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8K TVs are not new, but they were new to me before I mounted my new Samsung QN900C on the wall. Samsung loaned me the 65-inch version to test, and from the moment I opened the box, I discovered 8K offers an entirely different experience from any other TV I’ve had in my home. Six weeks later, I am still impressed.

Certainly it does all the usual things you’d expect from a TV, but there’s also substantial amount of smart functionality packed into this model. I’m unsure how I can prepare myself to go back to a television that looks like a traditional TV. QN900S is full of functions and amenities you do not need, but will luxuriate in all the same. While it’s quite expensive as modern TVs go ($2,999), and the cost-benefit equation for 8K is still a bit murky, I find this model to be a worthwhile splurge for those with the means.

While aspects of the television like image quality and sound are still the primary concern when purchasing (especially at this price point), in an age of streaming, interactive services, gaming, and TVs as smart hubs, the experience of simply using the TV is at least as important, so in this review, I’ll give those aspects equal weight.

Recommended products:

Samsung QN900C 65″ $2,895

Samsung QN900C 75″ $3,695

Samsung QN900C 85″ $5,498

Stunningly thin and razor sharp

The only reason this 65-inch behemoth even fits my space is because of the sleek design—it appears virtually frameless, so the pixels extend edge-to-edge, reducing its overall footprint. The exterior edge is wrapped in metal, with absolutely no corner radius; the corners might as well be mitered. It is also shockingly thin—with less than an inch of depth, it can be installed almost flush to the wall. Given it is so svelte, you will be taken aback at how heavy it is, clocking in at 50-odd pounds, which something to keep in mind if you’re hoping to install it on a swing mount, as I did. Installation demands gloves for a reason: The screen’s surface is easy to smudge, and you will suffer anxiety, as I did, trying to remove these blemishes, which required about twenty minutes of polishing with a soft t-shirt.

The other distinctive feature of the QN900C: You theoretically should not have to snake a bunch of wires off the back or side of it. One wire connects it to a separate box, and all your other connections go through that box, called the One Connect. If you use the stand the television comes with, the box even mounts to the stand. If you wall mount the television, you can bolt the unit onto the back of the television, but that defeats the purpose (not having wires snaking from your TV) and could interfere with your wall mount. Instead, I stowed the One Connect with all my other peripherals, which worked well.  

Aesthetics and setup aside, you’ll really notice the differences between the QN900C and any other smart TV the moment you plug it in This is a white glove experience: any peripheral you plug into the One Connect is immediately recognized by the television. As soon as I turned it on, it knew I had also connected a Chromecast and even an old Wii into the HDMI ports, and it knew exactly what to do with the USB stick I stuck in, offering to scroll the images or play the videos stored on it.

Even the remote delights

The QN900C comes with a small remote, and it’s actually worth discussin. First, this one passively charges via a solar panel on the back, or when plugged in via a USB-C input (you’ll get a notification on the TV when it’s done charging). No batteries. Second, amongst my collection of tiny remotes for various devices, this one is impressively responsive. I never had to push a button twice to get the TV to do what I wanted. Aimed even remotely in the direction of the television, it always just works.

My singular complaint is that the volume button is also the mute button, and I frequently accidentally mute the TV while trying to alter the volume. The remote doesn’t offer much in the way of buttons, but you won’t need more than what it has: a settings button, a home bottom, skip back, volume, and a mic button, so you can speak your request to the voice assistant on the TV. Worth noting, the voice assistant has so far earned an almost perfect comprehension score, always finding what I ask for, whether that’s a setting or a movie.

A well thought out UI for the home screen and app navigation

Samsung’s interactive experience on the 8K is completely immersive, and far more than the usual line of apps running along the bottom of the screen. Although it opens into a home screen full of options, it sorts them into tabs for game mode, media mode, or ambient mode.

Ambient mode lets you control the TV when not in use to create a Frame-like experience; you can load different preset art collections or use your own (thought the best ambient mode, in my opinion, is an 8K fireplace video from YouTube on infinite loop).

In media mode, where I spent most of my time, you can install any of the hundreds of apps available, including games, music, all the streaming services you can imagine, podcasts, news, etc. Searching for, installing, and then opening the apps is seamless, with fast loading and switching time. The home screen loads a variety of content you’ve seen recently, so you can pick back up quickly or choose something new.

The TV comes loaded with TV Plus, which includes 300 free streaming channels. I didn’t get much use out of it, but you might if you don’t already pay for a live TV service. You’ll find some, but not all of the channels you’d get in most live TV experiences: The Discovery brand is highly represented, but no local channels. It’s not perfect, but it is free, and I frequently see movies on there that interest me.

Stream video games directly from the TV without a console

The gaming hub allows you to pair a controller to the TV itself, then load any of the thousands of games offered, essentially turning the TV into a console. You can, of course, connect your own consoles, too, but for casual gamers, the flexibility is really nice. Over the time I’ve had the television, I’ve grabbed a number of games, from classic Tetris to first person shooters, and all look really good in action.

Multi View is an actually usable version of picture-in-picture

The QN900C also has Multi View, so you can pull sources from different places and see them side by side on the screen. You can mirror your mobile device alongside YouTube, or browse the internet next to a Zoom window. On at least one morning, I ran MacGyver alongside a mirror of my laptop. The TV mirrors devices with minimal effort, and almost begs you to install a camera to aid in viewing meetings on your TV and for playing games or using the health app. 

Samsung Health is interactive

Included with the television is Samsung Health, a video library with a host of content that will also connect to your smart devices and a camera, and allow you to set up a calendar and goals. Honestly, it reminded me a lot of a similar scheme on the Wii many years ago. The interactivity is definitely a bonus, and I tried a few yoga classes where my form was gently corrected. If you’re really into fitness, you’re likely to find something in the video library that works for you.

SmartThings turns the TV into a smart hub

At CES, Samsung discussed how televisions will become the heart of the family’s smart home, and will act as a hub. This television has that functionality installed already; just opening the SmartThings app brings up a 3D map of my house and all my smart devices. You can edit the map from the app or the TV itself, and see all your routines and basically anything else the app offers right on the screen. I’m still not entirely sure how useful this functionality is, but it’s a nice touch. 

The Bixby voice assistant isn’t fully cooked, but still useful

Another topic of the CES Samsung presentation was Bixby, the company’s voice assistant, and it, too, is available on this television. I live with Google Assistant and Alexa, and I am addicted to using my assistants to turn devices on and off, tell me the time, find my phone, and remind me how many cups are in a gallon. I was excited about Bixby, which you can use to navigate the television or treat like any other voice assistant. You can choose (thankfully), whether to wake up Bixby hands-free using the TV’s mic, and I lasted about a week before I turned it off. Bixby frequently thought it was being summoned from the dialogue on TV, and each time it would dim the volume and ask what I wanted. Bixby isn’t unhelpful when I use it intentionally, but is certainly less evolved than Google Assistant or Alexa. I’d call this one feature not quite ready for prime time.

Still, even with the voice recognition off, Bixby is the assistant powering the search when you use the mic button on the remote, and it does a great job. You can add Alexa into the TV mix, and I could, of course, summon Google in my Chromecast, but I don’t see a benefit from doing either. Once I turned off auto awaken for Bixby, it became pretty useful when summoned. 

Picture quality is stunning, with deep blacks and bright highlights

Smart functions aside, the real reason you buy a high-end TV is for the picture quality, and the wealth of attention-grabbing features packed into the QN900C aside, this thing looks great. Sure, there’s not a lot of 8K content out there yet, but what there is will inspire you. The most notable thing in my view is how the upscaling AI works on content that isn’t natively 8K, or even 4K. Much of the movie content from the Samsung TV Plus app is older, and I figured it would look pixelated and grainy, the way it has on previous televisions. Yet the upscaling is incredibly smooth, and never calls attention to itself.

The brightness and contrast are out of this world, even when I specifically sought out “dark programming” to test it. The Game of Thrones finale finally had all the details my eyes desperately wanted and The Batman became watchable (I gave up on my last TV, so annoyed by how old I felt trying to discern what the hell was happening in one pitch-dark scene after another). 

Samsung accomplishes this using local dimming with its mini-LED display and Quantum Dot engine, which maintains a massive library of color even at peak brightness (and, apparently, dimness). There wasn’t one static black, but a rich variance of tones. I can’t stress enough how detailed and rich the colors look across 4K content, and all the way to the edges of the screen. Reds, oranges and yellows just look more vibrant and juicy. Greens and purples have a glossy depth in nature videos that I have never before experienced on a television. 

Off-axis viewing isn’t an issue

I specifically mounted the TV to a swiveling mount so I could spend time watching from various angles, for no reason other than science. The only noticeable difference I saw when viewing off-center was that the deep blacks I just spoke about sometimes diminished, along with other color detail, but only at a deep angle. It was not bad enough to annoy me, but it was noticeable. What I never had a problem with, and which often is an issue in my home, is glare.—at any angle, the matte surface seemed to reject glare of any kind.

Action looks super smooth

In a similar scientific venture, I put on some sports. For at least 20 minutes I watched what appeared to be a very weird amalgamation of Taylor Swift sightings and football on an arctic field, and what impressed me was how smooth the action unfolded. Watching sports in super high def is downright enjoyable, and surprisingly, where I noticed the biggest difference was in the crowd; I saw so much more detail than I would on a TV with inferior picture quality. The whiteout conditions didn’t look flat, either; like the rich blacks, the snowy whites offered depth and detail. 

When you connect the TV for the first time, you can run a calibration test through the SmartThings app, and though I skipped it at first, I returned to it a week in and it greatly improved the richness of color on display. There are innumerable settings to adjust, most notably the picture mode, which loads in “eco” but can be changed to cinema quality for higher contrast. Doing so seemed to allow for darker tones, and of course, increased the power consumption. 

The sound is fine, but you’ll still want a soundbar or speaker setup

I don’t tend to focus on the built-in speakers, as I’d rather connect a speaker set like Sonos. But before I did, I suffered through the TV’s non-surround sound for a week. The sound is better than most televisions from fifteen feet away, and it doesn’t muffle voices as many flat panel displays seem to, but I missed the deeper bass a dedicated speaker adds. A feature called Adaptive Sound Pro will calibrate the sound to your space, so I’m sure that helps, but it would be a shame to use a device of this visual caliber without an additional boost to the sound quality.

Bottom line: The Samsung 8K QN900C is worth the money

If you can call a television a luxury experience, the Samsung 8K QN900C qualifies. This TV is like a gigantic plush hotel robe you feel compelled to steal. Every aspect of using it is optimal, from the crazy good response time between requests, to changing volume, to swapping between apps or channels, to the remote, which feels light years better than any other I’ve used, to the quality of the viewing experience, the richness of colors, and the ability to make even the darkest shows thoroughly watchable. You can see how, paired with your phone and laptop, and connected to a game controller and camera, this device can truly become an all inclusive hub of your home. 

Sure, I’d like it to come with a robot I can outsource cleaning the screen, and I think the One Connect box isn’t ideal to hang off the back, but I have few complaints about the television as a whole. The only reason I don’t recommend this TV unreservedly is the price. To be clear, $3,000 is a lot of money for a TV. However, I’m reminded of when I bought my very first TV as an adult. It was $400, which apparently translates to roughly $2,000 now. It was a big stretch for me at the time. (I had to put it on layaway!) I was enormously proud of that 32-inch tube TV, and I held onto it well into adulthood. An 8K TV like this Samsung is a stretch, but if you can afford it, I believe it has value to match the price tag, and you’ll be using it for years. Mount it, connect some speakers, and enjoy the ride.

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