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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) review: 4K streaming for not much money
12:39 am | November 30, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Streaming Devices Televisions | Tags: | Comments: Off

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023): Two-minute review

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) screen interface

(Image credit: Future)

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is not going to revolutionize anything. However, it offers just about everything owners of the best TVs would expect from a streaming device nowadays, such as 4K video with both Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ HDR support, along with Dolby Atmos sound.

Add in a very affordable price tag and I would consider it among the best streaming devices available right now. Of course, as with most things Amazon, the experience is a bit overly focused on what the company has to offer, so you might find yourself watching more Prime Video content than before.

As I expect with most Amazon products, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is feature-filled and comes with some onboard storage. There’s also plenty of free content available, so, unless you're looking for something very specific, this streaming device from Amazon is more than worth its asking price.

In terms of design, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is just that – a stick. It’s a bit on the bulky side, but unless you have issues with your HDMI port sagging, the fact that it’s a bit big for a streaming stick is a non-issue.

Amazon surprisingly decided to use a micro-USB port for power instead of a USB-C port. If you’re wondering why that matters, there are two reasons. The first is the fact that, in my (anecdotal) experience, micro-USB ports have a tendency to break, which gives cause for concern about long-term use. The other is that micro-USB cables are much rarer these days. So, if you need to use a new cable for any reason, you can’t just grab a USB-C one from a different device.

On the positive side, the way the streaming stick plugged into my TV meant that the micro-USB port was facing upwards. Having had a streaming stick that oriented down in the past, I can tell you that the power cable will exert downward force over time, possibly doing damage long-term.

I also appreciate that Amazon included an HDMI extender. As HDMI ports on a TV are often situated fairly close, sometimes there’s just not enough space for a streaming stick if you have something plugged into the next port. The extender gets around that as it will fit like a regular HDMI cable.

Regardless of whether you use the extender or not, once the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is plugged in, setup is very easy. Just put the batteries in the remote, follow the on-screen instructions, and make sure you have your Wi-Fi and Amazon account login info on hand. If you’ve used a Fire TV device in the past, some information will be saved, so you don’t have to download all the apps for the services you’re subscribed to.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) accessories and packing box on table

The Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) comes with everything you need to plug in and start streaming. (Image credit: Future)

Regardless, once through the initial setup process, downloading the necessary apps is quick as this streaming stick supports up to Wi-Fi 6. And, with a Quad-core 1.7GHz processor, opening and navigating apps is very snappy – I didn’t have to wait for anything to load unless there was a network issue. As the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) supports 4K, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, loading certain content could take a little longer depending on what you’re watching and your network speed, though I didn’t experience any slowdowns.

As far as the Amazon Fire TV interface goes, it is intuitive and straightforward to use. Unsurprisingly, the whole interface is Amazon-centric, with the default apps highlighted on the home screen being Amazon ones such as Prime Video, Freevee, and the like.  You can change that, of course, but it takes a little extra work. For example, if you select a non-Amazon app in the middle menu bar, the bottom screen area showing additional content options will update to offerings from your selected app, and that’s without even opening the actual app.

It should be noted that when waking the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023), it will automatically start playing previews of Prime Video content. That’s frustrating, but it’s also one way that Amazon justifies the low price of its streaming stick.

One boon to this Amazon-centric ecosystem is deep Alexa integration. Sure, you’re limited to Alexa for voice assistant support, but pressing the Alexa button on the remote allows for easy voice navigation of the Fire TV interface. Plus, you can link the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) to your Alexa ecosystem to control all sorts of Alexa-related devices like smart lights.

Lastly, Amazon makes Fire TV an even better money-saving option as there’s quite a bit of free content available such as Freevee and Amazon Fire TV channels. But as with all things free, some of it is worth watching, though much of it isn’t.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) plugged into TV ports

Amazon includes an HDMI extender (shown) with is useful for making connections on a TV with closely spaced HDMI ports. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023): Price and release date

  •  $49.99 / £59.99 / AU$79 
  • Released October 2023

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is a strange bird within Amazon’s streaming device ecosystem. Its price is more than justifiable at $49.99  / £59.99 / AU$79 for what it can do. But prospective buyers may want to instead consider the Fire TV Stick 4K Max version, as it’s just slightly more expensive but offers a more robust remote control, 16GB of storage as opposed to this version’s 8GB, and faster Wi-Fi support (Wi-Fi 6e instead of this version’s Wi-Fi 6). That said, the differences between the two are going to be minimal for most viewers.

On the other hand, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is not the most budget-friendly option in Amazon’s range of streaming devices. The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick are cheaper at $29.99 and $39.99, respectively, though they only support 1080p video and Wi-Fi 5. Unless you’re really hard up, I would suggest upgrading to this model at minimum so if you plan on moving to a 4K TV, you don’t have to upgrade your streaming stick as well.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) remote control

The included remote control features a built-in mic for Alexa voice commands. (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023)?

Buy it if...

You watch Prime a lot
Prime Video content is front and center, along with Amazon-branded free content. All other content is organized around the Amazon stuff. Whether that’s good or not depends on your Prime-watching habits.

You own other Alexa devices
Not only is Alexa on hand for navigating the interface and content by voice alone, but the Fire TV Stick can integrate with Alexa-powered smart devices. 

You want snappy performance
Thanks to a quad-Core 1.7GHz processor and Wi-Fi 6 support, performance is quick without any lag or throttling issues.

Don't buy it if...

You don’t have Amazon Prime
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) is very heavily invested in Amazon content and Alexa integration. If you don’t have Prime, you’re better off with a Roku or Apple TV.

You can afford more for the Max
Amazon has a different new model, the Fire TV Stick Max (2023) that comes with a more robust remote, and faster Wi-Fi for only a bit more money.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) review: Also consider

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) and accessories on table

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023)

  • Used regularly for a few weeks
  • Tested with all sorts of apps and content

I used the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) regularly for a few weeks. I used it to watch Amazon content, as well as free offerings and other apps. I’ve tested a lot of tech gear over the years from laptops to keyboards and speakers, and so I am able to apply my expertise toward giving an honest and fair opinion, not to mention a critical eye, on any product I test.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed November 2023

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: a Sonos Beam alternative with surprisingly big sound
2:00 pm | November 12, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar: two-minute review

The HT-S2000 is Sony's entry-level 3.1-channel soundbar. Initially priced at $499 /  £449 / AU$695, it’s a compact, all-in-one model with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support, with the height effects in both immersive soundtrack formats delivered using virtual processing. 

Sony’s design for the HT-S2000 uses five speakers: three for the left, right and center channels as well as two dedicated woofers for the bass. Connections include HDMI (with eARC/ARC) and optical digital audio inputs. There’s also a USB type-A port to play music on connected USB drives. Unlike some of the best soundbars, the HT-S2000 doesn’t support music streaming using Wi-Fi or AirPlay, though its Bluetooth 5.2 support will let you play music wirelessly from a phone. For those looking to expand their soundbar’s capabilities in the future, the HT-S2000 can also be paired with Sony’s optional wireless surround speakers and subwoofers.

Sony’s soundbar has solid build quality and a sleek, no-nonsense look. It’s easy to set up, and Sony provides its own Home Entertainment app to help with that task – it also lets you tweak the sound for your specific installation. There are a range of Sound EQ modes, including automatic volume levelling, that can be accessed using either the app of Sony’s bundled remote control. The HT-S2000 also features Sony’s proprietary Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing, both of which work to enhance the level of audio immersion coming from the soundbar’s basic 3.1-channel speaker array.

The HT-S2000’s overall performance is great for the price. It delivers dialogue that sounds consistently clear even when pushed to a high level, and bass output is better-than average for an all-in-one soundbar. Sony’s proprietary processing allows for the height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks to extend beyond and above the screen boundaries of a TV the soundbar is connected to and there’s also a notably good surround sound ‘wrap-around’ effect when the S-Force Pro Front Surround feature is active.

When it was first released, the HT-S2000 wasn’t the strongest value as it lacked features found in some of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars selling for the same price, such as up-firing speakers and built-in Wi-Fi for lossless music streaming. But the HT-S2000 has since widely dropped in price to $349 / £299, making it a much more compelling value, especially given its performance.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand

Sony's soundbar is a good fit for TVs with a 55-inch (shown here) or a 65-inch screen size. (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: price and release date

  • Released in March 2023
  • $499 / £449 / AU$695

Sony’s HT-S2000 soundbar was released in March 2023 at an initial price of $499 /  £449 / AU$695. Its price has since dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, though it’s still selling for AU$695 in Australia.

In the Sony 2023 soundbar lineup, the HT-S2000 sits below the HT-A2000, another 3.1-channel model that adds Wi-Fi streaming along with Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 support.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: features

  • Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support
  • HDMI and optical digital connections
  • Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround processing

The HT-S2000 is a 3.1-channel soundbar with support for the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio formats, which it delivers using virtual processing. It doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi for streaming, though you can stream music to it over a Bluetooth wireless connection.

Two Sony audio processing features found on the HT-S2000 are Vertical Surround Engine and S-Force Pro Front Surround. The first helps to elevate sound effects, music and dialogue to screen level or even above where they will sound more natural. The second provides a virtual ‘wrap-around’ so that surround effects sound like they are coming from the sides of the room.

Connection options on the HT-S2000 are basic. It has an HDMI-eARC port for connecting to a TV, an optical digital audio input, and a USB type-A port that can be used to play music files stored on a USB drive. Like other soundbars from brands including Sonos, Bose, Samsung, and LG, the HT-S2000 can be expanded by adding Sony’s wireless surround sound speakers and subwoofers.

  • Features score: 4/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on white background

The soundbar's top-mounted controls (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: sound quality

  • Very good dialogue clarity
  • Spacious virtual surround 
  • Sounds good with music

 A key benefit of the Sony soundbar is its handling of dialogue in movies and TV shows. Watching a few dialogue-heavy scenes from Top Gun: Maverick, voices sounded clean, and I could push the volume to relatively high levels without it sounding edgy. For comparison’s sake, I swapped out the Sony with a 2.1-channel model and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly less clean-sounding. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar like the HT-S2000 with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.1-channel soundbars lack.

Skipping ahead to the aerial dogfight scene in Top Gun: Maverick, Sony's soundbar sorted the dialogue, music (The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again) and sound effects in an impressively clear manner. There was also a decent amount of bass, which enhanced the sound of drums in the music and added definition to the trajectory of the fighter jets. The soundbar’s virtual processing made height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks like Top Gun exceed the height of my TV’s screen. And while the presentation wasn’t as expansive as what I’ve experienced with soundbars featuring dedicated Atmos speakers, it still had a satisfying level of immersion.

Music also sounded surprisingly good on the HT-S2000, especially given its low price. It’s possible to listen to plain stereo with the soundbar’s virtual processing disabled, but pressing the Sound Field button on the remote control adds a level of spaciousness that enhances the stereo separation without making voices and instruments sound unnatural. Equally important, it elevates the presentation in the vertical dimension so that the sound doesn’t appear to be coming from a horizontal bar located beneath your TV’s screen.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on white background

Ports on the HT-S2000's left and right sides enhance the soundbar's bass output. (Image credit: Future)

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: design

  • Compact design
  • Above-average build quality 
  • Alphanumeric front-panel display

The HT-S2000 has a compact, all-in-one soundbar, measuring 31.5 inches wide by 2.5 inches high and 5.25 inches deep. Build quality is a cut above most budget soundbars, with the Sony’s sturdy black plastic cabinet fronted by a metal mesh grille. Ports located on the soundbar’s left and right sides allow for enhanced bass output, while its X-Balanced Speaker Unit design physically aligns the 3.25 x 1.8-inch drivers and 3.75 x 1.8 woofers to reduce distortion.

Capacitive controls on the HT-S2000’s top surface let you adjust volume and connect with Bluetooth devices, and there’s also a small remote with additional controls to switch inputs, select sound EQ modes, and adjust the bass level. Sony’s soundbar conveniently provides visual feedback to remote control commands via its alphameric front panel display. That feature is one you don’t regularly find on lower-cost soundbars, and it’s a superior option to basic LED lights.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar inputs

Inputs include HDMI and optical digital connections (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: usability and setup

  • HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
  • App-based setup 
  • No voice assistant support

The HT-S2000’s single HDMI input makes the setup process simple. Just connect it to a TV’s HDMI eARC (or ARC) port, select that input on the soundbar, and you’re ready to roll. Another option is to use the soundbar’s optical digital input, but that connection type doesn’t support Dolby Atmos or the HDMI-CEC control that lets you adjust the soundbar’s volume level using the TV’s remote control.

Sony’s Home Entertainment control app duplicates all the functions of the soundbar’s hardware remote and also provides a range of setup options for initial installation and performance. The latter includes an A/V sync adjustment, automatic volume level adjustment, and DTS Virtual:X to enhance basic stereo or mono soundtracks.

The soundbar’s alphanumeric front panel display makes using it super-easy as you don’t have to rely on a sequence of flashing LEDs to let you know what input or sound mode is selected. There’s no voice assistant support as on some other soundbars in the HT-S2000’s price range such as the Bose Smart Soundbar, but that’s not a feature I imagine most users will rely on, especially when using their TV’s remote control for volume adjustment.

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar remote control held in hand

Sony's remote is larger than the ones provided with some other soundbars and has clearly marked control buttons (Image credit: Future)
  • Usability and setup score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: value

  • Affordable price
  • Very good performance for the money 
  • Lacks Wi-Fi and AirPlay streaming options

At its initial $499 /  £449 / AU$695 price, the Sony HT-S2000’s overall value proposition was just average. It faced very strong competition from the Sonos Beam (Gen 2), another all-in-one soundbar with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and one with a built-in Wi-Fi for app-based control and audio streaming. Another competitor was the Bose Smart Soundbar 600, which provides upfiring drivers to deliver height effects in Atmos soundtracks and also features built-in Wi-Fi for streaming.

At the time of writing, however, the HT-S2000’s price has widely dropped to $349 in the US and £299 in the UK, making it a much better value given its overall performance and features. Being able to stream uncompressed music directly to the Sonos or Bose from a phone using Wi-Fi or using AirPlay does boost the value of both, but many people mainly use their soundbar for TV audio and are okay with a lesser quality Bluetooth option for their occasional music streaming. For those folks, the HT-S2000 will be the perfect entry-level soundbar.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand with Netflix Black Mirror menu in background

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar review: Also consider

Sony HT-S2000 soundbar on TV stand

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar

  • Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
  • Break-in time allowed before critical listening
  • Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks

I tested the Sony HT-S2000 soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from my iPhone via Bluetooth and the Tidal app on the Apple TV 4K. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks. 

The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.

Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Sony HT-S2000 was compared to. For further comparison, I also used an Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: November 12, 2023
Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: a more compact Sonos Arc alternative
5:49 pm | November 9, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: two-minute review

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar arrives as the most upmarket, most expensive member of the Bose family of soundbars – and it’s been given the far-from-enviable task of taking the Sonos Arc down a peg or two as the most popular all-in-one big soundbar. Which means it has its work cut out.

First impressions – and second impressions too, for that matter – are very good, though. The Smart Ultra is properly built and finished from tactile, high-quality materials, and by the standards of the best soundbars, it’s of very discreet proportions. It’s well specified, including dedicated upward-facing speaker drivers – you’ve always a better chance of generating a convincing impression of spatial audio if you’ve got the physical equipment (rather than just some clever sound processing) to help you. And between a remote control handset, a couple of physical on-bar controls, voice-assistant compatibility, and one of the better control apps out there, getting what you want from the Bose couldn’t be any simpler.

In performance terms, it generally makes a good impression too. Certainly no one’s going to be disappointed by the width and coherence of its soundstage, nor by the impressive amount of detail it retains and delivers from a soundtrack. Dialogue, in particular, enjoys proper expression – and, as we know, that’s always the most important part of any movie soundtrack. There’s a slight shortage of low-end ‘punch’ and substance to the sound, though, and only a very modest sensation of the audio ‘height’ that is basically the whole point of getting one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars.

And when you remember that ‘punch’ and ‘height’ are among the two real strengths of the usually cheaper Sonos Arc or the more expensive but exquisite Sennheiser Ambeo Plus, it becomes apparent that the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is sitting in a slightly awkward spot – however, it's notably more compact than the Sonos Arc, which may make it a winner for some people.

Bose smart ultra soundbar close up showing a grille for an upfiring speaker

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is hiding an upfiring driver behind here. (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: price & release date

  •  Released October 10th 2023  
  •  £899 / $899 / AU$1499 

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar went on sale on October 10th, 2023. It's priced at $899 in the US, £899 in the United Kingdom, and in Australia it will set you back AU$1,499. 

This means it’s a little more affordable than the Sony HT-A7000 or Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus, both of which we’re big fans of. And more significantly, it’s the same money officially as the very similarly specified (and extremely successful) Sonos Arc, though the Arc is regularly available with discounts now, which means in real terms you should expect to pay less than the price of the Bose.

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar close up showing the curved corner of the soundbar

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar's build quality and finish is impressive. (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: Specs

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar

Some of the soundbar’s connections  (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: Features

  • 9 speaker drivers arranged in 5.1.2 channels
  • Dolby Atmos support, but no DTS:X
  • TrueSpace turns regular audio into Atmos-like sound

The Smart Ultra Soundbar uses a nine-strong line-up of speaker drivers in order to deal with Dolby Atmos spatial audio soundtracks (and Bose's TrueSpace technology to up-mix non-Atmos content to the point that it uses all nine drivers too).

Six of these nine drivers are 100 x 50mm ‘racetrack’ full-range drivers, and are of plastic with ferrite magnets. There’s one behind each exposed metal grille on the top surface of the soundbar, angled in an effort to create the sonic height that’s basically the whole point of a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The other four are grouped towards the center of the bar – there are two either side of a 25mm neodymium tweeter that’s positioned dead center. There’s another of these tweeters at each end of the soundbar, and they spread sound beyond the physical confines of the soundbar’s cabinet. 

It seems safe to assume there are nine discrete blocks of amplification powering this driver array, and it seems safe to assume it’s of the Class D variety. But having seemingly taken a leaf out of the Sonos' playbook of inexplicable secrecy, Bose is neither confirming nor denying. And there’s no indication of the amount of power this putative amplification turns out, either, nor of the Smart Ultra’s frequency response.

Physical connectivity is kept in a couple of little recesses on the rear of the cabinet. In the first you’ll find sockets for HDMI eARC, Ethernet, digital optical and a USB-C slot that’s purely for servicing. In the second there’s power, and a collection of 3.5mm sockets – they’re for data, for connecting the Adaptiq calibration mic, connecting a bass module, and an IR blaster respectively.

Having only one HDMI socket is frustrating here – it's so useful to have at least one passthrough – but the Sonos Arc has the same limitation, so Bose isn't alone.

Wireless connectivity is covered off by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. Chromecast is built in, Apple AirPlay 2 is available (both of which make multi-room set-up straightforward), and Spotify can be embedded into the Bose Music control app.

Sound format support extends to Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus. Bear in mind, though, that TrueSpace is constantly doing its thing, analyzing incoming non-Dolby audio content and deciding how best (or, more particularly, with how much spatial audio effect) it should be delivered. And you’ve further input into the way sound is presented thanks to the defeatable ‘AI Dialogue Mode’ that is constantly assessing audio content to give dialogue (and the midrange in general) a little push towards the front of the soundstage.

  • Features score: 4/5

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar bass reflex port close-up

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar's rear-firing bass reflex port aims to help make up for its lack of real subwoofer. (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: Sound quality

  • Spacious, organized sound 
  • Poise and insight in equal measure 
  • The spatial sound isn't especially pronounced 

Like any worthwhile Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Bose Smart Ultra is at its most impressive and convincing when given some properly accomplished Dolby Atmos content to deal with - and when reproducing the painstakingly remastered Atmos soundtrack on a 4K UHD Blu-ray disc of The Shining to deal with, the Bose wastes little time in establishing its credentials.

For example, it’s impressively detailed from the top of the frequency range to the bottom. This is most immediately apparent through the midrange, where voices project well and are absolutely loaded with information regarding tone and timbre as well as character and emotional state. The Bose communicates freely where dialogue is concerned, and voices are distinct and explicit as a result. But it’s true of frequency information on either side, too – bass sounds are respectably deep and varied, while the top of the frequency range is crisp and attacking. 

The Smart Ultra isn’t the deepest-digging soundbar you ever heard, it’s true – those who equate ‘punch’ with ‘excitement’ may be a little underwhelmed – and there could be greater substance to treble sounds to balance out their shininess and bite. It’s possible to mitigate these traits just a little in the Bose Music control app, but the fundamentals of the tonality that’s available here will always be apparent.

The driver array does very good work in conjuring appreciable sonic width to the soundtrack – the distance it can reach both left and right is considerably bigger than the physical dimensions of the cabinet. By way of mild contrast, though, the vertical extension the Bose can muster is fairly modest – there’s some height to its presentation, for sure, but it’s not especially pronounced. If your expectations of a Dolby Atmos soundbar include a suggestion of overhead sound, there’s not going to be much about the way the Smart Ultra goes about things to excite you, especially when you can get the multi-channel mastery of the Samsung HW-Q990C for around the same price.

Switching to some two-channel content lets the TrueSpace technology do its thing – and its thing turns out to be pretty effective. The same accurate, detailed and slightly lightweight tonality is in evidence (though just a hint of sibilance creeps into the top of the frequency range) and the same spacious, well-defined soundstage is apparent too. Also apparent is the technology disinclination (or inability) to summon any meaningful suggestion of height to the sound it delivers.

Using Bluetooth to stream a file of Kraftwerk’s Computer World results in quite a lot of the Smart Ultra’s positivity where soundstaging is concerned going astray. Detail levels stay agreeably high, and there’s decent rhythmic expression to the square-edged four/four presentation – but a mild-but-definite vagueness creeps into the layout of the stage, and the latent edginess of the tonality becomes a little more pronounced. TrueSpace has its limits, and it seems that stereo music is among them.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar paired with the TV

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar's reflectivity isn't ideal… (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar: Design

  • Suitable for TVs of 48 inches and up
  • Very well-built and premium
  • Glass top is highly reflective

Of course, it’s not enough for a soundbar at this sort of money to simply perform to a certain standard – when you’re charging premium money, it’s important to try and add at least a little perceived value where design is concerned too. Bose has decided the way to do that is to top the Smart Ultra Soundbar with tempered glass.

And up to a point, it’s a sound strategy. This soundbar looks a) very similar indeed to the Smart Soundbar 900 it replaces, especially where the cutaways in the glass to expose the metal grille above the up-firing drivers are concerned, and b) a more upmarket and premium proposition than, say, the similarly priced Sonos Arc. But there are a couple of problems with the admittedly luxurious glass finish: it reflects the light of the screen above it quite readily, and it collects fingerprints like a scene-of-crime investigator. 

Otherwise, a combination of perforated metal that covers the front face and wraps around the sides of the bar and high-quality plastic make up the Smart Ultra. Build quality is well up to par, and the standard of fit and finish is appropriately impressive.

Its width is about the same as a 48-inch OLED TV, such as the LG C3, so it should work well with this size of TV and up – which is a plus over the Sonos Arc, which needs a TV of at least 55 inches.

  • Design score: 4/5

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar remote on top of the unit

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar's remote control is nicely tactile. (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: Setup & usability

  •  'Adaptiq’ automatic room calibration
  •   Voice, app and remote control
  •  'AI Dialogue’ mode is new

You’ve got to hand it to Bose: it’s made setting up the Smart Ultra Soundbar about as simple as can be, and made whoever’s doing it look like a weirdo to any observers at the same time.

Once the soundbar is in position, and the appropriate connection to the TV and to power have been made, opening the ‘Bose Music’ control app that’s free for iOS and Android gives comprehensive control of the Smart Ultra. And first things first: it puts you in charge of the Adaptiq automatic room calibration system. Plug the Adaptiq mic into the rear of the Smart Ultra, and then put the mic on your head. You read that right.

The calibration system fires off the usual selection of test-tones in order to best set up the soundbar to suit your specific environment. The app will ask you to change positions as many as four subsequent times in order to do its thing – and after that you can take your little plastic mic-hat off and hope never to need to use it again.

The Bose soundbar's Adaptiq headset mic worn by a man who looks unamused

Your delighted correspondent mid-calibration. (Image credit: Future)

The app also features volume control, input selection, EQ adjustment for center, height, bass and treble, and an audio delay adjuster to help achieve perfect audio/video sync. It allows you to group your compatible Bose products together (including surround and/or bass speakers if you’re going the full home theater hog), gives access to Spotify and TuneIn internet radio, holds half a dozen assignable presets, and allows you to switch AI Dialogue Mode on or off. 

It’s where you can set up Amazon Alexa voice control – which proves sharp-earned and reliable. The Bose Voice4Video feature leverages the power of Alexa to allow you to take control of your TV, cable- or satellite TV box using your voice, meaning you can switch on the TV and switch inputs just by asking. The Smart Ultra can also be used with Google Assistant, provided there’s an appropriate speaker on a common network.

This is a responsive, useful app, and is admirably unfussy in the way it presents itself, too.

There’s a little remote control handset too, if you prefer. It covers only the headline controls – input selection volume up/down/mute, play/pause and power on/off – but its rubbery long-travel buttons feel quite good, and it’s useful if the device you’ve installed the app on isn't to hand.

There are a grand total of two physical controls on the soundbar itself, both capacitive touch-surfaces. One switches the integrated mics on or off, while the other is a multifunction ‘action’ control.

  • Setup & usability: 5/5

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar on the AV rack

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar is the right width to match TVs of 48 inches and up. (Image credit: Future)

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: Value

  • Big, organized sound 
  • Great build quality and excellent control options 
  • Seems a touch expensive next to its most obvious rivals 

If we accept that Bose has the Sonos Arc squarely in its sights with the Smart Ultra Soundbar, then I have to conclude that the Bose is just a little overpriced. Yes, it’s flawlessly constructed and finished, from materials that look and feel good (the suitability of glass in front of a TV notwithstanding), and it’s simple to set up in the first place and operate thereafter. 

But while there’s plenty of merit in the way it performs, not least in its wide, well-defined and nicely balanced presentation, it’s slightly lacking in a couple of areas. And given that these areas – low-frequency impact and the creation of appreciable sonic height – are among the Sonos Arc’s particular strengths as an all-in-one soundbar, they seem almost compounded. Which in turns serves to make the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar seem a less compelling proposition than it otherwise would.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Should I buy the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar review: Also consider

How I tested the Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar

Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar

(Image credit: Future)
  • Tested a standard living space 
  • Used for over a week 
  • Tested with streaming services and 4K UHD Blu-ray content 

The Bose Smart Ultra Soundbar has been sitting beneath a Philips OLED TV (where it happily reflects part of the images coming from above) for well over a week. For several days it’s been working full 10-hours shifts while I assess its performance – plus, of course, it’s been doing its thing for an hour or two every evening while the household unwinds in front of the television. The room it’s in is open-plan, so side boundaries are fairly distant, but the ceilings are of unremarkable height, which is helpful to soundbars when it comes to generating overhead audio effects.

Content has been sourced from premium-tier video streaming services, from Dolby Atmos-enabled 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, from broadcast TV and, for music, via Bluetooth and the Spotify account embedded into the Bose Music app.

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: a full-motion TV wall mount that’s a small TVs’ best friend
6:32 pm | October 26, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Comments: Off

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Two minute review

The Perlesmith PSSFK1 is an affordable, full-motion wall bracket designed for TVs 13-42-inch in size. It can be tilted, swivelled and placed fully retracted against the wall to act as a static wall-mount.

The PSSFK1 is easy enough to install, with the installation of the back plate, wall plate and arm taking little time overall. The instructions provided could be clearer in terms of corresponding the picture to the equipment, but it wasn't especially hard to work out. Almost everything you’ll need to install the bracket is provided in the box.

The PSSFK1 itself feels solidly built and when installed with the TV mounted on it, feels secure and tough. The bracket claims it can hold up to 20kg and this seems entirely reasonable based on how it felt during testing.

With a good range of motion and title available, the PSSFK1 makes for an excellent full-motion solution for smaller TVs. It doesn’t sit super flush to the wall and there’s no cable management, but for the price of the bracket, it can be forgiven. 

At $15.99/£19.99/AU$42.60, the PSSFK1 is a bargain. It isn’t perfect, because you also need to tighten and loosen the tilting fixture every time you want to adjust the angle, but considering everything you can do with this bracket, it’s well worth the money and cements itself as one of the best TV wall mounts available.  

Perlesmith PSSFK1 TV wall mount back plate

The Perlesmith PSSFK1's tilting fixture is its only fiddly part to use, but we can live with that. (Image credit: Future)

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Prices and release date

  •  Priced at $15.99/£19.99/AU$42.60 
  •  First available May 2019  
  •  Available globally  

The Perlesmith TV wall mount for 13-42-inch TVs (PSSFK1) is available from multiple retailers (Amazon had good stock at the time of writing in all regions) in the US, UK and Australia for $15.99/£19.99/AU$42.60.

This price is on the low side for a bracket for smaller TVs, especially considering all the flexibility it offers.

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Specs

Perlesmith PSSFK1 TV wall mount back plate being installed onto LG TV

The Perlesmith PSSFK1 is easy to install, even if you need to read the instructions over a couple of times. (Image credit: Future)

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Ease of installation

  • Easy to install 
  • Requires two people 
  • Instructions weren't the clearest

When any sort of movement is involved in a bracket, you expect a bit more work on the installation side of things. The Perlesmith TV wall bracket (PSSFK1-E) admittedly started with some issues. When reading the instruction manual, it wasn’t clear which bolts corresponded between the manual and what was physically in the box itself. After some deduction and eyeing up of what was available, we had worked it out and set about installing.

Attaching the back plate and even the arm to the TV itself was a breeze and required very little effort. For our test, we used the LG 32-inch LQ6300 to install onto the bracket. Once the wall plate had been installed, it was clear and easy to mount the TV with the back plate and arm onto the wall plate. One thing that we did note was that to adjust the tilt of the TV, you had to tighten and loosen the fitting every time to make sure the stayed in place, which is a bit inconvenient if you'll do it often, but not a problem otherwise.

Almost everything you need in terms of bolts and spacers is provided in the box, but you will need a screwdriver and potentially a socket wrench if you’re installing onto a wall that has wall plugs. The spacers and bolts needed will vary from TV to TV, but for ours we used the M6 bolts and slimmest spacers. It’s worth noting in our test, we still required two people despite the small nature of the TV and bracket itself, and it’s worth sticking with this for safety reasons.

  • Ease of installation: 4/5

The Perlesmith (PSSFK1) on a blue wall

There's no question of the Perlesmith PSSFK1's solidness – it's a good bit of metal. (Image credit: Perlesmith)

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Build quality

  • Made of alloy steel 
  • Solid design despite budget price
  • Feels sturdy even when in motion

Made from a durable alloy steel, the PSSFK1 felt solidly built when it was taken out of the box, and came across as durable and reassuringly weighty when being put together. The main arm of the bracket itself had a heft for such a small bracket, and when attached to the back wall plate, felt tough. The back plate itself felt secure in the wall as well.

When the LG TV was attached to the bracket itself, it again felt solid. The bracket is said to hold up to 20kg in weight, and judging by the feel on the wall, it seemed like it could handle this with ease. There was however some unexpected movement when using the tilt function, as the LG continued to tilt a little on its own. However, the full motion aspect of the PSSFK1 when being used felt secure when moved to any angle.

  • Build quality score: 4.5/5

Perlesmith PSSFK1 TV wall mount arm on blue wall

The Perlesmith PSSFK1 moves smoothly when you extend it. (Image credit: Future)

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Design

  • Good range of tilt and motion 
  • Doesn't sit completely flush to the wall
  • No cable management

Because the Perlesmith is a full motion wall bracket, it naturally won’t fit completely flush to the wall as it has to make room for the arm to fold in on itself. When the TV was fully retracted, it sat roughly 6.9cm off the wall. This isn’t the closest we’ve seen in a full motion bracket, but it’s by no means bad. 

In terms of motion and tilt, the Perlesmith had a good range of motion, able to extend up to 36cm from the wall. From there, it could be swivelled left and right by 90 degrees and tilted up by 5 degrees and down by 15 degrees. Whilst doing this, the TV felt solidly in place, though the tilt which had to be adjusted by loosening and tightening the fitting on the arm as mentioned above. Due to the light nature of the TV, though, moving it was incredibly simple. 

Another thing worth mentioning is that there is no form of cable management on the bracket, so once it’s extended or moved, bear this in mind when it comes to any dangling cables. However, for the price of this bracket it’s not surprising that there’s no cable management, so we don't mind.

  • Design score: 4/5

Perelsmith PSSFK1 TV wall mount on blue wall

And we're done! The Perlesmith PSSFK1 is pretty easy to put together, by the standard of wall mounts. (Image credit: Future)

Perlesmith PSSFK1 review: Value

  • Incredibly affordable 
  • Lots of features for the money

It’s hard to argue with the value of the Perlesmith PSSFK1-E. Although designed for smaller TVs between 13-inch and 42-inch, $15.99/£19.99 for a full motion bracket is a steal.

Its movement and installation may not be perfect, but with such a big saving, you really can’t be mad at the PSSFK1. If you’re looking for a full-motion bracket, it’s impossible to look past this one.

  • Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Perlesmith PSSFK1 TV wall mount?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Perlesmith PSSFK1

A selection of various TV wall mounts grouped on the floor next to two TVs.

The Perlesmith along with other wall mounts we tested. (Image credit: Future)
  • Mounted a 32-inch LG LQ6300 onto bracket
  • Used M6 bolts

We aren't DIY experts by any stretch of the imagination, but we understand what was needed to install the PSSFK1 TV wall mount. Thankfully, there weren't many tools needed, as we used a screwdriver (electronic but you don't need one) and a socket wrench (13mm socket bit) for the wall plugs. Most TVs will be covered by the bolts and spacers provided.

For this test, we used an LG 32-inch LQ6300 TV to mount onto the PSSFK1. The TV weighs roughly 5kg and we chose this as it sat in the middle portion of the bracket's compatible size range, and 32-inch is a popular size for smaller TVs.

Samsung CU8000 review: a cheap 4K TV that looks premium, but you can get better pictures
7:34 pm | October 19, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Samsung CU8000 review: Two minute review

The Samsung CU8000 is the second most entry-level LED TV in Samsung’s 2023 lineup, with the CU7000/7100 sitting below it. Sitting above these is Samsung’s range of QLEDs, Neo QLEDs (mini-LED) and QD-OLED TVs. 

Samsung TVs often find themselves amongst the best TVs on the market, especially when it comes to picture quality in sets like the Samsung S90C. The Samsung CU8000 has an edge-lit LED panel so certainly won’t hit these heights, but it does a decent job when it comes to color reproduction and when displaying brighter content, despite its low brightness levels. It also does a good job of handling reflections when viewing brighter images and is surprisingly effective when upscaling SDR content. But, its black levels and contrast are lacking and its poor backlight uniformity in darkened conditions mean it doesn’t quite have the picture to make it a budget gem such as the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED

Sound quality on the CU8000 is not the strongest. With 2.0 channel speakers totaling 20W, the sound is thin and overall lacking in power and punch. Speech levels are surprisingly decent in any sound mode, but there is little-to-no bass and trebles can sound harsh at higher volumes. This is one TV that you’ll definitely need to pair with one of the best soundbars

Design is a real highpoint for the Samsung CU8000 and arguably its most standout feature. A sleek design with a razor-slim depth, super-thin bezel and attractive dark finish, the CU8000 is a really good-looking TV. It has two easy-to-install feet that can be placed in two positions for those looking to place on furniture, but it would also look stunning on the wall using one of the best TV wall mounts

Gaming performance on the Samsung CU8000 is solid enough, with motion feeling smooth despite only having a 60Hz panel. Graphically, it’s colorful and clean-looking, but the lack of next-gen gaming features including no HDMI 2.1 ports with 120Hz and VRR support might put some people off. For more casual gamers, there is the useful Game Hub, which provides access to cloud gaming apps including Xbox cloud gaming and is a welcome inclusion on the CU8000. 

Tizen is one of the better smart TV platforms available, with a neat home menu, or ‘Smart Hub’, layout and access to a wide array of apps. It also offers plenty of recommendations that aren’t plastered across the screen, which prevents them from becoming overwhelming. There are numerous settings to tweak the picture to get it as close to perfect as you’d like, with plenty of room for experimentation. 

With the Samsung CU8000,  you get a big screen from one of the world’s biggest TV brands, such as a 75-inch for around roughly $999/£999/AU$1,800 or an 85-inch for roughly $1,600/£1,500/AU$2,700 if that’s what you’re after. Just-average picture quality and features hold it back from being the Black Friday steal it could be, but if you’re after a solid and affordable second TV, the CU8000 should do the job. 

For our review, we tested the 75-inch version of the Samsung CU8000. 

Samsung CU8000 with sunset on screen

The CU8000 has punchy color but lacks decent contrast  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Prices and release date

  •  April 2023 
  •  Prices start at $399 / £370 / AU$895 for the 43-inch 
  •  Up to $1,597 / £1,499 / AU$2,695 for the 85-inch 

 The Samsung CU8000 is one of Samsung’s entry-level LEDs in its 2023 TV lineup, with only the CU7100 below it. As such, it’s the second cheapest 2023 Samsung TV. At the time of release in April, prices for the Samsung CU8000 were as below: 

  • 43-inch: $399 / £499 / AU$899 
  • 50-inch: $449 / £549 / AU$995 
  • 55-inch: $529 / £679 / AU$1,199 
  • 65-inch: $649 / £849 / AU$1,499 
  • 75-inch: $999 / £1,199 / AU$1,999 
  • 85-inch: $1,699 / £1,899 / AU$2,999 

At the time of writing, several months after release, CU8000 prices have dropped across the entire range of sizes, with particularly large price drops in the UK, averaging around 30%. For the 55-inch version, the Samsung CU8000 sits at $499 /£499/ AU$1,195, which makes it the same price as the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. For the 75-inch Samsung CU8000, the size used in our review, you’re looking at $949 / £925 / AU$1,795 which is a great price for such a big screen.  

Samsung CU8000 review: Specs

Feet of Samsung CU8000

Feet provided with the 75-inch Samsung CU8000 (pictured) are solid and can be installed in two different positions  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Features

  •  Tizen smart TV platform 
  •  Edge-lit LED panel  
  •  No 120Hz or VRR gaming support 

As an entry-level LED TV, the Samsung CU8000 isn’t packed with as many features as more premium models and even in comparison to other budget TVs, like the Amazon Omni QLED, it lacks some of the features you would hope for, especially from a brand like Samsung.

The CU8000 has an edge-lit LED backlight, meaning it doesn’t have the same picture quality as higher-end models and even struggles in comparison to similar models, again like the Amazon Omni QLED. In terms of HDR, the CU8000 supports HDR10+ as well as the usual HDR10 and HLG, but as with all other Samsung TVs, it doesn’t support Dolby Vision.

In terms of gaming features, there isn’t a wide array of options available. The CU8000 doesn’t make itself the most standout in terms of gaming performance, with ALLM and HGiG support, but none for 120Hz or VRR. There is, however, Samsung’s Gaming Hub that does collect cloud gaming options via Xbox, Luna and more into one place, with some game recommendations and trending information also included. 

For audio, there are 2 channels with 20W total power output, but no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support. The CU8000 does come equipped with Q-Symphony, a feature that can add another layer to the audio experience when a Samsung TV and compatible Samsung soundbar are paired together. 

The Samsung CU8000 comes equipped with the 2023 version of Samsung’s own Tizen smart TV platform. Tizen provides a smart hub as a home page packed with apps including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and many more. The home page provides plenty of TV  show and movie recommendations based on your viewing and also shows what’s trending on each app. 

  • Features score: 3.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with Top Gun Maverick on screen

The CU8000 handles brighter scenes such as Top Gun: Maverick (pictured) well, even looking quite natural  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Picture quality

  •  Colors are vibrant  
  •  HD/SDR picture looks good 
  •  Black levels lacking plus backlight blooming 

The Samsung CU8000 comes equipped with a standard LED panel with edge-lighting, so it doesn’t have the strongest picture features on the market. And while it succeeds in some areas, it is definitely lacking in others. 

Viewing standard dynamic range (SDR) TV shows, including low-resolution and live HDTV via antenna, the CU8000’s picture was surprisingly detailed. Despite a large 75-inch screen to fill, low-resolution TV shows weren’t as fuzzy as expected, with textures still looking decent. HDTV looked even better, with bright colors and sharp detail on the screen. That’s not to say the image was perfect as there were still some colors looking a little overblown, particularly greens, but considering its LED panel and 75-inch size, SDR content didn’t look bad at all.

Moving on to 4K HDR movies and TV shows, the particular highlights within each different type of image were once again the colors. When measuring the DCI-P3 coverage (the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) in Filmmaker mode, the CU8000 yielded a result of 88.32% and a BT.2020 coverage of 64%. That’s a decent enough result for a budget TV, but it also demonstrated one of the shortcomings of a model with a standard LCD panel as opposed to a QLED or OLED one. 

Measuring Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern and what’s on screen) for color point accuracy, the result was 2.4 (we typically look for this to average below 3). and the grayscale average Delta-E was 2.9. Again, those are respectable numbers for a TV like the Samsung CU8000, so it’s no surprise its colors looked decent in some of the TV shows and movies I viewed. 

First viewing demo footage on the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray, the CU8000 demonstrated the dynamic colors I had seen in the SDR TV shows, but suddenly looked a little more overblown than before. More neutral tones looked best, including scenes of a mountain within a desert landscape, but when it came to black levels and contrast, the Samsung CU8000's shortcomings became obvious. For example, when viewing any night footage, such as a night sky within a city landscape, the black of the night sky took on a gray hue.

When viewing The Batman, during a particularly dark fight scene within the opening of the movie, the Samsung CU8000 again struggled with black levels and shadow details and another shortcoming of the CU8000 became apparent: backlight uniformity. 

When viewed in brighter conditions, the backlight issue wasn’t too obvious, but when the lights were dimmed or turned off, it was hard to overlook. The Batman arguably became difficult to watch, as the CU8000 struggled to control its backlight and the image took on a white overall glow and the movie’s dark, moody tone was lost. 

Watching the throne room fight scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi streamed from Disney Plus in 4K and Dolby Vision, the CU8000’s colors improved again. Red was a prominent color in this scene, and it looked dynamic but not overblown, while the skin tones were true-to-life and natural. One thing that I noted was the lightsabers seemed a bit dimmer than I’d expected, lacking the same crisp and bright punch I’d seen on other TVs like the Amazon Omni QLED. 

When measuring the peak HDR brightness levels of the CU8000 using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software, the results were 292 nits and 324 nits on a 10% window in Filmmaker mode and Standard picture mode, respectively, which explains the dull-looking lightsaber in the Star Wars Dolby Vision scene. Despite its low peak brightness levels, the CU8000 did handle screen reflections well, even with harsh overhead lights turned on in our testing environment. 

Finally, when watching the two mission scenes from Top Gun: Maverick to check motion handling, the CU8000 did a decent enough job of processing the fast, panning shots as the jets accelerated across screen, though motion judder became obvious in certain intense moments. Thankfully, going into Settings>Picture>Picture Clarity>Judder reduction and making some minor adjustments improved the motion handling, and it did so without leading to the dreaded soap opera effect.  

  • Picture quality score: 3.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with explosion from Star Wars The Force Awakens on screen

Thin- sounding audio mean scenes with battles such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens (pictured) lack any punch (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Sound quality

  •  2.0-channel speakers 
  •  Decent speech levels 
  •  Thin-sounding audio quality 

The Samsung CU8000 is an extremely slim TV, and whilst that certainly makes it an attractive TV, it does not do any favors for its audio. With a 2.0-channel speaker configuration and 20W of power, the CU8000’s audio is incredibly basic and very much on the thin side. 

There’s no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X support, as you’d usually expect on TVs around this price, though other budget TVs like the Amazon Omni QLED at least try and make up for this with better built-in sound. The Samsung CU8000 doesn’t do the same, unfortunately. Watching the Batmobile chase from The Batman, bass levels were minimal with the rumble of the Batmobile’s engine almost non-existent. Speech levels were solid enough, but treble and mid-range were also paper-thin, especially in Standard sound mode. Switching to Amplify, everything was heigthened especially in terms of volume, but not really improved.

Also checking out Top Gun:Maverick, speech levels maintained their decent level within the audio mix, but again sound was too direct and thin-sounding to create any real sense of immersion. Switching to Adaptive Sound, the CU8000 took on a slightly more surround-sound feel, but it also made the sound clinical, with any sort of warmth disappearing. 

  • Sound quality score: 3/5

Samsung CU8000 side shot in testing room

The CU8000 is delightfully thin  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Design

  •  Very sleek and attractive design  
  •  Easy to install feet, with two positions 
  •  Feels more expensive than it is 

Samsung has made a habit of designing good-looking TVs (I’m thinking of its 2023 QD-OLEDs, the S90C and S95C, in particular). It’s great to see that it hasn’t forgotten its dedication to design for budget models as well, as the Samsung CU8000 is a very attractive TV.

Featuring what Samsung calls an AirSlim design, the CU8000 is seriously thin – razor-thin in comparison to other TVs, and with a dark finish. Thanks to its minuscule depth, it would look seriously good mounted on a wall. But if that’s not your plan, there are two very easy-to-install feet that can be placed in two positions based on preference. I had it in the ‘narrow’ position during testing and it felt solid. 

The TV itself is very appealing to look at, with a marginal trim around the outside and a super-slim bezel that makes it look more expensive than it is. Despite the slim design, there’s a reassuring ‘quality’ feel to it. 

The Samsung CU8000 also comes supplied with two remotes, one of which is the more minimal smart remote, named the solar cell remote, whilst the other is the more standard Samsung remote with numbers and so on. Each remote feels decent enough in quality, with the solar cell remote in particular looking clean and visually appealing, but it’s nice to have both options.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Samsung Cu8000 with Tizen Smart Hub home menu on screen

The Samsung CU8000 features the 2023 version of Tizen (pictured), Samsung's own smart TV platform  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Smart TV & menus

  •  Tizen smart TV platform 
  •  Smart hub 
  •  Plenty of settings options to tweak 

The CU8000 features the 2023 version of Samsung’s own Tizen smart TV platform. This itself feels like an improvement over last year’s version, with quicker response times and a more streamlined appearance. 

The Smart Hub, the ‘home’ menu of Tizen, is where you can find all the apps that the CU8000 has at its disposal, of which there are many. (Samsung has always had one of the strongest catalogs of smart TV apps.) And with access here to all you’d expect, such as Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV+ and in the UK all the Freeview apps, such as BBC iPlayer, ITVX and so on, there really is something for everyone. Also on the smart hub, Tizen will show any trending shows by app and make recommendations based on genre as well. 

It’s worth noting, however, that, as usual, Tizen does not support Freeview Play in the UK and rather uses its own Samsung TV Plus platform for live TV. 

When it comes to settings, there are plenty of options such as contrast, brightness, sharpness, and motion that will enable you to customize the picture to how you like. There are also plenty of preset picture modes to dig into and again these can be tweaked as well. Being able to tweak picture settings and see the effect clearly on a full screen, without menus blocking the picture, is a really handy feature as well. Tizen still stands as one of the best TV smart platforms around and it’s great to see it on the CU8000.

  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with Game hub on screen

The CU8000 comes equipped with a Gaming Hub (pictured) to organize all things gaming  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Gaming

  •  Gaming hub 
  •  10ms input lag time  
  •  No 120Hz or VRR gaming 

When it comes to gaming, the Samsung CU8000 is a little light on physical features to get the best experience for gamers. With no HDMI 2.1 ports, there’s no 120Hz or VRR support. And with no Dolby Vision compatibility, there’s no Dolby Vision gaming, a feature that’s supported by other budget TVs such as the Amazon Omni QLED. 

Graphically, the Samsung CU8000 is perfectly adequate. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, colors were as crisp as they were when playing HDR movies and TV shows and actually looked more natural in the game itself. Textures weren’t as sharp, however, which resulted in plain-looking terrain sometimes, but they were still decent enough.

In terms of gaming performance, despite having no real gaming features, the CU8000 handled motion well enough. When measuring the CU8000’s input lag time with Game mode switched on, it clocked in at 10ms, which is an excellent score for a TV of this type. 

During an intense woodland battle in Battlefield V, switching between targets still felt smooth and despite not feeling as smooth as TVs with 120Hz, the CU8000’s performance was solid enough. 

One welcome feature in the CU8000 is the inclusion of Samsung’s Gaming Hub. This collects together all things gaming such as cloud gaming apps including Luna and Xbox, trending information, and recommendations on other video games and even the Xbox Series X itself to allow for easy navigation of anything gaming-related. 

The CU8000 isn’t going to take over the gaming world anytime soon, but it still performs well enough for those not too worried about having next-gen gaming features.

  • Gaming score: 3.5/5

Samsung SolarCell Remote

The CU8000 comes with two remotes, including the minimalist SolarCell Remote (Image credit: Future)

Samsung CU8000 review: Value

  •  Good budget price 
  •  Decent enough level of features 
  •  Better TVs available for similar price 

It’s hard to argue that the Samsung CU8000 doesn’t have a solid, budget price. At $399 / £370 / AU$895 for the 43-inch model, it has an acceptable level of performance for the price to accommodate most people. It’s also possible to get a big screen, such as the 75-inch, for under $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$2,000, if that’s what you’re looking for. 

But, when lined up against the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED, the Samsung CU8000 doesn’t hit the same level of value. The Omni QLED beats the Samsung CU8000 in picture, sound and features, and to top all it off, is the same price or cheaper in every size, although a 75-inch Fire TV Omni QLED option isn't available in the UK or an 85-inch one in the US.

In terms of picture quality and overall performance, a lot of TVs beat the Samsung CU8000. But, if you are a Samsung fan and are looking for a budget LED TV, maybe as a secondart set for the bedroom, the CU8000 should suffice.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Samsung CU8000 with dog and living room on screen from HD live TV

SDR TV shows look surprisingly crisp on the Samsung CU8000 (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung CU8000?

Buy it if...

Don't buy if it...

Also consider...

Samsung Cu8000 with testing equipment attached

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Samsung CU8000

When testing the Samsung CU8000, I first viewed several different sources such as SDR and HDR movies and TV shows through 4K Blu-ray, streaming and live TV via antenna. I also tested video game performance using an Xbox Series X. Whilst doing this, I tested the out-of-the-box picture presets to determine which was best. 

One thing to note is that I have been previously using the Xbox Series X to test HDR content but now have access to the Panasonic DP-UB820, a UHD Blu-ray player that is compatible with multiple HDR formats including Dolby Vision. For future reviews, I will be using this to test 4K Blu-rays, but for the CU8000 testing, I viewed the same movies on both the Xbox Series X and DP-UB820 to get a comparison. 

After some running-in time, I then took measurements of the Samsung CU8000 using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software. I used this to measure and record the CU8000's SDR and HDR peak brightness levels on a 10% and 100% window. Alongside this, I measured the Delta E averages (the margin of error between a test pattern and what's shown on screen) for grayscale, color point accuracy and gamma. Test patterns were made using the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

As well as these tests, I also measured  DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space coverage. This demonstrates how faithfully a TV can render extended color space from UHD sources. Finally, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester to measure the input lag of the TV while it was in its Game mode. 

  • First reviewed: October 2023
Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) TV wall mount review: a straight-up design that will have you hooked
1:00 pm | October 15, 2023

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Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02): Two-minute review

It might seem like that if you want any type of moving mechanism in a TV wall mount that you have to sacrifice how flush your set can sit to the wall. But Mounting Dream proves that’s not the case with its tilting TV wall mount, which has the serial number MD2268-LK-02.

Granted, the tilt is not the most angled, but if this isn’t a deal breaker for you then it will most likely be an ideal solution for the job at hand. It suits a wide range of TV sizes, from 37- to 82-inches, is simple to install, made from durable and secure feeling alloy steel, and is completely inexpensive. And if you’re worried about whether it will hold, then you shouldn’t. 

This wall mount is made by the California-based company Mounting Dream, which has been making AV/TV mounts for more than 29 years, so you can feel secure in knowing that it is made by experts – you also get a 10-year warranty to back that up. Not only does it produce wall mounts for TVs ranging from 10- to 86-inches, but it also engineers a variety of types, including full-motion and low-profile, for both regular homes, wholesale and even RVs.   

Although this is a tilting TV wall mount, it can easily work in just a fixed position as it doesn’t stick too far out from the wall. Because of this flexibility, it is most suitable for anyone looking to upgrade their space to the next level.   

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Price and release date

A close up of the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) on the wall

(Image credit: Future)
  • Priced at $32.99 / £39.99 / ~AU$39.99 
  • First available in October 2016
  • Available globally from online retailers 

The US version (MD2268-LK), which has slightly different specs, is available to purchase online via the company’s own website for a reasonably low price of $32.99, though you won’t be able to find the exact same model in the UK and Australia. Instead, you’ll need to look for the MD2268-LK-02, which is available on retailers sites like Amazon. In the UK and Australia, it costs more like £39.99 and ~AU$39.99 on major retailer sites like Amazon. 

However, it can be known to be unavailable at times (at the time of writing this review it is sold out on Amazon in Australia), so it’s worth looking at other tilting wall mount models from Mounting Dream as the size ranges do crossover a bit.  

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Specs

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Ease of installation

The Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) parts and pieces laid out on the floor

(Image credit: Future)
  • Simple and quick 
  • Clear instructions
  • Does require a third person for uninstallation 

When you’re looking for a TV wall mount, more often than not, you tend to want a simple and straightforward solution to a new design feature that you’re adding to your space. This was by far the most effortless wall mount we came across during our testing, and one of the reasons why is because of how easy it was to install. Simply plain sailing. 

Many instruction manuals claim that they take just three steps but we found there was always an extra one when aligning the mechanisms or fixing the brackets with a lot of rival models. Not this one. Mounting Dream made it simple to identify which part went where just by looking at it. You can fold out the instructions into a big A2 size piece of paper that lays it all out for you too and there’s a handy cardboard cutout to mark out where the wall plugs for the lag bolts, which are VESA approved, should go. 

It provides you with everything you need and includes materials and instructions for both concrete or drywall. But you do need a few tools of your own including a tape measure, screw driver, electric drill with appropriate drill bits, socket wrench (with a 13mm socket) and a buddy to help you lift the set onto the mount. It’s also worth saying that the release straps do require a third person to uninstall it.   

Ease installation of score: 4.5/5

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Build quality

A close up of the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) latches on the brackets

(Image credit: Future)
  • Uncomplicated but effective design 
  • Well engineered, solid materials

Key to why this TV wall mount is so easy to set up is the fact that it only has three main parts – the wall plate, which is fixed by six lag bolts, and the two TV brackets, which are fixed to the TV with four bolts (more often than not this will be an M6 bolt as it’s most suitable for most TVs) – and these haven't been over engineered either. 

Mounting Dream has stripped back alloy steel to make sure that the brackets themselves are as solid as possible, which is testament to why it feels so secure on a wall when the latches are fixed. Even though it is relatively small in profile, it does feel secure enough to handle up to the full 60kg that it can hold up. 

It's a no-fuss, sturdy type of wall mount that looks solid. It also has an un-confronting amount of materials that you can just tell by looking at them how it all fits together. 

Build quality score: 5/5

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Design

The Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) mounted on a wall with a TV hung on it

(Image credit: Future)
  • Sits flush and secure to the wall 
  • Non-obstructive 
  • No cable management 

A TV wall mount needs to be inconspicuous to get the right effect and Mounting Dream has done well to make sure this keeps a low profile when holding up your TV, which means it doesn’t really stick out from the wall at all – in fact it only sticks out by 38mm. 

It's also only 60cm long and 40cm tall so it doesn't take up too much wall space to secure it either. The only very small matter about its design that I would highlight is that it doesn’t exactly tilt out very much, which isn’t great if you want to hang your TV up high. Mounting Dream gave it a radius of just eight degrees, which means it could be more suitable if you just want to keep it in a fixed position on your wall, rather than facing down.   

There is no cable management provided and the release tags do stick out at the bottom but these can be easily tucked away if needed. Plus, zip ties or velcro straps are inexpensive options to organise multiple wires.   

Design score: 4.5/5

Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) review: Value

A close up of the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) TV brackets

(Image credit: Future)
  • Cheap and cheerful 
  • Great value for money

This was the clincher for us. With a retail price of $32.99 – sorry those in the UK and Australia, you’ll have to pay a bit more for it at £39.99 – you might be worried whether it can hold up but Mounting Dream is a trusted name based in California with 29 years of experience and it shows. For this money, ease of use and quality, we haven't found another that beats it.  

Value score: 5/5

Should I buy the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02)?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How we tested the Mounting Dream (MD2268-LK-02) tilting TV wall mount

A selection of various TV wall mounts grouped on the floor next to two TVs.

(Image credit: Future)
  • TV mounted with a 65-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED to a drywall 
  • Used an M6 bolt (35mm) and 10mm spacer

Rest assured, we’re not DIY experts but we do have a basic understanding of which tools are best for the job and how those tools should be used. In saying that, though, we still don’t think you need to know the ins and outs of every piece of material and tool at your local hardware store to be able to understand how to install this TV wall mount. 

We mounted a 65-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED to a drywall. We chose to use a larger sized TV to really test out its strength and had two people lifting the TV’s brackets onto the wall plate. We tested this TV wall mount alongside several other brands to compare its overall usability, secureness and value for money.  

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: a cheap, basic soundbar with benefits
3:00 pm | October 7, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Soundbars Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar: two-minute review

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is the company’s first soundbar, and as with other Amazon-branded products, it arrives at a competitive price point  of just $119. It's currently only available in the US, though. Amazon’s offering is about as basic as a soundbar gets. It has a 2.0-channel speaker array and both HDMI and optical digital ports for a TV hookup, along with Bluetooth for music streaming.

There are many features found on the best soundbars that Amazon could have added to its model to make it a more compelling option – built-in Wi-Fi, for example. That specific feature would have given Fire TV users the ability to create a wireless, voice-controlled ‘Alexa Home Theater’ as they can with the company’s Echo wireless speakers. As it stands, even though Amazon claims its soundbar is ‘designed to work with Fire TV’, there are no specific Fire TV-related features. This is a cheap, basic soundbar that works with any TV featuring an HDMI eARC/ARC or optical digital connection.

Amazon’s soundbar has a compact design, and its build quality is good for the price. It provides Movie, Music and dialogue-boosting EQ modes, all selectable using the supplied remote control. There’s also DTS:Virtual X processing to expand the sound for movies and TV shows with surround-encoded soundtracks.

Sound quality is surprisingly good for the cost. Music sounds decent enough when played at reasonable levels. Eeven though bass is limited, movie soundtracks are strongly enhanced when the virtual processing is enabled, with the sound expanding well beyond the confines of the soundbar and TV screen. Dialogue is for the most part clear, though male voices can sound too heavy with the bar’s Bass setting, which is otherwise optimized for movie playback.

An advantage to the Fire TV Soundbar is that it’s easy to set up and use. If you're simply looking for a basic, low-cost soundbar to improve upon your TV’s built-in speakers that you can just set and forget, it will do the trick. As for value, you can find other equally good options for around the same price, so Amazon’s first real home theater audio offering isn’t exactly setting the budget soundbar space on fire. But that situation could change come Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday, when the Fire TV Soundbar is likely to see the same deep discounts that other Amazon-branded products typically get.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar on TV stand with TV in background

Amazon's compact soundbar is a good fit for TVs with a 55-inch (shown here) or smaller screen. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: price and release date

  •  Released in September 2023 
  •  Priced at $119
  • Limited to the US

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar was released in September 2023 and is priced at $119. At present, it’s only available in the US.

Amazon appears to have designed its first soundbar as a basic, low-cost audio upgrade for its Fire TV lineup, but it can also be used with any TV. At just $119, its price competition includes cheap, off-brand soundbars as well as the Roku Streambar, a higher spec offering with built-in streaming capabilities.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: features

  • Dolby Audio and DTS:Virtual X processing
  • HDMI and optical digital connections
  • Bluetooth wireless streaming

Amazon’s soundbar is about as basic as soundbars get, with a 2.0 speaker array and HDMI and optical digital audio ports for connecting to a TV. There is no built-in Wi-Fi to enable audio streaming from phones or tablets using AirPlay 2 or Chromecast, though Bluetooth wireless streaming is supported.

At $119, you wouldn’t expect a soundbar to have Dolby Atmos support, even of the virtualized type, and the Fire TV Soundbar not surprisingly doesn’t. What it does support is Dolby Audio, which here ends up being 2-channel Dolby Digital with sound processing to enhance detail and normalize volume levels when switching between TV channels or sources.

Along with Dolby Audio, the Fire TV Soundbar has DTS:Virtual X processing and Movies, Music and Dialogue EQ modes.

  • Features score: 3/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar top panel controls

The soundbar's top-mounted controls (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: sound quality

  • Good overall dialogue clarity
  • Spacious virtual surround
  • Light on bass

When I first plugged in the Fire TV Soundbar, I was happy to note that it provided a strong sound quality boost over the built-in speakers of the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED TV I connected it to. Dialogue clarity received an immediate boost, and there was a spaciousness and heft to the sound that wasn’t there previously.

Watching scenes from the sci-fi film District 9, the interviews dispersed throughout the action sounded full-bodied, and so did the comments from Vikus as he wandered around the alien compound. With the Surround mode switched off, effects in the movie’s soundtrack were constricted, but when I switched it on, helicopters and machine gun fire sounds expanded beyond the TV’s screen and there was a naturalistic sense of ambience.

When I next watched a scene from Top Gun: Maverick where Maverick is disciplined by Rear Admiral Chester ‘Hammer’ Cain, I found that the dialogue, while mostly clear, was too bass-heavy, with a ‘boomy’ quality. Checking the soundbar’s Bass setting, the medium option was selected, so I dialed it back to low. The effect of that change was to thin out the overall balance of the sound, so I decided to switch back to medium and live with too-boomy dialogue.

For comparison’s sake I swapped out Amazon’s soundbar with a Sony HTS2000 soundbar ($500 / £449 / around AU$788), a 3.1-channel model with virtual Dolby Atmos processing, and found dialogue in the same Top Gun: Maverick scene to be significantly cleaner-sounding with the Sony’s medium bass level selected. The comparison demonstrated the advantage to using a soundbar with a dedicated center-channel speaker, which is a feature that 2.0-channel models like the Fire TV Soundbar lack.

Otherwise, I was impressed with how effectively the Fire TV soundbar’s DTS:Virtual X processing widened the soundscape on Top Gun: Maverick and other movies, and did so without negatively affecting other elements in the audio mix such as music and dialogue. Bass was one area where I found the Amazon bar to be lacking, especially in comparison to the much more expensive Sony model. But given the Amazon’s compact design, the amount of bass it did deliver was actually better than expected.

I don’t expect music to sound great on budget soundbars and the Amazon Fire TV soundbar didn’t do much to change my mind. That being said, when I streamed Endless Time by The Weather Station using the Tidal app on the Omni QLED TV, the song’s simple Joni Mitchell-like piano and vocal presentation sounded smooth and natural. There was also a good sense of spaciousness with the Surround mode enabled. Other, more dynamic music I played sounded a bit harsh and congested with the volume pushed to a high level, though it was comparatively fine with the volume dialed back to a normal listening level.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: design

  • Compact design
  • Remote control included
  • Front-panel LED indicator lights

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is a lightweight and highly compact design, measuring just 24-inches wide by 2.5-inches high and 3.5-inches deep. Its black plastic cabinet has rounded edges and is fronted by a black mesh grille. A row of control buttons are located on the top surface that let you adjust volume, select inputs, pair the soundbar with Bluetooth devices, and power it on and off. 

An equally compact remote control is packaged with buttons to adjust volume, switch inputs as well as select the EQ, bass and virtual surround sound modes. Remote commands trigger a sequence of LEDs on the soundbar's front, with one to three lights indicating the volume level range, for example. There’s also voice confirmation when selecting EQ modes, with a robot-like (not Alexa) voice telling you if Dialogue, Music, or Movie mode is selected.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar back panel inputs

Inputs include HDMI and optical digital connections (Image credit: Future)
  • Design score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: usability and setup

  • HDMI eARC/ARC connection to TV
  • Easy Bluetooth pairing 
  • No alphanumeric front panel display

Given the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar’s basic design, setup poses no challenges. You simply connect it to your TV’s HDMI eARC/ARC port or optical digital output, and Amazon even gives you an HDMI cable to speed things along. Once an HDMI connection is made, you can use your TV’s remote control to adjust volume instead of the one supplied with the soundbar.

Pairing a Bluetooth device like a phone is equally simple. You just press the Bluetooth button on the soundbar’s control strip and a blue LED starts pulsing to indicate it’s in pairing mode. You then check the Bluetooth setup menu on your phone or tablet, select the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar, and you’re ready to stream.

Audio features such as EQ modes, bass level, and surround sound can be easily accessed from the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar’s remote control. A drawback to inexpensive soundbars like this one, however, is having to rely on LED light sequences instead of an alphanumeric display (or a control app) to make adjustments. But these proved easy enough to work with on the Fire TV Soundbar and having voice confirmation when switching EQ modes made things that much easier.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar remote control in hand

Amazon's small remote provides all the controls you'll need, but the soundbar's volume can also be adjusted with your TV's remote when it's connected to an HDMI eARC/ARC port. (Image credit: Future)
  • Usability and setup score: 4/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: value

  • Good overall value 
  • Faces strong budget competition
  • Look for Prime Day and Black Friday discounts

The Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is one of the least expensive options on the market, although you can also buy a 2.0-channel model from Sony or a 2.1-channel system with a wireless subwoofer from Vizio for even less than the $119 Amazon is charging here. And spending a bit more will get you the Roku Streambar, a model with the Roku streaming platform built-in that can be expanded with the company’s wireless surround speakers and subwoofer.

Nevertheless, given its good design and decent overall sound, Amazon’s soundbar ranks fairly high for value. You’d have to step up to the $500 range to get reliably better performance, along with extras like Dolby Atmos support via virtual processing or upward-firing speakers. And while I strongly feel that better sound is worth extra money, not everyone wants to spend that much to improve their TV’s built-in audio. For those who instead think around $100 is the right price, the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar is a solid budget-bar option.

While Amazon’s soundbar is a good deal at its current price, the company typically offers substantial cost reductions on its Fire TV products both on Prime Day and during the Black Friday sales. Should the Fire TV soundbar get a 25% or better price cut during either of those events, which I expect it will, its overall value will get a strong boost.

  • Value score: 4/5

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar close up

The Fire TV soundbar has smooth, rounded edges and a mesh front panel grille. Build quality is good given the low price. (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar?

Buy it if…

Don't buy it if…

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar review: Also consider

Amazon Fire TV soundbar on TV stand with Fire TV in background

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar

  • Evaluated using both 4K Blu-ray discs and streamed sources
  • Break-in time allowed before critical listening
  • Tested using reference movie scenes and music tracks

I tested the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar in a 12 x 16 x 9-foot room using a 4K Blu-ray player, Apple TV 4K, and music streamed from Tidal via an Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED TV as sources. I allowed it to break in by watching movies and TV shows before settling in for more critical listening using reference movie clips and music tracks. 

The key things I listened for with movies were dialogue clarity, bass definition, and a sense of spaciousness with the soundbar's surround mode engaged. For music, I paid attention to the naturalness of the sound with acoustic instruments and voices, as well as the dynamics in louder tracks.

Having reviewed many soundbars in the same room over the years, I have a reference sound standard that the Amazon Fire TV Soundbar was compared to. For further comparison, I also used a Sony HT-S2000 all-in-one soundbar, switching between the two compact models on identical movie clips and music tracks.

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: October 5, 2023
Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: one of the best-featured cheap 4K TVs you can buy
2:54 pm | October 5, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED: Two-minute review

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED is the latest entry into the Amazon Fire TV market, and unlike the other 2023 Fire TV Omnis, it uses QLED technology in an effort to add extra brightness and detail to the picture compared with the more basic LED-lit 4-series and 2-series. 

Competitively – aggressively, even – priced, the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLEDs offer a big screen size for a smaller price tag compared to most of the best TVs. Launched in April 2023 (for the 65-inch) and June 2023 for all other sizes, prices for the Omni are low enough by default, but are almost certainly a Black Friday 2023 and Amazon Prime Day 2023 deal waiting to happen. 

In terms of picture quality, the Amazon Omni QLED isn’t going to rival the best OLED TVs anytime soon. But, with vivid colors, decent contrast and a surprisingly detailed and natural image with certain movies and TV shows, the Omni QLED’s picture excels for its budget price. There are some backlight blooming issues, and black levels aren’t the best, but at this price it’s hard to argue against. 

Sound quality on the Omni QLED is serviceable as long as you have the sound mode set to Movie. Bass levels are punchy and speech is clear despite its basic 2.0-channel 12w speaker system, but if you’re looking for a big sound, you’ll be better off looking at pairing the Omni QLED with one of the best soundbars.

The Amazon Omni QLED’s design is nice enough, with an attractive silver frame and slim bezel around a slightly chunkier build. Its main downfall is its supplied feet which, whilst feeling solid, are so deep and far apart that people will need to have specific stands or furniture to put the Omni QLED on.

Gaming performance on the Amazon Omni QLED is surprisingly good, as are its features, for a cheaper TV. Whilst not as kitted out as the best gaming TVs, the Omni QLED does offer 4K Dolby Vision gaming, VRR and ALLM on its one HDMI 2.1 port. 120Hz support is all it's missing, but at this price range that’s not a common feature anyway. 

Fire TV is a solid smart TV platform, which can offer recommendations based on your viewing across multiple apps. There aren’t as many picture settings to adjust as other TVs but there are still plenty to tweak. Ambient Experience offers a nice bonus feature that can turn a drab, black screen during standby into a work of art. There are definitely some stutters and stops when navigating Fire TV, but it still offers a lot of options in terms of features.

Value is one of the Amazon Omni QLED's strongest categories, with the features on offer in terms of picture, gaming and smart TV greatly exceeding its budget price. TVs from rivals like Samsung, LG, Hisense and TCL don’t offer the same in terms of overall spec when compared to the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. As an almost certain inclusion within Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, we could even see that excellent value increase very soon. 

We used the 65-inch Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED for this review.

Amazon Omni QLED with dusk city landscape on screen

(Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Price and release date

  • Released: April 2023 (65-inch UK/US), June 2023 (43, 50, 55-inch UK/US and 75-inch US only)
  • Price starts from $379/£549 
  • Up to $599/£999 (65-inch) and $899 (75-inch US only) 

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED is part of Amazon’s 2023 Fire TV lineup, also featuring the Fire TV 4-series and Fire TV 2-series. The Amazon Omni QLED range is only available in the US and UK, and there is no official word on an Australian release at the time of writing.

The 65-inch was released first in April 2023 with prices at that time being $799/£999. In June 2023, the rest of the range was released with prices being $449/£549 for the 43-inch, $529/£649 for the 50-inch and $599/£749 for the 55-inch. The 75-inch model, priced at $1,099 at time of release, was only available in the US at the time of writing.

A few months on, and prices have dropped. At the time of writing in the US, the Omni QLED starts from $379 for the 43-inch to a very competitive $899 for the 75-inch. The 65-inch, featured in this review, currently sits at an incredibly affordable $589. The pricing for the Amazon Omni QLED is always changing and we expect this to be the case on Amazon Prime Day 2023 and Black Friday 2023, with some excellent discounts to be had. So if prices go back up again, be sure they will come back down.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Specs

Amazon Omni QLED Ambient Experience on display showing flowers on screen

Ambient Experience (pictured) on the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Features

  • 4K QLED panel 
  • Ambient Experience 
  • Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive HDR support 

The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED doesn’t have the connections a lot of more premium TVs offer, but for a budget TV it does come with a surprising amount of features packed into it.

The Omni QLED features a QLED display with full array local dimming in sizes 50-inch and up, while the 43-inch has direct LED backlighting (but no local dimming). In terms of HDR support, the Omni QLED features Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, both of which analyze the viewing environment to adapt picture quality. 

When it comes to gaming features, the Amazon Omni QLED doesn’t support 120Hz gaming, but it does support Dolby Vision gaming, VRR and ALLM, all of which are welcome additions for a TV priced like the Amazon Omni QLED. However, its one HDMI 2.1 port is also its eARC port for connecting to a soundbar.

Fire TV is the Amazon Omni QLED's smart TV platform, and offers plenty of options in terms of recommendations and customization. If you log in with your Amazon account, you can track what you’ve been watching as well as your most recently used apps, and Amazon will make recommendations based on your viewing and show the top trending videos.

Two other features integrated within Omni QLED are Ambient Experience and hands-free Alexa voice control. The Ambient Experience uses the premise of Samsung’s Art Mode from its Frame TVs (where artwork is displayed when the TV is in standby as opposed to a blank screen) but can also show time and date, smart widgets such as weather, and also play music and podcasts in the background. Hands-free Alexa voice control, once enabled, allows navigation of the Fire TV menus without any need for touching the remote.

  • Features score: 4/5 

Amazon Omni QLED with Top Gun Maverick on screen

Facial details are surprisingly accurate on the Omni QLED, as shown on Top Gun: Maverick (pictured)  (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Picture quality

  • Colors are surprisingly good 
  • Average black levels 
  • Natural-looking image 

For a budget TV, the Amazon Omni QLED delivers respectable brightness levels that are similar to last year’s Samsung Q60B, another entry-level QLED set. I measured the Omni QLED at HDR peak brightness of 531 nits in Standard picture mode, and 402 nits in Movie Dark mode on a 10% window when tested. Although there is a Movie Bright mode that would have no doubt yielded a higher brightness result, the Movie Dark mode was the most accurate picture preset, and displayed the best picture on the Omni QLED. For a QLED screen, these results were a little dimmer than I might like, but as I mentioned, they're comparable to other budget options.

When measuring the Delta-E values (the margin of error between an accurate test pattern source and what’s shown on screen), we typically look for the average result to be under 3, since this is considered indistinguishable from perfect to most people. When measuring grayscale results (to test how it handles different levels of darkness) in Movie Dark mode, the result was 4.3, so a little disappointing – but this is somewhat expected with an LED screen. However, in terms of color accuracy, the Omni QLED’s Delta-E average was 1.99, which is an excellent result especially for a TV at this level. It’s worth noting adjustments in picture can be made to improve those numbers, but these were the out-of-the-box results. 

I measured coverage of the DCI-P3 color range (used for mastering 4K movies and digital cinema releases) at 97.3% and BT.2020 at 74.3%. These are very good results again, and definitely rival some of the other best 4K TVs available. 

Despite these mostly positive results, there's one clear weakness to its pictures: standard definition content. It had a muddy, fuzzy look to it. HD and 4K pictures are strong, as I'll come to in a moment, whether that's in HDR or SDR. But especially on this 65-inch model, low-resolution viewing wasn't a great experience.

When testing 4K content with Dolby Vision next, I used several scenes from various Star Wars movies streamed through Disney Plus. Switching between the TV’s Dolby Vision picture modes, Dolby Vision IQ did a good job of adapting the picture to suit the different lighting conditions that could be set in the testing room, but again I found the dark preset (Dolby Vision Dark) to be the best for quality. Despite the lack of any anti-glare screen coating, the Omni QLED also did an adequate job in regards to reflections, reducing the visibility of harsh overhead lighting effectively. 

During the throne room fight in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the colors were dynamic and punchy, and the Omni QLED displayed the predominantly red color well without making it looking overblown. Whilst contrast levels were decent, any black within the scene did take on a dark-gray tone, showcasing the shortcomings of the QLED screen’s full-array local dimming compared to mini-LED or OLED TVs.

HDR demo video on the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark disc showed that in brighter nature scenes, color again was accurate. Images had a surprisingly natural quality to them as well, with good texture to animals and landscapes. During some of the night scenes, particularly of a city, contrast levels were good overall but again the black levels weren't that deep, and there was some backlight blooming from light to dark areas, especially in scenes where the night sky took up a lot of the screen. 

When it comes to motion, the Omni QLED did a great job of processing Top Gun: Maverick's jets in full flight, cleanly capturing fast panning shots and extreme changes in motion. There was the odd judder, but after changing motions settings to off or low – some motion processing can still be helpful with the Omni's 60Hz panel – this improved. It was also here that I noted just how detailed people looked on the Omni QLED, with a close up shot of Maverick’s face showcasing surprising deep levels of detail.

The Omni QLED may not have the best picture on the market, but considering its price range, I was surprised with just how detailed and vivid its picture was and how well it punches above its weight.

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

Amazon Omni QLED with Star Wars The Last Jedi on screen

Movies like Star Wars: The Last Jedi (pictured) will sound okay on the Omni QLED's built-in speakers, but only okay. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Sound quality

  • Clean, direct sound in Movie mode
  • Decent speech levels
  • No Dolby Atmos support

With a 2.0-channel speaker system, the Amazon Omni QLED's sound isn’t going to set the world alight. In Standard mode, audio quality is a bit thin with very little bass and treble, as demonstrated in the opening scene of Top Gun: Maverick, where opening track music lacked any sort of drive. 

However, changing the sound mode to Movie completely altered the dynamic of the Omni QLED’s sound. Bass levels were elevated and the rumble of the engines from the jets in Top Gun: Maverick was much more powerful and direct. Speech levels were also surprisingly clear, with dialogue being audible even during moments where characters spoke through a crackling radio. 

Yes, there’s no Dolby Atmos support but it seems that Amazon’s intention was to create a powerful built-in TV sound that was direct and clear, and to an extent they have succeeded. Dolby Atmos would be nice but it’s not something you necessarily find in TVs of the Omni QLED’s price range.

The built-in TV speakers should suit most people and situations but if you are looking for a bolder sound, it may well be worth considering a soundbar just to add that extra level of depth.

  •  Sound quality score: 3.5/5 

Feet of the Amazon Omni QLED TV 65-inch

The Fire TV Omni's feet are very deep, even by 65-inch TV standards. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Design

  •  Attractive, gray steel frame 
  •  Deep feet supplied with TV 
  •  Fire TV Alexa remote 

The Amazon Omni QLED features an attractive steel-look frame in a silver, metallic finish. At 8.4cm, it isn’t the slimmest TV, especially in comparison to Samsung’s ultra-slim LCD TVs which sit in a similar price range. However, the trim of the screen itself is minimal, meaning you get a nice screen-filling picture.

One of the most noticeable design features, and one that could be a drawback for some people, are the feet provided with the Amazon Omni QLED. Although they are fairly sturdy, they are a little deeper than your average TV stand/feet. This could be an issue for some TV stands and other furniture. The Ikea TV stand we used for testing just about fit the 65-inch Omni QLED’s feet (as shown in above pic) – we've had the 65-inch LG G3 on here with no worries about it fitting. 

The remote supplied with the Omni QLED is the Fire TV Alexa remote. Slim and small in nature, the remote is compact and feels light. Simply by pushing the blue button at the top, you can access Alexa voice control if you don’t wish to use the hands-free option.

  • Design score: 3.5/5

Amazon Fire TV home menu on Omni QLED

The Amazon Omni QLED uses Fire TV as its smart TV platform.  (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Smart TV and menus

  •  Fire TV smart TV platform 
  •  Extensive recommendations 
  •  Slightly clunky navigation 

The Amazon Omni QLED comes with the Fire TV smart TV platform, unsurprisingly. Offering a wealth of recommendations, Fire TV tracks your viewing habits to tailor these based on genre and across multiple streaming sites. Logging in with your Amazon account further adds to what you’ll get in terms of suggestions, customization of menus and more.

One of the most recent additions to Fire TV is a feature called Ambient Experience. Reminiscent of the Art Mode feature found on Samsung’s Frame TVs, Ambient Experience will display artworks or your own photos on screen when the TV is in standby mode. You can also display other widgets such as weather, smart home features, music and more. Speaking of music, you can even play music in the background whilst Ambient Experience is on.

In terms of menus, the main Fire TV menu is easy enough to navigate through but changing settings such as picture mode, input and so on is not as easy compared to other smart TV platforms. To access these settings, you have to hold down the home button rather than a settings button, which definitely slows down the process. 

One thing I did find during testing was that, although easy to navigate, Fire TV felt clunky at times. There were often frequent pauses and stutters when accessing apps, changing settings and browsing through menus, which hindered the experience a little, although thankfully these stutters weren’t common. 

Another feature of the Omni QLED is the Alexa voice control which can be accessed via the remote or, if enabled, via the Omni QLED's built-in mic for hands-free voice control. Alexa functioned well when it came to navigating Fire TV and when issued with the command to find a particular movie, it would find that movie on all possible sites, allowing for user choice.

  • Smart TV and menus score: 3.5/5

Amazon Omni QLED with Battlefield V on display

Graphics of Battlefield V (pictured) look good on the Amazon Omni QLED. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Gaming

  •  Dolby Vision gaming support 
  •  No 120Hz HDMI 2.1 support 
  •  Low 10.4ms input lag 

In terms of gaming features and performance, the Amazon Omni QLED delivers surprising results. The Omni QLED offers a decent picture with enough detail to make it a real viable budget gaming TV. During a night mission on Battlefield V, played through an Xbox Series X, landscapes looked natural and the weapon on screen had plenty of detail within it. Sadly, the night mission did showcase more of the slightly lacking black levels within the Omni QLED’s picture. 

With Game mode switched on, the Omni QLED processed intense moments well. Switching between targets and motion processing felt smooth, with changes from sections of calm into action feeling seamless. This is in part thanks to the Omni QLED's very low input lag time. Using the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester, the Omni QLED yielded a result of 10.4ms, which is an excellent result for a TV at this price and even rivals some of the best 120Hz TVs

Another welcome addition is the inclusion of gaming features like 4K Dolby Vision gaming support,and even VRR and ALLM, which are not always included on TVs within this price range. The Omni QLED offers multiple Dolby Vision game picture modes as well to give more choice to players on how they want their HDR to look in compatible games on the Xbox Series X.

The Omni QLED may not be the most comprehensive gaming TV, with no 120Hz support on any of its HDMI ports, but it’s hard to argue against what it does offer for gamers at such a budget price.

  • Gaming score: 4/5

Amazon Fire TV Alexa remote

The Omni QLED is supplied with the Amazon Alexa remote. (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Value

  •  Very competitively priced 
  •  Well stocked with features compared to similar TVs 
  •  Frequently on sale

Value is where the Amazon Omni QLED range really shines. Priced at the time of writing at $599/£999 for the 65-inch model, it is an extremely competitive TV. At $599 in the US, you are getting good picture quality, Dolby Vision support, great gaming performance and an intuitive smart TV platform at a large 65-inch size. Although not as budget friendly in the UK as it is in the US, the features you get in the Omni QLED still make it a very competitively priced TV compared to ones from rivals such as Samsung and LG.

Another advantage with the Amazon Omni QLED being an Amazon product means it is a regular feature during seasonal discount events such as Black Friday, or on Amazon Prime Day. This means that the already well-priced Omni QLED will most likely end up being even cheaper during sales season.

It may not have the picture quality and full features of a more premium TV, and sometimes the budget nature of the Omni QLED shows via its sometimes lacking black levels, average sound quality, and slightly clunky software, but what you do get makes this TV a real bargain.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

Amazon Omni QLED with demo content of mountain on screen

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Also consider

How I tested the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED

Amazon Omni QLED with testing equipment attached

The Amazon Omni QLED in the process of testing, with our equipment. (Image credit: Future)
  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Displays' Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

When testing the Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED, I first viewed several different sources such as SDR and HDR movies and TV shows through 4K Blu-ray, streaming and live TV via antenna. I also tested video game performance using an Xbox Series X. Whilst doing this, I tested the out-of-the-box picture presets to determine which was best.

After some running-in time, I then took measurements of the Amazon Omni QLED using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software. I used this to measure and record the Omni QLED's SDR and HDR peak brightness levels on a 10% and 100% window. Alongside this, I measured the Delta E averages (the margin of error between a test pattern and what's shown on screen) for grayscale, color accuracy and gamma. Test patterns were made using the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

As well as these tests, I also measured  DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space coverage. This demonstrates how faithfully a TV can render extended color space from UHD sources. Finally, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester to measure the input lag of the TV while it was in its Game mode. 

  • First reviewed: October 2023
LG B3 review: LG’s cheapest OLED TV packs a lot of performance
3:00 pm | October 1, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Televisions | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

LG B3: Two-minute review

The LG B3 continues a trend that LG has followed for years by providing a great-quality, more affordable OLED TV choice. Upon its release in April 2023, the LG B3 was not the best value set on the market, being roughly $100 cheaper than the step-up entry in LG’s 2023 OLED range, the LG C3, but with clear reduction in features and performance. Since then, B3 prices have dropped to a more reasonable level, putting space between it and more mid-range OLEDs.

Although the LG B3 does not feature the Micro Lens Array tech adopted by the LG G3, or even the Evo panel in the LG C3, its picture quality is nothing short of superb – something you’d expect from an OLED TV. Vibrant colors, deep black levels and great contrast mean the B3 has a picture that surprisingly rivals the C3 and even holds its own against the G3, which is one of the best TVs available in 2023. 

Sound quality is one of the weaker parts of the LG B3. The 2.0 speaker system doesn’t create the same quality sound to match the excellent picture quality even on Cinema Mode, which gives decent enough audio performance. This is a TV that  could almost benefit from a sound upgrade via one of the best soundbars

Gaming performance is another area where LG’s entry-level OLED TV shines. Thanks to excellent picture quality, smooth motion processing and an extremely useful Game Optimizer feature, the B3 is certainly a TV that gamers should consider if they want OLED gaming on a budget. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t come with HDMI 2.1 across all four HDMI ports. 

For smart TV software, the LG B3 uses webOS 23, which has seen an upgrade from last year’s webOS 22. The result is a neater home menu, more customization options and a Quick Cards feature that allows for quicker and easier navigation of apps if you need. 

When it comes to design, the LG B3 has a sleek design with an extremely slim bezel  for an “all-picture” look. Unfortunately, the stand supplied with the B3, although a nice color, is made of a cheap-feeling plastic material when other TVs like the C3 come with a more substantial stand. 

The LG B3 may not have the features and picture brightness of TVs like the LG G3 or Samsung S95C, but it’s hard to argue against what it does provide for its current price. Although other TVs may offer better sound, such as the Sony A80L or Samsung S90C, or more extensive gaming features, such as the LG C3, the B3 lets people experience OLED on a smaller budget and could certainly be one of the best 4K TVs released in 2023.

For this review, I tested the 55-inch version of the LG B3.

LG B3 TV with green butterfly on screen

Detail levels on the LG B3 rival TVs much more premium than it (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Prices and release date

  •  Released April 2023 
  •  From $1,299/£1,199/AU$3,145 for the 55-inch 
  •  Up to $2,199/£3,099/$AU6,495 for the 77-inch  

The LG B3 is the most widely available entry-level TV in LG’s OLED range (with the A3 not available in several major territories). At the time of its release in April 2023, prices ranged from $1,699/£1,799/$AU3,415 for the 55-inch, $2,399/£2,699/AU$4,095 for the 65-inch and $3,299/£3,799/AU$6,495 for the 77-inch. Sadly, this meant that the B3 was only on average $100 less than the more premium LG C3, leaving people without a real ‘entry-level’ option.

Thankfully at the time of writing, several months after release, prices for the LG B3 have dropped and currently sit around $1,299 for the 55-inch, $1,499 for the 65-inch and $2,199 for the 77-inch, which puts it at a much more competitive price with other entry-level OLEDs like the Sony A80L.  (It’s worth noting that in the UK and Australia, the price for the 77-inch is significantly higher at £3,099/$AU6,495.)

LG B3 review: Specs

LG B3 TV with peacock feather on screen

Contrast is impressive on the B3 (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Features

  •  Alpha 7 Gen6 processor 
  •  Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support 
  •  Two HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming  

The LG B3 may not be as well kitted out as LG's higher-end C3 and G3 models, but it does still carry a lot of the same features that those TVs do.

As other OLED TVs evolve, the LG B3 still features a standard white-OLED (W-OLED) panel as opposed to the C3’s Evo panel, which adds to the overall brightness. The G3 also features micro-lens-array technology to further enhance the brightness up to 70%. The LG B3 does however support Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG formats, but like all LG TVs doesn't support HDR10+. 

For gaming, the LG B3 has two HDMI 2.1 ports with support for 120Hz Dolby Vision gaming, VRR, ALLM, Nvidia G-Sync and AMD FreeSync. It also has the same Game Optimizer and game bar featured in the C3 and G3. although its Alpha 7 Gen6 processor won't be as powerful as the Alpha 9 Gen6 processor found in the C3 and G3, the B3 is still packing some very good performance for both movies and gaming. 

The B3 features a 2.0 audio system and Dolby Atmos support, though without height speakers it can’t  deliver Dolby Atmos effects at their full potential. While its speaker system isn’t as comprehensive as the ones in the C3 and G3, the B3 still supports a lot of the same audio features such as LG Sound Sync and AI Sound Pro sound mode to upmix sound to 5.1.2 when selected.

The LG B3 also comes installed with LG’s latest smart software, web OS23. One of the biggest updates to webOS23 is the addition of a Quick Cards system, which sorts apps into different categories such as Movies, Sport, Music and so on. These can be customized to allow for quicker navigation of your most used apps. The home menu has also been slimmed down to two pages as opposed to the four found in last year’s web OS22 and features less intrusive ads and recommendations.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

LG B3 TV with Star Wars Ahsoka on screen

Textures and details like skin look natural and life-like on the B3 (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Picture quality

  •  Punchy and vibrant color 
  •  Natural quality to picture  
  •  Great black levels  

Starting with some numbers, the LG B3’s peak HDR brightness measured on a 10% window hit 619 nits in Filmmaker mode and 649 nits in Standard mode. That’s an improvement on its predecessor the LG B2 but lower than the LG C3 which we measured at 830 nits in Filmmaker mode, though this is to be expected given the C3’s brighter Evo panel. On a full 100% window, the B3 hit 133 nits in Filmmaker mode, which is a respectable result considering its peak brightness. 

Measured again using HDR Filmmaker picture mode, the LG B3’s average color Delta-E was around 1.3, which is a surprisingly fantastic result. (The Delta-E value indicates the difference between a test pattern and what is actually shown on the TV’s screen, with a number below three considered to be an undetectable margin of error.) Average grayscale Delta-E values came to 1.4, which is another excellent result. DCI-P3 coverage (which is the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) was measured at 98% and BT.2020 was 73.14%, both of which are great results and actually match  the more premium LG G3. 

When I tested it in our lab, I expected the LG B3 to struggle with the harsh overhead lights in terms of reflections as it uses a standard W-OLED panel and not the MLA technology or Evo panel in the LG G3 or LG C3. Although there were some reflections in darker scenes, I was surprised to find the B3 fared better than expected and my general viewing experience wasn’t too badly hindered. 

Testing the out-of-the-box preset picture modes, the LG B3 had a brilliant picture. When first viewing in Standard mode, colors were dynamic and punchy and stood out on the screen. There was also a good deal of brightness to rival the effect of the overhead lights in our testing lab. Black levels and shadows weren’t quite as well-defined but were still good. However, once I settled on Filmmaker mode, the overall picture quality improved, with deeper black levels and a more natural look, whilst still maintaining punchy colors. 

First watching scenes from John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, both of which are set in a nightclub, the pulsing colors of the lights were vibrant and contrasted well with the shadows within the scene when the lights flashed off. Blacks were deep but still had great levels of detail. This was especially obvious in Wick’s black suit, the textures of which you could see despite the overall dark scene. 

To test Dolby Vision when watching in the B3’s Dolby Vision Cinema Home picture mode, I watched some scenes from Star Wars: Ahsoka. Contrast here was again impressive, with lightsabers almost jumping out of the screen against the darker backgrounds, regardless of color. The most noticeable thing when watching Ahsoka was just how natural and true-to-life textures and skin tones looked. 

For motion testing, I used the opening scene from John Wick: Chapter 2 where John Wick pursues a motorcycle. During the chase, Wick’s car drifts around a corner and the camera quickly swipes from left to right. The B3 did a great job of processing this fast-paced scene, with the quick, panning shots looking fluid as the car and motorcycle weaved in and around traffic. 

Using the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray to test professional demonstration content, the B3 did a remarkable job. Night scenes within cities looked crisp, with the lights of the skyscrapers standing out from the black backgrounds. Colors were also dynamic within scenes of nature, with bright blue skies seeming natural against the rocky landscape below. One thing that became apparent however was that the B3 did impart a cooler color bias during snow demo scenes, with the white taking on a blue-ish tint. But this didn’t detract too much from the superb quality of the picture and it can be adjusted for in picture settings. 

  • Picture Quality score: 4.5/5

LG B3 OLED with music menu on screen

The music Quick Card - part of webOS 23, though music won't sound the best on the B3's lacking sound system  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Sound quality

  •  2.0 speaker system  
  •  Decent bass levels 
  •  Speech lacking a bit overall 

The LG B3 features a 2.0 speaker setup outputting 20W of power per channel, with support for Dolby Atmos. With no upward-firing speakers, LG uses its AI Sound Pro sound mode to upmix the 2.0 configuration to a 5.1.2 output in order to try and get the best out of the B3's speakers. 

In Standard sound mode, bass levels were good but sadly everything else was lacking. Speech in particular was a bit lost in the overall mix, with trebles sounding a little scratchy and brash at times. Dolby Atmos effects within this mode were almost non-existent. However, when changed to Cinema sound mode the overall sound was definitely improved, with bass, treble and mid levels being balanced to create a better overall sound. Speech was still a little lacking, but greatly improved from Standard mode. 

As mentioned above, the B3 does feature an AI Sound Pro feature that will upmix the sound to 5.1.2 configuration and although through it Dolby Atmos effects were more apparent and treble and speech levels slightly enhanced, bass took a massive hit. Playing Top Gun: Maverick through both Cinema and AI Sound Pro, I found the most balanced overall sound to be through Cinema, as the rumble I expected from the jet engines was lost in AI Sound Pro. 

The B3's sound quality is probably one of its weakest parts. Although it has better built-in sound than a lot of other TVs, the B3 is definitely lacking compared to other OLED sets like the LG C3, Sony A80L and Samsung S90C. Admittedly, these TVs cost more for better built-in sound, so it might be worth investing in a soundbar with the money you would save.

  •  Sound Quality score: 3.5/5 

LG B3 TV stand

The LG B3's stand looks nice but sadly is a bit cheap feeling  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Design

  •  Slim, attractive bezel  
  •  Nice-looking but cheap-feeling stand 
  •  LG Magic Remote supplied  

The B3 features a surprisingly thin profile and a slim bezel at the top of its screen, running to about halfway down. However, the bottom half of the TV does bulk out and although this is noticeable from the back and sides, it doesn’t stop the TV from having an attractive design when viewed from the front.  

LG designed the B3 to primarily be on a stand, which is centrally located on the TV. With a dark gray finish, its design is simple yet effective. Unfortunately, compared to its more premium models like the C3 and G3, the stand is a plastic material as opposed to metal. This makes it feel a little cheaper and with the B3 priced as it is (which is mentioned above) this is a real shame. However, unlike the G3, the B3 does come supplied with its stand.

LG’s Magic Remote that’s supplied with the B3 is as great as ever. It has a nice balance and solid quality to it, with plenty of app shortcut buttons and an easy-to-follow button layout. The central wheel is a nice way to navigate menus and the pointer allows you to explore screens without having to press arrows, but you may take some time getting the hang of this.

  •  Design score: 4/5 

LG B3 with Quick Card menu on screen

The LG Quick Card menu which can be edited to suit your needs (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Smart TV and menus

  •  webOS 23 re-design for tidier home menu
  •  Quick Cards feature categorizes apps
  •  No hands-free voice control like the LG C3 and G3 

The LG B3 comes installed with the latest iteration of LG’s own smart software, webOS 23. This has been streamlined compared to last year's software, webOS 22, by limiting the amount of ads and recommendations on its home page, making for a much neater look. 

Quick Cards are probably the biggest feature introduced on webOS 23’s menu system, with the ability to categorize apps by genre such as Music, Game, Movie and so on, meaning you can easily navigate to the type of apps you like. There are plenty of customization options as well, enabling you to organize your apps into these Quick Cards as you see fit. 

The Quick Menus featured in webOS 23 are also a welcome inclusion. Pressing the gear icon on the remote will bring up a pop-up menu in the corner of the screen that enables you to quickly change settings like picture mode, sleep timer, OLED pixel brightness and so on. 

Thanks to the B3’s Alpha 7 Gen6 processor, navigating the smart TV software and menus feels seamless and easy, with no pauses or stuttering. The B3 does feature voice control capabilities while pressing the mic button on the remote, but not the new hands-free voice control found in the C3 and G3.

  •  Smart TV and menus score: 4.5/5 

LG B3 with game menu and battlefield v on display

The LG B3 comes with LG's Game Optimizer and menu, which tailors the gaming experience depending on what you're playing (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Gaming

  •  4K, Dolby Vision gaming support 
  •  Game Optimizer mode for better gaming performance 
  •  Only two HDMI 2.1 ports 

Much like the other OLEDs available in LGs’ 2023 range, the B3 comes with a great selection of gaming features, including 4K 120Hz Dolby Vision support, VRR, ALLM, AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync capabilities and a Game optimizer mode to get the best settings for your gaming experience. 

Using the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester measuring at 60Hz, the LG B3 yielded a respectable result of 12.6ms. However, when turning on its Boost mode, found in the Game Optimizer, the result improved to 9.2ms, which is not only an excellent result but the same as I measured in the higher-end LG G3.  

The LG B3 does an excellent job in terms of gaming performance. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, with Game Optimizer mode turned on to remove any annoying picture settings like judder reduction that would hinder the game, the B3 handled graphically intense moments well. During an ambush mission in a forest, quick targeting was made easy and wide, with panning shots from one side of the screen to the other feeling seamless. 

With the Game Menu in webOS 23, there were plenty of settings to tweak to get the best possible picture including black level and even a game genre setting, which when I switched it to First-Person Shooter (FPS) automatically adjusted colors and motion settings to suit Battlefield V. After doing this, details within the picture were crisp, colors were vivid and black levels and shadow detail were superb. 

Despite brilliant overall gaming performance, the LG B3 sadly does only come with two HDMI 2.1 ports, as opposed to the four you would find on some of the best gaming TVs. Those with both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and a soundbar they hope to run through eARC (one of the two HDMI 2.1 ports) may have to seek out alternative options like the LG C3 or Samsung S90C for example. However, looking past this, the LG B3 still offers excellent gaming features and performance. 

  •  Gaming score: 4.5/5 

LG Magic Remote on brown TV stand

The LG B3 comes with LG's Magic Remote  (Image credit: Future)

LG B3 review: Value

  •  Cheaper alternative to the LG C3 
  •  Picture quality comparable to higher-end sets 
  •  Fairly priced after discounts for what features you get 

As the most widely available ‘entry-level’ OLED in LG’s range, the B3 wasn’t going to offer as many features in terms of gaming and performance as its more premium counterparts, the C3 and G3, which meant that it needed to hit a good price for those looking for a good value OLED.

At the time of its release in April 2023, the B3 was only roughly $100 cheaper than the LG C3, which comes with the superior Alpha 9 Gen 6 processor, brighter Evo panel and four HDMI 2.1 ports, meaning the B3 did not provide this cheaper alternative that should have been offered.

However, since its release, the LG B3 has seen fairly large discounts and now sits roughly $200-300 cheaper than the C3, which is a much more reasonable price and enables people to think about any soundbars or accessories they could get with the B3 with the money saved. It is worth noting, however, that at the time of writing there is quite a large disparity in prices between the US and other territories for the 77-inch model, with it being much better value in the US. 

Although there is some disparity in prices, it’s hard to argue against the B3 in terms of value, as you are getting a fantastic performing OLED TV with picture quality that in many ways rivals its more premium counterparts, for a now more reduced price.

  • Value score: 4.5/5  

LG B3 with bright image of hot spring on screen

The B3 has vibrant colors that rival some higher-end sets (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG B3

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

HP Omen laptop displaying Calman Portrait Displays calibration software hooked up to Murideo 8K test pattern generator

Testing equipment we use for our tests from Murideo and Calman - in this instance connected to the Panasonic MZ2000 (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the LG B3

  • Tested in our lab room with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Display's Calman software
  • Tested through a variety of sources, both SDR and HDR

After running in the TV for a couple of days, displaying SDR content from live TV, I tested various picture modes on the LG B3 including Standard, Cinema, and Filmmaker mode through a variety of SDR and HDR sources from 4K Blu-rays to streaming and also through an Xbox Series X.

After choosing the best picture mode, Filmmaker, I tested the LG B3's picture thoroughly using Disney Plus for 4K Dolby Vision HDR content, the Xbox Series X for gaming, 4K Blu-ray for HDR content and SDR content through live tv and Full HD on ITVX and BBC iPlayer.  

When it came time to take measurements of the B3, I used Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. Using this, I measured peak brightness on a 10% window and 100% window in both SDR and HDR. I then recorded the Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for color accuracy, grayscale and gamma again using Calman. I then measured the color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all tests, I used the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator.

Finally, to measure input lag for gaming, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K input lag tester.

Samsung QN85C review: a less pricey mini-LED TV that’s great for gaming
5:00 pm | September 30, 2023

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Samsung QN85C TV: two-minute review

Samsung’s QN85C is the company's entry-level Neo QLED series. It has this name because it features a QLED display with a mini-LED backlight, the latter being a feature Samsung's standard QLED models lack. The benefits of mini-LED backlighting are typically higher brightness and more refined local dimming, although both those factors can vary from model to model.

The good news with the QN85C series is that it’s packed with many of the same features found in the step-up Samsung QN90C series. These include a Neural Quantum Processor to upscale HD images to 4K resolution and support for the HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG HDR formats (but not Dolby Vision, which has historically been the case with Samsung TVs). There’s also the Samsung Gaming Hub for cloud-based gaming and four HDMI 2.1 ports to plug in multiple next-gen game consoles.

The less good news with the QN85C is that it lacks the high peak brightness that QN90C TVs deliver along with those models’ anti-glare screen. Both of those factors make Samsung’s step-up series a better option for daytime sports viewing in bright rooms, though the QN85C’s performance with the lights dimmed is very good, letting it hold up well against both its pricier sibling and the best 4K TVs in general.

Another area where the QN85C holds up against pricier TVs is its design. With such a slim profile (around 1-inch), the set looks good from all angles and comes with a sturdy and attractive hexagonal stand. It has the same solar-powered remote control (no batteries required!) as other Samsung Neo QLED models and its built 2.2.2-channel speaker system has Dolby Atmos support and can work in tandem with Samsung soundbars for a more immersive audio experience.

As far as value goes, you’ll only have to spend a bit more for Samsung’s more feature-packed and better-performing QN90C, and you can easily spend less for a mini-LED TV from a budget brand like TCL or Hisense. This makes the QN85C sort of a straggler when it comes to value. But the QN85C’s solid overall performance, along with its superior smart TV interface and excellent gaming features still make it well worth consideration.

Samsung QN85C TV review: price and release date

  • Release date: February 21, 2023
  • QN43QN85C: $1,099 / AU$1,999
  • QN50QN85C: $1,199 / AU$2,499
  • QN55QN85C: $1,299 / £1,299 / AU$1,999
  • QN65QN85C: $1,699 / £1,599 / AU$2,499
  • QN75QN85C: $2,199 / £2,799 / AU$3,299
  • QN85QN85C: $2,599 / AU$4,499

QN85C TVs are Samsung’s entry-level Neo QLED series. They use a mini-LED backlight, which is a feature that distinguishes them from the company’s regular QLED offerings. The level up series is the QN90C, which is priced slightly higher and provides a number of picture and sound quality enhancements along with a built-in ATSC 3.0 “NextGen” TV tuner.

The QN85C series comes in a wide range of screen sizes, starting at 43 inches and scaling up to 85 inches. You’ll only find the full range available in the US, however, with UK offerings currently limited to 55, 65, and 75-inch options. Pricing for the series has dropped anywhere from 15% to 30% depending on screen size since the TVs first became available in February 2023, and if history is any indication, are likely to drop lower as we push toward the end of the year.

Samsung QN85C TV review: specs

Samsung QN85C back panel ports

Back panel inputs include four side-mounted HDMI 2.1 ports (one with eARC), an optical digital output, and an antenna connection. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: features

  • Mini-LED backlight with local dimming
  • Native 4K with HDR10+ dynamic range
  • Gaming Hub for cloud gaming

Samsung QN85C series TVs feature a QLED display with mini-LED backlighting and full-array local dimming. They use the same Neural Quantum Processor found in the step-up QN90C series models to upscale HD images to 4K resolution and Neo Quantum HDR+ to dynamically process images with high dynamic range. Like other Samsung TVs, HDR support is limited to the HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG formats, with no provision for Dolby Vision. A Wide Viewing Angle feature helps to improve picture performance when watching from off-center seats, though it’s less effective than the Ultra Wide Viewing Angle feature found on the step-up QN90C.

Samsung’s Tizen smart TV interface is used for streaming and smart home control, and the TV has built-in Alexa and Bixby voice command support along with support for Google Assistant devices.  An Ambient mode can be activated that offers a wide assortment of still and moving images for display when the TV isn’t actively being used, and you also have the option to upload your own pictures.

The QN85C series sports Samsung’s NeoSlim Design and has a built-in 2.2.2-channel Dolby Atmos speaker system. An Object Tracking Sound feature helps lock effects in movie and TV soundtracks with the onscreen action and Q-Symphony 3.0 lets you combine the TV’s speakers with an external Samsung soundbar for even bigger and more immersive sound.

Gamers will appreciate Samsung’s Gaming Hub, which offers a central location for accessing Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, Utomik, and other cloud gaming services. Support is provided for a wide array of Bluetooth game controllers on QN85C series TVs, and there are four HDMI 2.1 inputs that support 4K 120Hz input from a PS5 or Xbox Series X game console.

  • Features Score: 4.5/5  

Samsung QN85C showing abstract pattern on screen

One of the many digital art options available to display in Ambient Mode. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: picture quality

  • Average peak brightness
  • Deep blacks with detailed shadows 
  • Some backlight blooming

The 65-inch QN85C TV Samsung sent me to test had a peak HDR brightness of 955 nits in Standard picture mode and 853 nits in Movie mode when measured on a 10% white window pattern. A Filmmaker mode is also available on the TV, but Movie turned out to be the brighter and more accurate option. While that brightness level falls short of the 1,787 nits I measured on the Samsung QN90C, it was more than sufficient for viewing in dim or dark room lighting conditions.

Similar to the QN90C, the QN85C’s full-array local dimming backlight lets it display full black at 0 nits, resulting in “infinite” contrast. Movies I watched with dark scenes showed very good shadow definition, and the TV has a Shadow Detail adjustment that lets you fine-tune the level of near-black detail to taste.

TVs that use local dimming tech to enhance contrast are prone to backlight “blooming” effects and the QN85C was no exception here. It was most noticeable on white-on-black movie titles, where the blooming appeared as a faint halo at the black/white transition, but could also be seen to a lesser extent in more typical images and on widescreen movies with black letterbox bars.

The QN85C’s color balance in Movie picture mode with the default Warm color temperature setting active skewed slightly toward red, with Delta E values averaging 3.1 across the full grayscale (we typically look for these to land below 3), though color point Delta E values averaged out to 1.2. An easy correction could be made by changing the TV’s gamma setting to 2.2, which dropped the grayscale Delta E average to well below 3. 

Measurements made with Portrait’s Calman color calibration software showed coverage of DCI-P3 (the color space used for mastering 4K movies and digital cinema releases) to be 93.5%, and BT.2020 to be 70.1%. Those results closely match what was measured on the Samsung QN90C, though it’s also an average performance level that’s been equaled or even bested by budget mini-LED TVs we’ve tested from TCL and Hisense.

Unlike the step-up QN90C, the QN85C lacks an anti-glare screen coating. Between this and the set’s relatively limited peak brightness, it isn’t the best choice for daytime or bright room viewing, where you’re likely to get contrast-limiting screen reflections. The QN85C does have a Wide Viewing Angle feature, and while this didn’t prove to be as effective as the QN90C’s Ultra Wide Viewing Angle feature, it still allowed for pictures to retain good contrast and color saturation when watching from off-center seats.

As usual, I started out my viewing tests with the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark disc. Images of nature in the montage section looked clean and had strong contrast, and when I switched from an HDR10 version graded at a standard 1,000 nits peak brightness level to one graded at 10,000 nits, images came across with good highlight detail due to the TV’s high-quality HDR tone mapping. I did note some backlight blooming artifacts towards the end of the montage reel, specifically in an image of a honey dripper against a black background.

When I reviewed the Samsung QN90C, I was very impressed by the TV’s motion handling, which was shown to positive effect when I checked out a reference scene from the 2021 James Bond film No Time to Die on 4K Blu-ray disc. A shot of a cemetery on a rocky hillside looked solid and retained detail as the camera panned across it, and the same shot looked equally good on the QN85C without having to turn on its Picture Clarity setting. There was a slight degree of judder visible in the image, but that could be easily reduced by applying a degree of judder reduction in the Picture Clarity menu’s Custom mode.

Moving on to other reference clips from 4K disc, scenes from Dune (2021) came across as noise-free and had excellent shadow rendition and strong HDR highlights. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was displayed with its rich, near-psychedelic color palette intact, and there was a high level of detail visible in the finely textured images. Even older movies like Boyz n the Hood that I streamed in HD quality looked punchy and crisp on the QN85C, with the TV’s Neural Quantum Processor upconverting images in a clean and noise-free manner.

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

Samsung QN85C remote control held in hand

Samsung's battery-less remote control is powered by a solar cell located on its back. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: sound quality

  • 2.2.2-channel Atmos speakers
  • Spacious sound but limited bass
  • Q-Symphony feature combines TV’s audio with soundbar

Samsung’s QN85C has decent built-in sound for such a slim TV. Its Dolby Atmos-compatible 2.2.2-channel speaker system is powered by 60 watts, and there’s also a Bluetooth headphone output option for private listening.

When watching movies, there was a good sense of spaciousness to the sound, and the TV’s Object Tracking Sound Plus feature added definition to dialogue and the trajectory of sound effects across the screen. You can push the volume to a relatively loud level before hearing any compression, though doing so won’t help compensate for the built-in TV speakers’ relative lack of bass.

Instead of the typical range of TV audio modes such as Movie, Music, Sport, Samsung limits your options to two: Standard and Amplify. While Standard should be fine for most situations, Amplify boosts the sound across the full frequency range to make it louder and clearer. Of course, you’ll get much better results by pairing the QN85C with one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, and if you opt for a Samsung Q- or S-Series model you can take advantage of the TV’s Q-Symphony feature, which combines the set’s built-in speakers with the soundbar for an enhanced presentation.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

Samsung QN85C table stand close up

The QN85C's stand provides firm support and looks great. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: design

  • NeoSlim design
  • Center-mounted hexagonal plate stand
  • Solar-powered remote with built-in mic

The QN85C series has the same NeoSlim design as Samsung’s QN90C series models along with the same center-mounted hexagonal plate stand. At approximately 1 inches deep, the TV is appealingly slim when viewed from the side and the stand lends firm support along with a ‘desktop monitor’ look.

A side-mounted panel houses the TV’s inputs section, which provides 4 HDMI 2.1 ports (one with eARC), along with USB, optical digital audio, and RF antenna connections. Unlike the step-up QN90C series, which has a built-in digital TV tuner that supports ATSC 3.0 ‘NextGen TV’ broadcasts, the tuner on QN85C series sets is ATSC 1.0-only.

Samsung’s compact remote control is a solar-powered handset that doesn’t require any batteries, and can also draw power from your home’s wireless network if stashed away in a dark drawer. With no backlit buttons, it can be frustrating to use in dim room lighting conditions, though many controls can be carried out onscreen using the remote’s central trackpad. A built-in mic for voice commands provides further control options.

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Samsung QN85C Tizen smart TV interface

Streaming apps in the TV's smart interface occupy a horizontal row that can be fully customized. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: smart TV & menus

  • Samsung Tizen interface
  • Bixby voice command, but works with Alexa and Google
  • Comprehensive, easy to navigate menus

Like most other smart TV interfaces, Samsung’s Tizen is busy, but it also offers multiple customization options. Specifically, you can edit the horizontal row of streaming apps that occupies the home screen’s center to highlight ones you’ll use most frequently. Scrolling down reveals a range of movies and TV show recommendations bunched in categories like recently added, trending now, and free to stream, with numerous options directing you to a Samsung TV Plus portal that combines live broadcast TV and free streaming channels.

Other options on the Tizen home screen include Samsung Gaming Hub and Ambient Mode, with the latter providing a range of images and abstract designs to display on your TV when it’s not in use. You can upload your own images as well via the Samsung SmartThings app which offers further control options for both the TV and supported smart home devices.

To switch inputs on the TV, you select the Connected Devices tab from the home screen and scroll through a row of icons depicting HDMI-connected sources. Selecting the Settings tab directly below calls up a different row of options for adjusting picture and sound modes, including an All Settings menu with more extensive adjustments. Selecting any of these will involve an extended sequence of button pushes, though basic controls such as brightness, contrast, and color can be more easily accessed.

  • Smart TV & menus score: 4.5/5

Samsung QN85C showing Gaming Hub screen

Samsung's Gaming Hub provides a central portal for cloud-based gaming and game settings.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: gaming

  • 4K 120Hz with VRR and FreeSync Premium Pro
  • Low 9.8 ms input lag
  • Samsung Gaming Hub for cloud-based gaming

Samsung Neo QLED TVs frequently rank among the best TVs for PS5 and Xbox Series X and the QN85C series is no exception. All four of its HDMI 2.1 ports handle a 4K 120Hz input from a next-gen game console and there’s also support for VRR and FreeSync Premium Pro. With the TV’s Game mode enabled, I measured input lag at 9.8ms – an impressively low number and a match for the step-up Samsung QN90C.

When in Game mode, you can press the Play/Pause button on the remote control to call up a transparent Game Bar menu with options to adjust a range of game-related settings, as well as monitor resolution and frames per second.

A distinguishing feature of Samsung TVs is the Gaming Hub, which serves as a portal to access a range of cloud gaming apps including  Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, Utomik, Anstream Arcade, and Blacknut. Gaming Hub is also where you can connect a Bluetooth gaming controller to the TV, as well as view recently played games and game suggestions based on previously played titles.

  • Gaming score: 5/5

Samsung QN85C showing Game Bar menu

Samsung's pop-up onscreen game bar menu lets you easily adjust gaming-related settings. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN85C TV review: value

  • Not much cheaper than Samsung’s step-up mini-LED
  • Can buy budget mini-LED models for less
  • Just-average value

At $1,699 / £1,599 / AU$2,499, the Samsung QN85C represents a just-average value when compared to the company’s step-up QN90C Neo QLED, which is currently priced only slightly higher than the entry-level mini-LED. In that case, spending a bit more will get you pictures with higher peak brightness and an anti-glare screen – both factors to consider for daytime sports viewing – and it also has more advanced built-in audio and an ATSC 3.0 digital TV tuner.

The QN85C also faces stiff competition from budget mini-LED models like the Hisense U8K and TCL QM8 Class, both of which sell for substantially less than the QN85C and have a mainly similar feature set, though they lack Samsung-specific features like Wide Viewing Angle and Gaming Hub and only provide two HDMI 2.1 ports. Having reviewed both of those budget options, I’d be inclined to pick either one over the Samsung based on price alone, though I’m not a big fan of the Google TV smart interface that both use and I find the QN85C’s overall design to be superior.

  • Value score: 3/5 

Samsung QN85C showing abstract pattern on screen

(Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung QN85C TV?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if…

Also consider...

Samsung QN90C mini-LED
Samsung’s step-up Neo QLED model also features a mini-LED backlight and has better brightness plus an anti-glare screen. You’ll pay more for those performance-related features but they’ll pay off when viewing in bright rooms.

Read our Samsung QN90C TV review

How I tested the Samsung QN85C TV

Samsung QN85C showing test pattern on screen

(Image credit: Future)
  • I spent about 15 hours in total measuring and evaluating
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • A full calibration was made before proceeding with subjective tests

When I test TVs, my first step is to spend a few days using it for casual viewing for break-in and to assess the out-of-box picture presets. The next step is to select the most accurate-looking preset (typically labeled Filmmaker, Movie or Cinema) and measure the white balance (grayscale), gamma, and color point accuracy using Portrait Displays’ Calman color calibration software. The resulting measurements provide Delta-E values (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) for each category, and they allow for an assessment of the TV’s overall accuracy.

Along with those tests, I make measurements of peak light output (recorded in nits) for both standard high-definition and 4K high dynamic range using 10% and 100% white window patterns. Coverage of DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space is also measured, with the results providing a sense of how faithfully the TV can render the extended color range in ultra high-definition sources.

For the Samsung QN85C, I used the Calman ISF workflow, along with the TV’s advanced picture menu settings, to calibrate the image for best accuracy with SDR and HDR sources. Once done, I watched a range of reference scenes on 4K Blu-ray discs that I’ve gathered after years of TV and projector testing to assess the TV’s performance, as well as new Dolby Vision-encoded material streamed from sources like Netflix and HBO Max.

  • First reviewed: September 30, 2023
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