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Hands-on with the Samsung S95B OLED: Incredible potential

Samsung S95B OLED

For years, Samsung has used OLED panels in its phones. With the exception of the short-lived ES9500 in 2012, the business has steadfastly refused to make an OLED television. In fact, as LG racked up accolades for its OLED TVs over the last decade, Samsung seized every opportunity (and spent no money) to pound the table about how its LCD-based TVs were superior to OLED.

First Look at the Samsung S95B OLED | Incredible Potential

To be honest, today’s superior micro-LED backlit, quantum dot-infused LCD TVs have a few advantages over OLED, but OLED’s perfect blacks and breathtaking contrast remain illusive to LCD-based TVs despite a decade of technological improvement. To a certain extent, one can defy the laws of physics.

So when I heard that Samsung Display had created a new technology that combined OLED with quantum dots — dubbed QD-OLED — I was curious if Samsung Electronics would utilise it in a television. It could be difficult to walk back all of the OLED bashing… or so I thought.

Samsung, it turns out, is unconcerned about walking anything back. The new S95B TV, which is available for pre-order in 55- and 65-inch sizes for $2300 and $3,000, is simply branded as “Samsung OLED,” and is positioned as an addition to Samsung’s already extensive TV selection. While some fans believe it will be the next big thing in television, Samsung does not consider the S95B to be a flagship model. So there you have it.

Samsung S95B OLED

So, how excellent is this new television, and how does it compare to the competition? Let’s have a look. However, if you’d like to learns more about QD-OLED first, you may do so here.

Design

Samsung went with a more traditional and practical design for its competitive A95K QD-OLED TV, while Sony went with a more ornate design for its A95K QD-OLED TV. The S95B’s stand is simple and elegant, made of solid metal with a brushed finish and with a small footprints that makes it easy to install on a media stand or credenza. The stand also provides enough vertical clearance for a soundbar, something the Sony A95K lacks.

Other than that, the S95B is modest, with almost undetectable bezels surrounding the screen and a slim, eye-catching design.

Samsung’s latest remote control, which has solar cells on the back for charging its built-in rechargeable battery, is included with the S95B. For those who don’t have enough sunshine in their living room, the remote can also be charged wirelessly via radio waves (which includes any Wi-Fi signals) or USB-C.

Features

The S95 has far too many features to list here, but there are a handful that distinguish Samsung’s premium sets this year, including the S95B.

The S95B has four HDMI 2.1 connections, all of which are capable of 4K at 120Hz, HDR, variable refresh rate (VRR) with FreeSync Premium, and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM). Although one of the HDMI inputs is classified as an eARC port, a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, gaming PC, and soundbar or A/V receiver could all be connected at the same time.

Samsung S95B OLED

Samsung’s upcoming gaming centre is expected to support Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google’s Stadia, and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming, for those who feel cloud gaming is the way of the future. There was no official word when I published this review on whether Samsung would support Sony’s recently updated PlayStation Plus, but if history is any indication, it will, and soon.

A “game bar,” which brings essential picture quality changes and performance indicators right at the bottom of the screen with just a click, is another gaming-friendly feature of Samsung’s gaming hub.

If it hasn’t already become clear, Samsung’s premium TV portfolio is all about gaming. The S95B, on the other hand, has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, while a select handful of its Neo QLED TVs now offer up to 144Hz.

Dolby Vision HDR is one feature that Samsung TVs still lack. HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG are all supported by the S95B.

A new Picture-in-Picture mode for watching multiple sources of material at once, as well as Samsung’s tap-to-share feature, which can quickly mirror content from a compatible Android smartphone, are among the other intelligent, user-focused features.

Samsung S95B OLED

The S95B supports Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound, which employs numerous built-in speakers to make it appear as if sound is emanating from the positions of objects on the screen. Samsung’s Q-Symphony Sound, which uses the TV’s speaker system in conjunction with a Samsung soundbar, is also supported by the S95B. A wireless audio connection for Samsung soundbars that supports Dolby Atmos via Dolby Digital Plus completes the audio feature set. The audio connection is fast enough to minimise latency when utilising Wi-Fi, but a built-in lip-sync feature usually eliminates any audio delay concerns anyhow.

Samsung’s Ambient Mode, which allows users to take a picture of their TV in its surroundings and utilise the image information to generate wallpaper that resembles the TV’s surroundings, rounds out my list of the most notable features. Instead of being a black hole on the wall, the TV can take on a chameleon-like appearance and better integrate into the environment. This feature, in my experience, works best when the TV is mounted on a wall with colours other than white or off-white and textures that are noticeable from a distance.

Setup and unboxing

Once I acquire a review sample and perform a comprehensive evaluation of the S95B, I’ll fill in this section with my unboxing experience, but for now, there are a few notable set-up features worth noting.

With Samsung’s Smart Things app, users can do most of their TV setup from their phone. By using credentials kept on the phone to log into Wi-Fi access points and streaming apps, this has the potential to speed-up the process. I have yet to see this feature perform as intended with streaming apps, but maybe 2022 will be the year I am pleasantly pleased. A manual setup using the TV’s remote control and on-screen interface, on the other hand, is a little faster.

Samsung’s EZCAL might be a game-changer if it works properly.

Samsung also has a picture settings software called EZCAL, which is now only available for certain Samsung Galaxy phone users, however it is expected to extend in the near future. The programme claims to change a TV’s picture settings to satisfy recognised picture quality criteria, such as a D65 white point and precise DCI P-3 colour coverage. I have not had an chance to compare the results of this app to my own calibration settings and results, but if Samsung can get it to work properly, it might be a game-changer for users looking for the most accurate picture quality without having to pay for a professional calibrator. I’m looking forward to updating this section once I’ve had a chance to test a few Samsung TVs from 2022.

Picture quality

To be clear, I only got to try out the S95B at a Samsung event in New York City, where the material was a pre-recorded loop on a USB stick that I couldn’t experience. I couldn’t change the picture settings on the TV, so the demo film I viewed was locked in the TV’s Standard picture preset, with a colour temperature that was slightly cooler than I would have picked for a proper evaluation.

With that said, I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating Sony’s A95K QD-OLED, which has the same panel technology, so I’m familiar with it. In the end, picture quality variances will be directly tied to Samsung’s picture processing settings.

Samsung S95B OLED

Samsung has done an terrific job with its processing on its new OLED panel, based on what I saw. As expected, the black levels were perfect. I wasn’t able to see much low-light content, but what I did see suggests that Samsung has managed to keep a reasonable degree of shadow detail in near-black scenarios.

As expected, the black levels were perfect.

On the other hand, the S95B appears to be capable of peak highlights of around 1000 nits, which is consistent with the other QD-OLED panels I’ve tested, including the aforementioned Sony A95K TV and Dell’s Alienware 34 QD-OLED monitor. The average picture level for the HDR content that was on display was bright enough for the S95B’s moderated illuminated display setting. Samsung has traditionally designed their TVs to perform somewhat brighter than the approved electro-optical transfer function (EOTF) standard, which, while not technically accurate, produces a lively picture that most results prefer.

To my naked eye, the colours appeared to be pretty vibrant and well-saturated, though I’ll be interested to see how Samsung’s processor handles maintaining colours in harmony when they’re flashed at their brightest.

The clip I saw offered me little to no opportunity to test the S95B’s motion processing, but if Samsung’s recent high-end TVs are any indicator, motion will be judder-free when watching movies. What remains to be observed is how well the TV handles the flashing effect that occurs during slow moving sequences with high-contrast images.

In 2022, the S95B could be one of the most popular tickets.

I’m particularly excited to see how effectively the S95B upscales and digitally washes low-quality streaming video, such as that found on Samsung TV Plus, a collection of free streaming TV options (like Pluto TV) with poor resolution and bit-depth.

Samsung S95B OLED

Unfortunately, I was unable to analyse the S95B’s sound quality. What I can say is that the TV does not have the same transducers connected to the screen that allow the screen to function as a speaker, like Sony’s A95K does. With four different drivers on the back of the TV and Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound Processor, I’m confident that the S95B will sound great. Even still, a TV of this quality deserves at least a soundbar, if not more.

The food that was delivered

The S95B appears to be a highly competitive high-end television at first appearance. The fact that it costs $2,300 for the 55-inch model and $3,000 for the 65-inch model puts it in direct competition with LG’s premium G2 Gallery Series OLED TVs, and it costs $1,000 less than its closest technical competition, the Sony A95K. As a result, the S95B could become one of the hottest TVs on the market this year — and probably one of the greatest TVs of 2022.

To be sure, the competition for high-end televisions in 2022 will be fierce. I’m looking forwards to delving more into the Samsung S95B’s capabilities in the coming weeks and posting a comprehensive review soon after.

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