Samsung, Panasonic and 20th Century Fox join hands for HDR tech alliance

Samsung, 20th Century Fox, Panasonic, HDR 10 plus, HDR

Samsung Electronics on Monday said that it has agreed to join US’ 20th Century Fox and Japan’s Panasonic Corporation to expand the ecosystem for the High Dynamic Range (HDR) 10 Plus technology. (Image Credit: AP)

Samsung Electronics on Monday said that it has agreed to join US’ 20th Century Fox and Japan’s Panasonic Corporation to expand the ecosystem for the High Dynamic Range (HDR) 10 Plus technology.

The agreement is aimed at inducing more TV producers and movie productions to join the ecosystem for the new technology, Yonhap news agency quoted Samsung as saying.

The HDR technology allows screens to deliver vivid displays by optimising brightness depending on colours, boasting improved display quality.

The HDR 10 Plus technology is a next-generation standard for high-resolution video content developed by Samsung. Samsung said the companies will establish a license agency for HDR 10 Plus technology in January.

The participating companies will be able to share the technology to produce improved visual content. “The partnership of the three companies will help users around the globe experience the HDR 10 Plus technology,” Samsung said.

Samsung plans to host the QLED and HDR10 Plus Summit on the sidelines of the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) in Berlin, which kicks off for a six-day run on September 1, inviting business partners to promote the technology.

[“Source-indianexpress”]

Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV 2017 Review

Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV 2017 Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Samsung Q8C 55-inch QLED TV is priced Rs. 3,44,900
  • It has a curved display, and supports HDR 10
  • Runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS, has support for most streaming services

Samsung first showed off its range of QLED TVs at CES this year, and there was a lot to be excited about. The 4K HDR image quality of the Samsung panels on the show floor was spectacular, with dynamic brightness levels that seemed to match what OLED TVs can achieve, but at substantially more affordable prices.

The Q8C family, in particular, is in the middle of Samsung’s new QLED TV range, and you have a choice of 55-inch, 65-inch, and 75-inch models. The Q9F models are the flagships, and the Q7 models are more entry-level. The C in the name indicates a curved panel. We have the 55-inch Q8C model with us for review, and there’s a lot more than just its curve going for it. In fact, this is one of the most interesting TVs in the market today. Here’s our review.

Samsung 2017 QLED TV design and features

Let’s start with the curved panel since that itself is a deciding factor for a lot of buyers. The curvature on the Samsung Q8C is not as prominent as it was on models a few years ago, so viewing angles have increased greatly. The sweet spot is much wider and that makes a big difference when you have your family or friends seated at up to 45 degrees off-centre. It’s also worth mentioning that due to the enveloping effect that the curved screen creates, this TV immediately felt bigger than a flat, 55-inch model placed right alongside it. There is still an issue if you’re watching TV from way off-centre, so if you really care about the experience, you’ll definitely need to position this TV carefully. If you know that people will be watching TV sitting near the far edges or corners of your room, a curved TV such as the Q8C might not be the best choice on your wishlist.

With that out of the way, the TV itself is super-slim and near edgeless. The screen measures 54.6 inches diagonally. There are front-firing 4.2 channel speakers; the .2 referring to two downward-firing subwoofers, all housed in the body of the TV itself. The back has a silver brushed-metal finish and an extremely clean design since all ports and sockets are in a separate unit called the One Connect box which is bundled with the TV.

Samsung q8c qled tv 02 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

The stand itself is curved with a wide angle to match the panel’s curvature. The back of the stand conceals the two cables that attach inside of it – the Power cable, and the thin cable that connects to the One Connect Box. Samsung has a specialised wall mount made for this panel that leaves no gap between the rear-centre of the TV and the wall, giving it a true wall-art kind of look. There’s no denying that this panel was designed to look good in your room, and it does that job well. Especially by cutting out the clutter of cables that attach to most other TV panels.

As stated before this is a 4K UHD panel with a resolution of 3840×2160, and it offers HDR support. It has a really impressive level of brightness at 1500 nits, but this tends to make colours pop a bit too much by default. Just for a rough comparison, most other TVs in this range have a much lower brightness level, usually between 600 and 1000 nits. Since it uses quantum dot technology – which is the ‘Q’ in QLED, the panel is edge-lit – unlike OLEDs (Organic LEDs), in which each LED is its own light source. The difference here is that while OLEDs are capable of incredibly deep black levels, QLED has an advantage in bright spots.

Samsung has been using Tizen for its Smart TV interface for a while now, and it seems to have gotten to a good level of refinement here. Though still not as spiffy as Android TV, it does give you a very neat interface, intelligently remembering where you left off when you put the TV in standby. The downside to this is that at one point an app became unresponsive and we had to turn the Q8C off and then on again from the main power to exit. Apps like Amazon Prime, Box TV, YouTube and Netflix came pre-installed on the TV, and a host of other apps and games are available in the TV’s app store – no Hotstar though.

Samsung 2017 QLED TV remote control

The separate One Connect box helps cut the clutter, as all connectivity is routed through it. This includes four HDMI ports, a DisplayPort, Ethernet, three USB 2.0 ports with one supporting 1A power output for hard drives, S/PDIF optical out, and an antenna-in. Besides these the TV also supports Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi-Direct, and Bluetooth. The cable that connects the One Connect box to the TV is around 15 feet long, which is enough for it to be placed at quite a distance from the panel.

Samsung q8c qled tv 05 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

If you’d rather have all your source devices and remotes in another part of the room, this unit will make that possible. The One Connect box needs its own power source, which is not really a negative, but something you need to make note of when designing your space. The remote control works over Bluetooth so there’s no need to have a direct line of sight between you and the box.

Speaking of the remote, it’s a bit minimalistic, but it does aim to take over as a universal remote. Most popular Blu-Ray players, soundbars, and other devices are detected automatically and can work directly with this remote. It also has a button for speech input, but that wasn’t very useful in our experience. It misheard almost every phrase we tried, which meant we had to resort to typing manually.

There’s a Samsung Smart View app that’s available on both Android and iOS, which shows your content library and the remote interface right on your phone’s screen. It gives you a touchpad interface that can be used for the cursor in the Web browser and lets you type URLs into the address bar. However, the app doesn’t extend its keyboard support when typing on the TV’s apps, which is where it would have made the most sense. The Smart View app does offer you shortcuts to the content. There was also quite an input lag when we tried that out.

Samsung q8c qled tv 06 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

Samsung 2017 QLED TV performance (full-HD, SDR)

We start with full-HD resolution media since that’s what you’ll mostly be spending most of your time watching, considering that 4K media is still pretty rare. As with all UHD TVs, the Samsung Q8C does a pretty good job of upscaling full-HD media, as long as the source is good.

Starting with Blu-Ray discs, the upscaling is quite impressive. Details translate well and the panel does a great job of sharpening edges to the point that you could fool someone into thinking that you’re playing media at its native resolution. The lack of heavy compression on Blu-Ray media serves this TV well, to the point that you wouldn’t feel any need to upgrade your current collection to UHD Blu-Rays. The satellite TV stream we tested ran at 1080i and also looked pretty good on the screen apart from a few noticeable jaggies every now and then. 4K set top boxes are available from Videocon and Airtel in India, which might help you get better picture quality.

Samsung q8c qled tv 10 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

Netflix and Amazon Prime had similar issues when it came to non-4K media, with the edges appearing a bit soft and some minor dithering in sections with fine details. It’s a minor thing, but there are some noticeable effects of the upscaling if you have the eye to spot them.

The TV’s HDR+ mode forces tone mapping to identify bright and dark areas and adjust them accordingly, but is pretty aggressive. Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content looked unnaturally warm, and we had to change the colour tone in this mode from Warm 2 to Standard. There was also a bit of banding in some colour gradients when watching streaming media, which we didn’t notice with Blu-Rays. This could be a result of the compression used for streaming, considering how forced HDR works, the flaws are more easily visible. Also, the HDR+ mode does seem to favour reds over other colours, so you might see a little more intensity there.

In Standard mode, you get pretty good image quality, with no exaggerated bloom in brighter areas and dark areas not pushed to match the scene tone. What mode you set your TV to is completely up to your preferences, but we can say that the Q8C does a pretty good job of upscaling lower-resolution content and forcing HDR+ (after a bit of manual tweaking).

Samsung 2017 QLED TV performance (4K, HDR)

The Q8C really shines with native 4K HDR content. Though we understand that true, uncompressed 4K UHD media is not easy to find (not even on a lot of UHD Blu-Rays), the TV does an amazing job with whatever you can throw at it. Native UHD media works brilliantly with a highly noticeable boost in image clarity which you won’t get from HD media. In movies, the effect is a bit more subtle because of the cinematic film grain added to the media, but if you’re watching a TV show or an animated film, the details are as good as they can get.

Streaming video from Netflix (4K) and Amazon Prime didn’t show that much of a substantial improvement, and won’t make for a compelling argument to jump to 4K. The panel does add an additional layer of clarity and the experience is definitely a step up from watching 1080p streams on a 4K TV, but if you’re thinking of upgrading just to watch streaming media in 4K, this is not the time to make that jump.

This Samsung 2017 QLED TV handled HDR really well. We instantly noticed a much higher depth in the overall colour reproduction, with contrasts reduced to show more details instead. This was especially evident in the games we tested on the TV using a PlayStation 4 Pro, which supports HDR 10 output. The most noticeable change was in Injustice 2 – a DC superhero fighting game with over-the-top visuals and bright colours. Lighting was managed extremely well, and bright spots showed a lot more depth in their colour gradients instead of just burning to a bright white. Characters like Firestorm had more realistic-looking flames with details that were just not seen when using SDR.

Samsung q8c qled tv 08 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

The other game we tried was Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s already one of the best-looking games of our generation, and HDR pushed it a step further. With HDR we instantly noticed an even glow to the landscape, which earlier had sharp contrasts. Though subtle, due to the realistic design of the game, the change was still quite evident.

It’s worth noting that the option to turn HDR on for external sources is buried in the System menu of the TV instead of the Picture menu, like in Samsung’s 2016 TVs. This is an odd change that took us a while to figure out.

Samsung 2017 QLED TV audio performance

The Samsung Q8C produces a full sound with good highs, excellent mids and effective lows. The bass is not too boomy, but it is punchy enough to create an impact. The faux-surround effect does fill up a room pretty well and works well for movies and gaming alike. Of course, we were testing it in a 15×20 feet room, so if you’re using the TV in a bigger space, we would definitely recommend a soundbar at least, if not a full surround-sound system to truly enjoy your media with.

Samsung q8c qled tv 03 Samsung Q8C 55-Inch 4K HDR QLED TV Review

Verdict

Samsung has been pushing the envelope for curved displays for a while now, and now it’s reached a point where we do see the appeal in them. The performance of the Q8C is quite brilliant when it comes to handling colours and filling up a room with its impressive brightness. The upscaling works well, so your HD movie collection will still be relevant. Gaming at 4K with HDR in supported titles is amazing as well.

This TV isn’t perfect. Navigation and the Tizen Store still need a bit of work, and so does the smartphone app. The voice input feature was a complete miss for us. However, those are little things to complain about for a TV that can give OLEDs a run for their money without the massive prices they command.

Price (MRP): Rs. 3,44,900

Pros

  • High brightness and excellent colours
  • Great HDR performance
  • Excellent upscaling of Blu-Rays and Games
  • Good horizontal viewing angles for a Curved Display
  • Good audio performance

Cons

  • Hotstar is missing from the Tizen Store
  • Favours reds in HDR+ Mode
  • Unsatisfactory voice recognition

Ratings (Out of 5)

Design: 4.5
Performance: 4
Value for money: 4.5
Overall: 4

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV Review

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV Review

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV Review

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Sony KD-65Z9D TV is priced at Rs. 5,04,900
  • This 4K HDR-capable TV offers fantastic performance across resolutions
  • HDR performance is arguably the best we’ve seen so far

Recent TV launches show that affordable large-screen televisions are a significant trend. Buyer interest is focused on getting bang for the buck, and plenty of large feature-filled TVs have been catching the attention of TV buyers in India. Options such as the LeEco Super3 X65 4K Smart TV have changed buying habits, with many choosing affordability over technology and brand value.

However, none of this means that premium TVs are going away. There are buyers who want the absolute best and have the funds for expensive high-quality products, and that’s where the established brands come in. Sony, Samsung, and LG are the biggest names at the forefront of television development and innovation. This year’s big technology for TVs is high dynamic range (HDR), which improves colour reproduction, brightness, and contrast on your TV.

Sony has already launched its first HDR TV range in India, and we reviewed the 55X9300D 4K HDR TV. However, we found that it didn’t quite match up to Samsung’s premium option, the 65KS9000 SUHD TV. Sony seems to have taken that to heart, and the result is the new and improved Z9D range. It’s very similar to the previous model, but improved processing technology and better components promise improved 4K and HDR performance, as well as better upscaling for standard definition and standard dynamic range content. Today we’re reviewing the Rs. 5,04,900 Sony 65Z9D 4K HDR TV to find out if it is indeed the best TV you can buy right now.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV design
The Sony KD-65Z9D retains the same design language that Sony went with on the X93D range. It’s meant to be simple, with no distractions that draw viewers’ focus away from the screen. The bezel is narrow, with nearly the entire front occupied by the screen. The stand is fairly similar to the one on the X93D as well, with a single centre-balanced unit that has a small footprint for such a large TV.

There are major visual differences at the back of the TV though, with a grid-like pattern on the body. This model also a bit thicker than the X93D, thanks to the different backlight engine in use. The ports and inputs are hidden behind a plastic cover, which you’ll likely need to leave open once you have cables connected, or if you often use a USB drive to watch content on the TV.

The speakers of the Sony KD-65Z9D are along its bottom, while the front has an LED indicator built in near the Sony logo. The remote that is bundled with the TV is the same as the one that came with the Sony 55X9300D, with dedicated buttons for Netflix and Google Play. There are no fancy wand-like controls; navigation happens using the ordinary D-pad and UI controls on the remote. Additionally, the remote relies on infrared, so you will have to point it at the TV for it to work.

The sheer size of this TV is its most eye-catching attribute. Although it doesn’t look bad at all, we do feel that it’s a bit too staid. Buyers will be able to focus on the content on screen without distractions but some do like their TV to look impressive in itself.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV specifications and features
The Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV features a 65-inch 4K LED screen that is capable of displaying high dynamic range content. It’s also powered by the Android TV platform. It’s very similar to the X93D range, but there are a few key differences. The most significant of these is the improved processor, with the Z9D adopting Sony’s new X1 Extreme processor, which promises better performance with HDR and 4K content as well as enhanced standard dynamic range reproduction. Take a look at our review of the X93D to understand the benefits of HDR in TVs.

Additionally, the KD-65Z9D features some other buzzwords, such as Backlight Master Drive, which promises deeper blacks and brighter colours, and object based HDR remaster, which helps enhance the colours for SDR content. All of this comes together to also offer better upscaling of lower-resolution content to fit on the large 4K screen. There are no major new features – the main change here is performance.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV software
The Sony KD-65Z9D’s operating system and user interface are based on Android TV,  which has been developed by Google specifically for smart TVs. The version on the Z9D has been updated, and is based on Android Marshmallow (the X93D was based on Android Lollipop). This doesn’t have a huge impact on the Android TV Launcher user interface, which looks almost entirely the same as what we’ve already seen and used.

The app store remains among the better marketplaces for apps that we’ve used with TVs, with plenty of useful content-based apps as well as games that can be played on the TV. You can use Sony’s Dual Shock controller to play games, and the Google Play Store has a special list of games that can be played easily using just a TV remote. The KD-65Z9D has 8.2GB of free storage for installing apps and games.

YouTube for Android TV, Netflix, and Google Play Movies are pre-installed on the TV, giving you quick access to a huge list of movies, TV shows and other videos. Other popular content apps such as Plex and YuppTV are available to download. The interface gives you easy access to media on portable storage devices, as well as recommendations from Sony based on your viewing history. There’s also Opera browser for ordinary Web surfing.

The newer version of Android TV does make a difference to UI performance. We found general usage to be a bit faster and more stable than before. On the whole, this is a capable smart TV that does improve on the X93D range, even if only ever so slightly.

Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV performance
We used the Sony KD-65Z9D 4K HDR TV with a variety of content, including HDR and SDR video clips in 4K resolution. We also watched full-HD, 720p, and standard definition content over various test clips, as well as content streamed from YouTube and Netflix. We paid particular attention to performance with HDR content, as this is the signature feature of the TV.

Sony’s biggest promise with the KD-65Z9D is an improvement in handling HDR content, and this is something we can attest to. We watched some demo clips as well as an episode of Narcos streamed off Netflix in 4K HDR, and found the colours to be vibrant and incredibly natural. More detail is visible in dark areas, while bright ones look noticeably more realistic too. The TV manages to accurately and correctly portray the differences between bright and dark zones, and smooth out the fake-looking pop that non-HDR TVs tend to highlight. The improved processing definitely shows.

Non-HDR content also gets a significant boost, thanks to the improved backlight. The TV does a commendable job of making standard dynamic range content look as natural and vibrant as it can, providing a picture that is noticeably better than on other 4K TVs can manage. All of this is thanks to a much more calibrated backlight, which allows zones to shine visibly brighter without any leakage into other parts of the frame that need not be as brightly lit. The Z9D is essentially at its best when using 4K HDR content, but standard dynamic range doesn’t suffer too much either. This gives the Samsung SUHD 65KS9000 TV stiff competition in terms of picture performance, and it is arguably the best HDR TV we’ve seen so far.

Moving on to full-HD and 720p content, we noticed that upscaling is considerably better than on the 55X9300D which we reviewed just a few months ago. The X1 Extreme processor ensures that motion handling remains fantastic even with lower resolution content, and the picture is free of grain and artefacts for the most part. The low resolution obviously shows when compared to 4K clips and the full potential of the TV, but this isn’t too bothersome.

The same is the case with standard definition content, and it’s safe to say that picture quality has improved across the board with the Z9D. Despite the large size of the screen, standard definition and 720p content is very watchable. Sound is pretty much the same as that of the X93D range. It’s loud and clear enough, but if you’re investing so much in this TV, then we’d also recommend you put aside some money to pick up a good soundbar or home theatre system. The excellent speaker array from the X94D range would have been a great addition to this TV.

Verdict
The Sony KD65Z9D 4K HDR TV isn’t much different to its equivalent from the 55X9300D range in terms of features, but its price is still considerably higher at Rs. 5,04,900. Sony justifies this with a promise of better picture quality thanks to improved internal components, and this is a promise that the Japanese electronics conglomerate has managed to keep. The KD-65Z9D is among the best TVs we’ve used, giving stiff competition to Samsung’s dominance in the TV market. If you intend to watch a lot of HDR and 4K content, or simply want to be future-ready with your TV, this is arguably the best one of its size that you can buy today.

However, at Rs. 5,04,900, the Sony Z9D is also among the most expensive TVs around. It’s around Rs. 60,000 more expensive than the Samsung 65KS9000 SUHD TV, which offers a similar level of performance, and in our opinion looks better than the Sony. There are compelling reasons to go with Sony, such as the fact that Android TV is an excellent smart TV platform, as well as its fantastic upscaling which we feel is just a hint better than Samsung’s. This TV is worth its price if performance is all-important, and if you do buy the Sony KD-65Z9D, rest assured that you will not feel let down.

Price (MRP): Rs. 5,04,900

Pros

  • Top-shelf performance across content resolutions
  • Excellent upscaling
  • Clean motion handling
  • HDR video looks beautiful
  • Android TV makes for superb smart functionality

Cons

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Sound reproduction could be better

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4
  • Performance: 5
  • Value for money: 2.5
  • Overall: 4
Tags: Sony, KD-65Z9D, TV, HDR, 4K, Sony KD-65Z9D Price, Sony KD-65Z9D Price in India, Sony KD-65Z9D Review
[“source-ndtv”]