Curved televisions: a few years ago they were still super hip, nowadays they are again an exception. Only Samsung still has a few models in its offer. We put the Samsung QE55Q8CN QLED TV on the test bench. How does such a curved QLED screen perform?
Samsung QE55Q8CN – specifications
- What: Ultra HD Edge LED LCD TV with local dimming (6 × 1 segments)
- Screen size: 55 inch (139 cm), curved
- Connections: One Connect box: 4x HDMI (1xARC, 4x v2.0a), 1x optical digital out, 3x USB, 1x digital optical audio out, 3x antenna, network connection
- Extras: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, Tizen Smart Hub, USB/DLNA media player, dual DVB-T/C/S2, 1x CI + lock, Smart Controller, voice control, One Connect Box, Invisible Connection, Ambient Mode
- Dimensions: 1.226 x 786 x 301 mm (including foot)
- Weight: 21.1 kg (including foot)
- Consumption: 135/0.5 watt (Energy label B)
- List price: 2.399 euro
A complete overview of all models that Samsung put on the market in 2018 can be found in the 2018 Samsung LCD LED TV line-up. Here you can also find the complete specifications per model.
Samsung QE55Q8CN – design
A curved television remains a conversation starter, and that is certainly the case for this Samsung QE55Q8CN. The design has a lot in common with the Q7FN. For starters, it is very slim, although you do need a little more depth to set up the curved screen. The screen is bordered with a metallic ribbon. There is no frame, there is a small black border of about six millimeters in the image. The back is metallic with a very soft brushed appearance. In the middle at the bottom is a small Samsung logo
The foot is essentially the same as on the other QLED models, a T-shaped support, which shows only a thin cylinder at the front and with a fairly high neck the device is central grab the middle. The only difference is that this cylinder is now slightly curved.
The metal-colored rear looks fantastic. The connection of the neck with the device is hidden behind a cover plate, and only the connection of the Invisible Connection is visible. There is even room for neatly routing the cable.
The connections are identical to those of Q9FN and Q7FN. That means you get a bulky One Connect box on which all connections can be found. Samsung has opted for passive cooling, so that the One Connect box works completely silently. We find four HDMI connections, all ready for Ultra HD and HDR, a digital optical output, and three USB connections on the side. Finally, there are three antenna connections, the wired network connection and the power supply. There is no headphone connection, but the television does have Bluetooth.
You can make the connection between the One Connect Box and the television with one cable. This not only ensures all connections but also supplies power to the television. Nevertheless, Samsung has succeeded in making the cable hardly thicker than last year, it is now about 3.4 mm thick. He is no longer completely transparent but can still be eliminated as well as invisibly. The supplied cable is five meters long, and an optional fifteen-meter version is available. This solution gives you enormous freedom of choice when placing the television. For example, the television no longer has to stand close to a wall or piece of furniture, because you only have to route one, thin, almost invisible cable.
Although wall mounting is considerably facilitated by the Invisible Connection / One Connect box combo, we do whether it is the best choice for a curved device. Part of the look is just a super-flat montage and the concept of a curved device does not match that. Samsung also offers a number of alternative feet (the Studio and Tower version), with which you can personalize the television.
Samsung QE55Q8CN – ease of use
On all QLED models and on most other models you can perform the installation procedure on your smartphone using the SmartThings app. Admittedly, the added value is limited, but it is useful. Moreover, there seem to be a few minor problems that we had been eliminated on previous models. After installation you can also use SmartThings to use your smartphone as a remote. Then the app works fine.
The Samsung menus and Smart Hub work very smoothly. You never have to wait for the menus. Samsung has put virtually all settings for image and sound in the ‘expert settings’. This is convenient for the average consumer who has little message about all these things. Also remember that some image-related settings (such as eco settings, game mode and HDMI settings) are listed separately in the “General” menu.
The Samsung QE55Q8CN is just like the Q9FN, comes with a luxurious light metal Smart Remote controller. The remote works with Bluetooth so targeting is not an obligation. That remote is a pleasure to use and the buttons are easy to find because of their soft relief. The combination with the Smart Hub ensures that you rarely feel that there are too few keys.
This Smart Controller also serves as a universal remote for your peripherals. Open the Smart Hub, go to Sources (penultimate icon on the left) and scroll in the options all the way to the right, to ‘Set universal Remote Control’. You go through a very simple installation procedure per connected device and ready. We were able to operate our set-top box for digital TV (Telenet digicorder) and Blu-ray player with the Smart Controller. Make sure that the One Connect Box is not covered on clogged position relative to the devices to be operated. It sends IR signals for operation.
Anyone who does not like the new, compact Smart Controller can switch to the classic remote that is also in the box.
Samsung QE55Q8CN – features
Smart TV platform
The Smart Hub we recognize from last year. He is still very handy, and a pleasure to work with. All functions, sources and settings can be found quickly in the bar at the bottom. You can adjust the order of icons so that your favorite items are at the front.
Above that a larger bar appears that shows options depending on your selection at the bottom. In Netflix, for example, you get a few suggestions, choose the sources below you see all possible sources.
The Q8CN series is equipped with a dual tuner for all digital TV options (ether, cable, and satellite) but no double CI + lock. You can record to USB hard disk while watching another channel but only if one of the two channels is not encrypted.
Samsung’s media player has always been an almost universal player. This year, however, we notice that support for Divx and for Xvid video formats have disappeared. Now those formats have long been pensionable, so we do not really like that. What we regret is that the player no longer plays DTS soundtracks. Furthermore, Full HD, Ultra HD and HDR, encoded in H.264, HEVC or VP9 are no problem, just like subtitles. The audio player also reads FLAC and ALAC. The Smart remote is equipped with a microphone, and with that you can give a lot of commands or say queries. For now, there is unfortunately no support for Dutch.
A new feature that comes over from the Samsung ‘The Frame’ is Ambient mode. With that Samsung gives the TV a function if you are not actively watching.
The intention is that the device does not remain a black area in your living room. Ambient mode can be set to show decorative patterns, information such as time and weather information, or as a large photo frame. The image is deliberately dimmed so as not to be noticed, and to give the impression of an art frame.
Samsung QE55Q8CN – Image quality
The QLED series uses quantum dots in the backlight to realize a rich color range, but continue to function as a regular LCD TV. The Q8CN series uses a edge led with local dimming and we counted (with some effort) 6 × 1 segments, so six columns. That is very little for a television that will generate a lot of light. The Samsung QE55Q8CN is equipped with a VA panel, which seems to differ slightly from the version in the Q9FN.
In our article on professional calibration of a TV you can read all about the possibilities to come up with the best image settings with a professional. If you want to get started yourself, please go to our home cinema information guide. Here you will find an explanation of the most important picture settings and tips for setting up your TV. With the basic settings we have come to the following settings for this TV.
The best choice starts from the film mode.
|Film Mode||Expert Settings||Expert Settings|
|Picture format setting: 16: 9 standard
Fit to screen: On
Tint (G / R): 0
|Clean Digital View: Off / Low
Auto Motion Plus: *
Local Dimming: Standard
Contrast Enhancement: Off
HDR + Mode: Off *
Color Tone: Warm 2
Movie Mode: Auto2
Gamma: BT.1886 / 0 *
RGB mode: Off
Color space: Auto
Explanation of main settings;
- The backlight is set to 15 in the Film mode. for most circumstances and there is still a lot of room to go clearer when you look at a lot of light. In that case you can also consider the light sensor, which can be found under General, Eco-solution, Detection of ambient light.
- Clean Digital View contains all noise reduction techniques. It is advisable to activate this if you are watching DVD or other low-quality image. The ‘Auto’ mode also works fine color bands, the ‘low’ mode works slightly less hard.
- If you want a little more shadow detail, you can increase the range to 1.
- Auto Motion Plus: this is as always a matter of taste. Car is a good all-round solution. If you want more control, choose Custom and set Blurr reduction to 10 and vibration reduction somewhere between 6 and 8. We do not recommend LED Clear Motion, the flickering in the image is visible.
- HDR + mode can be activated to taste, but we do not recommend it. It seems to us that you lose some white detail.
General image and image processing
It is not surprising that the Q8CN scores identically on the Q7FN in terms of image processing. He easily and reliably recognizes the various video and film framerates, and ensures excellent deinterlacing of 1080i sources. Moiré and jagged edges will only see you extremely exceptional. The upscaling of low-resolution sources is excellent, delivering beautiful sharpness and fine detail. You can increase the sharpness, up to maximum 10 to give detail a slight accent.
The noise reduction (‘Clean Digital View’) does a good job, and now Samsung in addition to the ‘Auto’ mode again a ‘low’ position has provided, you have returned a good set of choices. ‘Off’ for the best sources, ‘Low’ if you want to remove some noise, and ‘auto’ for the older sources such as DVD. In the ‘Auto’ mode, the Clean Digital View also removes some color band effects.
He also shares the somewhat lesser motion sharpness of the Q7FN. The result is still good, but he loses some detail because he sometimes shows a clear double or blurry edge around fast moving objects. No ‘Auto Motion Plus’ setting can prevent this. Auto ‘delivers fluid camera movements but creates clear artefacts here and there. Choose ‘Custom’ if necessary and set a blurring reduction to 8-10, and vibration reduction between 6 and 8. Stay away from ‘Led Clear motion’, which causes visible flicker in the screen.
Lovers of deep contrast will not be disappointed. The VA panel scores excellent, and that is improved thanks to the local dimming. But with six columns there is obviously only so much you can do. Samsung mainly tries to avoid that you see the segment boundaries (good), but of course the dimming is less efficient. In our Harry Potter test with very dark images and subtitles there is some dimming visible and you see the brightness of the image change. Apart from that, excellent result. The device hides less black detail than the other QLED models we already saw. Those who look at a lot of ambient light can still bring the gamma value to 1 to get some extra black detail. The screen has fairly good uniformity but seems a bit darker at the sides.
The screen is perfectly calibrated with a neutral gray scale which tends to cool (blue-cyan) only in the brightest hues. The color reproduction is excellent and it is absolutely wonderful to enjoy beautiful images.
The Q8CN also looks like HDR plane almost identical to the Q7FN. It delivers incredibly clear images, with a peak of 2270 nits, unseen high. After some time the brightness falls back to 780 nits. On a completely white screen he gets 796 nits, a value he can hold. With a huge color range, 76% Rec.2020 and 99% DCI-P3, and that incredible clarity, the Q8CN has everything to make HDR sparkle.
But again, just like the Q7FN Samsung is too lavish with all that lightning. Depending on which metadata the HDR content signals, the signal is up to two times brighter than required. With content mapped on a 1000 nits screen that is best visible (measurements above). Content mastered on 2000 or 4000 nits is a bit better, but even there the calibration remains less than expected.
And of course, use 2000 nits while you also have to show black on a screen that dims in a very limited number of segments that can sometimes give problems. If you are looking at a contrasting HDR image, especially with lots of dark scenes, it is best to sit as straight as possible in front of the screen, otherwise you risk clearly seeing the dimming.
Samsung could calibrate this device considerably better, but chooses to use it as the brightest screen ever for the day to come. The images are often unbelievably impressive, but a good calibration and possibly an adjustable choice for the viewer to possibly improve the image, we would find a better choice.
Samsung supports HDR10, HLG and HDR10 + . By activating HDR + in the Expert settings of the picture menus, you give SDR content an HDR operation. The images then become very clear, so it seems especially useful if you have a lot of sun in the living room.
Reflections, viewing angles and curves
If the Samsung QE55Q8CN has a weakness then it is its sensitivity to reflections . Like the other QLED models, it has a special anti-reflection film, but its curved shape makes it difficult for him. They stretch out the reflections, which makes them a lot more annoying. So be careful to avoid this as much as possible. The photo below shows the Q8CN for another device, and you can see clearly how the reflection of the lamp is much wider on the curved screen.
The viewing angle is typical for a VA screen, especially in dark content that you are not too far aside, the local dimming can be visible. There is less problem with clear images.
Does the curved shape add something to the viewing experience? We do not think so. As mentioned, it is not optimal for reflections, and the viewing angle does not really improve. Consider the curve rather as a part of the design, for the image quality it adds nothing.
In the film image mode we measure a lag of 86.2 ms. That is too much for a good game experience. With the game mode active, the lag drops to 29.8 ms and that is a great result. Do not forget to activate that mode, you can find it in the settings, under General, Manage external devices, Game Mode. Samsung has also added Motion Plus settings so you can now also edit the motion sharpness in game mode. If you set the Motion Plus setting there, the lag will even drop to 19, (ms, a very good result.
Samsung claims support for VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), a very good feature for hardcore gamers, but that we could not verify the feature would be in a next firmware upgrade.
Samsung QE55Q8CN – Audio quality
The curved shapes of this television hide excellent sound performance, especially if we take into account how slim it is. some volume with more than decent bass and the dialogs are crystal clear.Once you really want to let the volume pop, the TV does intervene and limits the bass reproduction, which is absolutely no exception and the Samsung QE55Q8CN leaves much more space than many competitors. For many viewers, this will suffice, both for film and even for some music.
Samsung has built in a new ‘auto volume’ function that reduces the volume of different programs and different sources and draws somewhat evenly. Do you regularly hear loud advertising, or the difference between some of your sources, that provides a good solution.
For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter.
For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 HDR2000 Colorimeter Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, a VideoForge Pro pattern generator, and the Spectracal Calman for Business software. To analyze any HDR problems we use HDFury Vertex.
Samsung QE55Q8CN – Conclusion
Curved screens are no longer ‘all the rage’, but Samsung still has a few of them offer. The Q8CN series is a real light gun, with a huge range of colors, and it shows what is possible with QLED technology. But Samsung drives the HDR view a bit too far, and wants to put its brightness too much in the spotlight. Certainly with a screen with limited dimming that is not a better choice, high brightness increases the risk of visible segment boundaries.
But the Samsung QE55Q8CN also has many qualities. Naturally, the curved screen is a design that you consciously choose. This QLED also provides a lot of ease of installation with its One Connect box and Invisible Connection. The Smart Hub is a fantastic smart TV environment, and the Ambient mode further emphasizes its ‘lifestyle’ characteristics. Beautiful contrast, with excellent calibration, and good color reproduction further guarantees impressive images. HDR also looks good, but would benefit from a less aggressive calibration. The price? That is pretty hefty. For this model you pay 200 euros extra compared to the Q7FN, and for that you get essentially a curved screen and a premium remote extra. Anyone who wants a curved QLED TV in the house, has to go deep into the pouch.