Review: Samsung’s `4K Quantum HDR’ 65S95B TV Dazzles With Bright HDR Color
We finally got a chance to test one of the hottest new televisions of the year based on Samsung Display’s long-awaited QD-OLED (or Quantum HDR as Samsung Electronics calls it) self-emitting panel, and came away impressed.
Our test subject was the 2022 Samsung 65-inch QN65S95B 4K Quantum HDR OLED TV. Samsung Electronics is one of two companies to introduce the technology this year — the other being Sony — and we discovered this model to have a nicely bright (for an OLED TV) natural-appearing picture with the rich, high color volume we’ve come to expect from LCD-based quantum dot TVs but further re-enforced by a deep robust pure black base that makes colors really pop. The brightness of the technology helped the set achieve 100% color volume in HDR, which means the screen holds on to color saturation even as its illuminated to increasingly high levels by bright white light shining on or through on-screen subjects.
On top of this, Samsung has done an admirable job of minimizing the highly reflective screen glare common in some other OLED models while delivering the wide viewing angles we’ve come to enjoy from self-emitting-light technology.
This new hybrid quantum dot OLED technology still enables a seemingly impossibly thin panel measuring less than 1/8th of an inch deep at its thinnest part around the sides and at the top half of the screen, above the customary thicker section in the rear of the panel. The beefier section is required for inputs, accompanying TV circuitry, the power supply and other electronics.
Going into our review, the first question we had was, how does this compare with the excellently bright LG G2 Gallery Series model we tested earlier in the year? We’d have to say there are many similarities in the two, including both an excellent picture and superior on-board sound quality.
And both approaches suffer from a higher risk for image retention (aka burn-in) than Mini-LED quantum dot LCD TV options. The issue has been well documented in White OLED models for years, but because the Samsung S95B uses a new Blue OLED self-emitting light source layered with supposedly burn-in resistant quantum dot Red and Green color converters, we can’t say exactly how much more or less at-risk this technology is compared to its white OLED rivals. We weren’t going to tempt fate with this review sample.
Therefore, before purchasing either OLED technology — caveat-emptor (let the buyer beware). We urge taking precautions against leaving static images on screen too long. This includes the usual problems — channel water marks, computer-sourced graphics and applications and paused video games. Samsung said this technology should be at no more or less risk of image retention or premature pixel aging than white OLED displays, but we haven’t had the benefit of time to confirm that.
It’s also for this reason that we don’t recommend OLEDs of any type be used for a lot of standard PC applications that leave static backgrounds up for extended periods — video conferencing or word processing programs included. If you’re looking to use the screen to do your PC work at home, a good Mini-LED LCD quantum dot TV will be a much less vulnerable alternative.
But with the proper care and handling, none of this should be an issue.
Where this set excels is in presenting movies (particularly in dark room viewing), live television programming, sports and video games. We found that as with other OLED TVs, the Samsung 65S95B is strongest 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 over head. The visible screen glare was negligible and the contrast and colors held up very well under room lights, although with somewhat elevated black.
Due to the panel thinness, the S95B is probably a closer match with LG’s C2 series models. The G2 Series, although brighter than the C2, is considerably thicker and heavier than the S95B, but that’s because the LG G2 OLED design is intended to resemble a framed painting, and it does so very well. It also accommodates a new heat sync technology to get the G2’s White OLED picture brighter.
The Samsung S95B is packed with features, including a built-in NextGen TV ATSC 3.0 tuner to receive new over-the-air 4K broadcasts going live now in markets around the country. We couldn’t test this, since we don’t have an available signal yet.
Perhaps the best news about the Samsung QN65S95B Quantum HDR OLED TV is the price — as this was written the set was selling on promotion for $2,197.99.. In comparison, the 65-inch LG G2 was being promoted for $2,796.00, while the slightly less-bright LG 65C2 was recently reduced to $1,996.99 to compete. We expect pricing for both this technology and White OLED to start to come down in the near future as ink-jet printing techniques are ramped up in mass production.
Meanwhile, Sony, the only other manufacturer with a QD-OLED TV for sale this year, is offering its 65-inch 65A95K for $3,998.99. This uses the same hybrid OLED panel as the Samsung S95B, but a different Google TV smart TV platform and Sony’s XR Processor providing Sony’s renowned picture processing.
We haven’t yet tested the Sony A95K version, but we have seen it up close in Sony’s New York offices this year and we were very impressed with the set’s excellent overall picture performance. But we are pleased to confirm that the processing in the Samsung 65S95B is very good, as well, including its impressive level of motion handling.
So let’s dive in.
Samsung has done an admirable job of maximizing the design of this television to emphasize the aforementioned thinness of the panel. Samsung has kept the profile quiet svelte without the need for adding one of its One Connect boxes, used in top-of-the-line QNED Mini-LED TV series. The bottom third of the back of set protrudes a little to the rear of the set, but the overall form factor is still thin enough to fit quite snugly up against a wall, or placed on a table top with the supplied metal-finished pedestal base positioned under center screen. This stand is weighted and stable to provide a relatively firm anchor for the thin screen, which is good since the ultra-thin panel produces some back-and-forth wobble when gently nudged.
The back of the set is made of a gray/black poly-carbonate that makes for a tidy all around appearance. The design includes input cover panels and cable management channels to minimize wire clutter viewed from in front and behind the set.
Samsung has also kept the bezel trim framing around the perimeter of the screen very thin. The effect makes for a nice overall appearance when the television is placed in Samsung’s Ambient Mode, through which a selection of screen savers and digital artworks can be engaged when the TV’s not being used to view programs. The effect is somewhat similar to the look of Samsung’s popular The Frame Lifestyle TV models.
Samsung includes with the set a new rechargeable remote control. This gets around the need for frequent battery changes, by recharging the internal batteries via either a brief USB-C cable connection to a power source, or by using the built in solar panels on the back of the remote to absorb energy from the sun or ambient room lights. The operational design is basically the same as previous Samsung One Remotes, providing minimal buttons and an on-board mic to manipulate on-screen menus or accept voice input commands.
Samsung continues to drive its televisions using this year’s version of its Tizen OS and inter-operable user interface controlled by the above mentioned remote. 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, and this year’s versions makes improvements to the Samsung Smart Hub for seaches and recommendations, although it is somewhat slower to respond than previous years in executing apps and making settings adjustments. Samsung continues to nicely provide a variety of voice assistants to choose from, including Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Samsung’s own Bixby.
If you are not used to the Tizen platform, navigating the menus might take some getting used to. Apps, arranged in on-screen ribbons with image tiles, source options and picture and sound settings, are all accessible with a few quick button presses in a fairly intuitive manner. Samsung adds support for what it calls Multiview picture in picture, and a new Video Calling app (requires an optional add-on camera).
We have some issues with the HDMI-CEC connected deiver interoperability does not always switch items on or off seamlessly, especially when trying to run multiple components through a connected AVR switcher. But sadly, this is not an exclusive issue to Samsung smart TVs. Some legacy devices like DirecTV set-tops can also be clunky, at times, with everyone’s platforms, we continue to find.
The S95B 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 S95B with a complement of four full-bandwidth (48 Gbps) 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. All of this will help automate the process of setting up the TV to switch into gaming mode while reducing lag time and frame tearing in today’s higher-performing video games.
In addition to including advanced inputs, Samsung has optimized the S95B for on-board game streaming. Included here is the Samsung Gaming Hub, which supports game streaming services such as Xbox Cloud Gaming, Google Stadia, Utomik and more. Gamers can use a number of compatible wireless controllers paired to the television to play the latest streaming game titles from popular services.
As mentioned, all four HDMI ports support full bandwidth 48Gbps input, which allows for up to 4K/120Hz variable frame rates, where supported in content.
We tested the S95B with an excellently low lag input of 9ms in Game Mode using a 1080p/60Hz signal on the Leo Bodnar input lag tester with the television.
Samsung also includes the 2022 version of its Game Bar 2.0 that offers a visual reference for key gaming variables onscreen along with fast access to the appropriate settings modes to adjust them. This allows checking variables like input lag to make adjustments for frames per second, HDR (including HDR10+ Gaming in supported content), wireless headset settings and other actions.
Gamers also have access to split screen gaming, switching between four genre-based presets, and can switch between aspect rations including 21:9 and 32:9 from certain PC games. Other tools include the ability to boost brightness levels in dark areas of the picture to quickly pick up on stealthy combatants lurking in the shadows.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
In calibrating the Samsung 65S95B (firmware was updated to version 1303) prior to the review, we selected the television’s Filmmaker Mode picture mode. Filmmaker Mode is a set of picture settings determined by the multi-industry Ultra HD Alliance to reduce the amount of post-processing in the TV applied to movies and TV shows to achieve a picture as close as possible to the filmmaker’s artistic intent. It is intended to produce images as they would be seen in a movie theater.
We calibrated the set using a Spectracal C6-HDR colorimeter, a Murideo Six-G test pattern generator and the 2022 version of Portrait Displays Calman Video Display Calibration software, using the Samsung 2021 QLED workflow. Unfortunately, the AutoCal workflow for this 2022 model was not yet ready for use.
Note that Samsung includes in this set its own version of automatic calibration using mobile device app and the supporting mobile phone cameras. We didn’t try this out.
As seen in the Pre-Calibration reading from the Portrait Displays Calman HDR Calibration Workflow, our test sample measured very close to perfect out of the box, requiring very little adjustment. At the 10% white window pattern, the set held tightly to the established pattern, varying only slightly at the peak. Where color balance was off in multi-point grayscale we chose to leave the settings alone since the they were not responding in our attempts at a quick adjustment, and we didn’t want to risk throwing off the otherwise excellent readings elsewhere.
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. However, this level elevates somewhat in ambient room light.
We also tested the set’s ability to handle haloing, which is one of the strengths of self-emissive OLED technologies over backlight LED LCD applications. We were quite surprised to see faint haoling around bright white moving objects against solid black backgrounds, and similarly, we spotted some cloud-like blooming in the moving starfield patterns from the Spears & Munsil HDR Test Disc. This is reportedly an “optical illusion.”
“According to Samsung Display’s internal evaluations on ‘light blurring degree (halation),’ its self-luminous OLED showed a halation of 0.00% and no indication of light blurring, yet LCDs with ‘local dimming’ showed noticeable light blurring when tested,” Samsung Display said in a statement.
“Self-luminous OLEDs have independent pixels that light up within the image display area but turn off within other areas, which eliminates blurred lights,” says Samsung Display’s Head of Product Planning Team for Small and Medium-sized Display Division, Hojung Lee. “Light blurring is often more noticeable as screen size increases, however OLEDs offer the best viewing solution for large-screen IT devices such as laptops and tablets.
“When a focus group was studied watching content on OLED display screens, no light blur was observed by Samsung Display, even when measured from both 45 degree and 60 degree viewing angles. However, when testing LCD displays, light blurring increased three to eight times from a wider viewing angle as compared to a straight-on view,” the statement said.
The condition observed is very slight and we didn’t encounter any distractions arising from it in other real-world demo clips. In fact, the television passed one of our favorite torture tests from 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 on a hill top. The 65S95B presented very visibly the faint white mist that encircles the gathering positioned against the backdrop of black mountains and night-time sky. On some lesser LED backlit LCD TVs this faint mist appears as a potentially distracting black amorphous blob. The fact that the mist appears as intended, indicates to us that the picture processing is doing its job very well, and some other variable is responsible for the tast pattern artifacts.
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 your knowledge and eye sensitivity – your miles may vary).
The S95B 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. Similarly, the S95B was able to present discs carrying Dolby Vision HDR (with dynamic metadata) in HDR10 (static metadata) format in a way that we could hardly notice a difference.
We measured peak HDR brightness on the 65S95B at an excellently bright (for an OLED display) 1038 nits, 0% in a black target with lights off, rising slightly with lights on in the room (whether this was due to the anti-glare screen coating we don’t know).
Standard Dynamic Range
The Samsung 65S95B handles both standard dynamic range (SDR) and high dynamic range (HDR) very well. In calibrating the set for SDR out of the box settings were as close to perfect as we’ve seen, and very little need to be adjusted. The BT.709 color gamut and D65 white targets were pretty much dead on, with the television picture mode set to Filmmaker Mode and color temperature at “Warm 2”.
Using Portrait Displays Calman display calibration software, we brought down the panel brightness to 170 nits for a moderately well-lit room and adjusted the shadow detail down a notch for shadow detail to balance the target patterns.
Real world Full HD SDR video images from YouTube were nicely bright and sharp. Flesh tones took on an almost HDR quality while colors in faces had a warm and natural glow. Pictures remained sharp, even though upscaled to 4K.
Color handling in both SDR and HDR was impressive. We find this to be the real strength of this television. Reds and yellows were very rich and bright as black seemed inky and natural.
HDR color details were present in all but High CR Red pattern in the Spears & Munsil HDR test pattern disc.
In the 4K/HDR10 Majestic Winter Wildlife video clips from YouTube, a white-furred fox showed off its detailed coat tinged with hints of yellow standing out against a brilliantly lit white snow-covered ground showing slight pinkish and blueish hues depending on how the sun was reflecting from it, making for a very natural and captivating image.
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 99.69% of the 1931 xy P3 gamut (P3 is the Digital Cinema Initiative’s color gamut recommendation for professional theater equipment) and 99.73% of the 1976 uv P3 gamut space. These are among the best readings we’ve measured in a flat-panel television.
Specular highlights in HDR10 were nicely elevated from the surrounding picture, but the beauty of this technology is that colors across the HDR picture are also noticeably lifted above the levels of the non-HDR versions of the same content. Everything seems to come to life.
To check this out, look at the campfires in the woodland scenes from the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of The Revenant. They are bright and rich in yellow and orange from the leaping flames that stand out against the surround background in a much more dramatic fashion than the Standard Blu-ray version.
Similarly colors overall dazzle in the color 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, while occasional surface-directed camera shots give the color volume capability of the display a workout as its picks up the changing color hues in the fins of fish as they pass in and out of downward shinning rays of sunlight.
The S95B’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.
On an upscaled Full HD Blu-ray version of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the low-light noise and film grain in the opening Asian harbor scenes was present but not distracting from unnatural line duplication. It was not better or worse than it would appear on a very good Full HD TV screen.
The Samsung S95B does an excellent job of limiting judder when watching 24p (film-based) movies or TV shows, but flicker can pop up when black frame insertion (aka Clear Motion in the picture settings) is engaged for 60Hz sources. While cleaning up motion blurring this setting also reduces picture brightness and is not recommended. When in Filmmaker Mode it will be shut off automatically. Unfortunately, in addition to blurring, turning off “Picture Clarity Settings” will produce noticeable judder and blurring in some content. This can be dialed out using the customizable “Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction controls, but at the cost of producing some degree of soap opera effect in 24p video and film-based content. Eliminating this from movies was the primary purpose of introducing Filmmaker Mode — It preserves the creative intent of a movie director. For live video, like sports, however, engaging Picture Clarity will produce clearer visuals in fast action sequences.
Overall, Samsung’s motion handling is very good with this technology most of the time, even in Filmmaker Mode.
One of the big strengths of OLED technology is its wide viewing angles, that hold on to color saturation and contrast even when viewed from extreme angles from center screen. The Samsung S95B’s Quantum HDR technology doesn’t disappoint here. Viewing angles were just was wide as its White OLED competition, which is most noticeable when standing up from a seated position in front of center screen. The color and brightness output stands firm.
We also checked for panel uniformity viewing whole screen test patterns in white, gray and black, and found not shifting of colors to pinks or greens in white, and no smudging or dirty screen effect in gray and black screens.
The Samsung 65S95B features a built-in 2.2.2-channel speaker system with 60 watts total power.
On-board sound is quite good for a built-in speaker system, especially for a TV this thin, but we still recommend getting a good soundbar or better yet a multi-channel Dolby Atmos AV and surround sound speaker setup. As good as the TVs sound is, it’s no match for the dynamics of a multi-channel speaker setup. Samsung makes some excellent Dolby Atmos soundbars that will make a good fit here. That’s because Samsung’s better TVs offer the company’s Q-Symphony feature that allows marrying the speaker system inside the TV with the speakers in certain Samsung soundbars for an even fuller overall surround sound experience.
Other audio features include the ability to playback Dolby Atmos through the internal speakers for a wider sound stage. Lossless sound formats like Dolby TrueHD can also be sent out over the HDMI eARC port to compatible soundbars and AVRs for a full multi-channel 360-degree experience.
Samsung also includes its Object Tracking Sound system technology that uses sound actuators built into the TV’s frame to create sound that tracks the motion of on-screen objects to make sounds appear to move around the screen for greater realism.
Much of the TV sound appears to be coming from down-firing speakers, that deliver surprisingly punchy bass for tiny TV speakers. The bass ports firing downward from the bottom of the screen. The thin OLED panel also vibrates to fill out the sound, although that up close the the screen we didn’t hear any sounds that seem to come from the panel itself, but from a distance, the dialog and sound effects appear to come from the picture, with certain sound effects and background music appearing to come from behind and to the left and right sides of the picture. The sound stage was nicely wide and disperse. The experience can get quite immersive, especially with Dolby Atmos source material.
Dialog was clear, especially with on-board sound mode tuned to “Amplify”. However, the bass tones of some voices and music take on an artificially hollow quality, compared to outboard home theater setups. This is typical of all narrow TVs. We didn’t detect any distracting distortion or rattles in the peaks of sharp loud sounds like gun shots and explosions at reasonable listening levels.
We found the Samsung 65S95B 4K “Quantum HDR” TV to be one of the best televisions we’ve tested to date. We can’t say that the picture quality is a dramatic improvement over what we saw in LG’s G2 series White OLED TV earlier this year, but the panel brightness and exceptional color accuracy impressed us, as did the generally “affordable” out-of-the-gate price point for a new premium display technology of this caliber.
We find it hard to understand why Samsung Electronics hasn’t made as big a deal out of this technology as it has done for its QNED MiniLED TVs and Wall-Sized Micro LED displays. The best we can reckon is that might be because Samsung Display hasn’t produced an 8K QD-OLED panel as yet, and 8K has been Samsung’s premium TV calling card for the past couple of years.
That said, we realize that Sony’s answer to this set in the 65A95K QD-OLED model recently won “the King of 4K TV” at the Value Electronics 2022 TV Shootout. We didn’t attend the event this year, so we’ll reserve judgment until we’ve had a chance to test the Sony model for ourselves. But based on the large price gap between the Sony model over the Samsung 65S95B, we think it will be hard for many to justify not choosing the Samsung 65S95B, based on value alone. So for now, judging by what we’ve seen already, the Samsung 65S95B is one of HD Guru’s top recommended 4K premium TV best buys this year.
We therefore give the Samsung 2022 4K Quantum HDR OLED QN65S95B five out of five hearts.
The Samsung 65S95K review sample used for this review was a company loan.
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By Greg Tarr
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