Samsung Q8C Curved QLED TV: Redefining the modern television
Samsung has fired the first salvo in the battle against the likes of Sony and LG, with its 2017 flagship televisions. Out goes last year’s “SUHD” branding, and in comes the “QLED TV”—the name comes from quantum dots technology.
What exactly are quantum dots? The quantum dot display technology uses particles (known as dots) instead of white LED lights that do not produce colours efficiently. These are incredibly small particles, usually 2-10 nanometres in diameter, that directly convert light into specific colours. In Samsung’s case, these dots have an additional aluminium component, which will allow better projection of light on the panel. They are coated on a polymer film, which is placed between the display and the LED lighting. Thus, what you see is a cleaner white colour, brighter display, shades reproduced correctly, and richer colours all through.
The Q8C Curved QLED is the flagship television, and it looks the part. The bezels are minimal, and the mix of silver and black colours on the chassis lends it a sophisticated look. The table-top stand is quite solid as well, and its design matches the curve of the screen. Since this is a thin TV, all the connectors and ports have been moved to an external “One Connect” box—it has four HDMI inputs and three USB ports. However, it’s a heavy television, despite the slimness, and some of that has to do with the solid materials used for the panel.
The 55-inch and 65-inch panels have a 3,840x2,160 resolution (4K), and are capable of 200Hz motion rates. These TVs are Q HDR 1500 standard capable, which means these panels can hit the maximum illumination rated at 1,500nits—this is higher than the 1,000nits that the 2016 TVs from Samsung were able to achieve, and makes them even more usable in brightly lit rooms. And that shows up in real-world performance, with an exquisite amount of vibrancy, detailing and contrast visible in HDR content on services such as Netflix.
In fact, the Q8C support for HDR extends beyond the current industry standard of HDR10 (this is a rival for Dolby Vision, which other TV brands offer), and will also work well with the new Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) format, which will be used for broadcast content in the future, and the upgraded HDR10+ standard (Amazon Video has announced support for this). The net result is that you get picture quality not seen so far in any television. There are settings that allow forced HDR-upscaling even on standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) content. The HDR+ mode, along with some software-based trickery to improve colour, will add vibrancy to content that originally didn’t have it. This could be good news for movie buffs.
This is a high-quality panel—and you pay a premium for it. Getting the best visual performance isn’t difficult. The picture settings menu is simple to get around, and it is best experienced with noise-reduction features set to their lowest settings (for broadcast content such as DTH or cable TV) and turned off for higher-resolution sources such as Netflix and Blu-ray movies.
It is also worth arguing that even though curved TVs are designed for better viewing angles, particularly if you are sitting on one side of the screen, the Samsung Q8C does even better by eliminating reflections almost completely. In the long run, this also reduces strain on the eyes, given that most of your viewing will happen in a room with at least some ambient lighting.
The updated Tizen smart TV software is now slicker. In fact, if you plug in, for instance, an Xbox One console or a TataSky HD set-top box, it will automatically detect and label those sources for you.
There are some shortcomings. For one, an occasional judder in fast-moving visuals, irrespective of the picture settings. Second, there is still some light “bleed” on the panel that many OLED TVs suffer from—if you look closely, it is sometimes visible during dark scenes.
If you need something to show off in your living room and want the best TV tech money can buy right now, nothing comes close to the Samsung Q8C Curved QLED TV. At least not just yet. For Samsung has taken quantum dot technology to a new level, negated the reflective annoyance of ambient lighting, achieved excellent black levels and colours, as well as complete future-proofing in terms of HDR standards. This is the benchmark for television right now, and could remain so for a while.
Samsung Q8C Curved QLED TV
Rs3,29,900 (55 inches); Rs4,49,900 (65 inches)