(Pocket-lint) - No one ever accused Samsung of lacking ambition, nor of having too brief a TV range. For example, its 2020 QLED line-up consists of eight different ranges of 4K models, plus a couple more 8K series too. At some point 'spoiled for choice' becomes 'baffled by choice' - and there's a possibility Samsung might have crossed that line quite decisively.
But, of course, the bigger the model range the more likely there's an obvious sweet-spot for both your wants and wallet. And while the whistles-and-bells Q95T model is a no-holds-barred uncompromised delight, the pound-for-pound sweet-spot in this colossal QLED line-up might just be the Q65T.
The Q65T has got quite a lot of the features that make the Q95T so compelling, but at a price that won't make you double-take. And with the range starting at a titchy 43-inches - there are 50-, 65- and 75-inch variants available too, as well as this 55-inch version on review - there should be something here to fill that QLED-shaped hole in your life.
- Connections: 3x HDMI, 2x USB, Ethernet, composite video, 2x tuner, digital optical, CI slot
- Dimensions (65-inch): 706 x 1230 x 57.4mm
- Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi for wireless
First things first: though Samsung has always touted its QLED technology as an alternative to the more prevalent OLED, in terms of showroom appeal it's not all that much of a contest. There's none of the crowd-pleasing OLED slimness of profile about a QLED TV - and as the QE55Q65T is an edge-lit TV, its wholly unremarkable 57.4mm depth makes it look a bit of a throwback when put alongside similarly priced OLED competitors.
Get beyond this relative girth, though, and the design of the Q65T has a lot to recommend it. After all, what do you really want from your new TV except plenty of screen? The Samsung's bezels are super-slim - or, at least, those at the top, left and right are - and its simple push-and-click boomerang feet are discreet.
There's plenty of space between those feet for a soundbar, too, if you decide against wall-mounting the telly. The whole set is put together with Samsung's usual efficiency, with barely a squeak from the chassis even though some of those plastics - the back panel in particular - aren't the heftiest.
The back panel is where the Q65T keeps its input and output connections. Unlike some 4K QLED tellies higher up the Samsung range, the Q65T isn't toting any future-proofing in terms of connectivity - its three HDMI inputs are of the 2.0 variety, so there's no support for the fancier features of the next-generation of games consoles. One of the HDMI sockets in eARC-enabled, though, which is helpful when it comes to selecting a half-decent soundbar.
- High Dynamic Range: HLG, HDR10, HDR10+
- Processing engine: Quantum Processor Lite
- 20 watts of audio power
There are one or two features of more expensive Samsung QLED TVs that the Q65T goes without. We can touch on those in a moment. First, the slightly longer list: the things the Q65T does have.
Obviously this is a 4K screen, equipped to handle HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+ high dynamic range standards - Samsung's ongoing disdain for Dolby Vision shows no sign of abating. The panel is in a QLED arrangement, with a metallic quantum dot filter responsible for enhancing colour and contrast.
For the number geeks: the Q65T's colour gamut coverage is supposedly around 92 per cent - which compares to 94 per cent on the range-topping QLED models and roughly 80 per cent for Samsung's non-QLED LCD tellies.
The Q65T is governed by Samsung's Quantum Processor Lite picture engine, a slightly detuned version of the picture processor running the company's more expensive QLED screens. The Q65T is also giving away the anti-reflection screen technology the likes of the Q95T feature, but it doesn't have the same wide viewing-angle smarts as its more expensive siblings.
The Q65T's audio specification is a fair bit more prosaic than the multiple-driver, multiple-position, object-tracking sound of more expensive Samsung QLED TVs. Its sound is delivered by a pair of full-range drivers, powered by a total of 20W of amplification - which is completely in line with the sort of audio array featured by most TVs at this sort of price point.
It's also worth noting the Samsung's absolutely lightning-fast response time when used as a gaming monitor. Sub-10ms lag is rapid, and it may be enough to sell the Q65T to some customers by itself.
- Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Bixby voice control
- Choice of remote controls (two included in the box)
- Tizen-based interface
Happily, Samsung has resisted the urge to cut costs where the Q65T's user interface is concerned. The company's Tizen-based smart TV operating system continues to be one of the cleanest, most logical and most responsive around - and given that it's in no way broken, Samsung has sensibly avoided the urge to fix it. An interface so comprehensive and easy to navigate makes the Q65T seem a more expensive proposition than it actually is.
Moving around the interface, accessing setup menus and so on can be done using either of the two (count 'em: two!) remote controls the Samsung is supplied with. The first is the full-function wand that ships with every single 2020 Samsung TV - it feels cheap, has way too many buttons and the majority of them are too small for anyone who doesn't have cocktail sticks for fingers. The other is an altogether more pleasant and stripped-back alternative which does nearly everything you'll need it to.
There's also a degree of voice control available. Bixby is available for Samsung fetishists, while the rest of us can use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to issue instructions. Or there's Samsung's clean-and-tidy SmartThings app - which offers control over a whole host of connected Samsung products, not just TVs.
The QE55Q65T, naturally enough, has the best chance of performing to its full potential if given some native 4K content, ideally with an HDR element too. So loading a 4K Blu-ray disc of the HDR10+ remaster of The Shining into a reference disc player is done with a due sense of anticipation.
In broad terms, the Q65T is a very watchable TV. It does great work with Stanley Kubrick's trademark colour palettes, bringing heat, vibrancy and nuance to tones of all kinds - it's not easy to make colours look vivid yet natural at the same time, but the Samsung is endlessly convincing in this respect.
That claimed colour gamut coverage looks entirely plausible when the strong primaries and muted autumnal colours of The Overlook Hotel fill the screen. Admittedly this fidelity can take some achieving, as fine-tuning the Q65T via the setup menus isn't the most straightforward task - but perseverance brings unarguable rewards.
The Samsung controls contrast well, too. Despite the theoretical limitations of both QLED technology in general, and edge-lit backlighting in particular, when it comes to generating convincingly deep black tones, the Q65T is capable of producing genuinely dark blacks. It does good work differentiating gradations of tone, and offers decent levels of detail into even its deepest shades. At the opposite end the Samsung is equally adept with white tones, keeping them clean and detailed even when they're popping brightly.
Putting bright whites and deep black together on the same screen can cause some crushing and/or bleaching, and there's some mild-but-definite backlight clouding in the corners of the screen when a 21:9 aspect ratio film results in black bars top and bottom. On the whole the Samsung does a pretty manful job, even in fairly strong/or fairly direct light. The absence of the anti-reflection technology the Samsung's more expensive counterparts enjoy isn't quite as big a miss as might at first be feared.
Across the board, detail levels are high. The numerous complicated patterns and textures in The Shining present no particular problems (despite that famous carpet being a fairly stiff test of precision all by itself), and the Q65T does notably impressive work with skin-tones. Edge-definition is generally good, as is motion-handling - though combine the two and the screen will occasionally betray just how hard it's working.
Up to a point, the Samsung maintains these admirable traits when upscaling lower-quality content. Certainly 1080p and 720p enjoys similarly expansive colours, and comparable contrasts and detail levels. The Q65T's mild uncertainty with motion becomes rather less mild, admittedly, and the picture noise that's suppressed so effectively with native 4K content can become an undeniable part of the viewing experience, but by the standards of (fairly) large and (fairly) affordable TVs the Samsung applies itself to upscaling with real determination.
Any less information-rich content than this, though, sees the Q65T give up the ghost somewhat. Standard-definition broadcasts can often look quite marginal on 4K screens, and sure enough the Samsung lets a daytime-TV broadcast of Father Brown look soft, indistinct and fundamentally short of detail. Picture noise is apparent more-or-less constantly, and black tones are crushed to uniformity.
While the Q65T uses its technical specification to absolutely maximise its picture performance, it uses its audio spec to underwhelming effect. No one's expecting a couple of titchy full-range drivers, driven by a wheezy 20W of power, to deliver a sonic performance to equal the cinematic potency of the TV's images, but nevertheless the Samsung sounds disappointing.
Even quite inexpensive TVs these days can gesture towards some low-frequency presence, or turn in a respectably dynamic showing, but not the Q65T. It sounds hazy most of the time - and when it's not sounding hazy it sounds hard. If you're seduced by the Samsung's price, try to budget a little more for a soundbar to bring the audio performance vaguely into line.
As an object, the Q65T is pretty humdrum - and it makes a humdrum sound, too. But where picture quality is concerned, it punches well above its weight.
The Q65T's 4K images look a treat, and unless you're loading up some real poverty-spec content it's a very capable upscaler too. No, you'd never mistake it for a top-end Q95T - but it's closer than the difference in price might initially lead you to believe.
Philips OLED 754
HDR compatibility, passable sound quality and that striking OLED slimness all help this Philips' case. Three-sided Ambilight is not to be sneezed at either. But it's the images - lustrous blacks, dynamic colours and strong contrasts - that really make the OLED754 worth strong consideration.