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Samsung Q8FN 4K UHD TV review: A great TV and a comparative bargain

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Quantum-dot technology is hard to beat when it comes to vibrant and accurate color. Even when it’s in a less-expensive QLED, such as the 65-inch-class Samsung Q8FN reviewed here. By cheaper, I mean a street price of $2,300 as opposed to the $3,000 that the Q9FN will set you back. That’s still a pretty heft sum, but it’s only $300 more than the Q7FN—and it’s $100 less than the Q7FN was just a couple of months ago. Yup, it’s getting to be that time of year again.

Let’s examine the major differences between the three: The least-expensive model—the Q7FN—uses edge backlighting, while the Q8FN has full array direct backlighting (so it delivers better blacks than the Q7FN). The top-of-the-line Q9FN, meanwhile, nets you full array direct backlighting, Samsung’s nifty One Connect box (which will save you some cable wrangling), and 25-percent higher dynamic range than the Q8FN).

Considering the Q8FN’s narrower dynamic range is far wider than what you’ll encounter in most other TVs on the market—apart from the Q9FN, of course—and cables aren’t all that hard to wrangle, I consider the compromise pretty easy to live with given the Q8FN’s lower price tag.

Design and features

The Q8FN I tested is of the 65-inch class (55-, 75-, and 82-inch models are also available), with a 64.5-inch panel running at 120Hz. Resolution is 3840×2160, aka, 4K UHD or 2160p. The TV is a thin-bezel design that weighs in at right around 60 pounds and is VESA wall-mountable. Samsung won’t say how many lights or zones there are in the backlighting. Why the reticence, I can’t say, but there are a lot.

I was surprised to discover that the Q8FN’s ports are on the TV, as opposed to the aforementioned One Connect box, since Samsung bundles that with both the less-expensive Q7FN and the top-of-the-line Q9FN. Plugging all the required cables into the TV itself is slightly more awkward, but you easily save enough money to come up with another hidden solution, such as a cable raceway painted to match the wall. And if you’re not wall-mounting, the absence of the One Connect box is a moot point anyway.

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The Q8FN doesn’t have the One Connect breakout box featured by the Q7FN and Q9FN, instead opting for onboard ports. Considering you get much the same picture as the Q9FN for a lot less—we can live with that.

The TV is equipped with four 60Hz HDMI ports, with one supporting ARC (Audio Return Channel; a coax connector for cable or an OTA antenna (there is a tuner on board); two USB ports; an ethernet port; and an optical audio output. A/V and component input is supported via 3.5mm ports and adapter cables. There are also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapters onboard.

Alas, that means it’s now time for my Samsung-doesn’t-support-Dolby-Vision warning. I still haven’t seen any meaningful amount of content encoded in HDR10+ (Samsung’s Dolby Vision equivalent, with dynamic metadata but without the 12-bit color palette). Content encoded with Dolby Vision, on the other hand, has become very common, and in my experience, it generally looks better than HDR10. It’s not light years better, but it’s better.

The Q8FN does support Samsung’s ambient mode, where you use the Samsung app to take a picture of the TV’s surroundings, then create an on-display wallpaper with it so that the display “disappears” into its background. It’s a neat party trick, but it’s not as valuable as supporting Dolby Vision.

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