FreeSync and normal VRR codecs, in addition to ALLM (aka Auto Game Mode), which lets it robotically swap to recreation mode to scale back enter lag when it detects you are enjoying a recreation. Only Input 3 handles eARC.Input 4, which is conveniently marked with a bit recreation controller icon, additionally accepts 4K/120Hz with and with out HDR. None of the opposite inputs deal with 4K/120, which ought to solely be an issue when you’ve got a number of units that output it — like a PlayStation 5 and an Xbox Series X ( who you might be…), or a kind of consoles and a high-end graphics card. It’s value noting that each enter on LG’s current OLED TVs helps 4K/120.Read extra: Best TV for PS5 and Xbox Series X, Series S in 2021The high enter, Input 4, has the most effective specs for gaming.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    4x HDMI inputs2x USB portsEthernet (LAN) portOptical digital audio outputRF (antenna) enterRemote (RS-232) port (EX-LINK)The checklist is usually strong, except you occur to personal a legacy system that requires analog video (part or composite) or audio. Like many new high-end TVs the QN90A lacks analog inputs totally, audio or video. On the flipside, it is without doubt one of the few TVs with a built-in ATSC 3.0 tuner for Next-Gen TV indicators.Picture high quality comparisonsThe Samsung QN90A has the most effective image of any non-OLED TV I’ve examined and the most effective bright-room image full cease. It’s exceedingly shiny, but in a position to ship deep, inky black ranges with minimal blooming even with essentially the most difficult HDR materials. It cannot beat the distinction and theatricality of competing high-end OLED fashions just like the LG G1 total, nonetheless, and likewise falls a bit brief in uniformity and off-angle efficiency. If I had to decide on one TV to observe every single day it will nonetheless be an OLED, however it’s very shut.

    Dim lighting: Watching the fundamental, SDR 1080p model of The Desolation of Smaug Blu-ray in a darkish room, the Samsung QN90A got here as near the LG OLED as I’ve ever seen from an LCD-based TV. Its black ranges have been basically excellent — or shut sufficient that I could not visually distinguish them from the OLED — in most scenes, even within the letterbox bars and shadows. When Gandalf meets Thorin in the course of the prologue on the Prancing Pony, for instance, it was actually troublesome to inform the 2 aside, whereas the black ranges on the Vizio, compared, have been lighter and created a flatter, much less three-dimensional look. In uncommon circumstances, for instance the titles towards a black display, the Samsung’s black ranges did look lighter (worse) than the LG’s.Details in shadows have been wonderful on all three TVs, though once more the Vizio appeared a bit much less life like due to its barely lighter total black ranges. Watching SDR I did not see any proof of blooming or stray illumination on both the Samsung or the Vizio with regular video. The exceptions have been graphical parts, for instance the play/pause icons my Blu-ray participant put within the higher left created a faint halo towards the letterbox bar on the Samsung.Bright lighting: The QN90A is exceedingly shiny, particularly in comparison with OLED fashions. The Vizio PX measured a bit brighter total and likewise maintained peak brightness in its brightest setting higher.Light output in nits


    Brightest (SDR)

    Accurate shade (SDR)

    Brightest (HDR)

    Accurate shade (HDR)

    Vizio P65QX-H1





    Samsung QN65QN90A





    TCL 65R635





    Sony XBR-65X900H





    Samsung QN65Q80T





    LG OLED65G1





    As common the Samsung’s brightest setting, Dynamic, was woefully inaccurate. For the Accurate measurements in SDR I used the Natural image mode together with the Warm shade temperature setting (the default temperature for Natural is kind of blue). If you need a good more-accurate bright-room picture you’ll be able to select Movie or Filmmaker mode and switch the Brightness management as much as 50 (the max), which measured 620 nits. In any case I choose Vizio’s method of a devoted, correct bright-room image mode.The QN90A maintained regular HDR gentle output over time in Movie and Filmmaker modes, however in Dynamic mode with each HDR and SDR it fluctuated considerably, beginning out at round 2500 nits however falling nearly instantly to round 500 — a large, five-fold lower. I’ve seen that behaviour on previous Samsung TVs as properly and it appears designed to realize prominence in charts just like the one you see above. It’s value noting that the Vizio PX, amongst different non-Samsung TV’s I’ve examined, maintained their brightest photographs way more steadily over time, with out drastic fluctuations. This concern in Dynamic mode is not an enormous deal for me, nonetheless, as a result of I do not suggest utilizing that mode anyway.Samsung’s light-rejecting display is the most effective within the enterprise, sustaining distinction and punch in shiny lighting, and lowering reflections, higher than the Vizio and the LG. The display, mixed with the QN90A’s prodigious gentle output, make it the most effective TV I’ve ever examined for shiny rooms.The Samsung’s display was wonderful at rejecting reflections.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    Color accuracy: All three high-end TVs measured exceedingly properly for shade each earlier than and particularly after calibration, and watching The Hobbit Blu-ray I could not actually decide a winner. Colors from Galadriel’s delicate pores and skin tone to the inexperienced and brown of Mirkwood to the grey of Gandalf’s cloak appeared true. The LG did present a slight benefit in near-black grayscale, the place the Samsung tended barely blue, however the distinction was refined.Video processing: As common the Samsung aced my assessments on this class, delivering true 1080p/24 movie cadence with film-based sources and loads of movement decision (1,000 strains) with video-based sources. The TV achieved each outcomes with a Picture Clarity setting of Custom with Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction at 0, so if I had this TV I’d “set it and forget it” proper there. Note that Filmmaker Mode’s default setting is to show Picture Clarity off, which ends up in much less movement decision, however you’ll be able to alter it to style.You may add extra smoothing or cleaning soap opera impact by growing Judder Reduction or selecting Auto as a substitute of Custom. Meanwhile the LED Clear Motion choice makes movement even sharper with the assistance of black body insertion, on the expense of flicker and a dimmer picture.Uniformity: The QN90A’s display was worse than the Vizio and LG at sustaining a good gentle unfold in every single place, with some slight variations seen in full-screen check patterns, notably alongside the perimeters and within the higher center. In transferring check patterns the QN90A confirmed a barely extra noticeable soiled display impact consequently, however it was nonetheless fairly delicate.From off-angle the Samsung was barely higher at preserving distinction and shade than the Vizio, even when the latter’s “enhanced viewing angle” mode was engaged, however the variations have been minor and each, as common, considerably trailed the off-angle constancy of the OLED.The Game Bar pop-up gives immediate entry to gaming data.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    Gaming: The QN90A is a gaming powerhouse. When I first plugged in my Xbox Series X the TV robotically detected it, switched to its enter and carried out Game Mode, full with a pop-up on the backside that Samsung calls the Game Bar — long-pressing play/pause on the distant calls it up at any time. The Bar’s left aspect consists of a standing show itemizing Input Lag, FPS (frames per second), HDR, VRR and sound output, whereas controls on the correct gives a shortcut to recreation settings in addition to facet ratio and display place (the latter solely energetic with PC sources, which I did not check).Samsung continues its custom of wonderful enter lag in recreation mode with a rating of simply over 10 milliseconds with each 1080p and 4K HDR sources — the most effective I’ve measured. You can select to interact smoothing, aka Auto Motion Plus, in recreation mode however doing so raises enter lag as excessive as 26ms, relying on what stage you select. I’d go away it turned off.Comparing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the Samsung appeared wonderful, brighter than the LG (as anticipated) and the Vizio, which appeared duller and extra washed out. I nonetheless most well-liked the LG’s look total with this theatrical recreation, nonetheless, as a result of it preserved extra distinction particularly at night time and underground whereas nonetheless permitting me to see into the shadows properly sufficient. Samsung does provide a particular shadow element management known as “Dynamic Black Equalizer” that allows you to expose/wash out shadows much more, however it would not have specialised gaming image modes like LG. Whether you miss them is dependent upon how a lot you need to tweak the image — I personally like having the choice.

    HDR and 4K video: Like all high-end LCDs the QN90A can get brighter than even the brightest OLED TV, however it does a greater job of delivering deep black ranges and minimal blooming than any non-OLED TV I’ve examined.I began my HDR comparability with the montage from the Spears and Munsil HDR Benchmark and the Samsung QN90A’s brightness benefit over the LG G1 was instantly obvious. The Q90A measures twice as shiny because the G1 and in my side-by-side comparability it appeared even brighter, particularly in areas just like the snow-capped mountains, skies and clouds. That’s as a result of OLED’s brightness falls quickly as extra of the display is occupied by shiny objects, whereas LCD’s brightness varies much less by picture space. The Samsung additionally appeared brighter and extra impactful in highlights reminiscent of the center of a ferris wheel at night time, in fact, however in bigger areas it was extra obvious.Meanwhile the LCD-based Vizio, regardless of its superior measurements, appeared dimmer than the Samsung, albeit nonetheless a bit brighter than the OLED. Spot measurements confirmed these impressions. The sundown at 2:08, for instance, measured 427, 522 and 887 nits on the LG, Vizio and Samsung, respectively. For their half colours have been very good on the Samsung, saturated but correct in areas just like the flowers and bugs at 3:27, and the additional brightness lent further pop.As common the OLED maintained excellent black ranges whereas the Samsung and Vizio appeared very barely lighter, however in lots of scenes — the objects towards black backgrounds, for instance — the Samsung was so good that selecting out the OLED was troublesome. I did see a bit extra blooming than with SDR, as anticipated, however once more it was very well-controlled on the Samsung. In the dipper at 2:49, for instance, the black background across the honey betrayed a slight glow, as did the pause icon on my Blu-ray participant (once more) — however each have been less-noticeable than on the Vizio and only a bit worse than the blooming-free OLED. Mixed scenes, for instance the nighttime cityscape at 4:26, did present extra of a bonus for OLED, which was in a position to hold the darkish areas darker for extra pop, however the Samsung nonetheless appeared wonderful.I did not discover any banding or related artifacts within the LG or the Samsung, each of which appeared very clear, however there was some on the Vizio. It popped up within the sky in the course of the preliminary fade up from black, for instance, the place bands of various brightness appeared the place there ought to be a easy transition. The Samsung did present minor brightness variations attributable to the backlight construction (notably close to the perimeters), just like the blue sky above the satellite tv for pc dish at 5:29, however they have been fairly refined.I additionally checked out the montage at 4,000 nits and the Samsung lagged behind the LG. There was much less element in shiny areas just like the snowy pasture and the cliffside, which made the QN90A seem considerably flatter regardless of its superior  brightness. It’s not an enormous drawback nonetheless since 4,000 nit content material is comparatively uncommon.When I switched from Spears and Munsil to The Desolation of Smaug, the tables turned and the LG appeared higher total than the Samsung. During the difficult night Bree scene within the prologue, for instance, the LG’s shadows appeared only a bit deeper and its highlights, just like the lamps and torches, appeared barely brighter, for an total high-contrast look that the Samsung — whereas wonderful — could not fairly match. Both outclassed the Vizio, nonetheless, whose black ranges have been lighter resulting in a extra washed-out look. Moving to a brighter scene, inside Beorn’s home (9:16), the G1 once more appeared a tick extra life like and wealthy in comparison with the QN90A.As with Spears and Munsil, large-area brightness scenes favored the Samsung. As the orcs pursue the dwarves throughout a shiny subject at 7:50, for instance, each LCDs (and particularly the Samsung) appeared extra sensible and spectacular. But as in most theatrical movies, scenes in The Hobbit tended towards extra blended and even darker scenes, the place the OLED held a slight distinction benefit over the Samsung.
    David Katzmaier/CNET
    Picture settings, HDR notes and chartsCNET is now not publishing superior image settings for any TVs we overview. Instead, we’ll give extra basic suggestions to get the most effective image with out itemizing the detailed white steadiness or shade administration system (CMS) settings we could have used to calibrate the TV. As at all times, the settings supplied are a guidepost and if you need essentially the most correct image it is best to get an expert calibration.Before my calibration for this overview, Samsung’s Movie and Filmmaker presets have been essentially the most correct, wonderful by way of grayscale and gamma with only a slight reddish solid (however nonetheless inside my error goal of delta 3). Note that Filmmaker Mode as a result of it disables the entire Picture Clarity settings, together with movement enhancement (see the overview for particulars) — though it does have interaction ambient gentle sensing by default, which I turned off.For calibration I tweaked the two-point grayscale to take away the pink solid, lowered gentle output to my goal of 137 nits and altered gamma to focus on 2.2, however in any other case I left properly sufficient alone. The grayscale and shade have been already so correct on my Samsung-provided overview pattern that I did not want to the touch the multipoint system or the colour administration system.Picture Mode: Movie ModePicture Size settings: 16:9 Standard (Fit to Screen: On)Expert settings:Brightness: 13Distinction: 43Sharpness: 0Color: 25Tint (G/R): 0Apply Picture Settings: All SourcesPicture Clarity Settings: Custom (Blur Red. 10, Judder Red. 0, LED Clear Motion: Off, Noise Red. Off)Local Dimming: StandardDistinction Enhancer: OffMovie Mode: Off [grayed out; when active Auto 1 is usually best]Color Tone: Warm 2White Balance: [No adjustments, see above]Gamma: 2.2Shadow Detail: 0RGB Only mode: OffColor Space Settings: AutoHDR Notes: As with SDR, Samsung’s Movie and Filmmaker Modes have been the most-accurate for HDR sources. Both have been considerably more-accurate than Dynamic, the brightest mode, and nonetheless fairly shiny at greater than 1500 nits. The QN90A adopted the EOTF carefully in each modes however was a bit higher in Filmmaker, so that is what I’d select for essentially the most correct HDR. Its superior shade measurements have been very good, with Color Checker and the extra stringent ColorMatch HDR each properly underneath a delta error of 3. The LG G1 OLED was worse on each counts. In phrases of gamut protection the QLED lagged the OLED by a pair proportion factors, however it was nonetheless above my 95% threshold — and a lot better than the Q80 from 2020.Geek Box




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    1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)



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    Motion decision (dejudder off)



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    Samsung QN65QN90A by David Katzmaier on ScribdPortrait Displays Calman calibration software program was used on this overview. 

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