Bright and colorful
HDMI 2.1 support
No Dolby Vision
Middling smart platform
Though pricey, the Q90T is a fantastic piece of technology. It can't come close to the dizzyingly low black levels of an OLED TV, but it does get about twice as bright as most OLED TVs. If money is no object and what you're after is a bright, colorful TV that commands a presence, the Samsung Q90T is a great option.
(Note: Due to COVID-19 complications, this review leans heavily on test results in lieu of hands-on time with the TV.)
About the Samsung Q90T QLED TV
The Samsung Q90T is one of Samsung's best TV series for 2020. There are four sizes in the series and we've received a 65-inch loan unit from Samsung for our lab tests. Here's how each size in the series shakes out in terms of pricing:
- 55-inch (Samsung QN55Q90TAFXZA), MSRP $1,699.99
- 65-inch (Samsung QN65Q90TAFXZA), MSRP $2,499.99
- 75-inch (Samsung QN75Q90TAFXZA), MSRP $3,299.99
- 85-inch (Samsung QN85Q90TAFXZA), MSRP $4,999.99
Different sizes of TVs in a series tend to perform very similarly to one another, so we don't expect there to be major differences between the 55-, 65-, 75- and 85-inch versions of the Q90T. Here's a rundown of some of the key features shared by every size in the series:
- Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
- HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- Native refresh rate: 120 Hz
- Smart platform: Yes (Tizen)
- Color: DCI-P3/10-bit color space
- Processor: Quantum Processor 4K
- Other features: FreeSync, Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Gamers will be happy to note that the Q90T supports AMD FreeSync, which reduces screen tearing while gaming. Like all of Samsung's 2020 smart TVs, the Q90T features a built-in smart platform powered by Tizen OS that provides access to a wide variety of popular streaming apps. Included with the TV is Samsung's newest remote control, which features standard control buttons as well as dedicated buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Samsung TV Plus.
Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 65-inch Samsung Q90T received the standard warm-up time before any readings were taken.
For SDR tests, we used the Q90T's Movie picture setting. For HDR tests, we also used the Movie picture setting. We’ve chosen these settings because of their accuracy, but results may vary across picture modes.
We use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests—including the ones reported below—but we also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.
I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:
• HDR contrast (black level/brightness): .105 nits/581.6 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (black level/brightness): 0.044 nits/169.4 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness: 1,251 nits (40% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage: 93% (DCI-P3/10-bit)
• SDR color gamut coverage: 98% (Rec.709)
In terms of connectivity options, the Samsung Q90T has one foot in the future, thanks to the inclusion of an HDMI 2.1 port and Dolby Atmos support via eARC. Unlike the premium Samsung TVs of recent memory, the Q90T does not ship with Samsung's One Connect box, so all of the TV's ports can be found in a cutout on the back of the Q90T's panel. Take a trip around the back of the TV and this is what you'll find:
• 3x HDMI 2.0 ports (1x eARC/ARC)
• 1x HDMI 2.1 port
• 2x USB 2.0 ports
• LAN ethernet port, RF input, optical audio output
What We Like
Sensational color and brightness thanks to quantum dots
The Samsung Q90T's panel is enhanced by quantum dots, which are largely responsible for the Q90T's sensationally bright picture. In our lab tests, we clocked the Q90T in the 1,200- to 1,300-nit range when receiving an HDR signal, among the brightest we've tested in 2020. For basic SDR content—like cable programming, over-the-air broadcasts, and most streaming shows—the Q90T is plenty bright, too. All in all, the Q90T is a fantastic option for folks who regularly use their TV during the day, and whose living rooms receive a fair amount of ambient light in general.
The Q90T pairs its sensational highlights with decent (but not world-beating) black levels. Like most QLED TVs, the Q90T's black levels are more shallow with bright HDR content on the screen, but the TV gets bright enough to offset the effect. Additionally, when the picture is mostly dark, the Q90T has a much easier time displaying darkness and shadow tones.
In recent years, Samsung's top QLED TVs have served up some of the most sensational looking colors in the game, and the Q90T continues this trend. Our lab tests reveal that the Q90T is capable of covering about 93% of the expanded DCI-P3 color gamut and 98% of the Rec.709 standard, so you can expect just about everything to pop, whether its mastered for HDR or not. In short, the Samsung Q90T demonstrates the advantages of quantum dots better than most of the QLED TVs we've seen this year. You're not getting the mind-blowing black levels of an OLED TV, but we've yet to measure an OLED TV that gets as bright as the Q90T. If dazzling brightness and immersive color is what you're after, few TVs in 2020 rival the Q90T.
Features that have one foot in the future
The Samsung Q90T is equipped with three full-bandwidth HDMI 2.0 ports and one HDMI 2.1 port. Along with a native refresh rate of 120 Hz, this means the Q90T is capable of displaying 4K content at 120 FPS (frames per second)—a critical benchmark for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X owners looking toward the future of gaming.
Gamers will also be pleased to note that the Q90T also supports FreeSync, AMD's version of Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) as well as Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). The former ensures that there is no screen tearing or artifacting during gameplay and the latter ensures that the Q90T is in the proper picture mode whenever a console is in use. Along with the TV's extremely low input lag, gamers should feel confident that the Q90T will serve them well as we enter the next generation in console gaming.
What We Don't Like
No Dolby Vision support
Like all Samsung TVs, the Q90T lacks Dolby Vision support and in its place offers HDR10+, a comparable alternative that lacks the licensing fees associated with Dolby Vision while maintaining advantages over the HDR10 standard. In practice, this means that although the Q90T is capable of delivering sensational HDR performance, it won't quite hit the benchmarks achieved by Dolby Vision-mastered content available on streaming platforms and on Blu-ray. Since Dolby Vision imposes stricter qualifications for its certification, it's widely considered to be the current gold standard of HDR formats.
To be clear, most HDR content will look great on the Q90T, but Samsung's continued neglect for Dolby Vision in favor of the royalty-free HDR10+ is something to keep in mind as major studios and streaming platforms like Disney+, Amazon Prime, and others continue to adopt the Dolby Vision format. If staying on the cutting edge is important to you, you might be better off shopping for a Dolby Vision TV.
Priced at a premium
Unfortunately, while Samsung manufactures some of the poshest TVs on the market today, its high-end models won't come cheap. The smallest size in the Q90T series is the 55-inch model, priced around $1,700. This puts it in direct competition with the LG CX, an OLED TV that, to date, ranks as the best TV we've tested in 2020.
While you could certainly make the argument that the Q90T and its heavyweight quantum-dot-powered performance justify the cost, the emergence of value-packed mid-range TVs that offer quantum dots (like the TCL 6-Series and the Vizio M Series Quantum) changes the equation significantly. If you can achieve even half the performance power of the Q90T for close to $1,000 less, would you consider it?
In addition, two of LG's 2020 widely available OLED TVs—the LG BX and the LG CX—offer more flexibility for next-generation gaming consoles and Dolby Vision support, and the 55-inch LG BX can be had for $1,500.
Should You Buy It?
Yes—if you have the means, it's one of the best TVs of the year
The Samsung Q90T is a perfect fit for folks who covet quantum-dot brightness above all else. If you've got a bright living room (or if you just want a home theater setup that pops in the most cinematic way possible), the Q90T is one of the best options you'll find this year. It's an especially good fit for gamers who'd like to set themselves up for several years of cutting-edge gameplay.
If the searing brightness and psychedelic colors that make up the quantum dot experience aren't on your list of must haves but a top-tier TV is still what you desire, the more refined OLED experience might be a better fit. TVs like the LG BX and the LG CX don't get nearly as bright as the Q90T, but their perfect black levels are responsible for some of the best-looking TVs we've ever seen. Plus, LG's 2020 OLEDs are arguably even more equipped to handle next-gen gaming than the Q90T.
All told, the Samsung Q90T is sure to please anyone lucky enough to afford it. But if you can afford it, you might want to consider all of your options before paying a premium.
Meet the testers
Senior Staff Writer@Reviewed
Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
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