Review: Samsung 65Q70A Offers Colorful HDR For Edge-Lit UHD TV
Our review of Samsung’s 65-inch 65Q70A revealed a solid performing 4K UHD HDR quantum dot television with a reasonable price for purchasers who don’t mind trading off some level of bright HDR specular highlights, wide viewing angles and shadow detail.
The television steps down in Samsung’s 2021 QLED TV assortment to an edge-lit LED LCD panel without local dimming, while keeping a 120 Hz native refresh rate panel and black frame insertion that do reasonably well at minimizing motion blurring and judder without introducing distracting soap opera effect.
Samsung includes its overall stellar Tizen smart TV system with a good compliment of the most popular streaming service apps, while adding Samsung’s own TV Plus collection of mostly free ad-supported content for cord cutters.
The company has also taken further steps this year to ensure its products minimize their impact on the environment by providing reuseable and easily recyclable packaging, conserving power when full levels are not required and even providing a rechargable ECO Remote for the first time.
As a QLED (quantum dot enhanced) television, the Samsung 65Q70A does an excellent job at producing wide accurate colors, and this model series in particular serves well as a fast, responsive gaming monitor for both console and PC gaming applications.
The Samsung 2021 Q70A 4K UHD QLED TV series features the 55- ($1,097.99 UPP), 65- ($1,397.99), 75- ($2,297.99) and 85-inch ($3,297.99)
What strikes us most about this series is the a VA-based LCD panel that tries to improve the edge-lit LED picture performance through a dual edge-lit LED system that uses both cool and warm tone LEDs for a more natural appearance. It does produce a better overall picture than most edge-lit displays, but falls short of the brightness, contrast and black level abilities of TVs using full-array local dimming systems. And although the set does a nice job of eliminating so-called flashlighting (or light bleeding into letter box borders of the image), we found the system in some instances presented a blue-ish haze across the screen producing an IPS-like milky screen effect to overall contrast. The edge lit system also can’t produce pure blacks or fine shadow details in both SDR and HDR content like full-array LED LCD TVs and OLED displays.
The edge-lit system also has a sub-premium brightness output, which diminishes from the peak specular highlight details we’ve come to enjoy from Samsung’s better performing sets. In exchange, viewers get a more affordable television with a generally acceptably pleasant overall picture performance, relative to your expectations for contrast and black level reproduction. It’s worth seeing a demonstration for yourself.
High Dynamic Range
Like all 2021 Samsung 4K UHD/HDR televisions, the Q70A series supports the HDR10, HLG and new HDR10+ Adaptive high dynamic range profiles. Samsung’s sets do not support Dolby Vision, although its HDR10+ technology delivers a similar level of performance relative to you eye’s ability to perceive the subtle differences in light and color reproduction. Both formats are based on so-called dynamic metadata, which provide flags to the television with instructions on how to present levels of brightness and color on an even-changing shot-by-shot basis for the most natural appearing picture. The newer HDR10+ Adaptive system in these sets will further adapt those brightness and contrast cues for the best appearance relative to the lighting conditions present in the viewing room. We enjoyed the brightness boost this gave HDR10+ supporting content, in particular, although the brightness limitations of the edge-lit LED system noticeably weakened the peak specular highlights that make HDR images really pop.
The Samsung 65Q70A has an generally attractive ultra-thin screen appearance, with a panel depth of just 1.10 inches at its widest edge. The cosmetic features a nearly bezeless flat black plastic border trim around the edge of the screen. The chin of the set just a half inch wide, carrying in the lower right corner manual controls for power/input/volume. A black plastic base stand is positioned under the center of the screen, which allows placing the set on greater range of table or stand sizes than the edge-positioned feet in common use today.
The power cable connects to the back of the screen, and Samsung provides channels in the rounded plastic backing to keep the flat cable out of sight. Input connections are positioned in a recessed cutout section facing out toward the right of the screen.
Samsung provides four HDMI ports (1 eARC/ARC enabled HDMI 2.0b), 2 HDMI 2.0b ports, 1 HDMI 2.1 (HDMI 4) with support for Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), FreeSync, and Auto Low Latancy Mode (ALLM). Also offered are 2 USB inputs, Ethernet port, antenna/cable input, a 3.5mm Ex-Link port for RS-232 control and digital optical audio output. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. In addition to supporting HEVC decoding the sets also support the VP9 and AV1 (4K) codecs.
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The Samsung 65Q70A didn’t sound terrible, but neither was it exception. It was about what we would expect from a mid-range 4K UHD TV with a built-in 20-Watt speaker system. Sound output was slightly boxy and narrow without unimpressive deep bass. However, dialog was clear and understandable against background sound effects and music. We recommend anyone sensitive to soundperformance to look into adding a good quality soundbar or surround sound speaker system.
Samsung incorporates its excellent Tizen 6.0 OS offering many of the most popular streaming service apps and Samsung’s TV Plus collection of mostly free ad-supported news, movie and TV show channels and special interest content, such as fitness programming. The platform also includes support for SmartThings control of home automation devices along with extensive support of voice control systems including: Samsung’s own Bixby, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple AirPlay 2. Viewers can cast content via MiraCast/WiDi/AirPlay2 from mobile devices to the screen and use mobile apps to control the television, when the remote is not close by.
The set also features Samsung’s popular Ambient mode that lets users call up art and photos on screen when not in use for TV viewing and minimize brightness output to save power. The set newly adds a Multi View mode that can display multiple input sources on the same screen. Important in this pandemic era, users can also directly stream from and control a PC or Mac via an Easy Connection app for Windows 10 and Remote Desktop on macOS. Users can also access Microsoft 365 cloud services through the TV, and use many newer Samsung phones as a computer through Samsung DeX.
One of the bigger improvements in this year’s Samsung Tizen televisions is the use of a fully rechargeable ECO Remote. Users have the option of keeping the remote charged via solar (or bright room) lighting or, in dimmer viewing locations, connecting the remote to a power source via USB-C cable to quickly power up. Gone is the need to continually purchase batteries if you tend to sit on the buttons or use the remote a lot. Other than that it is very similar to Samsung’s previous remotes.
The Eco Remote keeps the same minimal-button design of prior Samsung Smart Remotes, appearing as a thin, rectangular black plastic wand with rounded sides. The remote includes a pinhole for the built-in mic that accepts voice commands. The button layout includes a voice assistant trigger, power buttons, volume and channel rockers. The remote also features dedicated fast-access buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and Samsung’s TV Plus free live streaming channels.
Contrast, Uniformity and Off-Angle Viewing
By nature of trading down for the edge-lit LED system, the Samsung Q70A has a less-than-stellar ability to control shadow detail performance in dark areas of the screen. In our review sample, we noticed with some content issues in black screen uniformity, where cloud-like light leakage showed through a full-screen black test pattern. This appears as a white-on-black smudging effect across the screen. The issue comes through in backgrounds on bright real-world images, contributing to a slight washing out of contrast colors in some scenes.
Viewing a full gray screen test pattern showed relatively good uniformity in with minimal dirty screen effect, and only slight smudging around the far edges of the screen. Off-angle color held up consistently well, and we weren’t distracted by effects showing through in real world camera pans.
However, the set lacks Samsung’s excellent ultra-wide-angle viewing filter technologies included in higher-priced Neo QLED model series. There is a noticeable loss in contrast and with color shifting when viewing the screen from angles of several steps to the left or right of dead center screen. The same holds true viewing the picture from high or low angles, such as when standing up from a seated position, where center screen is at eye level. Keep this in mind if you plan to wall mount the set in a room where people tend to watch the picture any where other than directly in front the screen.
The set’s overall contrast performance appears somewhat diffuse with a slight milkiness in bright areas of the screen, particularly viewing SDR content. This is most noticable in natural outdoor shots and film-based movie material. In-studio video sequences, such as newscasts, sitcoms etc., tend to present contrast much better. It is also less prevalent in after-dark sporting events, such as baseball games. But in filmed-based content, such as many movies, the review sample did present some issues with blooming/haloing around bright white objects against solid black backgrounds. This could be an issue with the particular LCD screen in the test sample, as uniformity performance is known to vary from set to set, even in the same model class.
Viewing the Spears & Munsil 4K UHD HDR Benchmark UHD Blu-ray test disc, the moving starfield patterns exhibited traces of clouding around clusters of stars from this blooming effect. This tends to impact to a greater degree lesser-quality LED back-lit and edge-lit LCD TVs than better quality full-array LED backlit LCD sets with local dimming systems. Samsung’s better-peforming (and more expensive) Neo QLED TV model series with miniLED full-array backlighting with local dimming technology reduce significantly, as do self-emitting display panel technologies like OLED TVs. The trade off, however, is significantly higher prices.
Unfortunately, the Samsung Q70A didn’t get particularly bright in presenting 4K HDR movies. Our measurements for HDR peak luminance found the television measure just under 630 nits using a 10% D65 white window test pattern. This is well shy of the 1000-nit threshold required for “a premium class 4K UHD TV” as defined by the multi-industry Ultra HD Alliance.
We found the set to be a better performer viewing in dark rooms than in well-lit rooms that tend to washout contrast and add to noticeable screen glare.
Thanks its use of Quantum Dot Enhancement Film color filters, the Samsung 65Q70A does a very nice job presenting a wide color gamut in 4K/HDR content. Measurements for P3 color gamut exceeded 93% of the wide color space for 1976 uv, surpassing the threshold for premium TV level performance established by the Ultra HD Alliance. For the most part, HDR color in the BBC’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Blue Planet II were rich and well saturated, although the set’s generally sub-premium brightness level detracts somewhat from the excellent color volume we enjoyed from Samsung’s Neo QLED miniLED TVs. Bright green shades from the rain forest chapter of the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of the BBC’s Planet Earth II in particular, were a little weaker in HDR compared to the better-performing Samsung QLED models.
Still, the opening title sequence from the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Guardian’s of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was well saturated and nicely bright.
The Q70A also presents SDR/BT.709 color very well, with close to accurate color points or both primary and secondary tones with the set in pre-calibrated “Warm2” color temperature and “Movie” picture mode.
In calibrating our review samples, we used the latest version of Portrait Display’s Calman Calibration software along with a C6-HDR Colorimeter and Murideo Six-G test pattern generator, we calibrated to Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) accepted practices. Samsung’s 2021 QLED televisions are all supposed to be adding Portrait Display’s automatically adjusting calibration system, which we try to use when ever available. However, this was not yet ready in the latest update of the Calman software, so we performed a quick basic manual calibration of the sample model using a 2-point white balance after finding out-of-the-box pre-calibrated readings to be very close to desired levels for BT.1886 gamma level in a moderately dim room setting. Samsung puts a lot of thought into its product design to enable fine tuning the best picture settings for the viewing environment and preserving the creative intent for the content. As such, we continue to enjoy the the slider controls for BT.1886 and shadow detail Samsung provides to allow quickly and accurately dialing in a nearly perfect gamma level across the brightness range.
Samsung continues to offer the UHDA’s Filmmaker Mode as a picture mode option that is supposed to quickly place the television into the best settings for viewing movie (typically film-based) content, but we found this to limit the television’s brightness output too much to reach desired levels for SDR, so we opted for Movie Mode. The Warm2 color temperature continues to be the closest setting for a D65 “natural sunlight” level.
The Samsung 65Q70A is a very good display for video gaming. The set’s HDMI 4 input supports many of the new HDMI 2.1 features including Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), FreeSync Premium and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). Measured input lag ranged between an excellent 11.9ms in 1080/60p using a Beodnar input lag tester with the set in Game Mode and Game Motion Plus (provides extra motion clarity to reduce haloing and blurring in fast-moving games) switched off. A new Game Bar available in Game Mode this year offers a pop up readout at the bottom of the screen showing the status of key display variables to optimize gaming, such as the current frame rate of the connected device and if features like VRR or HDR are engaged. Users are able to quickly adjust the Game Mode settings for maximized performance. Hardcore gamers using a connected PC can even adjust the picture aspect ratio to letter-boxed ultra-wide 21:9 and 32:9 to suit the way the title was authored.
The Samsung QN65Q70A is a great choice for anyone looking for an reasonably affordable, very good all-around performing smart TV, with a decently colorful 4K UHD picture, if not the best HDR performance. It has all of the tools and more to satisfy gamers of most skill levels, and movie and live television program presentation should be sufficient for most mainstream TV shoppers. Those looking for the best 4K UHD/HDR picture and sound output should probably look to step-up into Samsung QN “Neo QLED” QN80A or QN90A classes.
The Samsung QN65Q70A is a recommend buy for a mid-range 4K UHD QLED TV and we award it four out of five hearts.
The Samsung QN65Q70A used for this review was a company loan.
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By Greg Tarr
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