Review: Samsung 77” QN77S95C Ups The Ante On 4K OLED Brightness
Samsung’s 2022 S95B 4K Quantum HDR OLED TV series was one of our favorites for performance and value last year, and after seeing the brighter (and larger) 2023 4K S95C series on display at CES last month we’ve been eager to see this second generation up close — we weren’t disappointed.
Samsung recently provided members of the reviewer press with a hands-on opportunity to try out several top-of-the-line models for 2023 including 8K and 4K Neo QLED Mini-LEDs LCD TVs and its just launched 77-inch Quantum OLED set. All had their various strengths and weaknesses, but the S95C Quantum OLED, which we are reviewing here, really stood out.
We’ll be running our reviews of 8K and 4K Neo QLED TVs this week, so stay tuned.
The Samsung QN77S95C provided a number of improvements this year, not the least of which is the new larger 77-inch screen size that takes full advantage of the technology’s nice contrast performance enhanced with a significant brightness boost while maintaining 100% color volume and accurate P3 wide color gamut coverage.
The new larger 77-inch ($4,499.99 retail) screen size joins the 55- and 65-inch sizes from last year. Prices on the other two will be announced later. Note that Samsung will add this year a step-down 4K Quantum OLED TV series called the Q90C, coming later, with the same screen sizes. That series uses the Samsung Display-produced 2023 Quantum OLED panel, but omits S95C’s Slim One Connect box and design styling and has step-down on-board sound system.
Key features in the S95C line this year include the following:
- Samsung Quantum Dot OLED Hybrid Technology
- Quantum HDR OLED+
- Neural Quantum Processor with 4K Upscaling
- Dolby Atmos and Object Tracking Sound+
- 120 Hz Native Refresh Rate
- Wi-Fi 5
- FreeSync Premium
- Samsung Gaming Hub
- Infinity One Design and Connectivity
- The New Tizen Smart TV OS Interface
- HDR10, HDR10+ Adaptive/Gaming, and HLG for extended picture contrast and brightness when viewing HDR content
- Filmmaker Mode
- NextGen TV ATSC 3.0 Tuner for reception of new free over-the-air broadcasts going live now.
For background, Samsung Display — the panel producing arm of Samsung and sister company of Samsung Electronics — introduced the Quantum Dot (QD) Blue OLED illuminating (QD-OLED) technology last year with a pair of models in the 55- and 65-inch screen sizes. The ultra-thin panel form factor and high color and contrast performance this produced impressed us. This year, Samsung has upped the ante by significantly boosting peak HDR panel brightness, and improving shadow detail with minimal impact on nearly pure overall black level.
The sample model we tested produced an impressive (for OLED technology) peak brightness level of more than 1,340 nits of HDR peak luminance (measuring a 10% D65 white window pattern). This was up nearly 30% from 1038 nits (10% window) in last year’s 65-inch model, and the results are plainly apparent in specular highlights running real-world HDR content.
The blue OLED light emission combined with the quantum dot color converters for red and green helped the set produce more than 98% DCI-P3 wide color gamut coverage, which is just a pinch under last year’s outstanding measurements of 99% P3 in the 65S9B.
Flesh tones were warm and natural and specular highlights took on 3D-like qualities.
As with most OLED displays on the market, this set excels in presenting movies (particularly in dark room viewing), but it’s also a more than competent performer showing live television programming, sports and video games. It’s also ready for developing and future applications like reception of the latest over-the-air TV stations coming online now across the country. The Samsung S95C features a built-in NextGen TV ATSC 3.0 tuner to receive forthcoming new over-the-air 4K broadcasts.
We found that as with other OLED TVs, the Samsung S95C is at its best when viewed in a completely dark room. But we were pleasantly surprised at how well it handled a good amount of room lighting, even from overhead. Some screen glare was visible off axis, but this was negligible viewing straight on — the contrast and colors held up reasonably well under room lights from a wide radius.
The second generation of Samsung’s Quantum OLED boosts the refresh rate speed and response time while allowing individual pixels to be unobstructed by the TFT layer while lifting brightness and fine-tuning color accuracy.
Samsung’s latest custom-designed Neural Quantum Processor 4K enables Samsung OLED to deliver high peak OLED brightness, good color tone mapping and smart 4K upscaling with AI detail restoration. The panel response time is listed as 0.1- millisecond and the refresh rate can get up to 144Hz with supported gaming material. We didn’t get to test this out in our relatively quick run through.
The S95C model does a nice job of reducing on-screen blurring of fast-moving objects. Samsung’s Neural Quantum Processor 4K uses 20 neural networks to optimize detail, colors and brightness across the screen, Samsung said.
The S95C series is geared up for advanced gaming. The set supports most of the leading cloud gaming services including Microsoft Xbox, Utomik, and Amazon Luna. Samsung also claims to also feature “the world’s first 4K support for NVIDIA GeForce NOW”. This is all presented using an updated Samsung Gaming Hub.
Samsung said the new OLED displays will support the fastest moving 4K games available through the Gaming Hub, while accurately rendering pantone and pantone skin tone colors.
The design of the Samsung Quantum OLED TV presents an ultra-thin panel that’s only a bit thicker than last year’s nearly wafer-thin design. The set presents nice full sound from the onboard 70-Watt 4.2.2-channel Dolby Atmos speakers, which can be expanded with the new version of Q-Symphony sound bar integration. Using this, the TV’s speakers are added to a mix of channels for 3D surround sound that delivers a deeper immersive experience.
New Samsung OLEDs also offer a feature called Quantum HDR OLED, which is powered by the OLED Brightness Booster processing to brighten the picture and maximize contrast. Peak brightness levels are maintained with shadow detail through AI deep learning. The processor detects which areas need to be brighter and which need to be darker and then fine tunes contrast at the pixel level, Samsung said.
Samsung introduced the QN77S95C Quantum OLED TV at a $4,499.99 introductory price. This compares to the LG G2 evo series from 2022, which is available now at a reduced $3,696 price. The S95C series will also feature 65-inch and 55-inch versions, but these prices have not been announced yet. Comparatively, last year’s S95B series models can be had at the time of writing this for an $1,897.99 street retail for the 65-inch and $1,697.99 for the 55-inch. But these will lack some of the brightness benefits and new features of the 2023 models.
Samsung continues to produce high-level cosmetic designs for its televisions. The S95C series features a very thin panel design that maximizes panel depth from the top to the bottom of the screen. As with other top-line UHD models this year, Samsung employs it “Slim One Connect Design” that off-loads the input and connection electronics into a diminutive box that attaches to the back of the table mount, to further reduce clutter. The central pedestal-type stand provides a stable base that will fit a wide variety of table lengths. At the same time, the thin panel depth made possible by off-loading the input circuitry makes for an even more snug fit in wall mounted applications.
The back of the set is made of a gray/black polycarbonate with a vertical grove texture across the back that makes for a tidy all around appearance. The company also places rear-firing speaker ports on the back to contribute to the overall sound experience. The design includes input cover panels and cable management channels to minimize wire clutter viewed from in front and behind the set.
Samsung continues to offer a thin bezel trim framing around the perimeter of the screen, which helps to maintain the immersive effect of the picture.
Once again, Samsung is addressing the environment and user pocketbooks by supplying a rechargeable One Remote that has a solar panel window on the back. The overall look of the unit, which is the same as ones offered in top-end LED- and Mini-LED LCD TVs, has changed slightly from previous years, but the buttons, layout and functionality are very similar. As last year, the diminutive control unit eliminates the need for frequent battery changes, by recharging the internal batteries via the built-in solar panel that absorbs energy from sunlight or even ambient room lights.
Samsung continues to drive its televisions using this year’s version of its Tizen OS (v.7) and an interactive user interface controlled by the rechargeable remote.
For 2023, Samsung has evolved the platform with a focus on the growing smart-home trend that has been rapidly expanding since 2018.
Samsung smart TVs have a re-designed user interface (UI) to better address how users prefer to interact the display, including the use of a new smart hub that prioritizes accesses to features of most value according to past user experiences.
Also, Samsung has enhanced its SmartThings platform for more seamless and automatic connectivity with compatible smart home devices.
Samsung said the goal for this year was to allow TV to simply turn on a new device and have the connection process take place automatically in the background. We’ll have to take their word for it, as we didn’t have any devices to test this with in our quick hands-on review.
This platform long has been popular for its large library of supporting app services. We’ve always found it among the best smart TV interfaces in the market. In our brief run-through, app selection and engagement seemed snappier than last year. Samsung continues to nicely provide compatibility to a variety of voice assistants including Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung’s own Bixby.
Samsung provides new engagement experiences this year using Multiview picture in picture capabilities, including Video Calling and Tele-Medicine (both of which will require adding a camera).
For Telemedicine, Samsung is providing a new app that connects patients with doctors and health specialists in real time. Samsung Telemedicine is specific to Samsung smart TVs to help patients conduct virtual appointments. We didn’t get to try this out, but it sounds like a useful and needed technology coming on the heels of a global pandemic.
The app developer promises to provide virtual contacts through a network of relevant, available health professionals who should connect within 60 seconds (we’ll have to take their world for it). A virtual exam can be conducted through the video screen and various monitoring devices including some Samsung Galaxy Watches.
This includes taking vital signs including heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and stress index. Samsung said it is scheduled to begin offering this TV-based health monitoring service through a number of supporting 2023 Samsung TVs and monitors this year, including the S95C.
The technology uses a remote intelligent computer vision technology that assesses vital signs by detecting changes in facial skin color caused by heartbeats. The system is said to be contactless, accurate and easy to use.
Samsung is also evolving video calling capability of Tizen TVs this year using a Samsung video calling app. This requires downloading an app, customizing alerts and setting up a list of top contacts in order to engage in one-tap video calls. Users will receive notifications on their mobile phone that they’ve received a call while watching TV or receive an alert that something at home needs attention. This can be triggered by smart home devices monitoring things like light changes inside the house, or unusual sounds while the homeowner is away. Using the app, users can connect with the house over a video call on the TV, whether its left on or turned off.
A supporting mobile app will also let users communicate using Voice-to-Text through the remote. A user can turn on their mobile device, see a pop up on screen, and click on “Join on the Pop Up” to have Chat Together engage, Samsung said.
The S95C series is loaded with input/output options including: three USB ports, Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, and support for SmartThings and Apple AirPlay 2.
Cognizant of the growing importance of advanced video gaming today, Samsung has also designed the S95C with a complement of four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports, one of which supports ARC/eARC sound passthrough. These HDMI inputs will support most of the latest advanced gaming features including Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) including AMD Freesync Pro and Nvidia G-sync graphics devices.
Samsung stepped up its game for gamers this year by providing greater control and connectivity options through a design of the Samsung Gaming Hub. This includes improvements on advanced gaming features like lowering input lag, providing multiple HDMI inputs with support for up to 4K resolution with variable refresh rates and high frame rates up to 144 Hz. Other gaming features include Minimap Zoom and sharing to help players better focus on the action and maintain a competitive advantage.
In addition, the Gaming Hub now enables Xbox or PlayStation console gamers to more easily connect source devices via one of the display’s four HDMI 2.1 ports by having the TV more quickly and automatically recognize the player. This triggers the Hub’s on-screen dashboard to populate with helpful data and controls, and makes it faster to play, pause, and resume a game from where the action left off.
The Gaming Hub will provide access to more than 1,000 cloud-based games as new supporting services and titles come online. The Hub also makes recommendations based on the kinds of games players prefer while playing favorite tunes, from supported game-streaming services including, Xbox, Amazon Luna, Video GeForce, and new 4K titles from Utomic. New cloud-gaming streamers Ampstream and Black Nut are coming soon.
Like last year, gamers can pair compatible wireless third-party controllers to play live streamed titles.
All four HDMI ports support full bandwidth 48 Gbps input, which allows for up to 4K/144 Hz (with HDR10) where supported in content.
The Samsung 77S95C model tested at an impressively low input lag of 1.3 ms running 1080/60p input signal in Game Mode, with similar results in for 4K/60p.
With the Game Bar 3.0 on-screen menu this year, gamers are able to make on-the-fly adjustments to input lag and frames-per-second rates as desired, as well as HDR (including HDR10+ Gaming in supported content), wireless headset settings and others.
Super Ultrawide GameView lets gamers adjust the aspect ratio from 21:9 to 32:9 and move the screen position to eye level for compatible PC games to further optimize the playing field.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
The Samsung 77S95C supports high dynamic range across the HDR10, HDR10+ Adaptive/Gaming, and HLG profiles. Samsung continues not to support any form of Dolby Vision HDR, but such content is automatically presented by the television as static PQ HDR10. The differences are subtle, depending on the content shown, but Samsung addresses dynamic HDR metadata using the HDR10+ profile, which is also very good. Regardless of the profile offered, when a supporting HDR input signal is detected, the television automatically engages the appropriate profile and boosts the contrast and self-emitting blue OLED panel light output for peak performance.
We found the HDR presentation to be brilliantly bright, where specular highlights are seen and in the same frame inky black is evident along with a nice level of dark shadow details. We found good separation between blacks and bright whites without the haloing of LED back-lit LCDs. In a dark room, viewing angles were wide without loss of contrast or color, though some screen glare/reflection from in-room lighting was visible off center axis in lit viewing rooms. Some may find this distracting, and others might not notice it at all, but its something to consider if you watch movies with the lights on.
For the sake of time in our visit, the Samsung 65S95C was calibrated for us prior to our review, so we measured only brightness, HDR contrast and color gamut performance. We used the television’s Movie Mode picture mode. The pre-selected picture settings place the set into a “Warm 2” D65 color temperature setting for both SDR and HDR input sources. Movie mode is very similar in performance to the Filmmaker Mode that is also supplied on the picture mode options, but Filmmaker Mode shuts off all motion and most image processing systems.
We took readings from the set using a basic Spectracal C6-HDR colorimeter, a Murideo Six-G test pattern generator and the latest version of Portrait Displays Calman Video Display Calibration software, using the Samsung 2021 QLED workflow (the latest available).
Being a self-emitting display technology, Samsung’s Quantum HDR OLED set offers a superb contrast performance of infinity:1. In a completely dark room, the set measures a 0% brightness for pure black.
As mentioned, peak HDR luminance across window pattern sizes was approximately 30% brighter than last year as measured in Portrait Displays latest Calman calibration software version. The HDR10 profile, as measured in a 10% D65 (6500 degrees Kelvin) window pattern was 1,340 nits compared to 1,038 nits in last year’s 65-inch S95B.
We also tested the set’s ability to handle haloing, and found this year’s model diminished the slight haloing and raised blacks observed in last year’s Quantum OLED set. This is apparently due to anti-reflection coating technology. However, viewing the screen off access continues to pick up reflections when lights are on in the room. The “optical illusion” that was said to have produced slight haloing from the Spears & Munsil HDR Test Disc’s moving star field pattern last year appear to have been corrected in our analysis.
We tested the S95C running the Full HD Blu-ray version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2, during the night scene where the army of evil wizards amasses for attack from a hilltop. The 77S95C presented the very slightly visible white mist that seems to encircle the gathering, demonstrating the television’s ability to present both inky black and fine shadow detail, even running upconverted 1080p content.
In all of its TVs, Samsung continues to support high dynamic range (HDR) using the profiles for HDR10 (static metadata), HDR10+ Adaptive/Gaming (dynamic metadata) and hybrid log-gamma (HLG). It does not support Dolby Vision HDR or any of its variants, though a Dolby Vision title will default down to HDR10 (whether or not you’ll notice a difference will depend on your knowledge and eye sensitivity – your miles may vary).
As with last year’s S95B, the 77S95C presented an HDR10+ sample (with scene-by-scene dynamic metadata and tone mapping) Ultra HD Blu-ray of “We, The Marines” extremely well, with bright, rich and natural appearing colors.
The set measured 0% brightness for HDR10 from the center of a black test pattern with D65 white window patters in the four corners, to demonstrate the ambience of backlighting or dimming zones.
Color handling when viewing real-world content in both SDR and HDR was as impressive to us as last year. Color from OLED technology, regardless of emitting light source color, is always deep and rich, coming from a virtually pure black base.
The hybrid quantum dot OLED technology enables presenting 100% color volume, even as the panel brightness increases. We find this to be the real strength of this television. Reds and yellows were very rich and bright, and black seemed inky and natural.
The television’s ability to handle wide color gamut material is exceptional. In the HDR P3 evaluation workflow of Portrait Display’s Calman software we measured a very wide 98.46% of the 1931 xy P3 gamut (P3 is the Digital Cinema Initiative’s color gamut recommendation for professional theater equipment) and 97.66% of the 1976 uv P3 gamut space. Both readings are excellent for a premium UHD display.
To check this out, we looked at the campfires in the woodland scenes from the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of The Revenant. Against the stark forest background, colors are bright and rich with yellow and orange in the leaping flames.
Similarly, colors overall dazzle in the coral reef scenes of the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of the BBC’s Blue Planet II. Here the colors of the reef fish absolutely dazzle on this screen.
The 77S95C’s all-new panel design is driven by a specially adapted version of Samsung’s Neural Quantum Processor 4K, developed to boost the brightness and color elements, enhance resolution and drive upscaling of sub-4K content to fit the pixels on screen without multiplying distracting image artifacts. Samsung said the processor uses multi-layered neural networks that analyze and enhance video from different sources. We found the overall experience to be very good.
Upscaling on a standard definition DVD version of Alfred Hitchcock’s black-&-white thriller Psycho was very good. The usual blocking artifacts around title overlays were minimized and the original film grain was intact without a lot of embellishment from line and pixel multiples.
Like last year’s model, the upscaling from the Full HD Blu-ray version of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, showed some visible low-light noise and film grain in the opening Asian harbor scene but this preserved the look of the original film very well, and added no distracting unnatural artifact duplication. The low-quality 480p SDR presentation was no better or worse than it would appear on a very good Full HD TV screen.
Generation 2 of Samsung Quantum OLED technology features “Motion Xcelerator Turbo Pro blur reduction”, which further reduces the blurring and frame studder of fast moving subjects a moderately fast camera pans. At the same time, the set maintains the excellent job of limiting judder when watching 24p (film-based) movies or TV shows. When in Filmmaker Mode, this processing is shut off leaving the 120 Hz native refresh rate to do the heavy lifting as other processing systems are shut off automatically to prevent any soap opera effect from disturbing the creative intent.
Overall, Samsung’s motion handling is very good across content types, even in Filmmaker Mode, meaning those who can’t be bothered with picture settings shouldn’t feel compelled to do so.
We were impressed with last year’s viewing angles, and this year is no different. Moving off axis to the left or right of center screen, color saturation and contrast holds on very well, making this an excellent choice for a wall-hanging application. Samsung also includes a screen filter to mitigate on-screen reflections. This works to a degree viewing head on, but reflections are visible off axis with room lighting on. In addition, we picked up a strange moire-like effect from this anti-glare coating when we photographed a black-and-white DVD image from the original Hitchcock movie Psycho. This effect wasn’t noticeable to the eye in real time with images running at normal speed, but it was interesting to see its evidence in a frame grab.
We also checked for panel uniformity viewing whole screen test patterns in white, gray and black, and found no glaring issues with color shifting (some slight pink shift on a 100% white screen pattern) but no smudging or dirty screen effect.
The 2023 Samsung Quantum OLEDs will also incorporate all the sound features of its Neo QLED 8K and 4K lineups, including Dolby Atmos Object Tracking sound and Q Symphony.
The on-board sound package includes a built-in 4.2.2-channel speaker system (70 watts total power) with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive surround sound enhancement. The Object Tracking Sound uses speakers built into the TV’s frame to produce sound that seemingly tracks with the motion on the screen. Active Voice Amplifier system then analyzes ambient room noise and to enhance voices for clear dialog against background noise.
Samsung also builds in the latest version of its Q-Symphony (v3.0) sound integration that allows linking speakers in the TV with the multi-channel drivers in a compatible optional Samsung sound bar to produce an even fuller and more dynamic surround sound presentation. The on-board sound system will get the job done, but in this TV price class, we strongly recommend the add-on sound bar investment to get the full immersive effect – or better yet, purchase a good quality AV receiver along with a full 7.1.4-channel speaker setup (or larger) to really immerse yourself.
In short, this is one the best televisions we’ve ever tested. We don’t expect many videophiles will find a lot to dislike from the new Samsung QN77S95C 4K Quantum OLED TV. This year’s model improves on features and performance from a year ago and is likely to present a very strong value as pricing comes down over the course of the year. The competition is likely to be tougher than ever this year, and we look forward to testing the latest OLEDs from LG, Sony and others as they become available.
This is our first TV review of 2023, and it certainly sets the bar very high.
It’s nice to see Samsung back in the OLED TV game, and we look forward to seeing this exciting development evolve in time.
The Samsung QN77S95C is an HD Guru recommended buy with five out of five hearts.
The QN77S95C was setup and provided for us to test using our own equipment and demo materials.
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By Greg Tarr
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