Once you’ve spent time with the Samsung Q90R, it’s tough to go back to other 4K TVs. The way it lights up a picture with vibrant colors is unmatched in the TV world, and if you’re looking for your panel to be so bright it easily lights up a darkened room, this is the best TV for you. And because the Q90R is at the top-end of Samsung’s range, it packs in all the extra features that make viewing movies and TV that bit more special, like anti-reflection coating on the screen, and full array local dimming behind it.
While it doesn’t quite match the motion smoothing of some Sony TVs, nor the natural blacks of some top-end LG OLED sets like the LG C9, it performs incredibly well in these areas and offers those bright colors that rivals simply can’t touch right now. This is why the Samsung Q90R is currently our best TV in 2020.
Average price: $2600
Sizes available: 55”, 65”, 75”
Screen type: QLED
4K ready? Yes
8K ready? No
HDR type: HDR10+
Audio type: Dolby
HDMI connections: 4
Other connections: USB x3, Optical x1
Samsung Q90R review: Picture quality
The Samsung Q90R comes with a fantastic, market-leading panel. It manages 4K images at 120Hz, and can reach a brilliant 2000 nits of peak brightness. While it has a similar acronym to OLED, QLED sets operate very differently which is how the brightness is achieved. This means brighter pictures and near-perfect blacks, but the trade-off is a slightly chunkier design overall, as QLEDs are still technically ‘backlit’ TVs.
Thanks to the full array dimming (what Samsung called Full Array Elite), images are crisp and clean, without any ‘halo’ effects in high contrast scenes, or any patches of light in pure black areas. While the blacks here don’t get as deep as OLEDs, most won’t notice the difference unless looking at the panels side-by-side. The brightness of the colors, next to the depth of the blacks really makes a huge impact on the overall picture.
Elsewhere, Samsung has taken on board criticisms of the previous iteration, the Q9FN. Viewing angles are now improved, so you don’t lose sharpness and accuracy when you view the TV beyond a 50 degree angle (although we have to say, these problems were over-exaggerated with the previous model), and motion smoothing has been improved slightly. The downside is that peak brightness takes more of a hit when Game Mode is enabled, meaning that you do sacrifice a little vibrancy for the higher refresh rate here. Again, it’s not hugely noticeable, unless you compare directly with the previous model.
Elsewhere, the Q90R employs HDR10+ to enhance pictures. The processing power and wide color range of the TV makes the HDR effects even more impressive and, while we still think Dolby Vision is a marginally superior visual technology, it looks stunning when you watch something that’s properly enhanced, like many of the Marvel 4K Blu-rays or something like Blade Runner 2049. What will also impress is the TV’s ability to upscale older, non-4K content. The Q90R uses AI upscaling to smooth edges of lower-resolution pictures, and reduce noise, while the incredible backlight makes the colors pop harder than they originally would. So, something like Friends on Netflix looks bright and modern, a little like a show from the early 2010s rather than 1994.
Overall, the Samsung Q90R performs incredibly well for movies and TV content, when it comes to visuals. The Sony A9G offers smoother motion, and the LG C9 OLEDs have slightly deeper blacks, but overall you can’t beat the 4K picture on the Q90R. If you’re looking to ramp up to 8K, then you’d need to opt for the Samsung Q950R which is more expensive, and doesn’t quite nail the contrast between colors and blacks quite as well as this model.
Samsung Q90R review: Sound
While your 4K TV will never produce audio to match a dedicated sound bar, sound is slowly catching up to picture quality in modern sets. The Samsung Q90R produces superb surround sound, and we are particularly impressed by the bass, which means it can happily exist without an external speaker set-up. Anyone using it as part of a proper home cinema set-up should look to pair it with the special HW-Q90 soundbar that Samsung makes but… that is an extra expense when you’re already spending thousands of dollars on a TV set.
The Adaptive Volume feature is a neat addition, and will tailor the audio to the specific room you place the TV in. However, because it can’t match home theater set-ups, this really only benefits small to medium-sized rooms. Adaptive Volume will also use some of the TV’s processing power to change sound based on what you’re watching, which is a neat touch. Overall, audio here doesn’t match the likes of the Sony A9G, which uses the panel itself as a speaker, but it is better than most high-end TVs. One slightly annoying factor is that the Q90R doesn’t quite rival the Q9FN for sound, with the audio lacking a little punch, and the surround sound feeling slightly less precise.
Samsung Q90R review: Design and features
As mentioned above the Samsung Q90R is a thicker TV, overall, than its OLED rivals. It’s heavier too, so keep this in mind if you plan to wall-mount it. And you absolutely should plan to have it on the wall, as there are several features here that optimize it for wall-mounting. Firstly, it comes with a OneConnect box, which is a separate box that houses all the connections, meaning you only have to run a thin, nearly transparent wire from the back of the TV. If you’re wall-mounting, this means no wire clusters running under the TV and spoiling the effect.
Samsung also includes Ambient Mode on the Q90R, which you can use to make the TV blend into its surroundings when not in use, or to display ‘artwork’ style images and screensavers. This feature is fun, but not nearly as useful as the marketing material would have you believe. You set the background by taking pictures with your smartphone, so it’s easy, but is of limited use unless you have a colored wall or gently patterned wallpaper. It’s a good set for showing off your photos, especially if you’re looking to display DSLR or professional mirrorless camera-grade pics.
Elsewhere, Samsung’s universal guide and remote make navigation easy, and you can connect to a Galaxy phone too (or any Android device) via the Smart Things app. For our money, Samsung’s UI is the best of the major manufacturers, and is quicker to function from both a complete power-off and standby. We love the ability to move apps along the nav, and add new features, and the TV guide is intuitive and well laid out. Settings menus are simple to use, and provide good feedback when you tinker with them. The level of control you get is superb, only bettered by high-end Panasonic sets, and there are a sensible number of presets for things like movies, sports, and gaming.
Overall, the set is a delight to look at, and although the stand on the Q90R is a vast improvement on the T-bar of the Q9FN, we’d absolutely recommend wall-mounting. The OneConnect box is a brilliant wire-tidying device, and the overall quality of the in-TV features is first-class. It even works with Google Assistant and (if you must) Bixby.
Should you buy the Samsung Q90R?
If you have the money, and want to invest in a serious TV, then yes - this is the model for you. Across all sizes, it’s the best 4K TV you can buy right now. If you want to go QLED, and don’t have the same cash to spend, we recommend the Q70 series (not the Q60, which sacrifices too many features) which is significantly cheaper. You won’t beat the brightness and color vibrancy of this panel and while the blacks aren’t the absolute best in class, they rival the vast majority of similarly-priced OLED TVs. The sound even packs a nice punch too.
More than just a fancy screen too, all Samsung’s features and connections are excellent too, making this a complete package that feels as premium as the price suggests. Some high-end TVs fail to justify their price, but for what you pay here, you do get great value. The only caveat is that the Q90R doesn’t do 8K, so if you want to future-proof yourself for the higher resolution (which is still years away from mainstream) then you should consider the Q950R instead.