Samsung Q9F series QLED smart TV review: Samsung’s best 4K UHD TV yet

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It’s tempting to call Samsung’s QN65Q9F the best 65-inch consumer TV on the market. It’s certainly the best LCD TV out there. But the competition is fierce: Sony’s OLED-based A1E is also a remarkable TV, and we just happened to have both sets in house this last week. With so much engineering excellence on display (pun intended), the comparison was fun. Making a choice, on the other hand, was difficult.

The Samsung Q9F’s excellent overall design, greater brightness, truer color, and superb detail rendering will undoubtedly win it many, many fans. But so will the pure blacks and the resulting lush image of Sony’s A1E. Regardless, if you have $5,500 to $6,000 to spend on a new TV, you need to consider both. 

Design

Thanks to its OneConnect breakout box, which houses the ports and much of the electronics, the 64.5-inch (65-inch class) Q9F measures just one inch thick. The display panel has only the power connection and the fiber optical port for the OneConnect box, which can be routed through the stand as seen below. If you care about cable clutter, you won’t find a cleaner arrangement.

clean cable solution Samsung

Cable attachment is moved off the panel to the OneConnect breakout box. The new stands for the QLED series are wider and more stable than those that shipped with the SUHD series.

As the Q9F is uniformly thin, without the bulge at the bottom that so many TVs have, there’s little to no gap when you mount it on the wall. If you do want to stand the Q9F on a table, Samsung has beefed up the the stand and made it 12.8 inches wide for a more stable base. The Q9F’s audio performance is quite nice for a TV that’s only an inch thick, although it’s not as clear as that of the Sony A1E.

The ports on the OneConnect box include four HDMI 2.0a, one supporting ARC (audio return channel) to feed soundbars and the like; three USB ports; an ethernet port; and a digital optical output. Wi-Fi is 802.11ac, and there’s Bluetooth support as well.

Remote and interface

Until now, the LG Magic remote was our favorite TV remote control. Samsung’s new OneRemote has supplanted it. It’s handsome, minimalist, and universal without user intervention. That is, when you attach a device to the Q9F and the TV recognizes it, the remote is automatically programmed to support it. Not only that, when the device is selected as the current input, the remote automatically switches modes to control it—a very cool, seamless experience that the Sony A1E’s remote also has. Samsung’s worked perfectly with our Xbox and several Ultra HD Blu-ray players. Okay, almost perfectly.

oneremote Samsung

Samsung’s clever and minimalist OneRemote. Design awards should follow.

There’s also a “transport” mode where the 4-function circular cursor control and center button function as the play/pause, FF, rewind, end, and begin controls. Nice, except for some reason the back button didn’t work with the menu structure of the Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player we test TVs with. Regardless, the transport mode ameliorates our major complaint about most minimalist remotes—the absence of dedicated transport functions.

smart hub 1 Samsung

The Q9F’s Smarthub interface.

The on-screen interface is also top-notch, though we didn’t always appreciate scrolling all the way to the left to access settings. The last-used app is selected by default, and the Blu-ray app was invariably to the far right. But things are generally simple and intuitive, and you can change the order of the apps if you find that the one you use the most winds up far left. We’re niggling. The Q9F’s interface is a great improvement over last year’s SUHD interfaces.

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