Review: Samsung 65Q60R Is A Colorful Bargain 4K TV
For folks who either can’t afford a top-performing Samsung quantum dot LED-LCD TV or aren’t willing to spend the extra money for one, the company offers a nice mid-range compromise in its 2019 4K QLED Q60R series.
These models are closer to mainstream price points while offering a more affordable alternative for getting a nice, wide color gamut with clear 4K/HDR and upconverted HD/SDR pictures. It’s also a darn nice gaming display.
Unfortunately, these models lack the picture brightness of the higher-range QLED series, which makes this a less-qualified display for presenting HDR in a truly compelling way.
The Q60R is the entry series in Samsung’s 2019 QLED (quantum dot enhanced) 4K Ultra HD TV lineup, and includes many of the smart features found in the higher-end models. However, it lacks the high dynamic range (HDR) brightness and sound performance characteristics of those more-expensive alternatives. The primary reason for this is that the Q60R series uses LED edge lighting without real local dimming, instead of the very good full-array local dimming systems offered in the Q70R, Q80R and Q90R models.
As a result, specular highlights (bright HDR elements) in pictures appear flat and dull compared to the other models and although black levels can get quite dark for an LCD TV, fine shadow details are sometimes crushed in both HDR and SDR content.
The series includes six models in the 43- ($948.99 retail price), 49- ($695.63), 55- ($779), 65- ($1,297.99), 75- ($1,997.99) and 82-inch ($2,550) screen sizes.
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For this review we received the 65-inch model, which grades out well in performance compared to some other mid-range 4K Ultra HDTVs in this class, and it includes Samsung’s know-how for picture processing, upscaling and excellent motion handling including use of a native 120 Hz refresh rate panel.
The Samsung QN65Q60R has an attractive, if basic, design style. The frame and base are matching mat black, with the latter comprised of two forked-style feet positioned toward the left and right sides of the bottom of the screen. Like many other stands of this style, the screen has a slight back and forth wobble when lightly pushed from the top, which could be a problem in homes with rambunctious children or pets. The bezel border is slim and the back of the set is trim with a slight convex curvature. The rear panel is also black and made of textured plastic that feels and sounds a little cheap and hollow when tapped.
Unlike the Q90R series, the Q60R models lack an outboard One Connect box for source inputs and circuitry. Inputs are found in a recessed slot on the bottom right side of the screen. The power cord plugs into a another small grooved area on the rear panel, slightly off the center base of the screen. The set is equipped with four HDMI 2.0b inputs, including an Audio Return Channel (ARC) input for use with a soundbar or AVR. This model does not support the new Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) system affording more bandwidth and advanced lip-sync features that might be utilized by streaming content in the future. But for today’s purposes that’s no big deal.
Other inputs include an RF antenna/QAM cable coax input, a Toshlink optical audio output, Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 inputs. The television also has a mini jack input for a serial connector interface used to run AutoCal in CalMan picture calibration software. Of course, the set includes built-in Wi-Fi network connectivity.
Samsung packs with the Q60R TVs its familiar black plastic One Remote that is standard with most better performing-televisions and soundbar models. This is both light and arched in shape to fit comfortably in the hand. The button layout — 11 buttons in total plus a center up, down, right left command control — is minimalistic and makes use of the on-screen menus to do most of the heavy lifting. Samsung features hot keys to quickly access the Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu streaming apps. The remote also adds a built-in mic and mic-activation button to take voice commands to operate television features and access SmartThings home automation devices.
As with all Samsung QLED TV models, setting up the QN65Q60R was fast, clearly communicated with on-screen prompts and painless when used in conjunction with the SmartThings App on a mobile device.
As we’ve covered in previous QLED TV reviews, Samsung includes the 2019 version of its Tizen smart TV platform in the Q60R models. This is one of the best smart TV platforms in the business with plenty of streaming app options including the first Apple TV app on a television. Samsung also adds on top of Tizen its SmartThings software that enables control of various aspects of television setup and operation from a mobile phone or tablet, as well as controlling compatible smart home automation devices.
This year, Samsung smart TVs also support a host of voice-control AI platforms, including the company’s own Bixby system, and compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Between the three of them users should be able to control many smart home devices.
Samsung also includes the latest version of its unique “Ambient Mode” feature, which has been enhanced and expanded this year to present electronic wall art of various types–including still shots of actual works of art–on screen when the TV isn’t being used to watch video programs. This year, the feature can present various elements of the surrounding room colors and decore to present a background scene that matches or blends in with the environment.
The Samsung QN65Q60R supports the baseline HDR10 HDR profile in addition to HDR10+ dynamic metadata and Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) broadcast profiles. It does not support either the Dolby Vision or Technicolor Advanced HDR profiles. When either of the unsupported profiles is detected, the television will default to the static metadata HDR10 profile.
As mentioned, the QN65Q60R doesn’t get as bright in HDR as other QLED series, in part, because it is an edge-lit LED LCD TV without a true local dimming feature. The set uses a less robust frame dimming alternative.
The Q60R series lacks the peak HDR brightness of the other QLED series, and does not qualify as an “Ultra HD Premium” certified display according to Ultra HD Alliance criteria. We measured HDR peak brightness levels of 533.5 nits in Dynamic HDR picture mode measuring in a 10% D65 white window pattern and 434.7 nits in Movie HDR mode. This dropped down to 523.9 nits Dynamic HDR and 436.1 nits Movie HDR in a 25% D65 white window, 525.3/432.5 nits in a 50% D65 window and 523.1/435.2 nits on a 100% D65 full screen. The UHDA premium certification threshold for peak brightness is 1,000 nits measured in a 10% D65 white window.
In contrast, HDR black level was quite good for an LCD TV, conforming with Ultra HD Alliance premium certification brightness levels for an LCD television. With the set in Movie HDR mode, we measured 0.0342 nits metering the center of a black/gray bullseye target pattern and 0.03642 nits in a solid black center pattern with 10% white windows in each corner of the screen to keep LED edge lighting active. To qualify for UHD Premium certification, black levels must not be brighter than 0.05 nits on an LCD-based television.
In real world viewing, with the television in Movie Mode, HDR specular highlights were flat and dull in the forest campfire scenes of the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of The Revenant. These bright highlights lacked the brilliance that makes bright on-screen objects appear three dimensional in HDR by standing out from the background. We found we were able to boost the back light levels (contrast is pinned at the full 50 setting in Movie mode) several notches to get a somewhat better result but this tended to blow out overall color saturation and is not recommended for serious movie watching.
In addition, because the set uses edge-lit LED back lighting it is a little more prone to light-bleeding (or flashlighting) into surrounding letter box borders, which from time to time can take the eye from the main picture. This was spotted in SDR as well as HDR content.
The Samsung QN65Q60R also conformed to UHDA “Premium” criteria for wide color gamut coverage of 90% of the DCI-P3 color space. We measured 94% DCI-P3, which is just about what we would expect from a quantum dot-enhanced television. In real world viewing, colors were bright and vibrant in both SDR and HDR, but lacked some of dynamics of HDR due to the maximum brightness level.
Auto Room Calibration
Samsung adds a feature to its QLED models called Intelligent Mode. When turned on this helps to auto-adjust picture quality settings including brightness levels to the ambient room lighting and by monitoring usage patterns and adjusting the picture to viewer tendencies. Within this feature are separate settings for Adaptive Brightness, Adaptive Sound, Check TV Space and Adaptive Volume, each of which can be switched off or on to perform the desired function. This enables the television to both measure the room lighting and sound conditions in order to adjust brightness and acoustics to what it believes are correct volumes. We found the feature made some interesting selections, but tended to keep the brightness levels a little lower than we liked it. Adaptive Sound was similarly interesting and did help the overall sound from the on-board speakers by presenting clearer dialog for newscasts and the like, but we would still prefer a good quality soundbar, like a Samsung HW-Q90R, which also has Adaptive Sound, or a multi-channel surround sound home theater system.
We found the QN65Q60R was pretty accurate for color and color space coverage playing standard Rec. 709/SDR content. Only minor adjustments were necessary.
As with other QLED TV series, the Q60R models feature Samsung’s 4K AI Upscaling technology that accesses thousands of sample images to instantly make adjustments for noise reduction, upscaling and edge smoothing to optimize standard-def and high-def video signals for the best possible presentation on the 4K screen.
For the most part, images appear very clean, even when viewing content shot in lower SD and HD resolution. Samsung’s video processing has been excellent for a few years now, and continues to get better all the time.
Low-light noise in the opening Asian harbor sequences of the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End Blu-ray Disc was reasonably well managed and not as distracting as it can be on lesser-performing models.
Occasionally, the television reveals color banding artifacts in scenes like underwater shots of the freshwater dolphin sequences in the extra’s section of the Planet Earth 2 Ultra HD Blu-ray edition.
As with all of the 2019 Samsung QLED series, Q60R models offer outstanding motion handling. The series is equipped with a 120 Hz native refresh rate panel (the 43- and 49-inch models have 60 Hz panels) and Samsung’s Auto Motion Plus motion smoothing circuitry that makes use of black frame insertion techniques to present fast moving subjects and camera pans in closeups with minimal blurring. Judder was similarly good, and can be adjusted further in custom settings, but this can induce more noticeable soap opera effect. A motion interpolation feature will help to improve the look of lower-frame-rate content, but will also increase the soap operat effect. It is recommended to turn Auto Motion Plus off when watching movies or film-based material.
Video gamers will appeciate the QN65Q60R’s low input lag, which keeps moving subjects clear and controller response crisp and fast. We measured 14.2 ms response time from both 1080/60p and 4K/60p signal input. Like other 2019 Samsung QLED models, the Q60R series supports FreeSync Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), in all but the 43- and 49-inch models. It also includes an optional low-latency game motion interpolation feature.
The Q60R series uses a VR-type LCD panel and lacks the new wide angle viewing and anti-glare film found the the Q80R and Q90R series. This results in a noticeable degradation of color and contrast performance when viewed from even a slight angle off dead center screen. This should be considered if you plan to use the television to entertain a group for sporting events or viewing parties. Lacking the fantastic anti-glare qualities of the top two 4K QLED series, the Q60R presents noticeable reflective glare which does tend to distract from the picture from time to time.
The Samsung QN65Q60R is a solid performing mid-range 4K Ultra HDTV for 2019, but carrying the QLED (for quantum dot) moniker we expected a little more in the way of HDR oompf. Still, for those on a budget who want to upgrade to a big screen set with plenty of gorgeous colors, this is an excellent selection. We just ask that before you go out and get one, you try to see what top quality HDR brightness and performance looks like first. Check out a Samsung Q90R, Q80R or Q70R. If one of those isn’t worth the price difference you won’t go wrong with this series.
We therefore award the Samsung QN65Q60R four out of five hearts.
The Samsung QN65Q60R used for this review was a company loan.
By Greg Tarr
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