This midrange model from Samsung combines a handsome look with great specifications. The device is aimed at gamers and sports enthusiasts, but due to a wide range of features, it almost certainly has something to offer for everyone.
Samsung QE55Q74B – specifications
|What||Ultra HD Edge LED LCD TV|
|Screen format||55 inches (139 cm), flat|
|Connections||4x HDMI (4x v2.1 (48 Gbps), eARC, ALLM, VRR, 4K120), 1x optical digital out, 2x USB, 3x antenna, Bluetooth|
|Extras||HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, Tizen 7.0, AirPlay 2, USB/DLNA media player, DVB-T2/C/S2, dual tuner, CI Plus slot, Quantum 4K Processor, Smart Calibration|
|Dimensions||1,233 x 778 x 247 mm (incl. base)|
|Weight||18.4 kg (incl. base)|
|Consumption||SDR 93 (G) / HDR 161 watts (G)|
Samsung QE55Q74B – Design
We have to give Samsung one thing, for a midranger this is a remarkably beautiful model. The AirSlim design lives up to its name. With a profile of just 26 mm, it even outperforms all OLED models.
The titanium gray frame is a nice accent around the screen. The black back is finished with a horizontal stripe pattern.
The device stands on a remarkably small, central, rectangular base. We feared that it would be a bit too small to provide good stability, but that is not a problem due to the low weight of the device.
Samsung QE55Q74B – Connections
With four HDMI 2.1 connections, the Samsung is well equipped. They offer the full HDMI 2.1 bandwidth (48 Gbps) and support eARC (on HDMI 3), ALLM, 4K120 and VRR.
There are two USB ports, an optical digital audio output, Ethernet and WiFi. A headphone jack is missing, but you can connect a wireless model via Bluetooth. All connections point to the side, so tight wall mounting is no problem at all.
Samsung QE55Q74B – Ease of use and smart TV
The Tizen Smart Hub got a completely new look this year. On the left side of the screen you will find three categories in addition to the privacy preferences and search function: Ambient, Media, and Menu.
The Media category is the most important, it is also the Home screen you land on when you press the Home button on the remote control. In the center of the screen is a row of apps. You can adjust it yourself, for example you can also put tiles in between for live TV and external sources. Below that is a large tile with the latest source, next to which is a selection of current content on Samsung TV Plus. We think that is largely (except for the last source tile) wasted space, just like the top half of the screen that is also blank (or contains advertising for Samsung TV Plus). If you scroll further down, you will find rows of recommendations per streaming app, but you cannot change anything in that.
The Ambient menu is useful for setting everything about Ambient mode, but the Menu section is less well organized. There you have separate icons for all settings, connected devices and MultiView.
We have to be honest, we don’t like this redesign. It provides no added value, and instead of showing recommendations when you select an app, they are now hidden somewhere further. For the menu and some functions you have to click a lot to find them, and it doesn’t always seem very logical to us. The interface is also a bit unwieldy, although that is mainly a problem when starting up. Keep in mind that Samsung does not transfer new versions of the Smart TV environment to old models. In case the interface is tinkered with again next year, it is very likely that you will not notice those changes on this device.
The remote control is small and uses a minimum number of keys. They have a very light, but clear attack. Due to the small number of keys, the layout is also quite clear and good. There are four shortcuts at the bottom, for Netflix, Samsung TV Plus, Prime Video and Disney+. The key at the top right activates a shortcut menu, a numeric pad and color keys. At the top left there is a button for Multiview. You can recharge the rechargeable battery in the remote via USB-C or simply by placing the remote on the table upside down so that the photovoltaic panel at the back can do its job.
Although you can put external inputs in the row of favorite apps, we would have liked to see an input button on the remote so that you can select external devices without having to go to the Home menu.
The Q74B offers a double TV tuner for digital TV (DVB-T2/C/S2) and one CI Plus slot. Watching and recording another channel at the same time is only possible if one of the two channels is unencrypted. You can cast YouTube and Netflix to the TV via Google Cast, and for iOS users there is support for Airplay 2 . The media player is good, but it doesn’t handle the older Divx or Xvid and it doesn’t play DTS soundtracks. Subtitles and HDR were no problem, and the audio player is complete.
Samsung offers a whole bunch of special features. Ambient mode is now also accessible from the Home Screen (via the bar on the left). It gives your TV a decorative or informative function when you are not watching TV. Anyone who wants to respond to the NFT madness will notice that Samsung helps you with that. In the Ambient menu you can access Nifty Gateway, an NFT store. Via MultiView you can view two sources at the same time. With a USB camera you can video chat via Google Duo. PC on TV was renamed Workspace, for those who want to work on their big screen.
Samsung QE55Q74B – Image processing
Samsung doesn’t give you the extensive control over image processing that you’ll find on some other brands. For example, the Quantum Processor 4K has very good noise reduction, both for random noise and for compression noise (blocking). The only limitation is that you can only turn that function on or off and you must therefore rely on what Samsung considers ideal. Fortunately, you can rely on that in most cases. Only for color bands in soft transitions there is still room for improvement. The processor doesn’t get rid of all of those, while still sacrificing a bit of detail. It also delivers very good upscaling, excellent sharpness and excellent deinterlacing with fast detection of film and video frame rates. Moiré effects or jagged edges are therefore relatively rare.
The Q74B is equipped with a 120 Hz panel, which provides good motion sharpness. We did notice that the TV uses a 120 Hz Black Frame Insertion (which is BFI ) that you can’t turn off. As a result, moving objects do have a clear double border. With ‘Led Clear Motion’, the Black Frame Insertion goes to 60 Hz, and that is disturbing. The motion interpolation is very good, if you want to remove the stutter from your film images, you will notice that the processor intervenes quickly and rarely if ever drops a stitch. Of course, some minimal image artifacts remain visible against complex backgrounds.
Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV.
|General||Expert settings||Sharpness Settings|
|Picture mode: Filmmaker mode
Picture format settings: 16:9 standard
Fit to screen: On
Contrast Enhancement: Off/Low
Film Mode: Auto
Tint: Warm 2
Gamma: BT.1886 / 0
Shadow Detail: 0
Color Space: Auto
|Auto or Customized:
Blur Reduction : 10
Noise Reduction: Auto or Off
Samsung QE55Q74B – Picture quality
Samsung uses a VA panel for this model, but without any kind of local dimming. Unfortunately, the panel has a fairly poor uniformity in dark images. There you can easily see some cloud formation, and that is not only the case on test images but also on normal material. On our test sample, there were a few light spots at the top, and they remained visible in the black bars of a film. In clear images there was a small, unobtrusive, light blue border at the bottom, and a slightly dark spot in the center of the image. Please note that uniformity varies from panel to panel, so not all devices are guaranteed to have it.
The contrast reaches 3,962:1, which is quite good, although there are now VA panels that do even better.
We noticed that that contrast was not always reflected well in test scenes. In the Gravity scene, the starry background lacked a lot of depth. Stars are a bit dim and the deep black of the universe was a bit too bright. After some experimentation, the result turned out to improve greatly if you activate ‘Contrast enhancement’ in the lowest setting. We recommend that you leave it that way, there were no obvious negative consequences.
The Filmmaker Mode is well calibrated, although there is certainly room for improvement. The gray scale is fairly uniform, but shows a slight green overtone in the brightest shades. Although the error is small, that green tint is just an error that you see more easily. Skin colors then tend to yellow, for example.
Fortunately, that deviation in SDR is small enough to remain largely under the radar. The image also shows many shades of black and is more than sufficiently clear.
Samsung QE55Q74B – HDR
Anyone who chooses Samsung inevitably leaves Dolby Vision behind. Samsung remains fully committed to HDR10 +. But since Dolby Vision clearly offers the most content, that is a loss, especially on a mid-range device such as this. After all, Dolby Vision guarantees the best tone mapping, and that comes in handy on a model with limited peak brightness.
What can you expect from the Q74B? A peak brightness (in Filmmaker Mode) of 566 nits, which is fine in this category. The TV always offers that brightness, regardless of the size of the test window.
The color range scores less well. We achieve a maximum of 85% P3 and 61.5% Rec.2020, while there are competitors who go to 90% P3 sooner. We also find that 90% the required value for full HDR colors.
But in the end, what matters most is how the TV handles its potential. The Samsung does look at the metadata, and the tone mapping is adequate, but still systematically clips away some white nuances. We also notice that it generally shows the image a bit too bright, although that is actually mainly visible in dark tones. There we see a striking amount of black detail, a bit too much actually, but for those who do not look at eclipse, that can actually be a good choice. We bring in the new dark test scene from House of Dragons, and it turns out that we lose a lot of depth, just like in SDR. The whole thing looks rather grayish. It is striking that the Samsung shows little or no banding in this scene. Leave contrast enhancement in HDR off. Yes it delivers a bit more punch in dark scenes,
The Filmmaker Mode has a decent calibration, but where we could still overlook the small green overtone in SDR, that is not the case in HDR. Bright colors visibly suffer from this, which are drawn to green and that sometimes gives the image a somewhat dirty appearance.
Gaming, Reflections and viewing angles
The VA panel does not have a very wide viewing angle, contrast clearly decreases when you are not centrally located in front of the screen. That also makes colors clearly paler.
The four HDMI 2.1 connections are equipped with all gamer features: 4K120, ALLM and VRR (HDMI VRR and AMD Freesync Premium Pro). The input lag is also excellent, 7.8 ms in 2K120 and 12.5 ms in 4K60. Via the Motion plus settings you can make more detail visible in fast action images, which costs some extra input lag. Long press the play/pause button to show the Game Bar. There you not only get an overview of the most important gaming matters such as fps and VRR, but you can also adjust the image mode or play in 21:9 (for PC). For HDR games, there’s an HGIG-compatible mode that shouldn’t tonemap, but still does. The HDR game mode is also way too bright.
Samsung QE55Q74B – Sound quality
Samsung has been supporting Dolby Atmos since this year, but only from the Q80B and higher. So this one has to do without. The 2x 10 Watt is also not really a powerful configuration, but Samsung makes the best of it. The sound is reasonably balanced, with clear voices, and the speakers don’t go too far in distortion. Only if you ask for too much volume will you hear the low tones collide with the limit. The Q74B can adjust the tone in real time for room acoustics. All in all, these are the results you can expect in this category, for better movie soundtracks choose a soundbar .
Samsung QE55Q74B – Conclusion
Are you looking for the benefits of a QLED, but do you also want to keep an eye on the price? This Samsung QE55Q74B shows that you can’t ask everything. We know that there is no Dolby Vision on a Samsung, but from this model you also ignore Dolby Atmos. The panel has moderate uniformity, and the 120Hz Black Frame Insertion cannot be switched off, so fast pans often show a double border. We are not really satisfied with the new Smart Hub, the organization of the admittedly very wide range needs to be improved, and the somewhat unwieldy response time also needs to be addressed.
The device delivers an excellent peak brightness, decent contrast and good color range for this category. The calibration is excellent in SDR, it could be better in HDR, especially since the light green tint suppresses the colors somewhat. The Samsung does have an excellent trump card with the excellent image processing, which scores above average. Four HDMI 2.1 connections, a very low input lag and numerous gamer features form a strong offer. It’s priced right, and with an additional discount coming in the coming months, it’s an attractive choice for general living room use. All QE55Q7xB models deliver the same results, they only differ in design.
- Very good image processing
- Decent peak brightness
- Good contrast
- Good motion sharpness
- Fine calibration (in SDR)
- Four HDMI 2.1 connections and gaming features
- No Dolby Vision/Atmos
- Smart Hub organization is very poor, and sometimes unresponsive
- 120 Hz Black Frame Insertion cannot be switched off