Samsung QN900D Neo QLED 8K Smart TV hands on review

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Samsung makes 8K TV AI-ght

Despite the almost complete absence of 8K content, Samsung’s new AI upscaling does a fantastic job to make 4K look fantastic.
Positive
  • Stunning design with almost no bezel
  • AI upscaling works well
  • Easy user interface
Negatives
  • Speakers are disappointing
  • Old SD content still doesn’t look fantastic
  • Still no 8K content

Bigger and better. That’s what Samsung is selling with its QN900D Neo QLED 8K TVs.

To deliver it, Samsung is leaning heavily on AI technology. Whether it’s for upscaling content to 8K or smoothing out motion in fast-moving sports, Samsung’s latest NQ8 AI Gen3 processor does an impressive job of pushing picture quality up.

Samsung invited me to test a bunch of its new AV gear, including the QN900D 8K TV, the HW-Q990D Q-Series soundbar and its new Music Frame photo speaker.

While I only had a few hours to play around with its latest gadgets, it was long enough for me to see that this is an exceptional TV. And so you’ll find that while I’ve noted the pros and cons of the TV, as well as my experience, I haven’t given a score.

Design

85 inches is a lot of TV, and while the QN900D Neo QLED comes in three different sizes including both 65 and 75 inches, the 85 inch was the model set up for me to test.

The most striking thing about this TV’s design is just how much of it is TV. The size of the bezel is insane. There’s effectively no bezel to speak of.

The room I tested the TV in is large and spacious and full of light. The TV is placed in front of a dark wall, and it seriously looks like the picture is going to the edge of the screen.

It’s truly impressive from the engineering perspective. There is also a cool stand, but I couldn’t really see it because of the soundbar sits flush with the bottom of the TV.

Samsung had set up the TV so it was a little difficult to look at the connections at the back, but the QN900D uses a single One Connect Box. This lets you connect all your devices to a single box that can connect to the actual display by a single 2.5-metre cable.

Samsung QN900D TV hands on

8K content, and AI upscaling

My biggest issue with Samsung’s 8K TVs over the past few years isn’t the quality of the display, it’s that it has been such overkill given the sheer lack of 8K content available.

This year, Samsung is using AI upscaling to overcome the content challenge. Historically, the processor would “upscale” by kind of filling in the blank pixels with a rough approximation based on the colour of surrounding pixels.

This year, the AI processor can analyse the picture, including the type of scene, and artificially create pixels to match the source as closely as possible.

This is all made possible by the NQ8 AI Gen3 Processor, which offers 8x the performance of the previous year’s processor.

The remote and user interface

Samsung’s remote for the QN900D is compact and straightforward. Navigating the key functions of changing inputs and adjusting volume is easy.

Tweaking some deeper settings is a bit more laborious, but not overwhelmingly so.

The good news is that you probably don’t need to tackle those options too often. The core functionality of the user interface is pretty straightforward. Samsung has packed SmartThings integration on the TV for easier control of any smart home elements of your house.

I didn’t really get to test that too much, but it was easy to find.

QN900D thin design

Performance

I came away from my experience with the QN900D with two main thoughts.

Firstly, that my next TV should be bigger. I currently use a 65-inch first gen 4K Sony model, and while it still does a good enough job, the quality of the larger screen sizes is impressive.

I watched Top Gun: Maverick on the QN900D and it was spectacular. In a home living room environment, the experience was almost as fulfilling as seeing it at the cinema.

The second takeaway was that the AI upscaling approach Samsung has taken with this TV seems to work — to a degree.

The quality of the source video still plays a big part in how well it works. Top Gun Maverick, streaming in 4K from Netflix, was spectacular. Watching an episode of Seinfeld streaming from Netflix was nowhere near as rewarding.

The other key benefit of the AI upscaling comes to sports. Samsung claims that its AI engine can detect different balls and optimise the upscaling based on that.

I’m a little sceptical on parts of that claim. When I asked, there wasn’t any real detail Samsung could give me on that, like whether it knew the difference between a Rugby Union and a Rugby League ball, for example.

But when put to the test while watching a UEFA soccer match on Stan Sport, there is a definite clarity in how the ball moves across the screen. There’s no jankiness. It looked like a ball the entire way, and was clear and easy to follow.

When it comes to brightness and contrast, The premiere episode of Amazon Prime’s Fallout looked fantastic. The scenes within the bunker during the invasion were incredibly detailed, despite the flickering lights and darker areas.

Audio quality

If you’re wondering if you can get away with just buying the TV without having a separate audio system, the answer is an emphatic “no”

The sound out of the TV is a stark contrast to the quality of the video. It’s like buying a sports car and never taking it out of first gear, even while on a freeway.

The sound is tinny and hollow. Orchestral soundtracks and speech blend together, making it difficult to differentiate. It’s a wholly disappointing experience.

However! It’s also understandable. This TV is stunningly thin, and regardless of whether you wall mount or leave on a stand, it just doesn’t have the space to deliver a full sound.

That’s why Samsung offers the HW-Q990D Q-Series soundbar as an accompaniment to the QN900D. I’ll offer my thoughts on the soundbar separately, but it more than makes up for the TV’s underwhelming performance.

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Early verdict

An 8K TV is probably still overkill for most people. You pay a lot more, and there’s still not much native 8K content.

But Samsung’s AI approach to overcoming that is a good one. The AI upscaling works well, particularly for sports.

This TV is a powerful demonstration of Samsung’s strength in the TV market. The picture quality is fantastic, the user experience is solid, and the added AI functionality in this year’s model makes a big difference.

The biggest disappointment is audio quality, but the reality is that you shouldn’t be relying on a large flat panel TV for audio anyway. Get a soundbar.

Buy the Samsung QN900D NEO QLED TV online

Product disclosure

Samsung supplied the a room and the TV for testing the product for this review.

Author

  • Nick Broughall

    Nick is the founder and editor of BTTR. He is an award winning product reviewer, who has spent the last 20 years writing, editing and publishing technology and consumer content for brands like Finder, Gizmodo and TechRadar.

    View all posts
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