Samsung's 2020 TV line-up has just releasing, and is shaping up to be an extremely strong range, with some TVs heading straight into our list of the best TVs overall, as well as the best 8K TVs. Whether you just want something to make movies and TV look fantastic, or want a great gaming TV, there are options here ranging from the good to the magnificent.
The selection of Samsung TVs in 2020 includes an updated range of 8K TVs at various sizes and prices, as well as a huge selection of 4K options, from top-end models that mirror most of the tech from the 8K TVs, to more budget-friendly screens that don't skimp on features, and will likely appear soon in our list of the best TVs under £1000.
A spectacular new flagship 8K model with a 99% screen-to-body ratio, called the Samsung Q950TS, is shaping up to be the designer TV of the year, because the picture just seems to melt away into mid-air.
In the 8K range, there's also the Q900TS and Q800T, which bring Samsung's 8K tech to a broader range of sizes and prices. In total, Samsung's 8K TV range comes in sizes from 55 to 98 inches.
Samsung is still pushing QLED as its screen panel of choice, rather than using OLED, as many other manufacturers do for their flagship models. This tech is based on LCD displays with a backlight (rather than the way that pixels in OLED screens emit their own light), but has the advantage of being much brighter than OLED can manage, so the picture is more visible in brighter light, including for watching during the day.
The downside of using QLED tech and a backlight is that it's harder for the screen to show dark areas and images with stark contrast between light and dark, though Samsung employs local dimming (with high-end models using advanced backlights that can dim specific areas quite precisely) to help dark areas get as black as they need to be – in the best models, this is really hard to distinguish from what OLED can do for rich blacks.
When it comes to 4K QLED TVs, there are five different models to choose from, all offering their own sizes from 43 to 85 inches, and all packing in Samsung's latest processing, just like the 8K models. However, some include fancier speaker and interface options, among other tweaks as you go up the line.
There are also non-QLED 4K TVs as well, at various budgets and sizes. These are now using a 'dual LED' tech for backlighting, mixing lights with different colour balances, which help to give more natural colours for these sets.
We'll explain the main new features of Samsung's TVs this year below, or you can skip straight to the TVs themselves, where we'll lay out all the differences of each model.
Samsung TVs 2020: this year's key features explained
Samsung's range this year divides new features quite nicely between different models, with TVs further up the range featuring more and more of these options as you splash more case. We'll give you the headline overview of them now, so you'll know what you're looking at when you look through the range below.
Quantum Dot AI is the title given to Samsung's latest-gen upscaling tech, which helps lower-resolution video upgrade to 4K or 8K and look as close to being as if it was natively filmed that was as possible.
Adaptive Picture is a technique that adjusts the image based on the ambient lighting in the room, so everything still comes across clearly whether you're watching football at midday with the sun shining in, or a movie in the dark with all the curtains closed.
Active Voice Amplifier is a feature that listens out for background noise (like a lawnmower firing up outside, or someone cooking loudly in the kitchen) that then boosts the volume level of dialogue only, so you can still hear what's being said. When the noise stops, it drops back automatically – we've heard this in motion, and it's damn handy.
Objecting Tracking Sound+ creates a 3D sound scape from whatever's on screen even if the source video didn't have Dolby Atmos or an equivalent 3D soundtrack. This combines with speakers all around the edges of the set to actually project a wide, tall 3D audio experience. Again, we've tried it, and it's much better than a standard TV setup for making soundtracks feel big and natural.
Q-Symphony is an enhancement to the above feature, but only if you're using a Samsung Q-series soundbar. Basically, the soundbar will handle some of the oomph, but the higher-up speakers on the TV will still add height, so you get the best of both worlds. Again, this is a solid improvement over the Samsung soundbars alone (or the TV alone) – but we haven't have a chance to try it against the best Dolby Atmos soundbars yet.
Multi-View is a feature on some TVs that enables you to beam what's on your phone screen over to your TV alongside whatever you're watching. The idea is to have Twitter alongside a big sports event, for example. We're not sure it'll find wide-spread use (after all, you can already look at Twitter on your phone screen without making what's on the TV smaller), but some may love it. It combines with a feature called Tap View, which lets you share what's on your compatible phone screens by tapping them up to the TV.
Real Game Enhancer+ is basically Samsung's name for 'variable refresh rate' technology, which you'll see on several TVs this year. This feature is touted as being big for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, because it enables the TV to only refresh itself at the same speed as the console is able to supply new frames for it to show. The end result is that games should look smoother at all times.
Samsung TVs 2020: the range explained
The very top of this year's range is the TV you will mostly see called the Q950TS (there is a variant, which we'll explain in a moment). This biggest update for this in the 2020 range is its design, which has bezels on the side and top that are so thin, they're basically imperceptible at standard viewing distances. The image seems to just disappear into your living room – it's incredibly futuristic.
So is the tech inside, actually. The 8K display packs 33 million pixels in three sizes of display, along with Samsung's latest-gen processor for making sure that everything gets upscaled to make the most of that resolution.
But more interesting than that is the HDR capabilities of the TV – rated for 4,000 nits of brightness (or 3,000 on the 65-inch version), and with highly localised dimming of its backlights to make blacks as dark and true as possible, this should offer the biggest range of contrast going, making its HDR the most realistic possible. We'll see just how well it lives up to that billing in our review, but based on the performance of last year's equivalent TVs, it should be fantastic.
In terms of features, this also packs in absolutely everything from Samsung's current line-up, including an array of six speakers around the edges, including two firing upwards.
Oh, and we mentioned a variant: The Q900TS is a nearly identical TV, with all the same display tech and smarts. The only difference is that the Q950TS houses all of its ports (HDMI, USB, etc) in an external box that's connected by a single neat cable, which can be hidden away. The Q900TS has the ports on the TV itself, which will make it a tad thicker, and likely a tad less expensive. Otherwise, they're the same.
The Q800T is the 8K TV that's likely to be bought the most this year – Samsung is aiming its price to compete strongly with premium 4K TVs, rather than sit above them due to its higher-res screen. It looks very similar to the Q950, but with thicker bezels that you can actually see. And the ports are all built into the TV, rather than in a separate box, so it's a bit thicker, too.
The QLED 8K panel is the same quality when it comes to detail and colour reproduction, though it's rated for lower brightness than the top-range model. Its 2,000 nits peak is still over double what OLED TVs tend to peak at, so it's still ideal for brighter rooms especially. It also has local dimming for help it reach deep blacks, but it has fewer dimming zones than the Q950TS, so you're more likely to see some areas where sharp contrasts between light and dark have a little grey in the black areas.
Samsung's aim with a TV like this isn't so much to bring the 8K revolution (since that's still very much a work-in-progress), but it thinks that this can still offer better quality than 4K TVs, thanks to upscaling and the brighter screen. We'll hopefully be able to judge that better in a review soon.
For other features, this matches the top-end model, including having six speakers around the edges. You're basically paying less for a slightly less advanced screen and design – or, compared to the 4K TVs below, you're paying for more advanced panel tech (on top of it being 8K). If you're thinking of buying one of the bigger sizes in particular, this will be a strong option.
This is the most advanced 4K TV in Samsung's 2020 range, but it's slightly behind the 8K models in terms of overall capabilities. TV buffs should note that this is different to last year: in the 2019 range, the model of the same name (arguably the best TV of the year!) had all the best tech, but swapped the 8K panel for a 4K one. This year it's definitely a step down, though it's overall very similar to the Q800T (including in design).
You've still got an HDR rating of 2,000 nits, but it has fewer dimming zones compared to the Q800T (which, in turn, had fewer zones than the Q950TS). How this affects its black-level performance is something we'll have to see in our review. And it has four speakers around the edge rather than the six of the 8K models.
Features-wise, it has all the latest smarts and additional features, but it has a different version of the image processor (which makes sense, since it doesn't need to upscale to 8K).
Basically, this is the pinnacle of Samsung's 4K range, but it looks likely to be not quite as spectacular as last year's equivalent model – but we'll see whether the price reflects that.
Oh, and notice that there's two models again? Same as the Q950TS/Q900TS, the Q95T comes with a separate box for connections, while they're built into the frame itself on the Q90T.
This is extremely similar to the Q95T, but with some slight differences in the design (nothing really detrimental) and a lower HDR brightness rating: this is rated at 1,500 nits on most sets, though the smallest 49-inch model peaks at 1,000 nits.
For a lot of people, this could be a real sweet-spot buy – the brightness being higher than most OLED sets will make it more visible in bright rooms or sunlight (so it could be great for sport this summer), and the use of a direct backlight array with local dimming should still mean great contrast and black levels. In fact, this is the lowest-price Samsung set this year with a direct backlight – all sets below this will feature lower brightness and less precise handling of dark areas. That said, the 49-inch model with its lower brightness will have a tough fight against the new wave of 48-inch OLEDs.
But you don't miss out on any of the other technical features – it has the same four-speaker array as the Q95T, the same processing and smarts… it's just a slightly less vibrant screen.
This QLED set uses the same colourful panels with support for a wide range of HDR colours, but changes the backlight, which means it won't have quite the same punchy effect as the upper models. The 'direct full array' backlight of the other models means a big panel of LED lights sits right behind the panel, providing strong brightness and with the ability to turn down lights in some areas to make blacks look blacker.
This set uses what Samsung has named 'Dual LED' backlighting, which means you don't have the same big array of LEDs behind the panel, which means the ability to dim as needed is more limited. The 'dual' part refers to the fact that Samsung is using a couple of different colours of LED, which mix to produce an end result with more accurate colour reproduction.
Samsung also didn't give us an HDR rating for this set, which very likely means it's 1,000 nits or less – but depending on the price it may still be competitive with other more mid-range TVs for brightness and HDR performance.
This set also loses the array of speakers, which means it doesn't support the Object Tracking Sound+ feature, so audio will be more limited in size. But it does have all the other smarts in the sets this year, including adaptive picture, adaptive voice, and the latest processing,
The lowest-priced QLED in Samsung's range has the same panel as the set above, but cuts costs further by swapping out the brain for a less advanced version. Instead of the 'Quantum'-branded processor, you've got the 'Crystal' one, which is much more on a par with mid-range sets. You lose features like the Adaptive Picture, Real Game Enhancer+ and handy voice amplification – really this is all about getting the stunning colours of QLED into the best-priced set. Whether it feels worth it will all come down to the final price, and how it compares to mid-range TVs that come in at similar prices – we've still been impressed with the equivalent models from previous years.
Of course, one of the advantages here is that it comes in just about every size you could imagine, so it'll work in just about any room, for a reasonable price. That can't be overlooked!
The Dynamic Crystal Display used here is Samsung's top panel for standard sets that isn't a QLED, and features the same Dual LED backlighting as the QLED panel above. You won't get quite the same colour reproduction, but it still aims to impress for its price. You've got the same set of smarts and processing as the Q60T, it's just QLED that's been dropped, really.
Here, the panel tech drops again slightly – no Dual LED backlight, and a slightly less advanced version of the Crystal Display – but you maintain most of the features, including having multiple voice assistants built in. This is the last model to feature that – the TU7100 below drops all of the smarts to save more money. The set also loses the Multi-View display option, though it does still include the ability to beam your phone's screen to it (you just can't have it alongside another video at the same time).
With its big range of sizes, this is again focused on bang for buck, bringing 4K screens as big as 82 inches for likely a very reasonable price.
The bottom of Samsung's standard TV range ditches the last smart features we mentioned above. This is a 4K HDR screen with mid-range processing, and that's just about it (though it still has streaming services built-in, of course). It's classic mid-range stuff – it's available in loads of sizes, in a simple and sturdy design.
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