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Review: Samsung QN95B 'Neo QLED'

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QN95B is Samsung's new flagship "Neo QLED" 4K LCD TV for 2022 and the successor to last year's QN95A. It comes with a new design and a completely revamped Smart TV user interface – now in fullscreen. It also features the external One Connect box for connecting HDMI and other cables.

In addition to Europe and other regions, QN95B will this year also be available in North America. We are testing the 55-inch model.

 Also read: Samsung 2022 TV line-up


Price and retailers:

US retailer
UK retailer
DE retailer

First impressions

Samsung QN95B is a heavy yet elegant TV that comes with a tabletop stand included in the box whereas the slim wall mounting solution is optional. The completely flat back, which has a textured look, allows you to mount it very close to the wall. The miniLED backlight and LCD panel are lowered into the cabinet with very tight tolerances, and surrounded by a metal frame with nicely chamfered edges. The frame is silver in Europe and black in North America. HDMI and other cables must be connected to the external One Connect box, which can rest on the back of the tabletop stand or be placed separately in a cabinet underneath or near the TV, providing some flexibility. Only Samsung's QN95B and 8K LCD TVs come with the One Connect box so there are other options for buyers who want a fully integrated design. The tabletop stand, which is fixed in place (no swivel or likewise), is heavy and provides a stable foundation.

Samsung QN95B review

Samsung QN95B review

The One Connect box is thinner than last year's version but still too big for our taste. One of the reasons is that it also holds the power supply to feed the energy-hungry miniLED backlight. As such, it connects to the TV with only a single cable that carries both video, data and power. The cable has also gotten significantly thicker compared to the first version of the One Connect. We hope Samsung will make further efforts to shrink the box – may we suggest a version without legacy ports such as optical and without tuners.

User experience & features

Samsung has given its Tizen operating system a completely revamped user interface in the 2022 Smart TVs. The bottom bar has been replaced by a fullscreen user interface divided into three hubs:
  • Media Hub
  • Ambient Hub
  • Gaming Hub Only two of these are available at launch as the Gaming Hub will launch "later this year" and only in some regions. As always, the latest version of Tizen is reserved for the new models meaning that Samsung TVs from 2021 and earlier will not get the new Tizen user interface. In other words, any Samsung TV is stuck on the generation of Tizen that it came with.
    Setting up the TV is straightforward using either the remote control or Samsung's smartphone app. During set-up, the TV will ask you to accept Samsung's privacy policy, create a Samsung account (now required to download apps), prompt you to update to the latest firmware, and to enable adaptive sound and picture settings. After set-up, the TV jumps straight into Samsung's TV Plus service, which is a collection of free live TV channels with ads. Incidentally, this sums up the direction in which Samsung's Tizen Smart TVs are heading. The revamped user interface in fullscreen is a radical departure from the simple bottom bar in previous Samsung TVs. The Ambient hub is a nice collection of Samsung's screensavers and digital artwork, which can be shown on-screen when the TV is not in use. Unfortunately, the Ambient Hub feels mostly like a storefront for NFT artwork which can be purchased from the TV's interface via Nifty Gateway. The NFT artwork store is front and center.

    Samsung QN95B review

    Likewise, the Media Hub has pre-installed apps from Samsung's partners and some partners have a row (see the three photos above) in the hub where new content is highlighted, with Samsung's own TV Plus service most prominently featured. In this sense, Samsung's new UI mirrors Google's approach with Android TV and Google TV, just without the recommendations and rich selection of apps. Such pre-installed services, TV Plus, highlighted content, and ads would be easier to accept if the user interface was customizable. Unfortunately, you customization options are extremely limited (to mainly moving app icons in the app row). The search function is supposed to be universal to let you find content across streaming services but most of the time you just end up with YouTube results, even when using a popular and generic search term like 'Marvel'. What's the point then?

    Samsung QN95B review

    We already know what the Gaming Hub will look like and unsurprisingly the most prominent spot will be a big sponsored tile. On the other hand we are excited to see Google Stadia and GeForce Now arrive on Samsung TVs – and we wonder if even 'Xbox Everywhere' will make it in time for launch of the Gaming Hub later this year. An open question is which game controllers Samsung will support and how well all of this will work.

    Samsung Gaming Hub

    Samsung's upcoming Gaming Hub on 2022 Smart TVs. Photo: Samsung

    We sometimes experienced situations were Tizen UI would freeze for a short time or persistently until we changed to, for example, an HDMI input and returned to the homescreen. This is likely a software issue that can be fixed. There are some things that we like about the refreshed UI such as the Ambient section and features – except for the NFT ads – and Samsung's relatively wide selection of streaming apps (although some local apps that were available on 2021 models are missing at the moment). The TV is also quick to boot up from standby. However, the refresh does not represent a step forward in our opinion and Tizen still doesn't feel like a vibrant and inviting TV platform like Google's Android TV or Apple's tvOS. Instead the latest version feels more like a way for Samsung to tighten control of its Smart TVs and which partners have access to its platform and customers, in an effort to increase earnings through targeted ads and sponsored content. And that's a shame.

    Operation

    2020's 4K flagship, Samsung Q95T, came with an exquisite remote control made from metal but last year's QN95A and this year's QN95B, as well as cheaper Samsung models, come bundled with a redesigned black remote that is made to look like brushed metal. It is actually black plastic. There are solar cells on the back to let the user recharge the remote using indoor or outdoor light, in addition to a USB-C charging port. The 2022 version can also harness a small amount of energy from radio waves in your home (WiFi router or similar) but it has to be very, very close to the source. However, as noted last year, if Samsung really cares for the environment it should first and foremost take a good long look at its miniLED-based LCD TVs in general as these are highly inefficient in converting energy into light and color. The 55-inch QN95B has an average energy consumption of around 170 Watts in HDR, based on our testing, and HDR is increasingly what people watch and stream from Netflix, Disney+, Apple etc.

    Samsung QN95B review

    The remote control now has four sponsored buttons, up from three in 2021. These are Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Samsung TV Plus. Samsung's remote control is still one of our favorite TV remote controls but it is a shame about the sponsored, non-configurable buttons and the downgrade to plastic. If there was a source button and the four sponsored buttons were exchanged for logo-free reconfigurable buttons, the functionality would be close to perfect.

    TV audio

    QN95B has a 4.2.2-channel 70W speaker system built in. It uses Samsung's Object Tracking Sound technology to deliver wider sound with dimensionality where it sounds as if voices are actually coming from the person on-screen. It manages to do that effectively sometimes, and voices are clear for the most part. On the other hand we did not really hear any overhead effects despite our testing facility being a perfect square room with a flat ceiling. For the first time, 2022 Samsung TVs also support Dolby Atmos. There has been a lot of confusion around Dolby Atmos in Samsung TVs in the past so here is the situation:
  • Previous Samsung TVs only supported passthrough of Dolby Atmos via HDMI and passthrough from a few apps such as Netflix (sometimes, not always). The bitstream would get pulled down from the streaming server and passed on to a Atmos-compatible receiver/soundbar for decoding on the external device.
  • 2022 Samsung TV can now decode Dolby Atmos meaning that they can 'unpack' it and process the sound for internal playback via the TV speakers. In addition, Samsung's new TVs can wirelessly transfer Dolby Atmos to compatible 2022 Samsung soundbars (we did not get a chance to test this). Since Atmos is now officially certified (meaning that Samsung pays royalties to Dolby) many additional streaming apps, including the Apple TV app, let you pull down the Atmos soundtrack on a Samsung TV for internal playback or output to a soundbar or receiver. There are bass speakers built in to QN95B but in movies and games the TV still lacks some punch which is to be expected from TV speakers. When deep tones are playing at moderately high volume the TV cabinet has a tendency to vibrate and produce a shaking sound. Overall, we think that QN95B delivers better sound than most TVs but the speaker system still has obvious limitations for movie watching and gaming, and especially for music we will recommend an external system.

    Calibration

    Samsung's 2022 "Neo QLED" LCD TVs have 5 picture modes (Dynamic, Standard, Movie, Filmmaker and Game Mode). The 'Game' mode can be enabled from Connection -> Game Mode Settings. As you can see in our measurements to the right, 'Dynamic' is extreme and 'Standard' is quite exotic too. 'Movie' and 'Filmmaker Mode' are very similar but the latter has been set to lower brightness. Samsung has made an effort to reduce the clutter but we still think having 5 picture modes is too excessive. 'Filmmaker Mode' should have replaced 'Movie', and 'Dynamic' does not belong on any TV from any manufacturer that prides itself on delivering good picture quality. As argued last year with QN95A, Samsung's 'Game' mode is an exercise in poor picture quality. It pushes almost 1200 nits even in SDR mode with wildly oversaturated colors, a far too high color temperature (10000+ Kelvin) that makes the whole picture look much too cold (bluish), and a too wide color space. We still don't get it. Game developers put a lot of effort into making sure that their games look right, so why would any TV manufacturer actively try to make everything look wrong? QN95B's Game mode is only a little less extreme than last year's QN95A, which I called "the worst 'Game' mode in any TV that I recall" having tested. If you want great picture quality with low input lag there is really no way around playing with picture settings in the 'Game' mode. We tried another approach where we deactivated all dynamic picture systems in 'Movie' mode but we still couldn't get input lag below 70 ms so that's not an optimal approach. For HDR, we have switched from a standard 10% window to a 9% window for measurement, which simply means that our test pattern now takes up 9% of the screen as opposed to 10% – nothing else was changed. As recently highlighted by Vincent Teoh of HDTVTest, Samsung TVs recognize a 10% window (that reviewers and calibrators typically use) after which it adjusts its picture output to make measurements appear more accurate than the picture actually is. This can only be defined an orchestrated effort to mislead reviewers – deliberate cheating. Here is what we mean: Both measurements below were taken in HDR Movie mode with the exact same picture settings. Only the size of the measurement window has changed from 10% of the screen to 9% of the screen, which should not change anything in regard to measurements and final results. However, as you can see on the two graphs to the right (yellow lines is the reference, grey line is the measurement) the 9% window tests confirm that QN95B is in reality making the HDR picture much brighter than what it should be (find side-by-side comparisons to Sony A95K in the picture quality section).
    And here is where it gets interesting because QN95B did not only pretend to be more accurate when measured with a 10% window, it also boosted brightness by up to 80% from about 1300 nits peak to about 2300 nits peak. This is possible because the power supply can send short power bursts of energy into the miniLED backlight. So rather than 2000+ nits peak brightness, you are most likely in reality getting closer to 1300 nits (a claim we will test in the picture quality section), if even that because as QN95B significantly limits its output on a 1% window as compared to 2% window to avoid halos / blooming, and with real content the brightest objects that are supposed to surpass 1000 nits brightness in peaks are typically markedly smaller than 1% of the screen – stars, small lamps, reflections etc. We have reached out to Samsung Korea for an official comment. For HDR, we have included measurements of the different HDR picture modes (with 9% windows) below and in the table to the right. We also adjusted our HDR workflow in other ways (which is why the graphs look a little different from normal) to make sure that the Samsung TV did not detect our test patterns based on other parameters. Ultimately it seemed to react only to the window size. As you can see, none of the built-in HDR picture modes are accurate. We measured DCI-P3 and Rec.2020 coverage to 92% and 70%, which is roughly the same as last year's QN95A and an improvement over the 2020 Q95T/Q90T. Samsung should make efforts to improve the color saturation on its LCD TVs to compete with OLED TVs.

    Measurements

    In our "measurements" section we include all measurements and our suggested calibration settings. If you want to learn more about our test methodology click here. Note: Starting last year, we implemented a new method for measurement of average power consumption in SDR and HDR, meaning that earlier measurements are not 1:1 comparable. The new method will be used in all TV reviews going forward. Note: We include calibration settings only for SDR, not HDR. For our calibration we have deactivated the ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the backlight setting according to your environment. You may prefer to have it enabled.
    Samsung QN95B review

    Picture quality

    Last year, Samsung launched its first LCD TVs with a miniLED zone dimming backlight. QN95B replaces QN95A as the 4K flagship LCD TV and despite its refreshed design, the miniLED and LCD technology inside remains mostly unchanged, as confirmed to FlatpanelsHD by Samsung's picture engineers at CES. As always, some of the most important factors in determining LCD picture quality is the type of panel (VA or IPS) and zone dimming capabilities so let's look at these elements first. We counted 36x16 dimming zones for a total of 576 zones in the 55-inch model, which is the same as in last year's QN95A. Samsung says that it has employed a new system called 'Shape Adaptive Light Control' in an effort to reduce blooming but we did not find any meaningful changes. Backlight control is still limited mainly by the relatively low number of dimming zones. As such, QN95B still suffers from heavy blooming in many situations, especially high-contrast scenes or when viewed from the side. In some dark scenes it gets a sort of hazy look, which is a side-effect of blooming. We covered this in more detail in last year's Samsung QN95A review. We do not have access to QN95A any longer but if we had to compare the two we would say that blooming is as evident or a tad more evident on this year's QN95B.
    One thing that we did want to elaborate on is peak brightness. As discussed and demonstrated the calibration section, QN95B detects a 10% window and changes its picture output; not just color and grey tone tracking but also peak brightness which gets boosted momentarily by up to 80%. So we wanted to examine how it behaves with actual content. Is peak brightness closer to 1300 nits (9% window testing) or 2300 nits (10% window testing)? Curiously, we did not find a single scene from our own pool of testing videos, YouTube HDR demos, HDR games or HDR test discs where QN95B went beyond 1300 nits in highlights, according to our measurements. While we cannot rule out that there are some examples, it seems to us much more likely that this represents its actual performance, which is actually not higher than the latest OLED TVs – and QN95B still suffers from heavy blooming at these levels. Where QN95B still has a brightness advantage over OLED TVs is in fullscreen brightness or larger segments of the picture, but this is not where you usually see high brightness in real movie and game scenes. QN95B can produce quite contrasty pictures but not with the same sparkle in bright highlights and intensity in blacks as OLED. Other than that QN95B is very similar to last year's QN95A. The dimming system still tends to get confused about how to set or control brightness in complex scenes or in scenes where bright objects flicker or move around. HDR occasionally shines, mainly in bright and colorful scenes that can look even better than on OLED TVs – but not accurate in luminance and colors – but in high-contrast scenes, scenes with small bright objects (stars, lamps etc.) and scenes that are darker overall QN95B is nowhere near in HDR picture quality to OLED TVs as raised blacks, visible blooming and halos take away from the otherwise good picture experience. QN95B's strengths lie in fullscreen brightness in brightly lit environments as its overall brightness is higher than OLED TVs' overall brightness. Some users may value that for sports or similar genres, although we personally still overall prefer OLED TVs in bright rooms all things considered. Samsung's 2022 TVs do still not support Dolby Vision.
    Samsung has a powerful "AI" video processor but most of the power is channeled into dynamic video systems that we prefer to deactivate to ensure accurate picture quality. In SDR mode, QN95B delivers much more accurate and balanced pictures than in HDR, partly because it can be set to respect the SDR standards and partly because the zone dimming systems does not have to work so aggressively to stay within SDR content's boundaries. Samsung's anti-reflective filter is the most effective in any current TV and most of the time it effectively manages to suppress reflections in brightly lit environments although it can sometimes produce rainbow effects, mainly if you have a window or lamp directly opposite the TV. These rainbow effects can be quite distracting. No glossy TV is reflection-free. Last year, we found that Samsung's ambient light sensor was persistent even though we deactivated it from the menu, which sometimes caused high-brightness flashes on the screen. Luckily, we did not observe this error on QN95B. The risk of burn-in on LCD is very low which should give users who want to use Samsung's photo frame features peace of mind. Some gamers opt for high-end LCD TVs over burn-in or longevity concerns during console gaming. However, there are other factors to take into account when gaming on zone-dimming LCD TVs such as QN95B, some of which are still not well understood. While QN95B lets you keep local dimming activated in Game mode, the zone dimming system still gets reduced to a very raw form where it delivers lower peak brightness and more crude backlight control as it is not fast enough to follow the fast action on-screen with real-time content (as opposed to packaged content like movies where the signal can be slightly delayed in order to analyze the picture on-screen so the zone dimming system has time to react in sync). This zone dimming degradation effect is exacerbated in VRR mode because the TV now disables almost all processing to let the input signal flow in sync with the game console or PC's output. The down-scaled zone dimming system, which makes the picture lose contrast and reduces peak brightness in HDR, coupled with Samsung's horrendous 'Game' picture mode, which is so oversaturated and overbright that it changes the look and atmosphere in many games, ultimately means that QN95B is not a great TV for console HDR gaming despite its low input lag (approx. 13ms in 60Hz). We provided examples last year in our QN95A review and encouraged Samsung to respect game creators' hard work to make games look as intended, but sadly Samsung has only toned it down a little in QN95B. We took an additional shot of Little Orpheus where the bright green sequences inside the whale's belly almost turn neon on QN95B and made it look as if there is something wrong with the TV. It looks terrible.

    Samsung QN95B review

    Samsung's Game Bar on the other hand is a nifty tool that allows you to quickly change settings related to gaming and see details on the input signal (Hz, HDR, VRR, aspect ratio etc.). Some 2022 Samsung high-end TVs have also gained a 144Hz driving circuit and panel to refresh at 144Hz. At this time, it only works with a PC as game consoles such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X max out at 120Hz output. 4K 144Hz HDR10 is supported over HDMI in QN95B.

    Samsung QN95B review

    We had a chance to examine Samsung QN95B side-by-side with Sony's first miniLED LCD TV, X95K, and while we do not intend to not reveal too much here (full Sony X95K review coming up later) we wanted to include a comparison shot similar to the one we took last year with Samsung QN95A and Sony X90J side-by-side. Samsung QN95B and Sony X95K were both set to their most accurate HDR mode with all dynamic systems and sensors deactivated. As you can see, Samsung's QN95B looks much brighter than Sony's X95K even though the picture should have the same overall brightness and look identical on both TVs, according to measurements. QN95B changes the scene to look almost like daytime. Last year, we ascribed this to Samsung's dynamic tone-mapping, which is technically correct, but the more precise explanation is that it is a result of Samsung's "AI" processor detecting our and others' 10% window test patterns used for measurements and calibration to change and mislead about the TV's actual picture output, as discussed earlier. Phew...

    QN95B vs. X95K

    Samsung QN95B (left), Sony X95K (right)

    As mentioned last year, the miniLED backlight in Samsung's LCD TVs uses PWM (Pulse Width Modulation – meaning fast flicker) to control the backlight's luminance level which combined with persistent scanning backlights (black bar rolling down over the picture at a high frequency) that cannot be turned off produces a picture that can be a little straining to look at for long periods of time – at least for me. Last year, I started to look into it after wondering why my eyes got so tired after long viewing sessions and the same is true with QN95B.

    Samsung QN95B review

    Our sample of QN95B had decent panel homogeneity overall but the edges tend to look a little darker than the rest of the picture, as shown below.

    Samsung QN95B review

    Samsung QN95B employs the company's wide viewing angles technology (Ultra Wide Viewing Angle), which is an active system designed to improve viewing angles by modulating the intensity of the sub-pixels depending on the colors in the picture. It works but comes at the expensive of effective resolution as discussed in previous reviews. As a result, QN95B cannot resolve full 4K resolution in all scenes. While the viewing angles are impressively wide for a VA LCD panel, blooming is much elevated when not sitting directly in front of the panel.

    Conclusion

    Samsung QN95B is the successor to last year's QN95A and besides its sleek exterior design and the new fullscreen Tizen user interface not much has changed. It has the same number of dimming zones and delivers more or less the same picture quality with relatively high contrast, decent color saturation, and decent response time. We also want to thank Samsung for once again in 2022 abstaining from downgrading its high-end 4K TVs to make its 8K TV look more attractive.
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    However, like last year's QN95A, QN95B has a significantly overbrigthened picture in all of its HDR picture modes, a fact that Samsung's "AI" video processor tries to hide by detecting the pattern used by reviewers/calibrators and changing its picture output during measurements only to return them to other values after the measurements have been carried out – that's deception and cheating. In addition, Samsung QN95B suffers from heavy blooming in HDR and has a horrendous Game mode (both in SDR and HDR) that significantly changes the look of games. Samsung's revamp of Tizen to a fullscreen user interface is in our opinion not an improvement and in addition to the occasional issues and freezes (most likely software issues), the new fullscreen UI feels as if it has been designed for Samsung rather than the end user, as it allows Samsung to show more ads and highlight content from its own services and partners. On the other hand most popular streaming apps are readily available. The Gaming Hub is not active yet and will be introduced through a software update later this year, which we look forward to as it will introduce Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now apps. Samsung's remote control is still one of our favorites but the sponsored buttons must go. The TV speakers are better than average and Samsung's 2022 TVs finally support Dolby Atmos. Samsung QN95B is one of the best LCD TVs on the market but that does not say much nowadays where OLED TVs are taking over the premium segment of the TV market. In our opinion QN95B should be cheaper than any 120Hz OLED TV to be competitive and unfortunately that is not the case.
    !
    Change in test parameters: In 2018, we made a change to a test parameter that relates to the features score, following years of poor practice in the TV industry. Unless a manufacturer of a given "Smart TV" can provide FlatpanelsHD with assurance that the TV platform will be updated to the next major version, the feature score will be lowered by 10 points. We hope that our initiative can help highlight the problem, start a discussion, and change the practice.

    Samsung has not been able to give us such a guarantee for Tizen.

    Price and retailers:

    US retailer
    UK retailer
    DE retailer

    Good SDR picture quality
    TV speakers & Dolby Atmos support
    HDMI 2.1 features
    Sleek design


    Heavy blooming
    Revamped Tizen with ads, promoted content
    Tizen not receiving updates
    Horrendous Game mode
    Loss of resolution due to wide viewing angles






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