We’ve been talking about QD-OLED for so long that it’s easy to forget that the very first QD-OLED TV hasn’t even been in stores for a year. The said TV, the Samsung S95B, certainly put the cat among the pigeons when it arrived on the scene, thanks to the combination of OLED’s pixel-level contrast control and QLED’s color vibrancy and (some of its) extra brightness.
It’s a great TV too, getting the full five stars in our Samsung S95B review, but it’s worth remembering that it’s a first-generation product – and a bit of a toe in the water for a company with a longstanding anti-OLED stance.
Fortunately, Samsung now seems happy to venture a little further into the vibrant blue waters of QD-OLED, doubling the number of models in the 2023 range. Granted, that still means there are only two of them, making this more of a paddle than a full dive, but it’s progress.
Crucially, Samsung seems to have learned a lot about this nascent technology over the last 12 months, and the new S95C flagship model, which I’ve just seen in action for the first time, clearly takes it a step further, but also seems more subtle and refined than its predecessor. predecessor.
The last Which Hi-Fi? judgment on the new set will have to wait until we can get it into our test labs for extensive, comparative testing, but here are my initial thoughts from the hands-on session.
So far (excluding a single, US-only price), we only have EU prices for Samsung’s 2023 QD OLEDs, but that tells us something: the S95C will likely launch at a slightly higher price than the S95B , but the S90C will be the cheapest QD OLED TV to date – at least in terms of launch price.
This is the first time a 77-inch QD OLED will be available. Unfortunately, there is still no model smaller than 55 inches.
Here’s the full price:
|Row 0 – Cell 0||55 inches||65 inches||77 inches|
|S95C (2023)||€2500 (about £2200 / $2655 / AU$3885)||€3300 (about £2900 / $3485 / AU$5175)||€4800 / $4500 (about £4235 / AU$7525)|
|S90C (2023)||€2000 (about £1760 / $2125 / AU$3115)||€2800 (about £2470 / $2955 / AU$4395)||€4000 (about £3530 / $4220 / AU$6270)|
|S95B (2022 – launch price)||€2200 / £2399 / $2200 / AU$3495||€3000 / £3299 / $3000 / AU$4495||No such model|
The 2022 S95B is one of the most remarkably thin TVs ever made, with the vast majority of the body measuring just a few millimeters thick. It has a larger section containing the processing hardware, speakers and connections, but even this is more compact than most OLED TV equivalents.
The S90C has a very similar design to last year’s model, but the flagship S95C takes a different path – one reminiscent of LG’s G-series “Gallery” models. Here the set is a uniform thickness of 1 cm. This allows it to be mounted more or less flush against a wall, is less alarmingly thin, and allows better placement of the speakers too.
This uniformly thin design has been achieved by moving all connections – including power – to an external “One Connect” box. This year’s One Connect, which is exclusive to the S95C QD-OLED and the QN900C, QN800C and QN700C 8K QLEDs, is very similar to last year’s – i.e. much wider but slimmer than the brick design of the past, and can are attached to the back of the stand for those who are happy with a more typical arrangement. Those who do place the One Connect box away from the set then only have one brilliantly thin cable to their TV.
2023 is the year of super bright OLED TVs and the S95C is likely to be one of the brightest, although there seems to be some confusion over how much brighter it will actually be. I’ve been personally told it will be 20% brighter, but it’s not made entirely clear whether that’s in comparison to the S95B, the S90C or both. Meanwhile, Samsung USA says the S95C is actually 30% brighter than last year’s S95B.
Ultimately, it’s always tricky to put a number on this sort of thing, as peak brightness can be measured in different ways and in different picture presets. The long and short is that the S95C will be brighter than any previous QD OLED, and it’s noticeable.
Of course, traditional OLED TV manufacturers also have a new brightness-enhancing weapon in their arsenal in the form of Micro Lens Array technology. My impression is that Samsung’s S95C will have the same brightness as MLA-enhanced OLED TVs like the LG G3 and the Panasonic MZ2000, but we’ll of course put that theory to the test when we have all the TVs for comparison. judgement.
Brightness isn’t everything, of course, and Samsung will point out that the Quantum Dot element of its QD OLED TV will give it an advantage over those traditional OLEDs when it comes to color vibrancy, especially in the brightest parts of the image.
Naturally, you’ll want to send a lot of HDR content to the S95C to see it at its best. As always, HLG, HDR10 and HDR10+ formats are supported, but Dolby Vision is not. Samsung still claims it sees no advantage in Dolby Vision over the formats it already offers, but it’s hard not to see the decision as a little narrow-minded and stubborn when Dolby Vision content is so widespread.
A lack of Dolby Vision support means Dolby Vision gaming is clearly off the menu, but the S95C supports all other gaming features, including 4K/120Hz (144Hz for PC), VRR and ALLM, for all four HDMI inputs. Cloud gaming is also natively supported through built-in apps for the likes of Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now.
Dolby Atmos is on board and the S95C has a 70W 4.2.2 sound system. This should be a big improvement over the S95B’s fairly weak 60W 2.2.2 setup, not just because the numbers are higher, but because the new design allows the speakers to be positioned more ideally.
During the practice session, a 77-inch S95C was compared side-by-side with a “competitor OLED” that was clearly the LG G2. Samsung stated that both TVs were in ‘Movie’ mode, but the G2 has no such preset. My assumption is that it was in theaters, but this highlights one of the many problems with manufacturer-curated comparisons – that’s why we don’t draw final conclusions about a product until we’ve had it through our own test labs for full, independent review.
That said, I was able to get a sense of the S95C’s talents, and they seem to be plentiful. During a clip of the Matera car chase No time to die, I was struck by the additional brightness and vibrancy of the Samsung model. The delivery was really pop, but there also seemed to be an extra degree of subtlety and naturalism that wasn’t always there with last year’s S95B. In this demo, Madeleine looked quite pale, while Bond was red but not overly red.
A clip of The Matrix Resurrections had a bright sunset that was noticeably spicier on the S95C. The Samsung also retained the center-to-center orange glow, which looked decidedly pale on the G2. That said, the G2 actually revealed more of the mid-sunset detail, with the S95B seemingly struggling to reveal a few cloudy tendrils creeping over it.
The demo session concluded with a one-second clip designed to showcase the S95B’s natural anti-banding properties. Sure, a gradual color fade looked significantly cleaner on the S95B than on the G2. Noise reduction was apparently off on both devices.
It is worth repeating that no judgment can be reached on a manufacturer-led side-by-side demonstration such as this, not least because they often, as was the case here, offer a new model at a rival from last year. As we know, the G2 is about to be replaced by a much brighter G3.
Still, there are impressions to be had, and I came out of the session particularly struck by how Samsung seems to combine the S95C’s obvious extra brightness (over the S95B) with an added commitment to balance and authenticity. This could be a TV that impresses while staying true to creative intent, and that would make it a very popular TV indeed.
Whether the S95C can actually live up to this early promise won’t become clear until we’ve had it in our test labs for a full review against rival 2023 sets, but, if you’ll excuse the very obvious pun, Samsung’s future QD-OLED looks very bright indeed at the moment.
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