The Q80T is an ambitious flatscreen offering punchy HDR, gorgeous colour and a surprisingly good black level performance. It’s a great choice for daylight viewing, but also makes for a lively home theatre experience
- FALD backlight
- Impactful OTS audio
- Lightning fast gaming performance
- No Dolby Vision support
- No Freeview Play
- Review Price: £2299
- OTS audio system
- Tizen smart platform
- Game Motion Plus processing
The Samsung Q80T (QE65Q80T) may be the entry-level 4k UHD screen in Samsung’s 2020 QLED FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) range, but it boasts class-leading sound and vision, cutting edge connectivity, a novel feature set and is borderline sensational when it comes to gaming.
Samsung, it seems, has come out of the 2020 gate blazing.
Sandwiched between the Q70T and range-topping Q90T, for many, it’ll represent a sweet spot in terms of performance and price.
The Q80T is not a replacement for last season’s Q80R. It’s more an update on the Q70R. Alternate screen sizes comprise 49-, 55-, 75- and 85-inches, so there should be one to suit your needs.
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Build and design – minimal bezel disguises Samsung Q80T’s Full Array Local Dimming panel
Thanks to that full-array backlight, this 65-incher may have girth, but it uses design to great effect. The panel is surrounded by a chamfered gun-metal grey bezel, which makes it appear virtually frameless. A refreshingly sensible central pedestal stand also makes it easy to accommodate. There’s no separate One Connect box.
Connectivity comprises four HDMIs, one of which (input 3) supports eARC, two USB ports, a digital optical audio output and both terrestrial and dual satellite tuner inputs.
Digging deeper, we find the HDMIs on the Q80T have most of the functionality associated with HDMI v2.1, albeit without 8k (obviously).
With a nod to high-end gaming, there’s the promise of 4k at 120fps support on one input (HDMI 4). The set can also manage 4k at 60Hz (the ballpark expected for the PS5 and Xbox Series X), 2k at 120Hz, VRR and ALLM. FreeSync support is included for PC gamers.
Supplied are two remote controls, one a standard zapper, the other a simplified clicker.
Software and features – Tizen gets real to cope with app deluge
Smart connectivity is on the right side of excellent.
The Samsung Q80T features the latest iteration of the Tizen platform, which uses a two tier interface comprising launch bar and contextual thumbnails, and a raft of IP delivered Samsung Plus TV channels.
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Interestingly, Samsung has shrunk the Tizen tiles to allow more streaming apps to sit on a screen at any given time. So less need to scroll.
Joining Ambient Mode this time around is Mobile Multi View, which enables two screens (the main TV image and your mobile) to be watched simultaneously, via casting. Another feature likely to appeal to gamers who like to play alongside tutorials.
Performance – Bright HDR makes the Samsung Q80T the daytime TV to beat
If the Q80T were a pizza, it would come with all the toppings.
Samsung’s Quantum 4k image processor is arguably the most sophisticated on the market and employs a raft of innovative new techniques to make more of lower resolution HD sources. Colour, HDR, Clarity, Contrast and Motion – there’s a whole lot of remastering going on.
One cute example of the science at play is texture recreation. The silicon uses detail analysis and correlation estimation to convincingly interpolate more nuance into flora, fauna and fancy frocks. It works by analysing what detail is native in the image, comparing it to a texture database and then synthesising more of the same. The process gives regular Blu-ray discs a fresh lease of life.
The screen’s image presets tend to emphasise the set’s inherent brightness. There’s a choice of Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie modes. Dynamic oversaturates, with livid primaries, but Standard and Natural prove to be good medians. The latter is a little more contrast heavy, at the expense of shadow detail, but does deliver slightly higher HDR specular peaks.
While the Samsung QE65Q80T doesn’t have as many backlight zones as the brand’s flagship FALD (the count is in line with last year’s Q70R), screen uniformity is reasonably high.
The most obvious challenge is the black bars seen when watching a letterbox movie. Here the Q80T sometimes struggles to be consistent, revealing blooming from brightly lit objects evident at the edge of the image frame. However, the effect tends to be transitory and not particularly intrusive.
Samsung QLEDs typically come with extravagant HDR peak brightness claims, which should generally be taken with some marketing salt. But the Q80T acquits itself well, with the best figure just shy of 900 nits (cd/m2).
HDR covers HDR10 and HLG. There’s no support for Dolby Vision, leaving just HDR10+ in the dynamic metadata stakes.
Conversely, Samsung has pushed the boat out when it comes to gaming support, and latency is stunningly low. This set doesn’t just offer a vanilla Games mode, it comes with Game Motion Plus processing, and a faux surround sound mode for 3D audio.
With this full enchilada engaged, the set still boasts a low latency of just 19.7ms (1080/60). However, switch off Game Motion Plus, and image lag drops to a best in class 8.7ms.
Sound quality – OTS sound a cut above standard down-firing screens
Samsung describes the sound system on the Samsung Q80T as 2.2.2, recognition that this set offers OTS (Object Tracking Sound).
OTS boils down to more speaker drivers than lesser sets, placed low and high on the panel. Higher up the Samsung range you’ll find OTS+, which adds side speakers to the mix.
OTS works surprisingly well, allowing the screen to more fully present movies and music. There’s a sense of dialogue being locked to the image, even steerage as objects move around. The sound stage seems as big as the picture itself, and it’s tethered directly to the action.
Total audio output is rated at 60W. In the real world, this translates to enough volume and presence for even moderately large rooms. It’ll also bitstream out Dolby Atmos to external audio hardware if you want to go full home cinema.
OTS is joined by an Intelligent Sound mode, which Standard and Amplifier settings. The result is a bit of a mixed bag. When engaged with speech, you can hear that the noise floor has been raised, which can result in an omnipresent background burble. But used for music, the presentation is pushed forward, which is rather fun.
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Should you buy the Samsung Q80T?
The Samsung QE65Q80T is an ambitious flatscreen offering punchy HDR, gorgeous colour and a surprisingly good black level performance. It’s a great choice for daylight viewing but also makes for a lively home theatre experience.
Movie fans will lament the lack of Dolby Vision support, as HDR10+ hasn’t had comparable traction, but on the plus side, HDR to UHD upscaling is hugely impressive.
The Q80T particularly shines as a gaming display. Even with a host of image enhancement turned on it, it still outperforms most all its rivals. This won’t make a jot of difference if your day is filled playing Animal Crossing, but competitive esports aficionados will appreciate its many skills.
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