Samsung has unveiled its latest flagship TV at IFA 2018. It’s called the Samsung Q900R, and it’s a monster in several ways – not least because it represents the first 8K TV most people will actually be able to buy.
Let’s start with the obvious: the Q900R is massive, with screen sizes ranging from 65 to 85 inches. It also has an 8K resolution. Nope – this isn’t a drill, nor a prototype, or proof of concept, or any of the rubbish we’ve been teased with over the past decade with no intention of coming to market. This thing will actually go into shops in a matter of months.
Here’s everything I know so far. I’ll be updating this article throughout the day as I get more information and hands-on time.
Samsung Q900R – Release date
The Samsung Q900R will be in stores from the end of September 2018. In the UK, we’re looking at the middle of October.
Samsung Q900R – Price
This has yet to be confirmed. I’ll update this article when I get a figure, but it’s safe to say that the Q900R won’t come cheap!
Samsung Q900R – Key specifications
We already knew Samsung was doing something in 8K, thanks to some very unsubtle posters put out earlier this month. So here’s the confirmation. The Samsung Q900R will have a native 8K resolution. That’s 7680 x 4320 pixels – or 16 times the Full HD standard.
Since native 8K footage is rare, Samsung has invested heavily in processing. It has a new chip, the Quantum Processor 8K, whose chief role is to handle ‘AI Upscaling’ of lower-resolution footage to fit the screen’s 8K resolution.
Essentially, Samsung has come up with an algorithm to recognise patterns and calculate the extra pixels are needed (and where). The chip will use a huge image database, which Samsung says will constantly update itself as it learns of new images.
It would be silly to have such a massive pixel count without the appropriate real estate, and to that end Samsung has confirmed that the Q900R will be made in 65, 75, 82 and 85-inch models. At this stage it isn’t clear which sizes will come to the UK, but given the average size of our homes, I’d say the two ‘smaller’ sizes are most likely.
Peak brightness has been ramped up to 4000 nits. Many 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays are mastered to 4000 nits, so look forward to a picture that isn’t only sharp but also hugely dynamic too. Of course, such brightness will be a challenge for any LCD, and Samsung has seen fit to use a FALD (full array local dimming) system. They’re calling it ‘Direct Full Array Elite’, and I’m told it offers greater backlighting control than that employed on the Samsung Q9FN.
High dynamic range formats supported include the standard HDR10 and the broadcast-friendly HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma). As always, this TV will not offer support for Dolby Vision. Along with Panasonic, Samsung is pushing the alternative metadata-toting format known as HDR10+.
Future gazers, rejoice: one of the HDMI ports will be HDMI 2.1. This supports 8K image input at 30fps, Samsung told me. As for gamers, the auto-detect Game mode makes a return, with a promised minimum input lag of 15ms.
Samsung Q900R – Design
Since the Samsung Q900R will be available in huge sizes, Samsung has reverted to placing feet at the corners of the screen, for reasons of stability. But since customers, and reviewers like myself, nearly always moan about this, there’s also an option to stick the feet in the middle.
The Q900R also brings back a few elements I liked from the Q9FN, namely the One Invisible Connection system, which keeps all the plugs separate in an external connections box. That box connects to the TV via one thin and nearly (but not entirely) invisible cable.
For wall-mounters, the Ambient Mode makes a return, so you can pretend the TV is part of the wallpaper.
Samsung Q900R – Why 8K?
“Why are we talking about 8K resolution?” you ask. To be fair, 4K has only just been established. And it’s pretty darn good already.
Samsung says one of the main reasons it’s pushing 8K is the increasing popularity of larger screen sizes. A few years ago, the most popular screen size sat below 50 inches. Now all the flagship TVs come in 65 inches or over.
When you stretch the same picture resolution over larger screen sizes, pixel density becomes an issue. A discussion on pixel density will usually be heard in smartphone circles, but it’s now made it over to TVs.
A Full HD TV at 55 inches has a pixel density of 40ppi (pixels per inch). Upgrade that to 4K and that jumps to 80ppi – which is the reason TV reviewers such as myself have been singing 4K’s praises.
But as you increase in screen size, that density drops. Ultra HD 4K at 65 inches yields 68ppi. Go up to 75 inches and it drops to 59ppi. Up to 85 inches, and pixel density goes down to 52ppi. Essentially going bigger undoes the impact of 4K.
8K is there to address that, for those who are fortunate enough to have the space and cash to spend on such sizeable screens. At 65, 75 and 85 inches, you get a respective pixel densities of 136, 117 and 104ppi.
Of course, the reality of the situation is that there are still limitations on storage price and data transfer rates. We’re moving in the right direction, though. Maybe by the time 8K becomes mainstream (after some years), the UK will have half-decent internet.