The Samsung Q80T is the company’s entry-level Full Array Local Dimming TV for 2020, dishing up impressive performance for its price. Picture quality is bright, colourful and full of contrast, upscaling of non-4K sources is great, and gaming performance is class-leading. At its current price, the Q80T offers great value.
- Colorful, contrasty images
- Excellent upscaling
- Class-leading gaming performance
- Good sound for a flatscreen TV
- Lacking shadow detail
- No Dolby Vision
- Review Price: £1099
- Object Tracking Sound
- HDMI 2.1
- AMD FreeSync
- 4K/120fps support
- HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
- Q-Symphony compatible
- Bixby, Alexa, Google Assistant support
The Samsung Q80T (QE55Q80T) sits beneath the flagship Q90T/Q95T in the Korean giant’s 2020 4K QLED range. It retains a number of features found in its more premium sibling, but its main asset is that it does so at a more affordable price.
We reviewed the 65-inch earlier in 2020 and gave that five stars, revelling in its punchy HDR performance and excellent gaming performance. Can we expect more of the same with the 55-inch model?
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Samsung Q80T design – A well-built slab of TV
If there’s one thing about Samsung’s design approach, it’s that the company is very consistent. Build quality is reassuringly good across the range, but often models look indistinguishable from one another.
Related: Samsung TV 2020 – Every TV explained
If that doesn’t bother then you’ll appreciate the Q80T’s elegant and minimalist chassis, with a thin bezel that allows plenty of real estate for the display. The central stand is the only noticeable change from the Q90T, but it still provides solid support and the bottom plate will happily allow for a soundbar. Samsung’s Q-series soundbars have been designed to integrate seamlessly with the TVs, and the Q80T offers enough clearance for a bar to sit in between.
Note that the Q85T is effectively the same TV, but comes, an Anti-Glare screen, Wide Viewing Angle and the 4.2.2 OTS system also found in the Q90T. The Q80T’s lack of One Connect results in a slightly thicker depth if you’re interested in pinning it on a wall.
You get a choice of two remotes: a standard Samsung remote and a smart one. The smart model is the version to go for since it feels good in the hand thanks to its ergonomic shape, the interface isn’t crowded, and it feels nicer to use.
Samsung QE55Q80T features – Class-leading gaming features
Connections on the TV are housed on the left-hand side of the unit, a slight issue for me as my setup is suited to connections on the right. It’s the one moment where I missed having the One Connect box.
Inputs and outputs consist of four HDMIs, an optical out, two USBs, Ethernet, Common Interface, and the satellite and terrestrial antennas. HDMI 2.1 features are available with HDMI 4 reserved for gaming with 4K at 120Hz; VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) supported. You can read more about these features in our HDMI 2.1 article.
Further HDMI 2.1 features arrive with HDMI 3 supporting eARC for pass-through of audio formats such as Dolby Atmos. That port is where you’ll need to park your eARC-compatible soundbar if you yearn to listen to object-based audio.
The Q80T’s gaming credentials are further established with AMD FreeSync Premium, which reduces tearing and stuttering. Nvidia G-Sync is apparently waiting in the wings, but no date has been promised for its introduction. With Game mode activated, the Q80T delivers a class-leading 9.2ms of input lag. Activating Game Motion Plus adds some processing for a smoother image, dropping input lag to a still very good 19.7ms.
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For films, the Samsung Q80T has Filmmaker mode, which disables any background processing. There’s no content available yet, so you’re better served by Samsung’s Movie setting.
For HDR the Q80T has HDR10, HLG broadcast and HDR10+ dynamic metadata. Dolby Vision is left out again, and although Samsung is pushing HDR10+, it still feels like it’s waiting for a big breakthrough. HDR10+ offers refinement of brightness and colours to match the display’s qualities, but the difference is not as drastic as Dolby Vision can be.
Related: What is HDR10+?
Samsung’s Tizen operating system is excellent: easy to use and with plenty of apps, with all the main streaming and UK catch-up apps present. You can add BBC Sounds, as well as Britbox for UK users.
I should mention the SmartThings app, which is terrific and makes setup a doddle. As for voice assistants, Alexa, Bixby and Google Assistant are all now supported, and there’s AirPlay 2 for streaming from iOS devices.
The Samsung Q80T is compatible with Samsung’s Q-Symphony feature that unifies sound from the TV and a supported Q-Series soundbar to create a wider, taller soundfield. This is further aided by the Q80T’s Object Tracking Sound (OTS). Made up of six speakers – two at the top, side and bottom – so the TV can track sound across the screen for a more immersive experience.
Samsung Q80T picture quality – Bright, detailed and colourful images
When it comes to picture quality, it’s worth noting the Q80T’s specs are an upgrade on the 2019 Q70R rather than a direct replacement for the Q80R – although just to confuse matters, the performance is closer to the Q85R.
Nevertheless, the Samsung Q80T is a slicker performer than all those sets. Black levels are perceptively inkier and deeper in depth. The Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) panel offers a more contrasting image, but shadow detail is diminished in the process; this is evident in darker content such as V For Vendetta or Mr Robot.
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Fine detail is superb, with The Martian offering excellent detail whether it’s the texture of the Martian sand, detail on the suit (which looks amazing) to the steely, plasticky and shiny surfaces of NASA equipment. The Q80T showcases it all with exacting detail.
Complexions are handled with a sense of punchiness. Jessica Chastain’s pale complexion contrasts with the rest of the crew, as does Mackenzie Davis’ slightly warmer complexion compared to Chiwetel Ejiofor’s richer Vincent Kapoor. The Q80T’s ability to capture the variety of skin tones in a striking manner helps elevate this set above cheaper ones.
Colours are portrayed in a bright and appealing manner. The rusty red of the Martian landscape is rich, but a switch to Star Wars: Revenge of The Sith on 4K Blu-ray and the HDR produces punchy and consistently vibrant images. Lightsabers have a vigour to their hue, while the fight on Mustafar between Obi-Wan and Anakin produces reds and oranges of eye-catching intensity. Highlights don’t have the intensity of Sony’s FALD sets, but blooming is less noticeable.
Th reduction of blooming along with the set’s bright colours make the Q80T good for either a bright or dark room. The FALD panel is responsive, although it isn’t infallible. One issue was in First Man with the display flicking off as the Apollo 11 crew witnessed the moon for the first time (Chapter 16). As it didn’t crop up elsewhere, I’d put it down to the Q80T’s dimming algorithm outsmarting itself.
Similar to the Q95T, Samsung’s methods of tackling blooming exhibit themselves in the brightness of reduced smaller objects. When Chris sinks into the Sunken Place in Get Out, his falling figure flashes for a moment before reducing in brightness against the black backdrop.
A similar situation occurs with subtitles. Watching Parasite on Prime Video and the FALD panel detects them but brightness varies. Words flash then dim, or the first few letters can be brighter than the rest depending on the scene. Other times the first line of a sentence is bright, but the second line is less so as it falls on the black bar below the picture. It’s small but worth noting.
But, back to the positives. High-definition SDR content upscaled to 4K looks excellent, bearing the same characteristics in terms of detail, complexions and colours. Edge definition is handled well, and offers an improvement over the 2019 models, and the Quantum 4K processor with AI also puts in an impressive shift with standard definition content.
I watched Dead Presidents on an old DVD (so old, in fact, that the disc requires flipping over), and although the picture is lacking in expected ways – detail and definition, as well as a softness and blurring with movement – it’s watchable with colours conveyed well and a decent amount of definition to faces and objects.
The Samsung Q80T is fairly slick with motion, too, with little to no soap opera effect with the Picture Clarity settings turned on with HD content (less so with SD content). I’d leave the Picture Clarity settings off for fast-moving content, as edge definition during a MotoGP race became less well defined.
Samsung QE55Q80T sound quality – Object-tracking sound offers a more expansive sound than usual
It’s expected that a flatscreen TV will put in a limited performance with audio, but like the Q95T, the Q80T’s audio is respectable as a result of its object-tracking sound system. Listening to Parasite (Prime Video) through its 2.2.2 60W system, it produces a defined, wide soundscape.
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Clarity and detail levels are good, and dialogue is well observed. Panning of sounds across the soundstage is recreated decently, but perhaps most impressive is the width of the sound – off-screen voices and sounds off-screen can be heard just to the side of screen. Pair it with a Q-Symphony-compatible soundbar and it’s even better, with the bass taken on by the soundbar for a firmer definition of low-end frequencies.
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Should you buy the Samsung Q80T?
Despite half as many dimming zones as the Q90T, the Q80T’s picture quality is impressive, characterised by plenty of detail and colour with 4K and HD content, which makes this set a great option for bright or dark rooms. With class-leading input lag and commendable audio, at £1099 it would be a very good investment – but pre-Black Friday discounts have nudged it down to £899, which is extremely good value.
One alternative is Sony’s 55-inch XH95, which has also dropped in price ahead of the sales (£999). It unleashes the potential of HDR better than the Q80T, but it brings blooming into the mix. Its Android TV OS has a huge number of apps, there’s support for Dolby Vision HDR and the sound system is pretty great for a flatscreen set.
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