Well, Samsung has gone and done it. They've created a television so advanced, we don't have anything to show on it yet.
8K is here.
But if we don't need it, why should we buy it?
Perhaps more importantly, who in their right mind would shell out the price of a pretty decent second-hand car for one?
Whether you go with the 65", 75" or 82" model, the Samsung Q900R QLED TV is one of those aspirational tellies most normal people only dream of owning.
It's the TV you see in the store and you think, "Okay, that's top of the line... where's the budget, imitation version?"
Only trouble is, only Samsung does QLED and these are the only 8K capable sets currently available.
First things first; there's a battle raging between QLED and OLED technology and it's a pretty technical one that gets pretty boring pretty quickly. To summarise, many experts are of the opinion OLED does better blacks, but QLED does better colour. Samsung has put a lot of effort into making its 2019 screens capable of truer black than ever and I'm here to tell you, when I watched the Long Night episode of Game of Thrones recently, it was pretty darn black.
In fact, I couldn't see anything. This was pretty disappointing because this was the battle the world had been waiting for; the armies of the North versus the undead white walkers. I could hear it fine - in fact, it sounded fantastic because for this review I've paired the Q900R with the latest Q70 soundbar. Samsung (in conjunction with Harman/Kardon) makes great soundbars and this one, (complete with its massive, wireless subwoofer) is no exception. More on that later.
"Oh no," I thought, "This TV doesn't work in daylight - I'll have to shut the blinds."
Turns out, everyone was having the same issue. The makers of Game of Thrones thought it would be cool to make their night battle look like a night battle, ie: black as. Idiots.
Things took a considerable turn for the better two weeks later as the Red Keep found itself being razed to the ground by an angry dragon. This battle happened in the daytime and it looked... incredible.
The picture quality is so clear. In fact, due to the large screen (I'm reviewing the 75" model) extreme close-ups can be quite disturbing in their clarity. If you thought Meghan Markle has perfect skin, you haven't watched Suits on a Q900R.
This is where Samsung's upscaling technology really shines through (pun intended). Although I'm watching Suits in lowly 4K via the Q900R's built-in Netflix app, there's no doubt things appear even clearer. This upscaling algorithm is promised to get even better with future firmware updates. Clever, innit?
I have some other viewing recommendations. Seal Team features a lot of sneaking around in enemy territory at night. The Q900R doesn't miss a trick.
David Attenborough's, Our Planet is simply spectacular. Bummer about everything going extinct.
|Just a picture of the picture. Still looks awesome, right?|
But finding yourself halfway up a 3000 metre rockface on Free Solo probably takes the cake. I almost felt dizzy with vertigo.
Now, I could list off the technical reasons behind all of these dazzling effects; the motion rate, how many million pixels there are, talk about nits and quantum dots, but those are just specs and you can look them up on the website.
The visceral responses I felt while watching those shows were due mainly to an undefinable sense of depth. That's what stands out most for me with the Q900R - never before have I experienced a television image I felt like I could physically reach into. It's almost a 3D effect - without the goggles.
There are quite a few little tweaks that make this telly just that much more fun to use. If you're sitting it on a cabinet, the new leg configuration lets you decide between wide or narrow positions. Alternatively, if you're wall-mounting the Q900R, the legs can be tucked away in storage slots in the back of the TV itself, guaranteeing you won't lose them if you decide you need them later. Samsung's "No Gap Wall Mount" will allow you to fit this skinny, but oh-so-wide telly flush against the wall.
Another little feature that caught my eye is the three new buttons on the remote. As with previous versions, you can use voice commands through the remote and these actually work pretty well. The remote is also universally programmable - especially for common New Zealand set top boxes including Sky TV and now Vodafone TV, which I've struggled to get universal remotes to talk to before. But there are now dedicated buttons for Netflix, Prime Video and the web browser.
I'm all for keeping the remote clean and simple, but to be able to access Netflix instantly with one push of a button is damned convenient. The only problem is, I kept getting them mixed up - pushing the www button instead of the pause button, yanking me away from what I was watching and presenting me with a browser window instead. I believe that is technically known as "fat finger."
Samsung TV's run their own Tizen-based operating system, so there certainly isn't the range of apps available compared to Android devices. However, because the apps you can download have all been specifically designed for this O.S. the integration is seamless and favourites like Netflix, Spotify and YouTube are all a joy to use.
Once again Samsung offers the option of Ambient Mode - turning the screen into a work of art or camouflaging it as part of the wall when you're not watching it. This year there are more galleries, effects and options than ever. Feel free to pop a picture of me up there if you like.
Depending on your source device, you can cast directly to the Q900R, Chromecast obviously works like a charm and now late model Samsung TV's are more versatile than ever, recently introducing Apple TV and Air Play so iPhone and iPad users can make the most of this exquisite screen... and this excellent soundbar.
Although the Q70 is only one central bar and a wireless subwoofer (pre-paired, just turn it on) the latest Samsung Acoustic Beam technology fires sound into every corner of the room, high and low. You can choose Standard, Surround or Gaming mode and now there's an Adaptive option, that works it all out for you.
This thing is almost as smart at the TV itself. Ironically, the Q900R doesn't actually sound too terrible minus the soundbar, although you'll soon miss the grunt of that subwoofer once there's an explosion or a half-decent bass line.
The Q900R is very smart indeed - to perform all the amazing tricks I've listed requires a pretty big brain and to be honest, the One Connect Box is significantly larger than last year's, although, as usual, because it can be placed anywhere connected by the oh-so-subtle One Clear cable, a bigger box is no major drawback. I've noticed it does get reasonably warm though, so you'll probably want to keep it somewhere reasonably well ventilated.
To be honest, I could talk about this TV forever. Yes, the pricetag is ridiculous and so is the fact we're probably years away from being able to access much 8K content. But I can assure you, even 720p video upscales brilliantly. There's no logical argument for buying something this over-the-top - but if you're feeling like doing something totally illogical, you may as well treat yourself to something all your friends will be jealous of. Serious TV envy guaranteed.