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Samsung QN800D review: an impressive 8K TV that proves they still have a place in the world
6:30 pm | June 13, 2024

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

Samsung QN800D review: Two minute review

The Samsung QN800D is the entry-level set in the company’s 8K Neo QLED range, offering  8K resolution at a slightly more affordable price than the flagship Samsung QN900D. It’s still a pricey TV, however, with the 65-inch model I tested currently selling for $3,499 / £3,499 / AU$4,799 – a higher price than most premium 4K TVs. 

Samsung makes some of the best TVs and consistently flies the 8K flag as other brands move away from the technology. Based on the performance of the QN800D, it may be justified to fly that flag. 

The QN800D’s picture quality is nothing short of impressive, mainly due to the exceptional 8K AI upscaling and Real Depth Enhancer Pro features of the TV’s NQ8 AI Gen2 Processor. These add incredible depth and refined detail to any textures, and the picture also has rich contrast and impressive black levels for a mini-LED TV. There is some minor backlight blooming and reflections can occur in harsh lighting conditions, but those are the only drawbacks of an otherwise phenomenal picture. 

Gaming features are plentiful with the QN800D, with its four HDMI 2.1 ports kitted out with all the bells and whistles we look for in the best gaming TVs. The QN800D supports 4K up to 165Hz,8K up to 60Hz, VRR including AMD FreeSync Premium Pro and comes with Samsung’s useful Gaming Hub. Gaming performance is excellent, feeling smooth and seamless even in the most intense of FPS games, and with the TV’s 8K AI upscaling, graphically beautiful as well. 

Sound quality is an area where the QN800D stumbles compared to the rest of its performance. A 4.2.2-channel speaker array provides exceptional tracking of on-screen action and dialogue is crisp and clear, but the QN800D’s lean bass means it can’t compete with some of the best TVs for sound such as the Sony A80L and Panasonic MZ2000. As such, it will be worth pairing the QN800D with one of the best soundbars to compliment its picture quality. 

The QN800D uses Samsung’s ‘Infinity One’ design for a sleek, slim appearance with a near bezel-less look that allows the impeccable picture to be the star of the show. It also comes with Samsung’s One Connect Box to house all external source connections, making the QN800D perfect for wall mounting. It does come with a premium metal stand, but be warned, it can be a little fiddly to fit on. 

There’s no getting around the fact that the QN800D is a premium-priced TV, with many flagship 4K models, including some of the best OLED TVs, selling for significantly less while still offering many of the same great features. There’s also a lack of 8K media to make full use of the QN800D’s high resolution. But the QN800D’s impressive 8K upscaling breathes extra life into every source it’s given, especially 4K movies with HDR. If you can stretch your budget for it you won’t be let down. I may have been skeptical about 8K TVs before, but the QN800D has made me a believer. 

Samsung QN800D with Star Wars The Force Awakens on screen

Star Wars: The Force Awakens shows the QN800D's bold colors and highlights.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Prices & release date

  • Release date: April 2024  
  • 65-inch: $3,499 / £3,499 / AU$4,799 
  • 75-inch: $4,499 / £4,499 / AU$6,499 
  • 85-inch: $5,999 / £6,999 / AU$8.999 

The Samsung QN800D is the entry-level 8K Neo QLED model for 2024 and sits below the flagship Samsung QN900D. It is available in 65-, 75- and 85-inch sizes and was released in April 2024. 

Since its release, we have seen some offers and reductions on the QN800D in its various sizes. The 65-inch model I tested has seen roughly $200 off, with as much as £500 off in the UK for the 85-inch model, though it still carries a high price tag across the board. 

Samsung QN800D review: Specs

Samsung QN800D review: Benchmark results

Samsung QN800D slim one connect box

The Slim One Connect Box handles all external connections to keep things tidy.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Features

  • NQ8 AI Gen2 Processor with 8K AI Upscaling Pro
  • 4.2.2-channel speaker array
  • One Connect Box    

The Samsung QN800D uses the  NQ8 AI Gen2 Processor, which boasts features such as 8K AI Upscaling Pro to upscale 4K images with up to 84% of the resolution of native 8K (according to Samsung). It also has Real Depth Enhancer Pro and Adaptive Picture, both of which use AI technology to analyze the picture and the surrounding environment to enhance images. The QN800D can display native 8K video, but there are no broadcast or home video 8K options outside of YouTube. 

Like all Samsung TVs, the QN800D supports the HDR10+, HDR10 and HLG HDR formats, but not Dolby Vision. 

For gaming, the QN800D is equipped with four HDMI 2.1 ports that support up to 165Hz refresh rate at 4K, 60Hz at 8K, VRR (including AMD FreeSync Premium Pro), ALLM and HGiG. It also features Samsung’s Gaming Hub that locates everything gaming-related in one handy location, including cloud-based gaming apps from Xbox, Luna, Nvidia GeForce Now and more. 

The QN800D comes with the One Connect Box Slim, which houses all connections and links to the TV with a One Connect cable. This design keeps cables tidy, especially for wall-mount installations. Along with its four HDMI 2.1 ports, connections include optical digital audio out, an ATSC 3.0 tuner (US-only) and aerial and satellite connections for the UK, and three USB ports including USB-C. 

For audio, the QN800D has a built-in 4.2.2 channel speaker array with 70W of power and support for Dolby Atmos. It also supports AI features such as Adaptive Sound Pro and Active Voice Amplifier Pro, which analyze the scene and viewing environment to optimize sound. The QN800D supports Q Symphony, which combines the TV’s audio output with compatible Samsung soundbars when connected. 

The QN800D uses Samsung’s own Tizen smart TV platform, which appears largely unchanged for 2024 except for a new ‘recommended for you’ section that recommends movies and TV shows based on your past viewing. There is also a new 'Recent' window that lets you easily jump back into a movie or TV show you were recently watching. 

  • Features score: 5 / 5

Samsung QN800D with gemstone on screen

The Samsung QN800D's 8K upscaling results in some incredible picture detail.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Picture quality

  • Exceptional picture detail  
  • Effective 8K upscaling
  • Minor reflections and backlight blooming   

With he 65-inch QN800D’s picture presets in their default settings, peak brightness measured 1,045 nits measured on a 10% HDR window in Standard mode, and 1,126 nits in Filmmaker Mode. 

Those results don't match up to the flagship Samsung QN900D, which clocked in at 1,979 nits on a 10% window in Filmmaker Mode when we tested it. It also isn’t as bright as the Samsung S95D QD-OLED, which gave a result of 1,868 nits peak brightness in Standard mode. But the QN800D did have excellent full-screen brightness results, measuring 626 and 528 nits in Standard and Filmmaker Mode respectively, and such high full-screen brightness makes it ideal for daytime viewing and sports. 

When tested in our lab in varying lighting conditions, including harsh overhead lights, there were some mirror-like reflections on the QN800D’s screen, but they weren’t too distracting, and brighter images weren't an issue at all. 

After cycling through picture presets, Filmmaker Mode was the most accurate. Standard will suit people looking for a brighter image, although textures don’t look as natural in that mode as in Filmmaker. 

Upscaling on the QN800D is incredibly effective. Starting with broadcast TV viewing, in both standard (SD) and high-definition (HD), images looked crisp and clean. Even SD TV shows didn’t have the common fuzzy texture issue that regular LED TVs suffer from. 

Moving onto a 4K stream of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Disney Plus, the characters’ facial features were incredibly detailed, with Real Depth Enhancer Pro adding even greater refinement for a lifelike appearance. The throne room fight scene features lots of red tones and the QN800D displayed them in a bold, vibrant fashion, with lightsabers in particular taking on a shimmering brightness. When I measured the BT.2020 and UHDA-P3 color gamut coverage using Portrait Displays’ Calman software, it gave results of 69% and 94% respectively. Those numbers were lower than expected, but didn’t take away from the QN800D’s impressive color rendition. 

Demo footage from the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark 4K Blu-ray disc revealed all the QN800D’s strengths. The outstanding level of detail demonstrated itself once again, with forest landscapes and sunsets on sea horizons looking incredibly realistic and animals appearing true to life. The 8K upscaling added an extra layer to these images that I’d seen so many times on 4K sets but importantly didn’t over-sharpen the textures for a fake-looking style. 

Close-up studio images with fully black backgrounds demonstrated the QN800D’s superb contrast and black levels, with the bright objects well-balanced against the dark backgrounds. Some backlight blooming was visible, but it was minor. Scenes of a Ferris wheel and city skyscape at night also showcased the QN800D’s excellent local dimming, revealing only the slightest hint of backlight blooming once again. 

Moving onto a 4K Blu-ray of The Batman, the QN800D displayed deep blacks and excellent shadow detail. In a scene where Batman walks down a gloomy hallway lit only by bright wall lamps, the QN800D kept the gloomy, grainy tone of the film while maintaining superb backlight control for spectacular contrast with only minor blooming. Once again, detail was impeccable with a close-up shot of Batman showing stubble I hadn’t noticed before on a 4K screen. 

Motion handling on the QN800D was effective. Viewing the opening test flight sequence in Top Gun: Maverick, the long, panning shot that follows the Darkstar jet showed minimal judder even with motion controls turned off, although motion smoothing controls can be adjusted if you wish.  

I decided to test the QN800D’s intelligence mode settings (its Adaptive Picture) which adjust brightness and color based on lighting conditions. In Optimized mode, I found that textures in Top Gun: Maverick were too sharp, taking away their natural look. An Eye Comfort mode adapts the color temperature based on the scene (cooler for bright, warmer for dark) to reduce eye strain, but unfortunately, this once again made textures too sharp. Thankfully these settings are switched off by default, allowing the more effective AI features to do their work. 

Despite some backlight blooming and occasional screen reflections, the QN800D has an impressive picture overall, with outstanding detail, incredible 8K upscaling and spectacular color and contrast. 

  • Picture quality score: 5 / 5

Samsung QN800D rear drivers

Part of the Samsung QN800D's 4.2.2 channel speaker configuration.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Sound quality

  • 4.2.2 channel speaker configuration 
  • OTS+ (Object Tracking Sound Plus)  
  • AI Adaptive Sound Pro 

The QN800D has a 70W, 4.2.2 channel speaker system that supports Dolby Atmos. I found dialog to be clear across all sources, whether it was broadcast TV news or action-filled movie sequences. The TV’s Object Tracking Sound Plus feature is incredibly effective, with the sound closely following the action on screen. During the batmobile chase in The Batman, each screeching tire, explosion or crunch was naturally placed, and in Top Gun: Maverick, jets soaring in all directions were easy to follow. 

Bass on the QN800D was solid enough, though it sounded thinner than the surround effects and dialog. Compared with other sets, there were only two sound presets: Standard and Amplify. Amplify provided the most accurate sound profile and was the mode I used for testing. In some instances, Atmos reproduction wasn’t the most effective, with the rain in the batmobile chase scene from The Batman being barely noticeable. In Top Gun: Maverick, however, there was a sense of spaciousness during any flight sequences.  

The QN800D’s Adaptive Sound mode was more trebly and surround-focused, sacrificing the already lean bass. Adaptive Voice Pro as expected prioritized speech above all else and although effective in some scenarios, it wasn’t the best for movies. 

Sound on the QN800D will be perfectly fine for most and is impressive in some areas, but this TV could benefit from one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars to complement its fantastic picture quality. 

  • Sound quality score: 4 / 5

Samsung QN800D stand

The Samsung QN800D's stand feels premium but might be tricky to install for some people.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Design

  • Slim One Connect Box  
  • Infinity slim design  
  • Fiddly stand installation 

The QN800D has a premium ‘Infinity One’ design, with a solid, silver, metal frame and a trim bezel that allows the picture to become the main focus without any borders. It also measures a razor-thin 0.7 inches (17.2mm) without its stand. 

An external One Connect Box houses all inputs, with a single cable connecting to the QN800D. It's a good design that keeps cables from sources tidy and is especially useful for people looking to wall-mount.

The QN800D also comes with a weighty, black metal stand that feels suitably sturdy and gives the TV a floating appearance when viewed front on. However, it’s worth noting that the stand was very fiddly to install, with me and a colleague needing to hold the stand in place while trying to line up and tighten the screws. Make sure you have another person with you when installing this TV. 

Samsung’s SolarCell remote draws power from surrounding light and can also be charged using USB-C, making it significantly more eco-friendly than remotes with disposable batteries. Although on the minimal side, with settings, volume and app shortcut buttons for Netflix, Disney Plus and Prime Video making up the majority of buttons, it should suit most people. 

  • Design score: 4.5 / 5

Samsung QN800D with Tizen home page on screen

Tizen's 2024 version focuses on customization and personalization.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Smart TV & menus

  • Tizen smart TV platform
  • Different portals for Gaming, Daily and more   
  • Customization options 

The QN800D uses Samsung’s Tizen system as a smart TV platform. Although its overall design remains largely unchanged from 2023, there have been updates for 2024. 

The home menu is now split into three categories: For You, which bases recommendations on apps and viewing history; Live, showing live TV; and Apps, which displays your installed apps. Navigation is easy enough across any of these menus, but For You is likely to be the most used. 

There are also several ‘portals’ that can be accessed, with each housing a different category. Daily+ aims to be a day-to-day portal, encompassing apps such as Samsung Health, workout tracking and a video calling app. There is also Ambient, for displaying artworks and images, and Gaming Hub for everything gaming. 

There are plenty of picture settings to play with for those who like to tweak and experiment and these are all easily accessible, allowing for high levels of customization. A fair amount of sound settings are provided as well, but as stated above, Standard and Amplify are the only sound presets. 

  • Smart TV & menus score: 4 / 5

Samsung QN800D with Battlefield V on screen

Gaming features and performance are incredibly strong on the Samsung QN800D.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Gaming

  • Four HDMI 2.1 ports
  • Gaming Hub  
  • Low 9.8ms input lag   

The QN800D is equipped with all the gaming features you would need, including 4K 165Hz and 8K 60Hz refresh rate, VRR with AMD FreeSync Premium Pro, and ALLM across all four HDMI 2.1 ports. The Gaming Hub portal houses everything gaming in one handy location, including links to popular live Twitch streams and cloud-based gaming apps including Xbox, Luna, Nvidia GeForce Now and more. 

With Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, the gameplay felt incredibly smooth and free of any screen judder or tearing, and switching between targets in a vast landscape on a desert mission was seamless and easy. This is probably due in part to the QN800D’s ultra-low input lag, which I measured at 9.8ms using the Leo Bodnar HDMI 4K input lag tester – a number that rivals many of the best 120Hz TVs. 

Graphically, the QN800D is extremely impressive. Using the same phenomenal 8K upscaling it does for movies, every detail in Battlefield V was amplified – the large desert landscapes took on a realistic look and the intricate details of the various weapons were more pronounced. The QN800D added depth to every aspect of the game, and I could adjust its game-related settings on the fly to enhance things even further by calling up the onscreen game menu. 

  • Gaming score: 5 / 5

Samsung SolarCell Remote

The Samsung SolarCell remote is a more eco-friendly approach to remote controls.  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung QN800D review: Value

  • Very pricey compared to 4K models 
  • Unique 8K features 
  • Limited 8K content  

With the QN800D being an 8K TV (even a mid-range one by 8K standards) it unfortunately carries a high price tag. For the 65-inch model I tested, you’ll pay $3,499 / £3,499 / AU$4,799. To put that in perspective, you can buy the Samsung QN90D (Samsung’s upper mid-range 4K Neo QLED), which has many  of the same gaming and smart features as the QN800D, in a 65-inch size for $2,699 / £2,399 / AU$3,995. 

The QN800D does offer unique features compared to 4K models, most notably the 8K AI upscaling and the NQ8 Gen2 AI Processor. However, there are no real 8K sources outside of YouTube to make use of the QN800D’s native 8K display But if you can stretch your budget to make use of the 8K upscaling and processing chops the QN800D provides, I’d recommend it. Just keep in mind that you can buy a mid-range 4K OLED TV such as Samsung’s own S90C and one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars for a good deal less.

  • Value score: 3.5 / 5

Samsung QN800D with reptile on screen

The Samsung QN800D shows off its spectacular contrast and image detail.  (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung QN800D?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

Samsung QN800D with testing equipment attached

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Samsung QN800D

  • Tested in lab with varying light conditions
  • Tested using a variety of SDR and HDR sources
  • Measurements made using Portrait Displays' Calman software

I tested the Samsung QN800D in our lab, which allows me to view in conditions including harsh overhead lighting, dimmed lighting, and pitch black to test a TV's handling of reflections and the effectiveness of its backlight. 

After an initial run-in period with some casual viewing to determine the most accurate picture mode, I then tested the QN800D using standard and high-definition broadcast TV, 4K Blu-ray, and 4K streaming apps such as Disney Plus and Prime Video, using reference scenes from TV shows and movies that I regularly use fo testing.

To test the QN800D's picture, I looked at contrast, color, brightness, backlight control, and motion. I also evaluated its sound quality, checking for object placement, speech clarity, bass levels and virtual surround sound delivery. 

For objective testing, I used specialized equipment including a test pattern generator, colorimeter and Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software. I tested the QN800D (like all TVs) for SDR and HDR brightness, grayscale and color accuracy, and color gamut coverage. 

For gaming performance, I used an Xbox Series X to test gaming features, graphics and overall quality. I also measured the QN800D's input lag using the Leo Bodnar HDMI 4K Input lag tester. 

For a more detailed breakdown, check how we test TVs at TechRadar at the link. 

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: a feature-rich TV that suffers from mini-LED’s biggest flaw
9:00 pm | June 2, 2024

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

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Two minute review

The LG QNED91T, the company's flagship 4K model in its mini-LED ‘QNED’ range, is a TV with mixed performance. It’s stacked with smart and gaming features that will keep many people happy, but the picture and sound quality are inconsistent, succeeding in some areas, but failing in other crucial ones. It’s worth noting that in the US, this TV is called the LG QNED90 and comes with a pair of feet instead of a central pedestal stand.

Priced at $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$2,995 for the 65-inch version I tested, this is roughly in the same category as many other mini-LED sets of this size, meaning the QNED91T has plenty of competition. 

Picture quality is the most inconsistent aspect of the QNED91T. It has fantastic picture detail and colors that stand out in brighter scenes, but poor backlight control results in blooming issues that are especially visible in darker scenes. Off-center viewing also results in faded contrast and even more obvious backlight blooming. Unfortunately, this keeps the QNED91T from fulfilling its true potential, falling short of some of the best TVs such as the Samsung QN90C, another mini-LED model. 

Audio quality on the QNED91T is again mixed, with meaty bass and clear dialogue having to coexist with average virtual surround sound performance and an uneven sound balance. The TV’s AI Sound Pro mode can improve the balance but sacrifices bass performance in turn. Some may find the QNED91T’s built-in sound adequate, but most would benefit from adding one of the best soundbars

Design-wise, LG took a simple approach with the QNED91T, favoring functionality over looks. Its bulky weight makes it feel reassuringly solid but adds a more old-school appearance. That’s not necessarily bad, but it’s something for those who place design high up in their list of requirements to bear in mind. 

LG’s smart webOS smartTV platform continues to be one of the best. The version on the QNED91T, webOS 24, presents a sleek home menu with plenty of opportunities for customization and organization, and it’s both visually appealing and user-friendly. Not much has changed since last year’s webOS 23. There are new features such as an AI Chatbot and customizable profiles, though the latter feature is currently only available in the US. 

The QNED91T is a great performer when it comes to gaming, and has all the gaming bells and whistles you could need. Gameplay is smooth and responsive in any situation. But the QNED91T is sadly held back from greatness by the same picture issues that plague it with movies and, despite valiant effort, won't find itself amongst the best 120Hz TVs

Although it has some great features, the QNED91T's picture quality issues are hard to overlook. It thrives in some settings, but ultimately there’s too much inconsistency for the QNED91T to rank among the best TVs. 

LG QNED91T with satellite on screen

The LG QNED91T has excellent picture detail. (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Prices & release date

  • Released May 2024 
  • 65-inch: $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$2,995 
  • 75-inch: $2,399 / £2,499 / AU$3,995 
  • 86-inch: $3,299 / £3,799 / AU$5,445  

The LG QNED91T (QNED90 2024 series in the US) is LG’s flagship 4K mini-LED model for 2024, with the LG QNED99 8K TV serving as the overall flagship. Available from May 2024, the LG QNED91T comes in three sizes: 65-, 75- and 86-inch. The LG QNED91T’s pricing puts it in competition with mini-LED TVs such as the Sony X95L (its 2023 flagship) and the Hisense U9N (its 2024 flagship). 

We’ve already seen price drops as much as 20% on the QNED91T across multiple sites. Whether these discounts are permanent or will disappear remains to be seen.

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Specs

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Benchmark results

LG QNED91T connections panel

The LG QNED91T's connection panel, with four HDMI 2.1 ports (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Features

  • Built-in with LG’s a8 AI Processor 4K 
  • Mini-LED backlight with LG’s NanoCell layer 
  • Dolby Vision support 

Serving as the flagship QNED, which combines a mini-LED backlight with LG’s quantum dot NanoCell technology, the LG QNED91T aims to deliver bold brightness and color while maintaining good contrast – something it does with mixed results. 

The QNED91T features LG’s a8 AI Processor, the same found in other 2024 models including the LG B4 and LG QNED87/85, that aims to emulate the performance of last year’s LG C3, particularly in terms of brightness – which it achieves. 

The a8 AI Processor enables features for AI Picture Pro, including AI Super Upscaling and Dynamic Tone Mapping, and AI Sound Pro, including Virtual Surround and AI Clear Sound. It’s also responsible for AI Picture Wizard, which helps you create your preferred picture settings. This is done by choosing your favorite images from a group of different types such as bright landscape, sunset, nighttime and more, which Ai Picture Wizard uses to create your personalized setting. 

For HDR, the QNED91T supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG formats, but not HDR10+. 

The QNED91T is well stocked with gaming features, with four HDMI 2.1 ports supporting 4K 120Hz, VRR including AMD Freesync, and ALLM and HGiG support. It also features LG’s Game Optimizer, which activates the optimum settings for gaming and allows customization of gaming settings on the fly such as black level, genre and more. 

Audio is provided by a 2.2 speaker system totaling 40W of power with support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. While it's not the most mind-blowing of speaker configurations, it provides sufficient punch and there are several preset sound modes including AI Sound Pro. 

The QNED91T comes with the latest iteration of LG’s smart TV platform, webOS 24. While there haven’t been any major changes, the home page has been redesigned. It still has Quick Cards, which enable you to organize apps into categories such as Music, Sports, Games and more. It also supports all major apps including Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus as well as Freeview Play and its apps in the UK such as BBC iPlayer and ITVX.  

New features in webOS 24 include an AI Chatbot assistant and the ability to create up to 10 profiles that store each user’s settings and personalized TV and movie recommendations. LG has also committed to five years’ worth of updates on select TVs, including the QNED91T, meaning the latest iteration of webOS will appear via a firmware update for the next five years. 

  • Feautres score: 4.5 / 5

LG QNED91T with hot spring on screen

The LG QNED91T's colors and textures are highlights, though picture quality is inconsistent. (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Picture quality

  • Excellent detail and bold colors 
  • Backlight blooming issues  
  • Limited viewing angle  

The LG QNED91T faces much competition in the mini-LED TV category from the likes of Samsung, Sony, TCL and Hisense, with the latter two providing more budget-friendly options. Sadly, it falls short of some of its major rivals. 

Mini-LED TVs tend to excel at brightness and the QNED91T on the surface has a bright picture, particularly when displaying HDR images. When I measured it on a 10% HDR white window, the results were 1,274 nits and 1,132 nits in Standard and Filmmaker Mode respectively. It also yielded 671 and 601 nits respectively in those modes when I measured a 100% full-screen HDR white window. Those are good numbers overall, but they fail to match the likes of the Samsung QN90C, Sony X95L and Hisense U8K

After some casual viewing with both HD and 4K HDR sources and cycling through the various picture presets, I established that the most accurate picture mode was Filmmaker Mode, although Standard and Cinema are two alternatives that deliver a brighter image. 

First starting with broadcast TV, the QNED91T did an effective job of upscaling, but lower-resolution pictures still had a comparatively fuzzy appearance. HD broadcast TV had cleaner textures overall with good contrast and color, and when viewed in Standard mode, a brighter look as well. 

Moving onto 4K HDR movies with Filmmaker Mode’s default settings active, the QNED91T demonstrated excellent image detail in faces and clothing when watching Top Gun: Maverick. This impressive detail carried over to demo footage on the Spears & Munsil UHD Benchmark Blu-ray. Rocky landscapes and forests had refined edges and a good sense of depth. Studio shots of owls and lizards again showed realistic detail, with feathers and scales having a 3D-like quality. 

The QNED91T also excelled when it came to color. Viewing the throne room lightsaber sequence in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, streamed through Disney Plus, the vibrant reds carried plenty of vivid punch and never looked overblown. Lightsabers took on a bold, glossy sheen that showcased the QNED91T’s HDR highlights. Turning back to Spears & Munsil, green trees and blue skies popped off the screen. 

When measuring the QNED91T’s UHDA-P3 and BT.2020 color gamut coverage using Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software, the QNED91T yielded 96%  and 72.2% respectively. Those are both good results so it’s no surprise colors in 4K HDR programs looked good. Color accuracy Delta E values averaged out to 1.1 (we typically look for below 3) in Filmmaker Mode, which is an outstanding result. 

When viewing both the opening Darkstar flight sequence in Top Gun: Maverick and the Batmobile chase sequence in The Batman, the QNED91T demonstrated excellent motion handling, even in Filmmaker Mode with all motion settings turned off. Quick panning shots and long left-to-right sequences showed little to no sign of judder or stutter and motion was incredibly smooth. 

The Batman is also where the QNED91T started to show weaknesses in the picture department. Black levels were decent in some cases and contrast was rich enough, but when viewing dark scenes such as the first crime scene investigation, backlight blooming was very apparent. Lights in the darkened hallway had a clouding effect that changed the deep, black shadows to a dark gray. 

Changing the Local Dimming,  set to Low by default, to High in the TV’s Brightness settings reduced some backlight blooming issues. But this also resulted in some black crush, with objects in dark scenes such as the bat symbol on Batman’s chest in The Batman starting to disappear. Even then, some backlight blooming was still present. 

An issue that some mini-LED TVs suffer from is poor viewing angles, although models such as the Samsung QN90C and Sony X95L have features to improve this. Unfortunately, viewing angles were an issue with the LG QNED91T. When viewed off-axis, backlight blooming, particularly in dark scenes, became apparent, with large, blocky squares of the backlight shining through at extreme angles. Contrast and color saturation also faded when the TV was viewed from off-center seats. 

Finally, although I didn’t expect the LG to beat the Samsung S95D’s OLED Glare Free screen or the anti-reflection features of its more premium mini-LED sets, I expected the QNED91T to handle reflections better than it did. Under harsh lighting conditions in our testing lab, mirror-like reflections were an issue, which made darker scenes very difficult to see. And with the overhead lights dimmed, other light sources in the room were still reflected on the TV’s screen. 

  • Picture quality score: 3.5 / 5

LG QNED91T with butterfly on screen

The LG QNED91T suffers from reflections, even when displaying bright HDR images.  (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Sound quality

  • Decent bass levels 
  • Clear dialogue  
  • Average virtual surround sound 

With a 40W, 2.2 speaker configuration and Dolby Atmos/DTS support, the QNED91T has perfectly adequate built-in audio, though it lacks the sound prowess of rivals such as the Sony X95L. The QNED91T’s speakers may suit some, but generally one of the best soundbars would be an improvement. 

I found Cinema with its warmer profile to be the best sound preset. The QNED91T displayed strong dialogue clarity across most movies and TV shows I watched, from broadcast TV to intense action movie sequences. During the chaotic Batmobile chase in The Batman, speech came through clearly despite loud background noise and a driving score. 

Bass was another highlight, aided by the Cinema sound preset’s warm profile and the QNED91T’s deeper design. Even with the QNED91T’s relatively average power, the rumble of the Batmobile from The Batman and jets in Top Gun: Maverick had plenty of heft and weight. 

Despite Dolby Atmos support, I found the QNED91t’s effects processing to be average. Some effects were present, such as screeching wheels in the Batmobile chase in the Batman but the pounding rain was missing altogether. And in Top Gun: Maverick, background effects from within the cockpit were lost behind the rumble of the engines. 

With AI Sound Pro active, the overall volume and surround sound effects were heightened, but I found dialogue to be on the harsher side and bass reduced. While some may prefer this brightening of the mix, I preferred the Cinema sound preset. 

  • Sound quality score: 3.5 / 5

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Design

LG QNED91T Stand

The LG QNED91T comes with reassuringly solid stand in the UK. (Image credit: Future)
  • Solid, central stand (on model tested in UK) 
  • Chunkier than other TVs 
  • Somewhat old-school, basic look 

The QNED91T has somewhat of an old-school design, with a deeper-than-average body and matte gray appearance on the back that harks back to older LCD models. It isn’t the deepest TV on the market (look at the Panasonic MZ2000 for that) but it's still surprisingly chunky. The bezel is trim, however, giving the picture nearly the full scale of the screen. 

With a central, metal stand (on the 65-inch version I tested in the UK), the QNED91T feels reassuringly solid and sturdy. However, it’s worth noting that this is a weighty TV at around 35 kg with the stand attached. In the US, the QNED90 comes with support feet and while I can’t comment on their appearance, the TV itself weighs in at 69.2 lbs with its feet attached. 

Connections are housed in a rear panel and feature four HDMI 2.1 and three USB ports, optical digital audio, and an RF for broadcast and satellite TV. The QNED91 also has  Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities as expected. 

Like most LG TVs, the QNED91T comes with LG’s Magic Remote. This has a central wheel and arrows for scrolling and navigation, or its pointer can be used instead. It also has a built-in mic for voice control and quick access options for apps including Netflix and Prime Video. 

  • Design score: 4 / 5

webOS 24 home page on LG QNED91T

webOS 24 has a tidier home screen menu and is still incredibly user-friendly.  (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Smart TV & menus

  • LG’s webOS 24 smart TV platform
  • Quick Cards for app organization
  • Home menu trimmed down from previous generation     

The QNED91T features webOS 24, the latest iteration of LG’s smart TV platform. The home menu has been trimmed down and tidied compared to previous versions, with a smaller top banner allowing more space for apps and tailored recommendations. All in all, it’s a welcome redesign. 

Carrying over last year’s Quick Cards, which lets apps be organized by category such as Music and Office, there is the introduction of a more refined Sports card and an an Accessibility feature. The Sports card features the useful My Team function that allows you to receive live updates, scores and recommended videos based on your chosen team from sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer, American football and more. Accessibility includes the AI Chatbot, which can be used to diagnose and solve technical issues such as ‘The screen is too dark’ or ‘The volume is too low’. I found it effective enough, brightening the screen when asked, but it did seem on the basic side. 

LG's webOS 24 continues to be amongst the best smart TV platforms for settings and menus, with the Quick Menu providing an easy way to change important settings such as picture and sound modes without having to navigate away from the screen. There are also plenty of advanced adjustments for those who like to play with picture and sound settings. 

  •  Smart TV & menus: 4.5 / 5 

LG QNED91T with Battlefield V on screen

Gaming performance on the LG QNED91T is good, but games suffer the same picture quality issues as movies. (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Gaming

  • Four HDMI 2.1 ports
  • LG Game Optimizer 
  • Picture still affected by backlight blooming  

The QNED91T has a good stock of gaming features across its four HDMI 2.1 ports, including 4K 120Hz, VRR with AMD FreeSync support, ALLM and HGiG. LG’s Game Optimizer also provides the best settings for gaming and allows adjustment on the go using an easy to access and navigate menu. 

Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X felt smooth and responsive on the QNED91T. When in graphically intense battle sequences or when quickly scoping across landscapes to spot enemies, I saw no signs of tearing, stuttering or judder. Setting the game genre to FPS on the Game Optimizer enhanced this further by smoothing out quick camera cuts. 

When I measured the QNED91T’s input lag using the Leo Bodnar 4K HDMI input lag tester, it gave a result of 15ms at 4K 60Hz. Although still an acceptable result, that’s higher than what you typically find on the best gaming TVs

For graphics, the QNED91T excelled and suffered in the same areas as it did with movies. Colors in brighter sequences were still vibrant and punchy, and textures were clear on every part of the weapon and surrounding environment. But backlight blooming was still an issue, and that meant night missions in Battlefield V took on a gray rather than a black tone, and lamps within a stealth mission had a halo around them that bled into the night sky overhead.  

  • Gaming score: 4 / 5

LG magic remote 2024

The LG QNED91T as always comes with LG's Magic Remote. (Image credit: Future)

LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T review: Value

  • Competitive mini-LED market 
  • Good range of smart features 
  • Inconsistent picture affects value  

The QNED91T is priced at $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$2,995 for the 65-inch version I tested, though there are price reductions available (up to 20% off in some cases). At that price, there is plenty of new TV competition in 2024 such as the 65-inch Hisense U8N, which is priced at $1,499 / £1,799 / AU$2,795 (although we’ve seen it as low as $1,099 in the US). And there’s also the Samsung QN90D, though it's priced at a much more premium $2,699 / £2,699 / AU$3,995 for the 65-inch model.

Despite a good list of smart and gaming features, it’s tough to overlook that the QNED91T’s picture is similar to a budget TV due to its backlight blooming and viewing angle issues. It’s also tough to overlook that 2023 TVs such as the Hisense U8K and Sony X95L offer better performance and are available for less. 

  • Value score: 3 / 5

LG QNED91T with ferries wheel on screen

The LG QNED91T's backlight blooming is more visible when the picture is viewed from an angle. (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the LG QNED90T/91T?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

LG QNED91T with calman and testing equipment

The LG QNED91T with testing equipment, including Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software to record measurements.  (Image credit: Future)

How I tested the LG QNED90T/LG QNED91T

  • Tested using SDR and HDR sources
  • Tested in a lab with varying lighting conditions
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Displays' Calman Calibration software

After some initial causal viewing, I determined the LG's Filmmaker Mode picture preset was the most accurate. I used this for my subjective testing and for measurements using specialized equipment.

For subjective testing, I viewed both lower-resolution and high-definition broadcast TV, and HDR sources such as 4K Blu-ray. I used reference scenes from several movies to test for black levels, contrast, color, motion and more. I also used these same reference scenes to test the QNED91T's built-in audio performance.

To test gaming performance, I used an Xbox Series X and used Battlefield V, looking for smoothness of gameplay while analyzing graphics quality. I also used a Leo Bodnar 4K HDMI Input Lag Tester to test the QNED91T's input lag. 

For objective testing I used specialized equipment including a test pattern generator, colorimeter and Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software to record the results. I tested SDR and HDR brightness levels, color and grayscale accuracy and color gamut coverage.

For a more detailed breakdown, check out our guide on how we test TVs at TechRadar

Samsung Q990D review: the best Dolby Atmos soundbar, and now perfect for PS5 and Xbox Series X, too
8:00 pm | May 4, 2024

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

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Two minute review

The Samsung HW-Q990D follows in the footsteps of one of the best soundbars in recent years, the Samsung HW-Q990C, but adds gaming features including 4K 120Hz and VRR pass-through, along with a more refined and controlled sound profile. 

Filled to the brim with features, the Q990D offers plenty of settings for those who like to experiment. AI enhancements including Adaptive Sound and SpaceFit allow the Q990D to analyze sources and the viewing environment to create the best possible experience. Alongside these, the new gaming features enable users to get the most from their PS5 or Xbox Series X. And for those with a Samsung TV, there’s also Q-Symphony and a wireless Dolby Atmos option.

Carrying 22 speakers across four units, with an 11.1.4 channel configuration, the Q990D confirms Samsung's continued domination of the soundbar market, especially when it comes to immersive Dolby Atmos sound. But, it’s not just immersive sound where it succeeds, as bass levels are punchy yet refined and trebles and mids can breathe easy over the bass.  The Q990D also serves as an excellent music streaming option whether over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, with its wide soundstage giving every aspect of a song the space it needs.

Although on the bulkier side, the Q990D feels every bit its premium price thanks to its solid build quality, and it has a sleek, modern look. The main soundbar’s size may be an issue for some and its front LED display is not the most user-friendly, but for many, it will beat the mess of cables you get with a wired home theater setup.

With a variety of control options including a supplied remote and the Samsung SmartThings app, the Q990D is easy to use and tailor settings to how you like. Initial setup is a breeze, making it simple to get great sound. 

The Q990D may be a premium soundbar, and there are cheaper options such as last year’s Samsung Q990C and this year’s Samsung HW-Q930D, but neither of those carries the full range of features or the performance found in the Q990D. Although pricey, it delivers the best Dolby Atmos soundbar experience you can get today. 

Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar, subwoofer and rear speakers

The Samsung HW-Q990D comprises a soundbar, subwoofer and two surrounds, with 11.1.4 channels across 22 speakers. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Price & release date

  • Release date - March 2024 
  • Price - $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$1,995 

The Samsung HW-Q990D is Samsung’s flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar for 2024. Released at $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$1,995, the Q990D is a premium soundbar package.

For context, that’s roughly $400 more than the JBL Bar 1300X, an older soundbar that includes wireless rear speakers and a powerful subwoofer, but is roughly $500 more than the most widely available Sonos home theater package, which features the Sonos Arc, Sonos Sub (Gen 3) and a pair of Sonos Era 100s as rears.

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Specs

Samsung HW-Q990D in front of the Samsung S95D

The Samsung HW-Q990D (connected to the Samsung S95D TV) now has gaming features including 120Hz and VRR. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Features

  • 11.1.4 speaker channels 
  • HDMI 2.1 with 4K 120Hz support  
  • Wireless Dolby Atmos  

The Samsung Q990D has many of  the same features as its impressive predecessor, the Samsung HW-Q990C, including 11.1.4 speaker channels and 22 speakers spread across the four units (soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers).

One new feature is HDMI 2.1 ports for gaming, with both HDMI inputs supporting 4K120Hz and VRR. Both HDMI ports also pass through HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR formats.

Supported sound formats include Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, Dolby 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. 

The Q990D is stacked with sound-enhancing features including Adaptive Sound, which analyzes what you’re watching and intelligently adjusts audio levels; SpaceFit Sound Pro, which analyzes your environment and tunes the Q990D’s audio output for the space; and Game Mode Pro, which tailors directional sound to optimal levels when gaming.

Wi-Fi streaming on the Q990D supports hi-res audio formats including ALAC, FLAC and WAV and also Dolby Atmos music tracks found on streaming services such as Apple Music and Tidal. Speaking of streaming, there is also Spotify and Tidal Connect support. 

There are some Samsung-exclusive enhancements alongside these features (meaning they only work with compatible Samsung TVs). The first is Q-Symphony, where the Q990D works with the speakers of a Samsung TV to boost sound even further. The next is wireless Dolby Atmos, where a Samsung TV can stream Dolby Atmos soundtracks - albeit a compressed version - to the Q990D.

Last is Tap Sound, where you tap your Samsung smartphone on the Q990D and it starts playing the music you’re streaming. 

Control options include a hardware remote control and the Samsung SmartThings app. With the app, you can make EQ adjustments, activate voice and bass enhancement, and select Night Mode, which adjusts the sound to a suitable level for late-night viewing or listening. The app also isn’t just for the Q990D, but can control any compatible Samsung product.

  • Features score: 5 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D main bar

The Samsung HW-Q990D main soundbar  (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Performance

  • Exceptional immersive sound
  • Powerful, yet detailed audio 
  • Impressive gaming performance 

For years, Samsung’s flagship soundbars have continually impressed, serving as a pinnacle of what a soundbar-based home theater audio system is capable of, and the Q990D continues this trend. 

With 22 speakers across the four units, including four height channels, in an 11.1.4 channel configuration, the Q990D creates an outstanding immersive experience, with expert reproduction of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks and real surround sound.

Watching Star Wars: A New Hope on Disney Plus, the final attack and ensuing space battle involving the Death Star was every bit as cinematic as it should be. As X-Wings and Tie Fighters shot across the screen from every angle, the direction of the soaring engines glided across the speakers impeccably and John Williams’ iconic score in the rear speakers kept the tension high without drowning out other effects. Dialogue was crisp and clear, cutting through the densely packed mix of engines, lasers and music. Watching this, I truly felt like I was in the cockpit, as the iconic screech of the Tie Fighter passed over my head. 

Although immersive sound is where the Q990D succeeded the most,  bass levels from the weighty subwoofer also impressed. The rumble of the Batmobile’s engine in The Batman during the Penguin car chase sounded meaty with plenty of low-end punch. On previous Q990 generations, the bass could get carried away on occasion, but the Q990D’s bass feels more nuanced and controlled - dynamic but without overwhelming the rest of the mix.

Even when watching movies with a stereo soundtrack such as The Amazing Spider-Man on DVD, the Q990D boosted the sound through upmixing and gave more oomph to every fight sequence and web swing through NYC. 

Other parts of the audio mix are well-balanced on the Q990D. High notes come across without being too shrill whilst mids sit comfortably where they should in the mix, with everything combining to create a full, detailed sound. 

Although it’s not as impressive with music as with movies, the Q990D is still a triumph. When I streamed tracks from Tidal and Spotify in uncompressed hi-res and compressed formats respectively, the Q990D did a good job of balancing instruments and handled every genre well. Listening to Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World, the bass and drums sounded punchy, and the trebles of the synths and guitars sliced through evenly.

Listening to Dolby Atmos music tracks via Tidal, the Q990D again showed its prowess. Thelonius Monk’s Monk’s Dream (Take 8) spread out across the Q990D’s speakers, with every instrument given equal room to breathe - from the twinkling piano to the bright sax and the warm bass notes. 

Sometimes the mix would sound forced on these Dolby Atmos tracks, with some instruments pushing a little too hard. But the Q990D generally continued to shine and even tracks streamed over lower quality Bluetooth sounded good. 

The Q990D was connected to a Samsung S95D TV during my testing, with Samsung-centric features such as Q Symphony available. And while this did provide an extra layer to the sound, adding a greater sense of space and power, the Q990D gave a great cinematic experience without it. 

As for gaming performance, when playing Battlefield V with an Xbox Series X, gaming was smooth, as switching between targets felt easy and the action suitably pacy. 

The most surprising element of the Q990D’s gaming performance was the low 9.2ms input lag time, meaning its HDMI pass-through didn’t add any latency. For those needing 4K 120Hz, VRR and low input lag for their console, the Q990D can provide. 

  • Performance score: 5 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D front display

The Samsung HW-Q990D's front display isn't the easiest to read... (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Design

  • Solid, premium design 
  • Front display isn’t easiest to read
  • Slightly wider than a 55-inch TV  

The Q990D comprises four units: a soundbar, subwoofer and two rear speakers. The subwoofer is sizable and hefty, but its wireless connection allows it to be placed anywhere in the room (as long as there’s a mains socket nearby to plug in for power). The rear speakers, meanwhile, have a compact yet sleek design. 

The soundbar itself measures 1309.0 x 595.0 x 277.0 mm, making it slightly longer than a 55-inch TV (which roughly measures 1200mm). At 595mm, it isn’t the tallest soundbar, but could still cut off the bottom of a lot of TVs. The soundbar is also weighty, although that demonstrates its premium quality. 

The soundbar and rear speakers sport a gray/navy matte finish that gives them a minimalist, modern appearance. A mesh grille on the soundbar’s front makes it quite difficult to see what input you’re using and other information provided on the front panel LED display, however.

  • Design score: 4 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D supplied remote

The Samsung HW-Q990D can be controlled with the above supplied remote, the Samsung SmartThings app or your TV remote via HDMI-CEC. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Setup & usability

  • HDMI eARC connection to TV
  • Wireless connection between units  
  • Remote or SmartThings app for control  

With four separate, wireless units, setting up the Q990D seems like it would be daunting, but the Q990D makes setup almost effortless. Once all units are plugged in and the soundbar is connected to the TV by HDMI eARC, the subwoofer and rear speakers connect by simply pressing a button on the back and you’re ready to go.

You can either use the supplied remote or the Samsung SmartThings app for control, with adjustments for boosting voice, bass and more. The Q990D can also be controlled via the TV remote using HDMI-CEC. Finally, there are control buttons and an LED display on top of the soundbar. 

For those looking to optimize audio based on their room’s layout, there is also the SpaceFit Pro calibration system, which can be performed during initial setup or on the fly using the SmartThings app. 

  • Setup & usability score: 4.5 / 5

Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar

The Samsung HW-Q990D is pricey, but you get an entire Atmos experience across four units. (Image credit: Future)

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Value

  • Premium price 
  • Best home theater soundbar option
  • Samsung Q990C still available   

Priced at $1,799 / £1,699 / AU$1,995, the Q990D is a premium soundbar. And although its features and excellent all-around performance justify the price, it is no doubt going to push some people’s budgets.

The Samsung HW-Q990C, the Q990D’s predecessor, is still available and sells at a reduced price that’s only going to fall further - I’ve seen it selling for roughly $400 / £600 cheaper than the Q990D. It does miss out on the Q990D’s gaming features, but if they’re not relevant to you, the Q990C is fine. Another option is the Samsung HW-Q930D, the step-down model from the Q990D which comes with fewer channels and features. 

Still, in terms of features and performance, the Q990D offers a Dolby Atmos home theater experience no other soundbar can offer. To beat it, you’d need to look at full AV setups that don’t allow for the same tidy installation or ease of use.

  • Value score: 4 / 5

Should I buy the Samsung HW-Q990D?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Samsung HW-Q990D review: Also consider

How I tested the Samsung HW-Q990D

Samsung HW-Q990D in front of TV

(Image credit: Future)
  • Connected to the Samsung S95D 
  • Tested with variety of sources 
  • Both surround sound and stereo sound tested

To test the Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar, I connected it to the Samsung S95D - the flagship 2024 OLED TV from Samsung. The majority of testing was done with Q-Symphony and any other Samsung-centric features turned off to see how the Q990D would fare if connected to sets from other brands. 

After some run-in time, I selected reference scenes from both streaming and 4K Blu-ray to test spatial sound, mainly Dolby Atmos. I then used lower-resolution sources such as DVD to test the Q990D on its handling of non-surround movie audio. I analyzed the Q990D's spatial sound but also bass, trebles, mids, and dialogue clarity. 

After this, I streamed music through both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to test the Q990D's music playback quality. I played hi-res audio and Atmos music tracks from Tidal and lossy quality tracks via Bluetooth from Spotify. 

Read more about how we test

  • First reviewed: May 2024
Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series TV review: a small TV that gives great value, but struggles elsewhere
12:01 am | March 26, 2024

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

The 32-inch Amazon Fire TV 2-series is the entry level series in Amazon Fire TV range, below the Amazon Fire TV 4-series and Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED. It comes with a 720p panel and is priced at $199 / £249 / around AU$305. It is also available in a 40-inch size with a 1080p Full HD panel.

The Amazon 2-series has plenty to live up to following the Amazon Omni QLED, one of the best TVs of 2023, and our budget TV of the year at the TechRadar Choice Awards. Unfortunately, the Amazon 2-series doesn’t quite have the same wow factor as its more premium counterpart and faces tough competition in the best 32-inch TV category, although it does provide a very budget-friendly option for those needing a small screen. 

The picture quality on the Amazon 32-inch 2-series is a mixed bag. Starting with lower-resolution and HD broadcast TV, textures were detailed enough and the Amazon 2-series did a good job of upscaling. For daytime TV programming, the picture was decent. 

Moving onto 4K HDR sources, the first movie I watched was Star Wars: The Last Jedi on a Disney Plus stream to test color and overall HDR performance (the Amazon 2-series has HDR10 compatibility). During the throne room fight scene, With its Film Dark picture mode active, the Amazon 2-series did a good job of displaying the vibrant reds without making them look too overblown. Lightsabers also showed plenty of the expected shine. Testing the Amazon 2-series’ color gamut coverage, DCI-P3 (the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) was 74.3% and BT.2020 was 54.1%. Although these results are expected for a budget TV, they aren’t as good as what we measured on the LG 32LQ6300, arguably the best 32-inch TV available.

Amazon 32-inch 2-series with Star Wars the last jedi on screen

The Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series has an inconsistent picture, but colors can be good as shown by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Image credit: Future)

Using The Batman on standard Blu-ray to test black levels and shadows, the TV’s regular LED panel showed its limitations as any black areas on the screen took on a gray tone and there were instances of backlight clouding. Contrast was mixed, with a good balance between blacks and highlights in the subway fight scene, but less impressive performance in other scenes. 

Measuring the grayscale of the Amazon 2-series, it gave a result of 3.5 (we typically look for a result below 3). This isn’t the worst result we’ve seen (it’s the same as the LG 32LQ6300) but it explains some of the 2-series’ black level and skin tone accuracy limitations. Measuring the Amazon 2-series’ peak brightness on a 10% window yielded a result of 260 nits and 237 nits in Standard and Film Dark mode, respectively, which are similar numbers to other 32-inch TVs we’ve tested. 

Moving onto Top Gun: Maverick, the Amazon 2-series did a credible job of handling fast motion and panning shots, although there was some blur and judder present and there weren’t any motion adjustments in the TV's picture settings menu to compensate for it. In bright daylight sequences, the characters' skin tones looked oversaturated and unnatural. Changing the picture mode to Natural helped by preventing textures from appearing too sharp, but also sacrificed picture clarity and color accuracy. 

Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series with Fire TV home screen

The Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series uses Fire TV, a smart TV platform with pros and cons.  (Image credit: Future)

The Amazon 2-series fared better than expected in terms of audio quality. There isn’t much to distinguish between the various sound modes such as Standard and Music, though Entertainment proved the best option. With this active, dialogue was clear and the sound surprisingly well-balanced for a budget set. Watching The Batman and Top Gun: Maverick, the 2-series did an adequate job conveying the bassy rumble from the engines of the Batmobile and fighter jets, respectively – much more so than the tinny speakers of the Hisense 32A5K. If you’re using this as a main TV, I’d suggest you invest in one of the best soundbars, but as a secondary TV its sound should suffice.

The 2-series uses Amazon Fire TV as its smart TV platform. This offers access to plenty of apps and customization features, but also displays arguably too many recommendations on its home menu. Navigation also felt occasionally slow and clunky on the 2-series, with long pauses and stutters while loading different pages and apps. There are settings to adjust both picture and audio, but as stated above some important ones are missing such as motion settings.

The 2-series resembles other 32-inch budget TVs, with a functional design that's not uninspired - especially compared to the likes of the Hisense A5K. During setup, installing the feet showed its cheaper design, again even compared to the similarly priced LG LQ6300. The 2-series does, however, come with the Amazon Fire TV Alexa remote – a welcome accessory. 

Amazon 32-inch 2-series with battlefield V on screen

The Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series (pictured with Battlefield V on screen) has average gaming performance that handles motion adequately. (Image credit: Future)

Gaming performance on the Amazon 2-series should be acceptable to bedroom gamers tight on space. There are no real gaming features ( expected at this price) but playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X was smooth enough, though with occasional choppy frame rates. Switching between targets and scanning the environment was also fairly well handled. 

You see a lot of similarly priced sets with similar features in the 32-inch TV category, and with its 720p as opposed to 1080p resolution, the 2-series lies at a disadvantage. Better options exist at its $199 / £249 price, with the LG 32LQ6300 regularly priced in the UK at £199. However, we have seen the 2-series as low as $119 in the US, and for that low price it is tough to argue against. 

Amazon Alex TV remote

The Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series comes with the Amazon Alexa remote.  (Image credit: Future)

Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2 series review: Prices & release date

  • Release date: 2023 
  • Prices from $199  /£249 / around $305 for the 32-inch 
  • Prices from $249 / £299 / around $350 for the 40-inch  

The cheapest and smallest entry in Amazon’s 2023 Fire TV lineup, the Amazon 2-series is priced around $199 / £249 / around $305 for the 32-inch and $249 / £299 / around $350 for the 40-inch. Both models are regularly on sale, with the 32-inch TV we tested dropping as low as $119 in the US and £149 in the UK. 

Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2 series review: Specs

Should you buy the Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider...

Amazon 32-inch 2-series with testing equipment

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-series

  • Tested in lab room with different lighting conditions
  • Tested through a variety of sources - both SDR and HDR
  • Measurements taken using Portrait Displays' Calman calibration software

I tested the various picture and sound modes of the Amazon 2-series using a mixture of broadcast, lower-resolution TV, and HDR sources, streaming through apps such as Disney Plus and Blu-ray. I also used a Panasonic DP-UB820 4K Blu-ray player to play standard Blu-rays.

When it comes to how we test TVs at TechRadar, following subjective testing looking at picture quality, gaming, audio and more, we move on to objective tests using a colorimeter and test pattern generator (for our tests I use the Murideo Six 8K Metal), with the results recorded by Portrait Displays' Calman claibration software

To test for brightness, we measure across a variety of different-sized white window patterns in both SDR and HDR using Standard and the most accurate picture mode (in this case Film Dark) to get an indication of peak brightness and how well the TV will cope with reflections. We then record the Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for color accuracy, grayscale and gamma using Calman. Lastly, we measure DCI-P3 and BT.2020 color space coverage, along with input lag in Game mode.

LG 32LQ6300 review: a small, reliable TV that packs great performance
3:49 pm | December 14, 2023

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

The 32-inch LG LQ6300 is the company’s ’s only TV in that screen size from its 2022 lineup. It comes with a standard LED panel with a Full HD (1080p) resolution and sits in the mid-range of the 32-inch TV market, with pricing around $249 / £249 upon release. 

LG TVs are amongst the best TVs on the market owing to their features and competitive pricing. The LG 32LQ6300 is no exception in this regard, featuring LG’s  Alpha 5 Gen5 AI processor, web OS smart TV platform and Game Optimizer menu for a better gaming experience.

Picture quality of the LG 32LQ6300 is impressive given it uses a standard LED panel. Viewing a couple of scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, in Movie mode, to test HDR images (even though it’s a 1080p TV, the LQ6300 supports HDR10 high dynamic range), colors were punchy and the picture was well-defined and detailed, with the reds within the throne room scene looking true-to-life without being overwhelming. When measuring the DCI-P3 color gamut coverage (the color space used to master 4K movies and digital cinema releases) and BT.2020, the 32LQ6300 yielded results of 81.2 and 62.2% respectively, which are good results for an LED TV, if not a little lower than expected. 

Testing black levels on the LQ6300 using The Batman, some of the limitations of the LED screen became apparent as blacks took on more of a gray tone, but shadow detail was still rich enough. Contrast was also good, with the lights and shadows during the opening subway fight scene looking well-balanced. When measuring the LG 32LQ6300’s peak brightness on a 10% window test pattern the results were 236 nits and 216 nits in Standard and Movie (Cinema) mode, respectively. 

LG 32LQ6300 with rocky landscape on screen

The LG 32LQ6300 has a very clear, punchy HDR picture  (Image credit: Future)

When evaluating motion using Top Gun: Maverick, the LQ6300 handled the intense scenes well, with the fast-moving jets during the training and final missions looking smooth on screen. There is a picture setting called ‘Real Cinema’ (which was set to On by default in Movie mode) that helped with motion processing, but it’s worth noting that on quick panning shots from left to right the LG LQ6300 did struggle a bit. 

As you’d expect from a 32-inch TV, sound quality isn’t mind-blowing. But the LQ6300’s 2 x 10W speakers still do an adequate, if not sometimes surprisingly good, job compared to other 32-inch TVs. Standard sound mode offered a more direct, powerful sound with a bit of bass. This was welcome in the Batmobile scene in The Batman, as there was heft to the Batmobile’s engine. 

Cinema sound mode offered a wider soundstage, but overall didn’t have the same balance as Standard. Although perfectly decent for a small screen, those using this TV for more than just bedroom or secondary viewing will want to invest in one of the best soundbars

In terms of design, the LG LQ6300 is a very basic TV. It’s deeper than a good chunk of other 32-inch TVs on the market and has a thicker frame than other TVs as well. It has two feet serving as its stand that are fairly far apart, which could cause issues for those with narrow furniture. It does, however, feel solidly built thanks to this chunkier appearance. The included remote is packed with buttons, arguably a few too many, but it’s functional and covers all the bases.

LG 32LQ6300 with Battlefield V and Game Optimizer menu on screen

The Game Optimizer from LG (pictured) featured on the LG 32LQ6300 enables you to edit settings for games such as Battlefield V (pictured) (Image credit: Future)

Although it doesn’t have any next gen-gaming features, gaming performance is still good on the LQ6300. Playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, the LQ6300 handled graphically intense battle sequences well with quick-switching between targets feeling smooth. Colors were bold and vibrant and the same definition in textures that was present in movies was evident here as well. 

The LQ6300 comes with LG’s own webOS smart TV platform built-in. Although it doesn’t have the same range of settings to adjust as other LG TVs, there’s still plenty to choose from to tailor the picture to your needs. A large portion of the screen on its home menu is taken up by recommendations, with apps in a line along the bottom, and although this was not a major deal, I still found it a little overwhelming and cluttered. 

Considering value for money, the LG 32LQ6300 is one of the better 32-inch TVs available. There are cheaper models out there with QLED screens and better smart TV platforms, but in terms of features and picture quality, the LG LQ6300 overall is a good 32-inch option for those looking for a smaller set. 

LG 32LQ6300 remote

The LG 32LQ6300's remote (pictured) is functional, if not a little cluttered  (Image credit: Future)

LG 32LQ6300 TV review: Price & release date

  •  $249 / £249 
  •  Release date: 2022 

The LG 32-inch LQ6300 is the 32-inch model in LG’s 2022 TV lineup. Released in 2022, the LQ6300 was initially priced at £249 / $249 on release, which is about right for a 32-inch TV with its specs. Since its release, the LG has dropped in price, sitting around £199 / $179 at the time of writing, although prices have dropped further than this in sales before.

LG 32LQ6300 TV review: Specs

Should you buy the LG 32LQ6300 TV?

Buy it if...

You want a punchy, detailed picture
The LG 32LQ6300 has a great HDR picture with detailed sharpness and punchy colors that really jump out during brighter scenes

You want a bedroom gaming TV
Although it may not have the next-gen gaming features such as VRR and 120Hz, gaming performance and picture are still great on the LQ6300

You want solid built-in sound
It may not have the most powerful sound, but the LQ6300's speakers do a good job considering its small size 

Don't buy it if...

You want the all-around best picture
Whilst the LQ6300's picture looks great in bright, colorful scenes, its black levels aren't the best and it struggles with black uniformity 

You like a plain smart TV platform
LG's webOS22 is easy enough to navigate, but its main menu is a little cluttered with recommendations which on a small screen take up a lot of room 

LG 32LQ6300 review: Also consider

LG 32LQ6300 with testing equipment connected from Portrait Displays, Murideo and HP Omen

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the LG 32LQ6300

  • 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

I used a variety of SDR and HDR sources to test the TVs preset picture modes, including streaming through Disney Plus, live TV via antenna and several Blu-rays played through a Panasonic DP-UB820 4K Blu-ray player (although I used standard Blu-rays to test the LG 32LQ6300).

After choosing the best picture mode, Movie, I then selected several reference scenes from movies such as The Batman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Top Gun: Maverick and more to test elements of the picture such as color, black levels, and contrast. I tested gaming performance by using an Xbox Series X. 

When it came time to take measurements of the LQ6300, I used Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. With 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 Six 8K test pattern generator.

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

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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
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

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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.

LG G3 OLED review: LG’s brightest OLED TV ever delivers elite pictures
5:46 pm | September 22, 2023

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

LG G3: Two-minute review

The LG G3 is the latest flagship OLED TV from the company that has put OLED on the map more than any other. The G3 is another landmark set, though, taking brightness to a new level for LG, and besting what’s come before in many ways.

The LG G3 is priced like a premium flagship TV too, though its price has dropped somewhat since its launch in March 2023 – though the Samsung S95C is a similarly specified TV that’s available for less at the time of writing (though the two will battle this out in price drops, no doubt). With the G3 ranging in sizes from 55-inch to 83-inch (although the 83-inch has a less-bright panel so will perform differently), there’s an option for nearly all home theater lovers, although if you need smaller you can always look at the LG C3, which also ranks among the best OLED TVs.

With the introduction of Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology to improve brightness in its already fantastic OLED Evo panel, plus a new generation of image processor, the G3’s picture quality is phenomenal. Vibrant colors and crisp textures work in harmony with deep blacks and dynamic contrast, making the picture of the G3 nothing short of sensational – at the very top of what you can get from the world’s best TVs.

Although built-in sound in the G3 is decent, with a surprising amount of bass in some sound modes and clear dialogue generally, the LG G3 could benefit from one of the best soundbars to match the excellent quality of its picture. If stronger built-in audio quality is essential to you, you may want to look at TVs such as the Sony A80L and even the Samsung S90C.

As far as gaming goes, the LG G3 is a paradise. With extensive gaming features and compatibility including 4K 120Hz support on all four 2.1 HDMI ports, Dolby Vision gaming at 120Hz, VRR, and ALLM, this is as well-specced as it gets for games. Put all this with an intuitive Game Dashboard menu and extremely useful Game Optimizer picture mode, and it’s hard to fault. 

LGs smart TV platform, webOS 23, is intuitive and more streamlined than last year’s software, webOS 22, and offers you greater customization options in terms of categorizing apps via its Quick Card option and also tailors recommendations on what you want to look for. Thankfully, webOS 23 has also toned down the amount of recommendations compared to last year as well, because they were a little overwhelming.

In terms of design, the G3 is a stunning TV, with a sleek, bezel-less build that looks elegant when mounted on a wall. Still, though, it’s extremely frustrating that for people who want to put this TV on a stand, a desktop stand is not included and will cost you extra – it only comes with a special gap-free wall-mount.

If you’re looking for a TV to suit any situation including gaming, movie marathons or daytime viewing, with image quality that’s as good as anything else on the market, the LG G3 is definitely one of your top choices. There are cheaper high-quality OLEDs out there, such the LG C3 or Sony A80L, but they sacrifice brightness or other features compared to the G3. The biggest competitor is the Samsung S95C, which we rate slightly higher due to its better sound and great external connections box, creating slightly better value overall – but the G3 should definitely be one of your options if you’re looking to buy one of the best 4K TVs available today.

For this review, we tested the 65-inch version of the LG G3. 

LG G3 with mountainous landscape on screen

The LG G3 looks stunning with Dolby Vision content and shines with landscape shots  (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: price and release date

  •  Released in March 2023 
  •  From $2,099 / £1,999 / AU$4,195 (55-inch)
  •  Up to $5,799 / £5,999 / AU$10,995 for the 83-inch 

The G3 is one of LG’s most elite OLEDs, sitting only below the LG M3 and its wild wireless tech, and the 8K Z3 series. At the time of its release in March 2023, pricing for the G3 started from $2,099 / £1,999 / AU$4,195 for the 55-inch version, $2,799 / £2,699 / AU$5,295 for the 65-inch, $3999 / £4,299 / AU$8,395 for the 77-inch and  $5,799 / £5,999 / AU$10,995 for the 83-inch version. This was competitively priced with its closest competitor, the Samsung S95C. 

At the time of writing, several months after release, prices for the LG G3 have dropped but it still remains well into the higher end of the OLED market. However, expensive as it may be, compared to similarly specced TVs such as the Samsung S95C or Sony A95L, the G3’s price remains competitive.  

LG G3 review: Specs

Rear of LG G3 showing connections and ports

The LG G3 has a lot of connectivity options, including four 2.1 HDMI ports (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Features

  •  Micro Lens Array (MLA) OLED Evo panel  
  •  Alpha 9 Gen6 processor 
  •  4K 120Hz with Dolby Vision support for gaming 

OLED technology continues to evolve, and the LG G3 features what LG refers to as Brightness Booster Max; a light-boosting technology that LG claims makes the G3 70% brighter than previous generation OLEDs. 

The key bit of technology in LG G3 to achieve this is Micro Lens Array (MLA) technology, which is a layer of microscopic lenses that sit in a layer above the OLED panel and enable much more of the light from the panel to reach your eyes. Absent from the more affordable LG C3, this MLA tech makes the G3 stand out in LG’s line-up. The LG G3 supports Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HLG HDR formats, but as with all LG TVs, it doesn’t support HDR10+.

In terms of gaming features, the LG G3 covers a lot of bases, with Dolby Vision gaming support, four HDMI 2.1 ports rated for 4K 120Hz, with VRR including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, ALLM and HGiG compatibility. Coupled with the Alpha 9 Gen6 processor, the G3 is packing some serious performance for gaming and picture processing.

The 4.2-channel speaker system, with Dolby Atmos and DTS compatibility, aims to improve on the audio performance of other OLEDs in order to attain a sound that can complement the picture on screen. 

The overhauled smart TV software, webOS 23, has access to all the major apps including Netflix, Disney Plus, Prime Video and Apple TV Plus to name a few. A new Quick Cards system in the home screen categorizes apps by genre such as Sport, Music and so on, and its main home menu has had ads and recommendations reduced, allowing the webOS 23 home screen to fit over two pages as opposed to the four it was spread over last year, leading to a neater-looking homepage.

  • Features score: 5/5

LG G3 with John Wick on screen

Contrast is brilliant and people look natural, as shown here in John Wick: Chapter 2. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Picture quality

  •  Brilliant brightness levels 
  •  Detailed and natural image 
  •  Deep black levels 

Let’s start with some numbers: with the LG G3 in Filmmaker HDR mode, we measured peak brightness at an impressive 1,449 nits on a 10% window, which actually tops the Samsung S95C’s 1,400 nits, making this marginally the brightest OLED we’ve measured so far. It hit a respectable 219 nits on a full 100% window, but that’s notably lower than the 265 nits we measured for the S95C.

LG suggested the G3 would have a 70% brightness increase on previous generations of its OLED TVs, and with these numbers, we can confirm it. Last year’s LG G2, measured in the bright Vivid mode in our review, hit 1,000 nits in a 10% window and the LG C3, in the same Filmmaker mode as the G3, hit just over half the G3’s result with 830 nits. The G3’s MLA panel has certainly boosted the peak brightness by a substantial amount.

During this test, I used the 65-inch G3 and it’s worth noting that the 83-inch G3 does not include MLA, so is likely to perform closer to the LG G2’s results for brightness, although we have yet to confirm this for ourselves. 

In Filmmaker HDR mode again, the LG yielded some great results with its color accuracy, delivering an average Delta-E value of just under three. This demonstrates the difference between a color test pattern and what’s shown on screen, and we’re happy that anything under three is accurate enough for TV viewing. DCI-P3 coverage (the color space used for mastering 4K Blu-rays and digital cinema releases) was 98% and BT.2020 was 73.8%, both of which are very good results. Grayscale Delta-E values, testing black levels and contrast accuracy, averaged around 1.9, which is another excellent result. 

One thing I noticed straight away was how well the G3, with its MLA panel and anti-glare screen, made easy work of the testing room’s bright, overhead lights and spotlights when we pushed them high to see how it fared. Only the reflection of some awkwardly placed overhead lights was visible, so the LG G3 should be fine with generally bright indoor lights. The Samsung S95C’s higher full-screen brightness will be a little better for really bright, sunlit rooms – though neither holds a candle to mini-LED TVs such as the Samsung QN95C. Nevertheless, with only minor reflections, it’s still extremely impressive how well the G3 handled the bright testing facility.

The out-of-the-box picture is certainly impressive on the LG G3. I cycled through several of the picture presets to test the G3 for color, sharpness, contrast and also brightness, seeing just what the MLA panel could do. Using a couple of scenes from The Batman to test these presets, starting with one scene where Batman lights a bright flare to guide people in a darkened, flooded room. Standard mode had a decent enough picture with bright color, but black levels weren’t as deep and brightness was pushed a little too far. 

However, switching to Cinema mode, the contrast was more balanced, enabling the G3 to show how it can accentuate shadows, giving a rich detail to the overall picture. The G3’s Filmmaker mode added further to this, giving the flare a subtle, yet vibrant feel that made it stand out without blowing out. In another scene, where Batman first appears in a subway fight, black levels were outstanding as the shadows and Batman’s suit looked truly dark without losing any detail. 

Testing Dolby Vision HDR content, again in Filmmaker mode, I streamed a lightsaber fight from Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Disney Plus. In it, the lightsabers’ colors were punchy and dynamic without being too glaring. Red was a very prominent color in the scene, as guards, Kylo Ren’s lightsaber and a chunk of the background were all red, but the G3 handled the vibrancy well, keeping a natural, yet flashy look with all the red in the scene.  

Using the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark Blu-ray to test more HDR content, a range of demo material highlighted the phenomenal picture quality of the G3 even further. Several snowy scenes showcased how the G3 can handle vivid whites without overdoing them and keeping a natural feel. During some landscape night shots of a city, contrast levels were excellent, with the black of the night sky contrasting well with the bright lights of the buildings. 

As for motion, the G3 handled fast paced action scenes with ease. Again in The Batman, during the Batmobile chase, the darting cars looked fluid, with the G3 (with little to no motion processing on in Filmmaker mode) making light work of this testing scene. Also, during both the training and final missions of Top Gun: Maverick, the G3s’ processor effortlessly handled the swooping fighter jets, as they careered through the air at a blinding pace, still managing to keep the detail and quality of the picture. 

If you find yourself drawn to a brighter picture mode such as Standard – but not Vivid, which should be avoided at all costs – motion processing called Trumotion does create the dreaded ‘soap opera’ effect, but thankfully the G3 picture settings give you ample settings to tweak to avoid this. However, if you want the best picture, my advice is to stick with Filmmaker mode as it makes the G3 shine, putting it up there with the best OLED TVs

  • Picture quality score: 5/5

Upfiring speakers of LG G3

The LG G3 has a 4.2-channel speaker system, with speaker around the edge helping to position sounds to match the screen. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Sound quality

  •  4.2-channel speaker setup 
  •  Good, clear sound with Cinema mode  
  •  Dolby Atmos and DTS support 

Featuring a multi-speaker setup, the G3 looks to add a more positional sound system than the average TV. There are a variety of different sound preset sound modes for the G3’s TV speakers, which come with varying degrees of success.

The Standard TV preset was solid, with clear enough dialogue and good treble levels, although it was lacking in bass and the volume needed to be pushed more than on other sound modes. 

Cinema mode was definitely an upgrade, with a much deeper bass, better overall balance and thankfully, there was no sacrifice to other sounds. While watching The Batman, during the car chase scene, the rumble of the Batmobile’s engine was thunderous through the G3’s speakers in Cinema mode, with the trumpet led score still nice and clear. Dolby Atmos effects such as rain were still present but a little harder to hear.

Another sound mode featured is AI Sound Pro, one of LG’s sound technologies that in the G3 mixes sound from incoming sources to a claimed 9.1.2 mix in an effort to create a more immersive experience. When played through the same car chase in The Batman, overall volume was much louder and Dolby Atmos effects were amplified, with the rain coming through clearer in the mix. However, it became apparent that the bass had been reduced in favor of the other main channels, including dialogue. This ended up giving a more ‘clinical sound’ in comparison to Cinema, but for programs with a lot of speech, including a cooking show I watched on live TV, it definitely improved speech levels. 

The G3 also features an Auto Acoustic Tuning mode which promises to balance levels using mics in the remote, although during our test there didn’t seem to be a great deal of difference. The G3 also has the WOW Orchestra feature that combines the speakers of the TV with a compatible LG soundbar (rather than replacing the TV’s speakers with the soundbar), but I didn’t test that during my time.

The G3’s TV sound is good enough from its built-in speakers, with the highlights being Cinema mode and AI Sound Pro (for certain situations), but if you are looking for an immersive sound to go with the G3’s fantastic picture, you’re better off looking at one of the best soundbars to pair with it. If you do want a TV with more powerful, built-in audio, you’ll want to look at the Samsung S95C – our reviewers who’ve tried both recommend its sound higher. As far as TV speakers go, though, the G3 is still well above average.

  • Sound quality score: 4/5

LG G3 from a side angle on a stand

With an elegant, sleek frame, the G3 is a good-looking TV. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Design

  •  Elegant, slim design 
  •  Flush fitting to wall 
  •  Optional stand at extra cost is frustrating 

The G3 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors of the ‘Gallery’ range of TVs, with an attractive slim design that makes it look effortlessly sleek on the wall. In terms of the frame itself, its silver and metallic design make it not only look good, but also feel solid. 

This is saying a lot, considering the actual TV itself measures at a delightfully thin 2.4cm (just under 1 inch) so you’d be forgiven for thinking the TV will feel flimsy, but thankfully it doesn’t. In fact, it’s quite a heavy and solid beast.

A special flush-to-the-wall wall mount for the TV is provided in the box and sits near the top on the rear of the TV itself, which admittedly does feel like an odd place to put it, with the majority of the weight towards the bottom of the set. However, one welcome return from last year's G2 is that the included slim-fit mount does have some movement to it, enabling you to access the back of the TV to change any inputs or cables if you need to, rather than having to take the TV on and off the wall every time.

During our test, it’s worth noting that we had the optional stand attached to allow us to place it onto our cabinet. Sadly, much like the G2, this stand is not included and neither are any type of feet. Despite the visually appealing and sturdy nature of the stand, it means people looking to place their G3 on any furniture will have to pay extra ($149 / £99), so factor that into the cost.

The supplied remote, LG’s Magic Remote, a staple inclusion with LG’s TVs over the past couple of years, makes a return and still features the same voice control options, buttons and layout as before. The central wheel can still be a little fiddly to navigate menus but is definitely a quicker alternative to the normal arrows. The pointer can also sometimes feel a bit sensitive, but once you get used, it does make navigating the G3 easier.

  • Design score: 4/5

LG G3 main home menu on screen

The webOS 23 software streamlines the home menu of the G3 and adds Quick Cards for customization. (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Smart TV and menus

  •  Intuitive and easy-to-use smart platform 
  •  Streamlined compared to previous year 
  •  Quick cards allows for great customization 

The G3 is loaded with LG’s smart platform, webOS 23. LG has improved on the Home screen from last year, condensing it down onto two pages rather than the several pages it was the year before. The glaring ads and recommendations have all been toned down as well, making for a much more user-friendly smart platform.

Navigating and changing settings such as picture mode, sound output (if you’re switching from TV speakers to a soundbar for example) and sleep timer is also extremely easy. A quick menu appears on the left hand side of the screen when you press the settings button (the gear icon) on the remote and these options are clearly displayed in an easy-to-use menu. For more advanced settings, the main settings page can easily be accessed and thankfully, this too is neatly laid out into four logical categories; Picture, Sound, General and Support.

The latest feature added to webOS is the introduction of Quick Cards on the main hub. Above the usual line of apps, which can be moved and customized, there sits a group of larger icons listed with titles like Game, Music, Sports. These can actually be used to organize your apps by theme, making for even greater user customization.

Another new feature is the built-in, hands-free voice control. By enabling this feature, you simply say ‘Hi LG’ and the LG awaits your commands. During my test, I found that although it was very responsive and quick to find results, it would sometimes cut me off early and didn’t take me to where I wanted to go. Although frustrating at times, it can be useful.

  • Smart TV and menus score: 4.5/5

LG G3 with Battlefield V and game bar on screen

The G3 has a game menu to tweak settings to get the best out of video games  (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Gaming

  •  Game Optimizer mode and menu  
  •  4K 120Hz Dolby Vision support 
  •  Smooth and fluid motion during gameplay 

The LG G3 is packed with gaming features, including four HDMI 2.1 ports all rated for 4K 120Hz, giving gamers with multiple next-gen consoles plenty of space to plug them in and get the best out of them , whilst still leaving room for a soundbar. With VRR including AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync compatibility, and ALLM, the LG G3 offers a plethora of choice and support for gamers. 

When measuring input lag at 4K 60Hz, the LG G3 yielded a result of 12.9ms, a respectable score. But using the Game Optimizer feature to place input delay into Boost mode improved this result to 9.2ms, which is among the best in class.

When playing Battlefield V on Xbox Series X, I turned on the Game Optimizer picture mode to turn off any unwarranted ‘enhancements’ within its settings, like judder reduction or motion blur, to get the best out of the game. The motion within the game, running at 120fps, was smooth and clean, managing to feel fast paced without feeling sickening or jerky in any places. Panning and swapping between targets was a breeze and kept the action feeling pacy. 

Game Optimizer mode also managed to keep depth and details within the graphics, highlighting just how good the G3’s display was. In a stealth mission whilst infiltrating an air base in a rocky landscape, even terrain and small details such as bushes and stones looked natural, with the greens and browns still popping on screen despite darkened lighting. The sharpness of the picture gave everything a defined edge without being too defined, a problem that can occur within the sharpness detail of some TVs. 

Also featured was the Game Dashboard menu, which gave lots of opportunity for picture and sound adjustments to get the gaming experience just right. I switched between the ‘Standard’ and ‘First person shooter’ (FPS) picture options and you could see the difference having Battlefield V (a FPS) in the correct mode made, with motion becoming even more fluid compared to the ‘Standard’ game picture mode and lighting conditions improving to highlight hidden enemies. 

Much like its predecessors, the LG G3 has stellar gaming features. A wealth of connectivity and compatibility, the G3 is definitely a top choice for gamers. Paired with outstanding picture quality, the G3 finds itself amongst the best gaming TVs

  • Gaming score: 5/5

LG G3 remote in person's hand

LG's Magic Remote is featured with the G3 and offers a pointer and mic options (Image credit: Future)

LG G3 review: Value

  •  Most competitively priced with high-end TVs 
  •  Excellent performance and picture quality 
  •  A couple of minus points compared to equivalent sets  

The LG G3 is no doubt a high-end TV, and as such comes with a matching price tag. The picture quality, gaming features and increased brightness compared to normal OLED panels mean you’re getting a lot of TV for that cash, though. 

The G3’s closest rival, the Samsung S95C, is almost identical in price in a lot of territories and it looks like the competition over which of these two TVs is slightly cheaper will be hot, but with no stand included, weaker sound and lower full-screen brightness than the Samsung S95C (and given the S95C's great external connections box), the LG G3 isn’t quite as good value for money, despite beating it in some ways. 

If you are looking for a premium OLED TV, you expect to pay the money. Thankfully, since its release, the G3’s prices have dropped notably. An outstanding, detailed picture and excellent game performance definitely make this a TV worth its money – we just think Samsung S95C ekes a little more out.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

LG G3 with lake view on screen

Another landscape showing off the G3s' phenomenal picture quality  (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the LG G3?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

LG G3 review: Also consider

How I tested the LG G3

LG G3 with snowy scene and wooden fence on screen

(Image credit: Future)
  • 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 to ensure the best OLED performance, I began to test the LG G3 with a couple of different sources including gaming on an Xbox Series X and 4K Blu-ray discs, plus streaming content from several streaming services, including Disney Plus.

After assessing its presets, I chose the LG G3 most natural preset, Filmmaker mode, and began to watch things primarily on this picture mode (though this doesn't work with Dolby Vision). I used a number of 4K Blu-rays to look at elements such as color, sharpness, black levels, brightness and motion. I also streamed content from various sources, including Disney Plus for streamed Dolby Vision HDR, and watch live broadcast digital TV.

The next step was to take measurements of the G3, using Portrait Displays’ Calman calibration software. I measured the peak brightness on a 10% and 100% white window, with both HDR and SDR. I then measured grayscale, gamma and color accuracy, again using Calman, to provide average Delta-E values (which demonstrates the margin of error between the test pattern and what is displayed) for each of these categories. I also measured color space looking at DCI-P3 and BT.2020 coverage. For all these tests, I used the Murideo Seven 8K test pattern generator to create the patterns being measured.

To analyze input lag for the G3, I used the Leo Bodnar 4K Input Lag tester.

Shadow and Bone season 2 review: hit Netflix fantasy show’s return is a magic-fuelled mishmash
11:32 am | March 16, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off
Shadow and Bone season 2: key information

- Launches on Thursday, March 16
- All eight episodes drop on the same date
- Based on Leigh Bardugo's fantasy book series
- Created by Eric Heisserer
- Stars Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, and Archie Renaux among others
- Picks up two weeks after the season 1 finale

Minor spoilers follow for Shadow and Bone season 2. 

Shadow and Bone seems perfectly placed to become Netflix’s new flagship fantasy TV series. With the diminishing popularity of The Witcher and the cancellation of fan-favorite shows like Warrior Nun, Netflix needs a new fantasy champion. Shadow and Bone, then, could be the savior it’s looking for.

Unfortunately, Shadow and Bone season 2 doesn’t do enough to suggest it’s on track to take on that mantle. Unlike Shadow and Bone’s first season, this isn’t a wholly faithful adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling books, with some baffling creative decisions cramping its style. There’s a lot to like about the show’s latest entry, but its positives are nullified in such a way that it’s not as spellbinding as it could be. 

Light and shade

Alina uses her sun summoning powers as Mal watches on in Shadow and Bone season 2

Alina and Mal are back for Shadow and Bone season 2. (Image credit: Netflix)

Shadow and Bone season 2 picks up two weeks after the first season’s finale. Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li) and Mal Oretsov (Archie Renaux) continue their quest to locate more amplifiers to boost Alina’s Sun Summoning powers, destroy The Fold, and stop General Kirigan/The Darkling (Ben Barnes) for good. Meanwhile, Kirigan, who survived the Volcra’s attack in The Fold, tends to his wounds as he concocts a new plan to laud it over the Grishaverse.

After aiding Alina in the fight against Kirigan, The Crows – led by Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter) – return to Ketterdam. However, rival gang leader Pekka Rollins (Dean Lennox Kelly) has seized their establishments and framed them for crimes they didn’t commit. Add Nina Zenik (Danielle Galligan), who seeks The Crows’ help in breaking her partner Matthias (Calahan Skogman) out of Hellgate prison, into the mix, and Brekker and company have plenty to deal with.

Like Shadow and Bone season 1, the show’s latest installment divides its time between two primary narratives. Well, initially at least. Alina and The Crows’ storylines are the main focus of Shadow and Bone season 2, but it’s the branching out into subplots, side quests, and other narrative offshoots that distinguish this season from what came before. 

Wildly different personas collide with a satisfying regularity throughout

Broken into its constituent parts, the show’s second season centers on five storylines. That quintet comprises Alina and Mal’s journey, Matthias’ imprisonment in Hellgate, Kirigan’s burgeoning masterplan, and two concerning The Crows. Of the latter duo, the first is a chaotically-assembled, brand-new tale that sees Brekker and co take on Rollins’ criminal empire. The second Crows-centric plot – one that draws them back into Alina and Kirigan’s orbits – is a far more entertaining and suspenseful spectacle. 

The Crows, Wylan, and Nina look out at a prison under the cover of dark in Shadow and Bone season 2

The Crows get two story arcs in the show's second season. (Image credit: Netflix)

Regardless, Shadow and Bone season 2 flits between its plots with a pleasing fluidity, competently expanding on the size and scope of season 1 through its examination of the Grishaverse’s history and useful lore, new locations, and character introductions (more on these later).

However, one of Shadow and Bone 2’s main problems is how much time it dedicates to each storyline. Understandably, it’s weighted in favor of Alina’s story – she’s the series’ main protagonist and its hero, so her journey takes precedence over The Crows’, Kirigan’s, and Matthias’. Even so, Kirigan’s season 2 story arc – outside of crossing over with Alina’s, initially in a dreamscape manner akin to the Force Dyad bond seen in Star Wars' sequel film trilogy – is thematically dense and captivating enough to deserve more screen time. 

Matthias’ Hellgate-based story is even less developed and, in some respects, an unnecessary inclusion. Ironically, its plot starts to get interesting later in the season, when a certain individual is locked up alongside everyone’s favorite Fjerdan. But, while this story belatedly bubbles away with intrigue, events that follow only act as vexing teases for what’s to come in a potential third season.

It’s General Kirigan and Kaz Brekker’s individual character arcs that are examined most closely, and in tantalizing detail

Equally, the transition between some scenes occurs in a way that oversimplifies specific plot points, even if they help the season proceed at a satisfying pace. One example, which sees Mal and Alina separated in episode 4 for reasons I won’t spoil, leads to their reunion in episode 5 in baffling circumstances, with Mal explaining his absence with a reductive throwaway line. Moments like these detract from the drama and tension that Shadow and Bone 2 tries to tee up, serving as nothing more than eye-twitching irritations.

A scarred General Kirigan looks upset in Shadow and Bone season 2

Season 2 should have leaned more into Kirigan and Alina's verbal dreamscape-style skirmishes. (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

Those issues are small fry, though, compared to the bewildering narrative deviations Shadow and Bone season 2 takes from its source material. Showrunner Eric Heisserer forewarned diehard fans that the show’s next installment would pull from three novels – Siege & Storm, Ruin & Rising, and Six of Crows – to tell its tales. Longtime fans, then, weren’t expecting season 2 to be a beat-for-beat retread of the book series’ storylines.

Even so, nothing prepared me for how radically different Shadow and Bone season 2 is from the novels. Again, this is a largely spoiler-free zone, but I was surprised – even frustrated at times – at the direction of certain narratives and plot points, including how season 2 ends. These big and arguably redundant changes are sure to irritate and even upset fans of Bardugo’s novels. 

Given the outcry over The Witcher season 2’s narrative deviations, plus those rumored to appear in The Witcher season 3, I would have expected Netflix and Shadow and Bone’s creative team to approach things differently here. Okay, diverging from the books’ plot-beats gives long-time fans something new to engage with, and brings a sense of originality to proceedings, just like season 1 did. However, I can’t help but view these changes – especially in the season 2 finale, which drags its heels in how much it sets up for the show’s likely third season – as unwarranted alterations that many fans will take exception to.

Grisha growth and alluring additions 

Nikolai Lantsov puts his hands on a table as he look as someone off camera in Shadow and Bone season 2

Nikolai Lantsov is a pleasing addition to Shadow and Bone's TV ranks. (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

Refreshingly, Shadow and Bone season 2’s predilection for thematic exploration and character development – for new and returning characters – blesses it with some truly engrossing content.

For one, Alina and Mal’s relationship runs the full gamut of emotions. Initially, there’s a tender awkwardness to the pair’s burgeoning romance, a sweet but sickly teenage-like love that’s unwavering no matter what’s thrown at them. Eventually, world-shattering challenges present themselves that put the duo’s bond to the ultimate test, which serves to exponentially ramp the tension up.

Vital as it is to explore Alina and Mal’s dynamic, it’s Kirigan and Brekker’s individual character arcs that are examined most closely, and in tantalizing detail.

In Kirigan’s case, Shadow and Bone 2 trains a lens on the physical and psychological pain inflicted upon him by Alina and company, as well as further examining the loneliness that pains him after centuries of existence. Despite the evident darkness within him, the sequel season’s exploration of his humanity is moving. His trauma, though largely self-inflicted, is similarly relatable, and speaks to the fallibility that every Shadow and Bone character is imbued with. 

Kaz and Inej share a moment in a dimly lit room in Shadow and Bone season 2

Kaz Brekker's PTSD and trauma is explored extensively in season 2. (Image credit: Timea Saghy/Netflix)

Speaking of trauma, Brekker’s mental and emotional anguish is explored through flashback sequences, which directly impact the errant decisions he makes – choices that inevitably drive a wedge between him as his closest confidants, Inej (Anita Suman) and Jesper (Kit Young). Brekker’s mix of anger and pride over his past creates a fascinating fraying of tensions between the trio and anyone else caught up in their escapades, particularly in the first of the Crows’ season 2 storylines. Plot-wise, The Crows versus Rollins’ gang is a messy affair. As a character study or wider examination of the fragility of relationships, though, it rises above its season 2 peers.

Another welcome aspect is the addition of fan-favorite characters from the books, who are given plenty of scenery to chew as the season progresses. 

Nikolai Lantsov, the swashbuckling Ravkan Prince-turned-Privateer who becomes one of Alina and Mal’s most trusted allies, is portrayed with panache, charisma, and emotional intelligence by Patrick Gibson (Tolkien). Even in his introductory scene, where Lantsov – who also goes by the alias Sturmhond – is seemingly positioned as an antagonist, Gibson’s likeability makes it hard not to immediately warm to him.

Nothing prepared me for how radically different Shadow and Bone season 2 is from the novels

The inclusion of twins Tolya Yul-Bataar (Lewis Tan) and Tamar Kir-Bataar (Anna Leong Brophy), Lantsov’s lieutenants, also brings a fun-fuelled sibling rivalry and unique characterization to the table. Add the shy but no-less-charming demolition expert Wylan Hendriks (Jack Wolfe) – who joins The Crows and Nina – into the equation, and Shadow and Bone season 2 is emboldened by its new arrivals. The manner of their character introductions feels seamless, too, helping each to feel a natural part of the Grishaverse. As such, there’s no need for any MacGuffin-style storytelling to insert them into their respective plots.

Tolya and Tamar wield their weapons as they look at something off camera in Shadow and Bone season 2

Tolya and Tamar add humor, heart, and bad-assery in equal measure to proceedings. (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

With a potent new collection of supporting characters, plus the return of other favorites, such as Genya (Daisy Head), Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta), David (Luke Pasqualino), and Baghra (Zoe Wanamaker), there's the potential for season 2 crafts new, interesting, and fun team-ups that'll pique viewers' curiosity.

Shadow and Bone season 2 emphatically delivers on that front. Wildly different personas collide with a satisfying regularity throughout, with each new relationship supplying humor, tenderness, and melodrama in spades. Each dynamic feels novel and unforced, regardless of how season 2’s multiple storylines weave in and out of one another. The culmination of these mash-ups is a thrilling, high-octane, and crowd-pleasing crescendo that unfolds in the season’s climactic battle – occurring in episode 7, not episode 8 – and pays dividends on the new relationships built across each episode. If nothing else, it makes up for the somewhat predictable nature of episode 7’s (and the season’s) multifaceted showdown – one that, like the other battles in season 2, is at once both enjoyable and trite.

My verdict

Shadow and Bone season 2 is a two-headed beast. On the one hand, it’s a gripping, spookier, and darker entry in the series, with its character studies and rich themes cementing its position as one of the best Netflix shows around. On the other, it’s a narratively inconsistent installment that, while absorbing and shocking in some areas, perplexingly substitutes elements of its source material for story beats that will only displease the fans of the novels. Contextually, the manner in which season 2 kicks off means that some viewers will be best served by rewatching the season 1 finale in order to reacquaint themselves with where the show left off.

More casual viewers will likely find Shadow and Bone season 2 to be an enjoyable experience. For me, though, it doesn’t quite stick the superpowered, magic, and Small Science-infused landing. I’m sure other members of Shadow and Bone’s ardent fanbase will perceive similar faults with its storytelling approach, or with other aspects of its eight-episode run. Fundamentally, these issues weigh Shadow and Bone 2 down and, unless it rectifies such glaring errors in future seasons, it will fall short of achieving the lofty position of the best Netflix fantasy series.

Shadow and Bone season 2 launches in full on Netflix on Thursday, March 16.

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