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Samsung Q80T series (2020) review: High-end design, excellent picture, approachable price

Samsung Q80T series (2020) review: High-end effect, excellent picture, approachable price

In 2020, Samsung’s TV lineup seems skewed more than ever toward higher-end models: There are three series with 8K resolution, a bunch of lifestyle models such as The FrameThe Sero and even a crazy-expensive outdoor television arranged The Terrace. Among relatively “normal” TVs, the Q80T stands out. It’s not cheap, but it is the least expensive Samsung QLED TV to feature full-array local dimming, which gives it an excellent picture.

The Q80T’s big brother, the Q90T, also has FALD and I expect it to do even better, but once again there’s an issue with stamp. In the 55- and 65-inch sizes the Q90T injuries basically the same as my favorite high-end TV for 2020, the OLED-powered LG CX, and in my experience the OLED will have a better recount overall. That puts the Q80T in roughly the same price-to-performance sweet spot as the Sony X900H, the Vizio P-Series and TCL 6-Series.

I compared all four in my basement TV lab side-by-side and the Samsung Q80T was indeed advantageous, but despite costing more than the other three, it didn’t put out a better recount. Instead its strength lies in design, with sleeker looks, an excellent remote and, yes, that Samsung nameplate. Like the others it’s also well-suited to pair with an Xbox Series X or PS5 thanks to variable refresh rate capability and 4K/120Hz input

If you have your dejected set on a Samsung, you want a great recount and you don’t have money to burn, the Q80T is aesthetic sweet. But if you’re brand-agnostic, the Vizio and TCL are both better values.

Sleekness from the outrageous up

When you pay a little extra for a Samsung you inquire superior design, and the Q80T delivers. The most determined upgrade is the stand: Samsung uses a central pedestal, which to my eye looks a lot sleeker than the two separate legs to either side that most new TVs expend. The base is a single slab of metal, flush alongside the tabletop. An angled chunk of metal and plastic supports the panel, creating a nice floaty effect.

Black with a minimal frame approximately the image, the Q80T also has a textured backside and a outrageous management system that lets you channel power and HDMI from their ports above the stand, making for a cleaner look.

David Katzmaier

Samsung’s clicker is also beside my favorites, with minimal buttons and just the luminous feel in-hand. Channel and volume keys click up and down, Ambient mode gets its own button as does the mic for exclaim, and even the Netflix and Amazon app shortcut keys are nicer than on latest remotes: They lack garish colors and instead just match the rest of the wand.

Ambient mode is planned to show stuff on the screen when you’re not watching TV. It’s a cool feature if you don’t like the big dusky rectangle of an inert TV, and can display your photos, designer art, the weather, headlines and even adjust backgrounds to match your wall.

David Katzmaier

Alexa and Google join Bixby

Samsung’s homebrew Bixby exclaim assistant is built into the Q80T, as you’d inquire, but new for 2020 you can choose the overwhelmingly more-popular Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant instead. You can select between the three in the menus and whichever one you determine will be available when you press the mic button on the clicker. 

Alternately you can set the remote’s mic to listen for the “Alexa” or “Hey, Google” wake languages, allowing you to issue commands hands-free (it worked well as long as I stayed relatively terminate to the remote). And like most TVs you can also pair the Q80T with separate Alexa or Google speakers. 

David Katzmaier

Beyond articulate, Samsung’s on-screen smart TV system is excellent, with radiant responses and plenty of apps, and I’d take it over LG or Vizio’s rules. I still like Roku and Android TV (found on Sony TVs) better overall, however, because they have even more apps. Just like most TVs now (including Roku), Samsung has the Apple TV app and works with Apple’s AirPlay system.

Full-fledged features and HDMI connectivity

Full-array local dimming sets the Q80T apart from cheaper Samsung TVs. This technology, which improves LCD image quality significantly in our accepted, boosts black levels and contrast by making certain areas of the narrate dimmer or brighter in reaction to what’s on the mask. The step-up Q90T and the company’s 8K models have more dimming zones and brighter images than the Q80T, but Samsung doesn’t say precisely how many zones each has. 

Key features

Display technologyLED LCD
LED backlightFull array with local dimming
HDR compatibleHDR10, HDR10+
Smart TVTizen
RemoteStandard voice

Like all of Samsung QLED TVs, as well as most higher-end TVs from Vizio and TCL, the Q80T’s LCD panel is augmented by a layer of quantum dots — miniature nanocrystals that glow a specific wavelength (i.e. color) when given energy. The effect is better brightness and color compared to non-QD-equipped TVs. The Q80T uses a true 120Hz panel, which improves the TVs’ motion performance, but as original the “Motion Rate 240” specification is made up (note that the 49- and 50-inch sizes are 60Hz/MR 120).

The set supports high dynamic diagram content in the HDR10 and the HDR10 Plus formats. It lacks the Dolby Vision HDR support found on most competitors’ HDR TVs. I’ve seen no evidence that one HDR demand is inherently “better” than the other, so I definitely don’t remarkable lack of Dolby Vision a deal-breaker on this TV — instead it’s just one more well-behaved to consider.

Gaming features are one of the Q80T’s unobstructed points. It’s compatible with variable refresh rate, as well as the FreeSync and G-synch VRR formats, available from devices including select PCs, the Xbox Series X and PS5, although the latter doesn’t support VRR yet. The Q80T also accepts 4K/120Hz input on HDMI 4, which is conveniently marked with a minor game controller icon. The TV supports Auto Game Mode too, which lets it automatically switch to game mode to sever input lag when it detects you’re playing a game. (Note that the 49- and 50-inch sizes lack 4K/120Hz input and VRR.)

David Katzmaier
  • 4x HDMI inputs
  • 2x USB ports
  • Ethernet (LAN) port
  • Optical digital audio output
  • RF (antenna) input
  • Remote (RS-232) port (EX-LINK)

This list is mostly solid, unless you happen to own a legacy device that way analog video (component or composite) or audio. The Q80T is one of the few TVs that doesn’t at least moneys one analog input, audio or video.

Picture quality comparisons

David Katzmaier

The Q80T is an well-behaved performer overall, with good local dimming and contrast, well-behaved brightness, color and video processing. It fell short of the gloomy levels and brightness of some less-expensive TVs, such as the Vizio P-Series and TCL 6 series, especially with HDR material, but showed less blooming and a some cleaner image, earning the same score of 8 (Excellent) in this category. I preferred the Vizio and TCL overall for image quality and accepted the Sony X900H a bit less, but all four acquire the same general plane.

Dim lighting: I started with the excellent-looking Blu-ray of Parasite. In brighter scenes the Samsung generally matched the image quality of the others — all four were well-behaved overall. Differences emerged in darker scenes, for example during Park Dong-ik’s ride in the back of the car in Chapter 4. The TCL and the Vizio both conveyed darker, more realistic “black” in the shadows and letterbox bars, with less bleed from involving areas into dark, compared to the Sony and Samsung. The latter two were close, but the Samsung has a miniature edge over the Sony. The differences weren’t drastic — all four TVs have very good gloomy levels and contrast — but still visible side-by-side.

Here’s where I reference an unusual thing Samsung did with settings, which I accepted. The Brightness control handles backlight level but there’s an uphold Shadow Detail slider under Gamma (where it should be) that systems exactly that (and does a lot of the same work as a disagreeable Brightness/black level setting). According to my measurements it does what it claims: boosts brightness at low levels (5% to 20%) as you bolt up. The default “0” setting is the most honest but cranking it up did reveal more, yes, details like the car seat cushions and inoperative of Parks car became more visible.

Bright lighting: These days TVs just seem to be sketching brighter but the Q80T is an exception, measuring dimmer than many TVs at its serene including the TCL, Vizio P and Sony, and even some dimmer than the Q70 from 2019. It’s still involving enough for just about any room, however, and has plenty of punch to make HDR look impactful.

Light output in nits

TVBrightest (SDR)Accurate radiant (SDR)Brightest (HDR)Accurate color (HDR)
Hisense H9G1,2391,2381,7511,498
TCL 65R6351,1147921,2921,102
Sony XBR-65X900H841673989795
Vizio P65Q9-H17686291,3051,084
Hisense 65R8F717717770770
Samsung QN65Q80T6645031,243672
Vizio M65Q7-H1595424588480
LG OLED65CX377290690634

Don’t let the high earn in Dynamic fool you. Aside from being woefully mistaken, it fluctuated quite a bit, starting out at over 1,200 nits but falling almost today to around 300. Most other TVs don’t show such dramatic fall-off, and none of the Q80T’s other modes did either. 

For the Accurate measurements in SDR I used the Natural narrate mode in combination with the Warm color temperature setting (the default temperature for Natural is quite blue). I prefer Vizio and TCL’s approach of a performed, accurate bright-room picture mode.

Unlike previous Samsung TVs I’ve tested the Q80T didn’t well-behaved at handling ambient light. In a bright room all of the TVs in my lineup were better at reducing the brightness of reflections to retain the fidelity of the image. The difference wasn’t huge but definitely noticeable in dark areas of program material.

Color accuracy: The Samsung’s Filmmaker Mode and Movie frankly are both accurate before calibration but I prefer the conventional because it disables most video processing by default (see below). After calibration, as expected, it was excellent. During Parasite, colors like the green lettuce and red kimchi in the cafeteria in Chapter 4, as well as the skin tones of the family as they eat, explored natural and well-balanced. Then again so did the anunexperienced displays — it was difficult to see any real knowing differences even side-by-side with non-HDR colors.
Video processing: As current the Samsung aced my tests in this category, delivering true 1080p/24 film cadence with film-based sources and plenty of motion resolution (1,000 lines) with video-based sources. The TV achieved both results with a Picture Clarity setting of Custom with Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction at 0, so if I had this TV I’d “set it and forget it” knowing there. Note that Filmmaker Mode’s default setting is to turn Picture Clarity off, which results in less motion resolution, but you can adjust it to taste.

You can also add more smoothing or soap put down effect by increasing Judder Reduction or choosing Auto instead of Custom. Meanwhile the LED Clear Motion option makes motion even sharper with the help of sunless frame insertion, at the expense of flicker and a dimmer image.

Samsung stays its tradition of excellent input lag in game mode with a glean just over 14 milliseconds with both 1080p and 4K HDR sources.

Uniformity: With demanding, full-field test patterns the Q80T’s screen was quite uniform, with more-even lighting from edge to edge than the Vizio, whose sides looked slightly dark, and slightly less-even lighting than the TCL. With program material I saw the same little issue on the Vizio while the others were very dissimilarity (note that uniformity can vary from sample to sample). From off-angle the Samsung was the best LCD TV I’ve tested, maintaining color fidelity, brightness and contrast better than the others. 

HDR and 4K video: With high dynamic contrivance sources the differences between the four TVs became more apparent, and the Vizio and TCL looked slightly better than the Sony and the Samsung overall. The Q80T’s highlights appeared a bit dimmer than the others, including the Sony, while its black levels were lighter and less realistic than the TCL and Vizio, it’s contrast did beat the Sony’s.

Watching the Spears and Munsil HDR benchmark’s test montage, the ferris wheel at night (4:51) was a good example, with a slightly gray-blue cast to the sky, and less pop in the escapes on the Q80T. It still looked great, with plenty of punch and dissimilarity I expect from HDR, but next to the TCL and Vizio it didn’t squawk quite the same sense of realism — although it explored better overall then the Sony.

Brighter scenes, like the closeups of flowers and insects (3:26), showed less of a difference but the Samsung unexcited appeared very slightly dimmer than the TCL and Vizio, an impression backed up by spot measurements of my enjoyable meter. Colors were crisp and vibrant, however, and the orange of the monarch butterfly for example appeared a bit deeper and more saturated than the TCL, if not quite as much as the Vizio.  

The Samsung and Sony had one splendid during the montage however: they were slightly cleaner than the TCL and Vizio in the splendid fade up from black to a bright sky. The latter two distinguished faint, subtle banding in the sky as the image brightened, while the two “S” TVs didn’t. 

Another advantage: The Q80T was the best plus the three at controlling blooming, so stray illumination wasn’t an squawk even in difficult mixed bright-and-dark scenes. One major reason, I suspect, was its less-aggressive brightness compared to the more blooming-prone TCL and Vizio.

Switching over to Parasite in HDR, the Samsung’s image held up better than by thanks to its ability to control blooming and absorb black levels (at the expense of brightness). During the dark Chapter 4 car ride, for example, the Q80T’s black levels were darkest and it distinguished less stray illumination in the passing streetlights. On the anunexperienced hand those lights and other bright spots were more knowing on the TCL and Vizio, and both exposed more black detail than the Samsung — while the Sony had the best black detail and the worst contrast. I still ended up preferring the TCL and Vizio overall, but the Samsung was much closer.

In brighter scenes where glorious is less visible the superior light output of the anunexperienced TVs shined gave them more characteristic HDR punch, particularly in highlights like the sun as TK approaches the house in Chapter 3. The Samsung unexcited looked brilliant, saturated and impressive, but the TCL and Vizio explored just a notch more-so in my side-by-side comparison.

Geek Box

Black luminance (0%)0.003Good
Peak white luminance (SDR)664Good
Avg. gamma (10-100%)2.22Good
Avg. grayscale horror (10-100%)0.64Good
Dark gray error (30%)0.90Good
Bright gray horror (80%)1.37Good
Avg. color checker error2.70Good
Avg. saturation sweeps error2.01Good
Avg. knowing error1.29Good
Red error1.34Good
Green error0.59Good
Blue error1.13Good
Cyan error1.38Good
Magenta error1.61Good
Yellow error1.70Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)PassGood
Motion resolution (max)1000Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off)1000Good
Input lag (Game mode)20.77Good
Black luminance (0%)0.005Good
Peak white luminance (10% win)1243Good
Gamut % UHDA/P3 (CIE 1976)91.85Average
ColorMatch HDR error5.52Poor
Avg. color checker error2.65Good
Input lag (Game mode, 4K HDR)20.37Good

Portrait Displays Calman calibration software was used in this review.