Samsung 65" S95B Quantum Dot OLED 4K TV Review Page 2

Getting into the picture settings menus is tedious but I managed to figure it out. It took five to six clicks to get into the picture settings menu, four to get out of it, and up to nine to select an external source. If Samsung were to add just one button to the remote, one dedicated to source selection would go a long way toward improving the TV's ergonomics.

There are several selectable options in the Support > General & Privacy > Power and Energy Saving menu. I strongly recommend leaving all the Power and Energy controls off for serious viewing. But only one of them is on by default: Brightness Optimization. Turn it off before doing any serious calibration or viewing. But if you later do a controlled reset in the main menu, the Brightness Optimization control will turn back on automatically since that's its default. But you won't immediately know that it's now on since you're now in the main settings menu (where the Reset button is) and Brightness Optimization is in the Power and Energy Saving menu! Reset controls should never affect menu items that aren't currently visible. (This was only an issue for SDR; in HDR the Brightness Optimization was off by default).

Samsung's small remote has relatively few buttons, isn't backlit, and is recharged not by replacing batteries, but by recharging its non-removable battery via solar power or a USB-C connection. It arrived low on power and failed to charge up under either daylight or artificial light. USB charging worked, though no USB-C adapter was included with the set. The remote was also Intermittently quirky, sometimes requiring several button-pushes before it responded to the desired command. But this is par for the course with TV remotes these days.

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The jury is still out on how a QD-OLED might compare with conventional OLEDs with respect to burn-in or its less scary cousin, temporary image retention. The usual safety features (screen movement, etc.) are included here. Some brief testing suggested it may be less burn-in prone than a conventional OLED. I've never had a burn-in issue on this or any other OLED, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. I always recommend reasonable care on any OLED when dealing with stationary images and—on games and sports—bright, fixed-location scoreboards. The set does go into a screen saver mode on internal, static sources such as streaming video, but not on external ones.

HD/Standard Dynamic Range
If HDR didn't exist, the Samsung S95B, with its rich color, deep blacks, superb off-center viewing, and flawless screen uniformity (with no sign of dirty screen unevenness or clouding) would still be a superb OLED for standard HD source material. I watched it on HD Blu-ray and a wide range of streaming content over YouTube. The latter, of course, was all over the map in picture quality, but it was at its best on Blu-ray.

Live, Die, Repeat (Edge of Tomorrow) isn't a particularly distinguished Blu-ray for video evaluation (it's fine, though nothing special). But it's loaded with fast-moving and sometimes confusing action. This was the only title I watched on which I chose to engage the S95B's Clear Motion, black fame insertion (Picture Clarity>Clear Motion). Once I increased the Brightness control to compensate for the loss of luminance, the motion was now far more intelligible, with none of the film-as-video soap opera effect.

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While the live-action—i.e. not Disney— Peter Pan (PG, 2003) is definitely aimed at the 10-year-old in most of us, it includes a more than subtle dose of adult themes that will go over the heads of most pre-teens. But my interest was in its brilliantly colored photography. It shifts back and forth between reddish hues and a more neutral balance, making me wonder if something was amiss with the calibration. But the color shifts were clearly intended. And while dark scenes here were rare, a sequence in a crumbling, dimly lit castle confirmed the S95B's rich shadow detail.

A Knight's Tale also has only a few dark scenes, but overall looked absolutely stunning on the Samsung. I already knew it was a good-looking Blu-ray, but it also revealed a sense of natural depth, though not in the same sense as the home 3D format which the S95B, like all new TVs, doesn't support. But this disc offered a convincing demonstration of Samsung's claims for its depth enhancement processing. This title looked so good on the Samsung, even as an "ordinary" Blu-ray, that an (unlikely) HDR release probably wouldn't add much to it.

HD/High Dynamic Range
As calibrated, the S95B followed the HDR EOTF superbly well (EOTF stands for Electro-Optical Transfer Function—the name used for HDR gamma). This calibration is discussed in the Test Bench. But as is sometimes the case, the best measurements don't always result in the most watchable images on all material. The calibration did look perfect with the demo material on the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark test disc, including the best retention of white detail I have seen on the shot of horses in snowy weather. Bright scenes looked exceptional, colors were impeccable, and dark backgrounds were pitch black.

But some commercial transfers looked just a bit too dark. This could be fixed by a small increase in the "Gamma Trim" control (discussed in the main text and located directly beneath the Gamma setting in the main HDR menu). With this change, the EOTF followed the correct angle (up to the clipping point) but was raised slightly above the specified luminance values. One step up on this control was usually enough, though some viewers might prefer +2. The purist in me wags a finger at this alteration, but the viewer in me found the results, where needed, irresistible. Blacks remained fully black, while bright highlights were as impressive as I've ever seen them.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is about as tough a test as I know of for shadow detail and bright highlights (gamma trim at 0). I've never seen it look this good before. The battle of Hogwarts was an eyeful and best watched in the darkest room you can manage. This will retain the disc's incredible range of shadow detail, from the panning shot of Voldemort and his minions gathered on a dark hilltop to their launching of bright missiles from their wands to bring down Hogwarts' protective shield. And that's just a sampling; virtually every scene in the film will challenge any display—challenges the Samsung easily passed.

The Ten Commandments (gamma trim at +1) may be over 75 years old, with dated dialogue (Moses, Moses...) and dicey special effects (apart from the still spectacular parting of the Red Sea). But its Technicolor photography—originally shot in VistaVision which passed 35mm film through the camera horizontally for a larger frame size—was eye-popping. Apart from sheer screen size, 1950's viewers who experienced its original theatrical release likely never saw it looking as good as it does on the Samsung.

Conclusions
After several weeks with the Samsung, I'm still not comfortable with its ergonomics. But what can't be denied is that the QN65S95B, in every performance respect, is a state-of-the-art television set, a step up from classic OLED designs at a price that makes it a bargain in today's market.

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