If you're looking for a premium TV experience, Samsung's 2018 QLED line should be on your radar. The Samsung Q8 series is just one step down from the company's heavy-hitting 2018 flagship, the Q9.
The Q8 series is available in three sizes, and starts around $2,000 for the 55-inch. That's similar pricing to LG's 55-inch C8 OLED, and it's clear that Samsung hopes for its QLED line to exist in a similarly premium sphere as LG's 2018 OLED TVs.
Replete with advanced TV tech like 4K resolution, HDR compatibility, and "quantum dot" enhanced brightness and color, the Q8 is no slouch. For what you're paying, this is an extremely bright, colorful, and highly polished TV that will be especially attractive if you're excited about HDR.
Samsung's Q8 series is available in three screen sizes:
55-inch (QN55Q8FN), $2,000
65-inch (QN65Q8FN), $3,000
75-inch (QN75Q8FN), $4,000
Other than their size, the three flat Q8 TVs are identical (I say flat because there's a curved variant called the Q8C).
While none of them are "cheap," they're priced fairly for the rather extensive smorgasbord of features and picture quality enhancements that come with each one.
Here are the core specs of the Q8 lineup:
4K Resolution (3,840 x 2,160)
High Dynamic Range (HDR10/HDR10+)
Samsung Smart Hub
Full-array Local Dimming LED Backlight
Quantum Dot Color
We received our 55-inch Q8 sample unit on loan from Samsung, giving it roughly 24 hours of run time before testing and evaluating it.
Wonderfully minimalist design
If there's one thing Samsung does well year-over-year, it's produce some of the most attractive TVs on the market. The Q8 may have full-array backlighting—which makes it thicker than an edge-lit TV—but it's still compact and highly polished.
The perimeter bezels, screen edges, and rear chassis are an almost seamless sweep of high-quality black plastic, rendering the TV both sturdy and lightweight at the same time—I was able to unbox, assemble, and heft the TV about on my own.
Two wide-set feet slide into the body without any screws whatsoever, making assembly a breeze. The right foot also has a guide path for the power cable—a nice touch.
The OneRemote adds to the minimalism on display here. On the back, right-hand side of the TV, you'll find all the TV's AV ports, which include multiple HDMI and USB ports.
Dazzling picture quality
The first thing most people will notice about the Q8? This thing is bright. Heckin' get you some sunglasses, fam. The Q8 has great contrast outside of HDR mode, too, but in HDR it really pours out the light.
Likewise, this brightness makes for rich, well-saturated colors. While Movie mode (in SDR and HDR) can be perfected via a little calibration at home, it's accurate enough to please the majority of viewers.
I watched content on Netflix and YouTube, as well as 4K/HDR Blu-rays, and (in Movie mode) never noticed any overt issues in terms of motion performance. The TV's 120 Hz panel and adjustable de-blue/de-judder ensure smooth playback in most circumstances.
Naturally, 1080p content upscales to the TV's native 4K resolution well. You may have to fiddle with the Sharpness control to get sub-1080p content looking the way you want, but overall, upscaling is handled intelligently.
Last, thanks to the TV's "HDR+" feature, you don't have to have an HDR-capable game console or content to enjoy all of the brightness/color on display here.
This mode takes any content and pushes it intelligently into the TV's HDR display territory, which is an awesome way to feel like you're getting the most out of your fancy new QLED TV.
Slick features & extras
One feature that's really cool on the Q8 is the new "Ambient Mode." It's an "on but not on" setting for the TV that allows it to display an unobtrusive wallpaper (like the ocean or mountains) while in low-power mode. You can upload your own images, too.
The menu interface and smart features are rendered with the same minimalist flair as the TV's design and remote. There are ample picture quality controls, but the basics—ambient mode, picture/sound mode, and apps like Netflix and Hulu—are arranged in a horizontal box along the bottom of the screen, keeping the content in the spotlight.
Finally, I always appreciate how smoothly Samsung's HDMI identification works. While it still doesn't recognize our esoteric signal generator, it immediately synced up with the Blu-ray player, and I was able to control that device with the TV's remote.
To see our CalMan charts for SDR and HDR tests, check out the Science Page.
Bad viewing angles
There's no way around it: the Q8 doesn't have very good vertical or horizontal off-angle viewing. It looks great head-on, but you'll start seeing flashlighting and light bleed in shadowy areas once you're off center.
It isn't horrible, but picky viewers may take some issue. I suspect this issue is similar on the 65-inch Q8, which prospective wall-mounters should definitely keep in mind.
Inconsistent black levels
Both the 55- and 65-inch Q8 TVs have full-array local dimming, which is why they look so good (and are a bit pricy). While this is a boon to content 90% of the time, sometimes it acts strangely.
Essentially, there is some occasional "stair stepping" between levels of dimming, depending on content. This can make for shadowy areas that look a little darker than they should, as the TV errs on the side of reining in brightness.
HDR is better for bright rooms
The Q8 is an excellent HDR TV (thanks, quantum dots!), but it's not environment agnostic. Even in Movie mode, it's so bright that it can't produce very dark black levels.
This means in normal or bright lighting, it looks great, but if you're watching it in a very dim or dark room you may find even Movie mode needs to be turned down. The TV has an ambient light sensor, but I wouldn't personally leave it up to chance.
Relevant Data (Movie mode)
Horizontal Viewing Angle: 19.82% / ±9.91°
HDR Black Levels: 10%-0.11 / 90%-0.055 nits
To see our CalMan charts for SDR and HDR tests, check out the Science Page.
Yes—especially if you want a premium bright-room experience
At $2,000, the 55-inch Q8 is a bit expensive, but ultimately it's priced more fairly than not. The design, features, and picture quality are all top-notch, and only extremely picky viewers will take any issue here.
What you're paying for here is the Q8's sheer brightness and color volume, alongside the minimalist aesthetic. The 55-inch Q8 is over $1,000 more expensive than the 55-inch TCL 6 Series right now, but it's also over twice as bright and more colorful. The two aren't really in the same class at all where HDR is concerned.
I might wait until later this year for a price drop—but you can go ahead and pick up some sunglasses now.
If this is your price range, you could also check out the LG's 55-inch C8 OLED ($2,500), which we expect to perform as well as the 2017 C7 model, our top-rated TV from last year. However, if your TV room has lots of windows or lights, I still recommend the Q8 over an OLED.
If it were me, I might wait until later this year for a price drop—but you can go ahead and pick up some sunglasses now.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.