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Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB 4K projector review
1:27 pm | April 15, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets Home Theater Projectors Televisions | Comments: Off

Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB: 30-second review

The P2000UST-RGB is Nomvdic's first UST projector, and while there are a few issues with the out-of-the-box colour profiles, the overall brightness, depth of image adjustment and audio quality more than makeup for any early issues. Setup is straightforward forward, with the unit only needing a minimum of 17cm from the screen to project the image with a maximum screen size of 1.5m going down to 65cm at the smallest; while that throw isn't huge, it's more than adequate for most homes. 

Connections to the machine are made directly through HDMI, and while the P2000 does offer WIFI, this is for little more than updating the firmware. As such, there is no built-in Smart platform. All digital TVs, movies, and other devices need to be connected through one of the HDMI, USB, or network ports on the back. While some might see this as a drawback, in real terms, focusing on the quality of the projection and the associated hardware rather than the SmartPlatform technology is a smart move and will be welcomed by many. 

When it comes to the projection, the illumination is bright, with the ALDP 4.0 RGB laser light engine producing a 2,500 ANSI Lumen projection at 4K UHD. We've tested many of the best business projectors, and for us, the image here is clear and crisp; however, on close inspection, you can see that the top area of the projection is a little less crisp and focused than the lower and central areas. The colours using the default setting are a little warmly cast. However, a quick flick through the presets will get you to an option that will give you out-of-the-box satisfaction, and if you want to adjust the projection quality, there's plenty of scope. 

While the price of the P2000 may initially seem expensive, this projector focuses on the projection quality and sound, offering a simple and aesthetically pleasing home cinema projection unit that doesn't fail to impress as long as you don't mind a little tweaking and a few small oddities. 

Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB: Price & availability

The Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB projector costs $2,999 (about £2,362, AU$4,527). That price is around average for DLP ultra-short-throw projectors such as the Hisense PX-2 Pro.


The different viewing modes offer plenty of choice, but if you want to fine-tune then the Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB offers plenty of adjustment (Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB: Specs


Two adjusters on either side of the Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB enable plenty of adjustment when leveling. (Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB: Design & features

  • Great looking cinematic designs
  • low latency support for gaming
  • FireStick 4k included with some bundles

The Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB projector blends state-of-the-art functionality with a visually appealing design, making it a standout choice for both ultra-modern and Art Deco-themed interiors. At 60.4cm in height, 42.6cm in width, and 15.3cm in depth, and weighing 10.6 kg, this projector is far from lightweight and designed to be positioned and left in place rather than packed away. As such, while the machine is visually appealing, it has been designed so that it can be ceiling mounted with front or rear projection options depending on your setup. Keeping lines and aesthetics clean, the design sees all the connectors are wall-facing, while the speakers are oriented towards the seating area for the best audio experience.

As a short-throw projector, a distance of just 17cm between the projector and the screen is needed to enable large-scale projections, making it perfect for tight spaces. 

When it comes to design, Nomvdic has gone for a more visually appealing design than the usual box-like products that we see. The top is crafted with a recessed area holding the projection lens, complemented by a large V-shaped dip at the front for no other reason than an aesthetic flourish. Around the sides of the projector is a stunning red, gilded surround, which echoes the grandeur of traditional cinema curtains.

Moving on to the core, the P2000UST-RGB boasts a triple-laser RGB light source driven by the advanced ALPD 4.0 technology, ensuring a luminous display of 3840 x 2160 4K UHD resolution. The projection is impressively bright and rated at 2,500 ANSI lumens and offers a large colour spectrum, achieving 100% of the BT.2020 standard, which is what you'd expect from high-quality 4K UHD TVs.

For sound, a customised 25-watt Harman Kardon speaker system with Dolby and DTS support delivers impressive audio. 

For both the sound and vision, the menu system offers plenty of scope for adjustment over the visual quality. This OSD also offers the usual array of screen adjustments such as keystone correction, zoom, and warp adjustments, and to make things a little easier, there's a test pattern that can be projected to aid with visual calibration.

Different from some other projectors, the P2000UST-RGB doesn't have a built-in Smart platform that offers apps; instead, Nomvdic has included a Fire TV Stick 4K Max with some but not all bundles. However, it's worth noting that the projector doesn't integrate directly with this or any other smart TV device; it merely acts as a way of projecting the output and as such, you end up with two remotes. When it comes to connectivity options, there are plenty of 3.5mm stereos, S/PDIF audio outputs, and HDMI ports with eARC support.

  • Design & features: 4/5

Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB review: picture quality


The test pattern is fast to access and enables you a quick way to check on the colours and tone of the projection. (Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Excellent contrast and brightness
  • Wide BT.2020 color space 
  • Plenty of scope for colour adjustment

Utilising a projection screen, the Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB demonstrates its projection quality with a 17cm distance from the screen; this short throw distance ensures easy placement and minimal room disruption; however, when initially placing the projector, any slight nudge or movement will easily throw the projection framing. Once in position, it's worth making sure that that will be its final positioning, and if the ceiling is mounted, make sure the mount has some adjustment, as although you can adjust keyframing if you switch modes, the projector resets, so getting that position right at the outset is extremely important and will help reduce or eliminate later fine-tuning.

Once the projector is switched on, the autofocus quickly brings the image into focus. However, it lacks any automatic keystone correction, which is why the initial positioning is so important. However, if you do need to make a tweak, there are user-friendly manual adjustments, including warp and 4-corner settings that facilitate the geometric fine-tuning. 

One instant issue is the default colour profile, which gives a blush green tinge to whites. However, flicking through the profile options quickly navigates to a decent balanced setting, which can then be fine-tuned with manual adjustments. To help the process, there's a project test pattern that can be selected and used to enable all the necessary quality checks. Annoyingly, you can adjust the colour, brightness, and contrast simultaneously with the Pattern display, and instead, you need to toggle between the input and then back to the screen. As always, it's better to display a test image from the source to calibrate the display.

In terms of the viewing experience, the Movie setting seemed to deliver the best out-of-the-box results, though even then, a few additional tweaks to colour and contrast were needed. As well as movies and TV, the projector is also perfectly tuned to play games with minimal lag. Switching the profile to the game and the machine highlights the 3X fast mode option, which enables reducing input lag and enhancing the gaming experience. However, a side effect of this mode is that it resets the Corner and Warp settings, necessitating readjustments when reverting to Movie mode. Again, ensuring everything is correctly positioned at the outset makes even more sense.

One aspect of the projector that really worked well and added to greater versatility is the extensive range of settings adjustment, including one that enables you to compensate for projecting onto coloured walls with an option that effectively neutralises the wall colour impact. 

When checking out the brightness with a test pattern from a MacBook Pro, the projection measured 550 LUX at full power, 450 LUX at half power, and 250 LUX at the lowest, indicating its capability to perform well in daylight conditions, though dimming the room remains advisable for in bright sunlit conditions.

When it comes to movie watching, the projector excels after fine-tuning colour, tone, and saturation, delivering smooth motion handling, particularly noticeable in 4K content. The visual fidelity, with rich colours and tonal gradients, complements the high-quality audio output from the built-in speakers. The high 4K UHD resolution helps minimise pixelation, especially at the larger 1.5m diameter projection.

For gaming, the projector vividly brings games to life, although the necessity to readjust settings and reposition for correct screen proportions post-mode switch is a drawback unless you've set up and positioned the machine correctly. 

  • Picture quality: 4/5

Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB: Value


Rear-panel inputs include one HDMI 2.1 and two HDMI 2.0 inputs, one with eARC (Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Price on a par with similar models
  • No integrated Smart platform
  • Superb audio quality

At $2,999, the Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB is well-priced and compares well against many of the best 4K projectors we've tested. However, you do have to consider that to get the best cinematic or gaming experience, you will need to buy yourself a decent screen and Smart Platform in the Amazon FireStick 4K isn't included in the bundle. The audio quality for this project is one of the big features that really make it stand out, meaning that you can get away without needing to invest in a sound system, or you can utilise this as part of a larger audio setup. 

Projection quality and sound are where this projector really finds its strength, and the quality of the 4K projection for watching movies or TV is superb. The ANSI 2,500 Lumens is decent, enabling you to watch most projections in moderate daylight conditions, although some shading of the projection screen will be a good idea. That 2,500 lumens is about average for this price point, and you do have to start spending quite a bit more to boost that brightness. 

For gaming, the projector works well with minimal lag between the system and projector as long as you have switched to game mode to enable a faster connection and the position remains.

While there were a few initial issues with colour casts, these were easily corrected with the extensive range of adjustments accessible through OSD, enabling fine-tuning of the image. If you're into movies, then once the picture is calibrated, the projected colour, tonal graduation, contrast, and detail are superb, and you won't be disappointed.

  • Value: 4/5


The small remote is simple but does everything you could need, the only issue being that you'll need two, one for the projector and the other for your smart TV (Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Should I buy the Nomvdic P2000UST-RGB?


(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider...

Epson LS800
The Epson LS800 uses a 3LCD laser light source to beam a stunningly bright 4,000 lumens image. This makes it a great option for daytime sports viewing and it also has good built-in sound. 

Read our full Epson LS800 review

BenQ v5000i projector showing Apple TV interface

(Image credit: Future)

We tested the best business monitors for an eye-catching productivity boost

BenQ X3100i review: a potent 4K projector for gaming and movies
10:14 pm | April 9, 2024

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

BenQ X3100i 4K projector: one-minute review

The BenQ X3100i is the company’s latest top-of-the-line gaming projector and boasts a 4K DLP chip that can switch to 1080p to deliver a highly responsive 240Hz refresh rate. Between that and its bright 4LED light source, this $2,399  (around £1,900 / AU$3,690) projector has plenty to distinguish it among the best 4K projectors.

It all comes packed into a somewhat stylish, albeit plastic cube that is at least trendier than the many office space-esque projectors on the market. With plenty of setup options and optical adjustments, the X3100I is a powerful projection system with an edge over some of its more fashionably built competitors.

The X3100i won’t be the best option for folks who prioritize watching TV and movies, but it does a great job at that task. And given its gaming chops, it’s an easy choice for gamers who also want a home theater projector.

BenQ X3100i 4K projector review: price and release date

  •  Release date: November 2023  
  • MSRP:  $2,399 (around £1,900 / AU$3,690)

The BenQ X3100i is available now for $2,399 (around £1,900 / AU$3,690). It’s still a very recent model, so it hasn’t seen major price shifts or deals during sales events.

BenQ X3100i on table facing front

The BenQ X3100i is large for a portable projector but can be easily moved from room to room (Image credit: Future)

BenQ X3100i 4K projector review: Specs

BenQ X3100i close up of manual controls

Manual controls let you dial in focus, zoom, and vertical lens shift (Image credit: Future)

BenQ X3100i 4K projector review: design and features

  • Good, but not stunning looks
  • Flexible optical adjustments
  • Potent speakers

The BenQ X3100i is a modestly sized cube of a projector, with almost square dimensions. BenQ adds a touch of style by using an interesting pattern of cutouts for venting plus a dark finish on the front that’s accented in orange. That said, it’s virtually identical to the earlier BenQ X3000i and X1300i. It’s hard to ignore that the projector’s chassis is made from plastic — similar to any office projector — but the X3100i’s design flourishes give it a bit more visual appeal than models from Epson or Optoma.

For some projectors, a more stylish design has meant fewer optical controls, but BenQ hasn’t omitted them. It has a physical dial to vertically shift the lens, plus optical zoom and focus control rings. Digital adjustments are becoming commonplace on projectors, but these sacrifice actual picture resolution, which is why the BenQ X3100i’s optical adjustments are a great addition. It does have digital keystone adjustments, but since these add latency, hardcore gamers had best avoid them.

BenQ’s setup features don’t stop there. The projector has two adjustable feet up front to help angle it just right. Cleverly, it includes attachable feet and a rubber bumper should you want to set the projector upside down someplace like a high shelf. Since there’s a vertical offset to the lens, high placements require the X3100i to be upside-down, and these design features let you do that without having to opt for ceiling mounting. 

BenQ includes a fairly basic remote for easy navigation of the projector's menus and the menus of an attached streaming stick. The side panel controls are handy if you can’t find your remote and want to make adjustments in a pinch, but they’re cheap-feeling and not very responsive.

The included streaming stick is a basic Android TV dongle that tucks into a compartment inside the projector with a built-in HDMI port and a micro USB power connector. Annoyingly, It doesn’t come pre-installed, forcing you to unscrew the projector’s top cover to insert it.

The battery compartment of the included remote control is also difficult to get into. BenQ stretched the cover across almost the remote’s whole length, and it's tricky to grasp it.

In addition to the internal HDMI port, the BenQ X3100i includes two more HDMI ports on the rear, including one that supports eARC. There are also 3.5mm analog and optical digital audio outputs, so your connection options are well covered. The projector’s built-in speakers are surprisingly potent and they provided impactful sound before maxing out in my 200-square-foot room.

  • Design and features score: 3.5/5

BenQ X3100i showing Avatar 2 on screen

The BenQ's focus is on gaming performance, but it also does a great job displaying movies (Image credit: Future)

BenQ X3100i 4K projector review: picture and sound quality

  • Bright 4K picture
  • Flexible and responsive gaming options
  • Somewhat finicky HDR

The BenQ X3100i’s compact size hides mighty capabilities. A 4LED light source pipes out a rated 3,300 ANSI Lumens, working with a single DLP chip to produce a bright, crisp, and colorful 4K image. Movies and TV look awesome with this projector, especially when viewed on a 100-inch or larger screen. 

If you want to make the most of it, you’ll want to pair the BenQ X3100i with a different streaming stick such as the Roku Streaming Stick Plus or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. The included one didn’t seem to deliver HDR, and a third-party option was also inconsistent when displaying movies and shows with HDR, taking a lot of fussing around to get the projector’s settings right. 

All the same, the BenQ X3100i is up to the task of providing a killer image. It may not deliver the same rich color as triple-laser projectors like the Hisense PX2 Pro, which shoots for full coverage of the huge Rec. 2020 color space, but its color is still impressive. (BenQ's specifications cite 100% UHDA-P3 color space coverage.)

Gaming performance is a key aspect of the BenQ X3100i, which can run 4K at 60Hz or 1080p at 240Hz. With that option, if I wanted luscious visuals, I could select 4K, and then if getting sweaty in Overwatch 2, flip over to 240Hz mode. The projector’s DLP chip is incredibly responsive. Whipping around the battlefield and snapping at different targets was a breeze, and it was made all the better by the fact that targets can be downright huge with a large projected image.

Regardless of what picture mode I used (save the unsightly Bright setting), the BenQ maintained a relatively consistent noise level, with fans whirring quietly and never ramping up madly to disrupt my experience.

  • Picture quality score: 4/5

BenQ X3100i 4K projector review: value

  • $2,399 is premium territory
  • Respectable capabilities for the price

The BenQ X3100i may not be a class leader in any category, but it’s a flexible option that finds ways to give you more for your money and is a respectable projector for home theaters and gaming dens alike. Its $2,399 price tag may put it at odds with other projectors that can game or entertain equally well, but few can do both at the level BenQ achieves here.

  • Value score: 4.5/5

BenQ X3100i hidden compartment for streaming stick

The hidden compartment that holds the included Android TV streaming dongle (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the BenQ X3100i 4K projector?

BenQ X3100i Android TV interface

The X3100i's Android TV smart interface provides popular streaming apps including Netflix (Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider...

Hisense PX2 Pro
Ultra short throw projectors like the Hisense PX2 Pro are a great option if you want a big image from a setup that takes up minimal space. It's not the same gaming powerhouse as the BenQ X3100i, but it does look great with both games and movies. Here's our full Hisense PX2 Pro review.

BenQ X3100i showing first person shooter game onscreen

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the BenQ X3100i 4K projector

  • Tested at home in multiple, real-world viewing conditions
  • Viewed with a variety of media and formats
  • I have tested numerous projectors and displays over the last half-decade

I tested the BenQ X3100i at home, in real-world conditions. This saw it challenged by ambient light coming in from numerous windows, in-room lighting, and ambient noise that the projector and its speaker system had to overcome. The projector was tested both on a bare, white wall and with an Akia Screens CineWhite screen and was presented with streamed HDR and non-HDR content, as well as PC gameplay. 

My testing evaluates the projector’s performance with respect to its price and competition from other models that I and my colleagues at TechRadar have tested.

I have been testing projectors since 2021 and displays for even longer. 

First reviewed: April 2024

Samsung QN90D 4K TV review – mini-LED magic for movies and sports
1:00 pm | March 31, 2024

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

The Samsung QN90D series is among the company’s top 4K mini-LED TVs for 2024. It replaces the Samsung QN90C series, which ranked on our list of best TVs in 2023 as the best model for sports owing to its exceptional brightness, anti-glare screen coating and wide viewing angle. The QN90C series launched in screen sizes ranging from 43- to 85-inches. For 2024, Samsung will expand the lineup with a 98-inch model, one benefiting from the company’s new Supersize Picture Enhancer for ultra-large TVs.

Samsung recently invited me to its New Jersey facility to do a hands-on test of the 65-inch QN90D model. Having reviewed last year’s QN90C, I was eager to see what, if any, improvements had been made to the new series. I had sufficient time during my visit to do a full set of measurements, and also had substantial time for subjective tests. Read on for my thoughts on the QN90D, which improves on last year’s model, and is in many ways a worthy, and much lower-cost, competitor to the new Samsung QN900D 8K mini-LED TV and Samsung S95D OLED TV, both of which were also tested during my visit.

Samsung QN90D closeup of pedestal stand

The Samsung QN90D's pedestal stand (Image credit: Future)

The QN90D series is available in 43-inch to 98-inch screen sizes. Pricing for the lineup is notably higher than for last year’s QN90C series, particularly for the larger 75- and 85-inch screen sizes.

  • 43-inch: $1,499 (around £1,190 / AU$2,300)
  • 50-inch: $1,599 (around £1,270 / AU$2,450)
  • 55-inch: $1,999 (around £1,580 / AU$3,060)
  • 65-inch: $2,699 (around £2,140 / AU$4,130)
  • 75-inch: $3,299 (around £2,610 / AU$5,050)
  • 85-inch: $4,799 (around £3,800 / AU$7,350)
  • 98-inch: $14,999 (around £3,640 / AU$22,980)

Samsung QN90D shown in profile in room with gray walls

The Samsung QN90D has a very thin profile for a TV with a built-in backlight and input connections (Image credit: Future)

An updated NQ4 AI Gen2 processor with 20 AI neural networks powers audio and video on the QN90D series. Picture enhancements include Neo Quantum HDR+ and HDR Brightness Enhancer to improve the look of 4K images with HDR, and there’s also an Auto HDR Remastering feature to give a dynamics boost to regular HD sources. Quantum Matrix Technology helps with backlight control for local dimming, and same as with the QN90C there’s an anti-glare screen coating and Ultra Viewing Angle to improve picture uniformity when viewing from off-center seats.

The QN90D has a 4.2.2-channel built-in speaker system powered by 60 watts and provides many of the same audio processing features found on the company’s other premium TVs. These include Object Tracking Sound+, which expands the sound field to heighten the impact of Dolby Atmos effects and Active Voice Amplifier Pro, which boosts both dialogue and sound effects to heighten their clarity in the mix. The QN90C also supports Q Symphony for combining the TV’s speakers with supported Samsung soundbars for even greater audio immersion.

Gaming features on the QN90D series include four HDMI 2.1 inputs with 4K 120Hz support (and up to 144Hz for PC gaming) and FreeSync Premium Pro. There’s also Samsung’s Gaming Hub, which serves as portal for accessing more than 3,000 titles from cloud-based apps such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik and more. Samsung’s Game Bar menu now also features an AI Auto Mode option that can recognize game genres and adjust picture and sound settings to suit. During my test, I measured input lag in Game mode at 9.7ms – an excellent result that about matches last year’s QN90C.

Samsung QN90D Cloud gaming portal screen

The cloud gaming section of the Samsung QN90D's Gaming Hub (Image credit: Future)

Brighter and better-looking 

With the QN90D set to its Movie picture mode, pictures were seriously bright and had excellent contrast even when viewing with overhead room lights turned on. Peak brightness measured on a white 10% window pattern was around 2,000 nits, and brightness with a full-screen white pattern was just short of 600 nits. Those numbers indicate a modest boost over last year’s QN90C, a TV that in my estimation already had brightness to spare.

The QN90D’s color gamut coverage was about the same as what I measured on the QN90C at 94% for UHDA-P3 and 71% for BT.2020.

I normally wouldn’t expect a small brightness boost to have an impact on a TV’s performance, but I was fully captivated by the QN90D. Watching the demonstration footage section on the Spears & Munsil HDR Benchmark 4K Blu-ray disc with the 2,000 nits version selected, images of snow-capped mountains at sunset showed powerful and detailed highlights, while darker scenes revealed a marked improvement in local dimming over last year’s QN90C, with only the slightest degree of backlight blooming visible on high-contrast shots.

The QN90D’s picture maintained excellent uniformity when viewed from off-center seats (see pic below). There was some judder and motion blur visible when I watched a reference scene from the James Bond movie No Time to Die with the TV at its default Movie Mode settings, but a quick visit to the motion settings in the picture setup menu fixed that issue. 

Samsung QN90D shown at angle on table

The Samsung QN90D has excellent off-axis picture uniformity for an LCD-based TV (Image credit: Future)

A relative bargain 

At $2,699 (around £2,140 / AU$4,130) for the 65-inch model Samsung made available for my hands-on test, the QN90D isn’t exactly cheap. But having tested it during the same session where I did hands-on reviews of the much more expensive QN900D 8K mini-LED and S95D OLED models, it comes across as a bargain in the Samsung TV universe. It will take a full review to determine just how good the QN90D ultimately is, but given my relatively brief time with it, I found it to be the TV that left the strongest impression.

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I tested the new Samsung S95D – and it’s OLED TV taken to the next level
6:11 pm | March 27, 2024

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

The new Samsung S95D takes OLED TV's brightness to a whole new level. In 2022, Samsung shook up the TV world with the introduction of its first QD-OLED TV, the Samsung S95B. And while Samsung prefers to call its QD-OLED models simply “OLED” TVs, the company offers a unique take on the technology – specifically, the combination of an OLED display panel with a Quantum Dot layer to enhance brightness and extend color volume.

We were big fans of the S95B as well as its successor, the Samsung S95C, which took the crown as the Best OLED TV at the TechRadar Choice Awards 2023. That model introduced a 40% brightness boost and also managed to fix any issues with black-level consistency we had noted on its predecessor. And now we have the new Samsung S95D, which further pushes the brightness envelope while adding enhancements such as OLED Glare-Free technology to improve picture performance in bright rooms.

Samsung invited me to its New Jersey facility to do a hands-on test of the 77-inch version of the S95D in a living room-like space with good lighting control. During my session, I was able to make a full set of measurements and get substantial eyes-on time with the company’s new flagship OLED TV, which is very different from its predecessor due to the new anti-glare screen. Read on for my thoughts on that topic, but first, let's cover the Samsung S95D’s pricing, features and design.

Samsung S95D close up of table stand

The Samsung S95D's pedestal stand (Image credit: Future)

Like the S95C series, the S95D series is available in 55-, 65-, and 77-inch screen sizes. The Samsung S95D series gets a price bump over last year’s S95C series, though if the S95C’s history is to be repeated, those prices should start falling as early as this summer.

  • 55-inch: $2,599 (around £2,050 / AU$3,975)
  • 65-inch: $3,399 (around £2,690 / AU$5,200)
  • 77-inch: $4,599 (around £3,640 / AU$7,035)

Samsung S95D profile shot

The Samsung S95D's almost impossibly thin profile is made possible by an included One Connect box for hooking up sources (Image credit: Future)

A glare-free OLED TV 

Screen glare is a pain point for OLED TVs, which have struggled to deliver satisfactory pictures in bright room lighting conditions due to their limited brightness compared to mini-LED examples of the best TVs.

With the S95D, Samsung has dealt with that issue directly by incorporating an anti-glare screen it calls OLED Glare-Free technology. According to the company, the new tech has“no negative effects on viewing angle or contrast and no color distortion,” and having now seen it in action, I can confirm that the S95D’s screen is completely free of reflections even with room lights turned on (see the image below).

Along with new screen tech, the Samsung S95D has a new NQ4 AI Gen 2 processor to upscale lower-resolution images to 4K and make possible features, such as OLED HDR Pro to optimize dynamic range and color detail as well as Real Depth Enhancer to intelligently boost contrast on foreground objects in images.

The Samsung S95D’s audio features include 4.2.2-channel built-in speakers powered by 70 watts; Object Tracking Sound+ to create an immersive sound experience from the TV’s speakers alone while accurately locking sound effects to specific areas of the screen; and Active Voice Amplifier Pro, which intelligently boosts dialogue and sound effects to enhance their impact.

Samsung TVs regularly rank among the best gaming TVs and the S95D is no exception. Its four HDMI 2.1 ports accept a 4K 120Hz input from gaming consoles (and 144Hz for PC gaming), and there’s support for FreeSync Premium Pro. Samsung Gaming Hub offers a one-stop shop for cloud-based gaming from apps including Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, and more, and the new Game Bar 4.0 menu features an AI Auto Mode option that can recognize game genres and adjust picture and sound settings automatically. I measured input lag on the Samsung S95D in Game mode at 9ms – an excellent result that slightly bests last year’s S95C.

The Samsung S95D’s incredibly slim bezel is matched with an under-11mm panel depth. While I tested the TV with its pedestal-style stand attached, it would look great mounted to a wall, which is something its One Connect box for source hookups makes easy. Like other Samsung TVs, it has a SolarCell remote control that draws and stores power from room lighting and doesn’t require batteries.

Samsung S95D showing image from Dune in bright lighting

The Samsung S95D displays an image from Dune. Note the complete absence of on-screen glare from room lighting (Image credit: Future)

The brightest OLED TV yet

Peak brightness on the Samsung S95D measured just shy of 1,800 nits, making it the brightest OLED TV we’ve tested yet. That measurement was made in Movie mode on a white window test pattern covering 10% of the screen area, while a full-screen white pattern measured around 325 nits. Full-screen brightness is another important factor for daytime viewing, and though the S95D falls short here compared to its mini-LED competition, including the new Samsung QN900D 8K TV, which measured 520 nits on the same test, the new Samsung QD-OLED’s performance improves on last year’s model.

The S95D’s color gamut coverage was also excellent, measuring 99.9% for UHDA-P3 and 89% for BT.2020. Combined with its high peak brightness, these numbers mean that Samsung’s top QD-OLED is equipped to make short work of any HDR source you throw its way (Dolby Vision excepted, since the S95D like other Samsung TVs only supports the HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG high dynamic range formats).

For obvious reasons, I started my viewing with the room lights on. It was almost uncanny how well the Samsung S95D dealt with overhead lights and lamps in the room. Black areas in pictures were free of contrast-killing reflections, and even when I stood directly in front of the screen I didn’t see a hint of my mirror image. There was also good detail in shadows when watching movie scenes, which I normally don’t expect to see in such conditions.

Samsung S95D showing image from Dune in dim lighting

The same image from Dune displayed with room lights dimmed (Image credit: Future)

As good as it looked in the light, with the room dimmed, the Samsung S95D’s picture took on a much punchier character (see the image below), with excellent contrast on HDR sources. In both environments, images had crisp detail, refined highlights, and natural-looking color.

Nonetheless, having done hands-on tests of Samsung’s new Neo QLED mini-LED TVs during the same session, I was surprised to find both color richness and contrast on the S95D slightly lacking compared to my relatively fresh visual memory of the other TVs. Was OLED Glare-Free tech the culprit? To go by the measurements alone, Samsung’s new top QD-OLED should deliver uncompromised picture quality. But it also seemed there was a slightly veiled quality to the image, though it was ultimately tough to put my finger on it.

It will take a full review to thoroughly assess the S95D’s performance, but I can confirm that Samsung’s flagship QD-OLED delivers stunning-looking pictures in both bright and dim lighting. Is it Samsung’s best TV for 2024? That question will also require further testing before making a final call. For now, let’s say that Samsung’s new screen glare-fighting screen tech works as advertised, and the rest of the S95D is equally impressive.

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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.

Samsung QN900D review – a better, brighter 8K mini-LED TV
8:26 pm | March 25, 2024

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

The Samsung QN900D, the company's best 8K TV for 2024, is a very different beast from last year's flagship Samsung QN900C mini-LED model, with one big change being an Infinity screen design with a shiny metal “Infinity Air Stand" that gives the TV a floating-on-air appearance. Otherwise, Samsung continues to be the main TV maker flying the 8K TV flag, and its flagship 8K set is a powerful showcase for the format, which continues to be in short supply outside of YouTube streams.

Samsung's 8K TVs for 2024 also benefit from a processor refresh. The new version is called the Neural Quantum processor 8K Pro and it features 512 neural networks – eight times as many as last year’s model – to bring powerful AI capabilities to the new TVs. These include Quantum Super Resolution Pro AI upscaling to fill out the vastly higher number of pixels in an 8K TV's display panel compared with a 4K TV. Another AI-driven feature is Real Depth Enhancer Pro, which, according to Samsung, "maximizes mini-LED control to enhance contrast even in fast-moving scenes".

A new Samsung picture processing feature, and one that's exclusive to the QN900D, is AI Motion Enhancer Pro. This uses a ball-tracking algorithm that kicks in when watching sports and uses picture information from an onboard database to fill in any visual gaps of a ball in motion frame-by-frame. I didn't get a chance to try this feature out during my hands-on test of the QN900D, but I did get a demo of it at Samsung's HQ and it was highly effective at its intended task.

Samsung QN900D close up of pedestal stand

The Samsung QN900D's Infinity Air Stand (Image credit: Future)

The QN900D series is now available for pre-order in 65-, 75-, and  85-inch screen sizes with prices starting at $4,999 (around £3,950 / AU$7,645) for the 65-inch up to $7,999 (around £6,325 / AU$12,235). That’s a big step up compared to last year's 8K flagship, which was initially listed at $3,999. For further pricing context, Samsung's 2023 flagship 4K TV series, the Samsung QN90C, initially listed at $2,299 for a 65-inch screen size.

The QN900D's slim display is made possible by a One Connect box with a new more compact design that features four HDMI 2.1 ports with support for up to 4K 240Hz VRR for gaming – a first for a consumer TV. The 85-inch model I tested has a 6.2.4-channel speaker system powered by 90 watts, with support for Object Tracking Sound+ to better link sound effects to onscreen action and Q Symphony for combining the output of the  TV's speakers with a compatible Samsung soundbar.

As mentioned above, the QN900D's One Connect Box has four HDMI 2.1 inputs with up to 4K 240Hz support, making it a great option for gaming. Similar to other Samsung TVs, it has Samsung Gaming Hub, a one-stop shop for accessing games on connected consoles and from cloud gaming services such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, Luna, Boosteroid, and more.  Gaming Hub now offers customization based on personal preferences and Samsung’s on-screen Game Bar menu has an AI Auto Mode that automatically adjusts picture and sound settings based on game genre.

Samsung QN900D showing 8K image of lizard

The Samsung QN900D showing streamed 8K footage from YouTube (Image credit: Future)

Picture performance

After setting the QN900D to its Movie preset – typically the most accurate picture mode on Samsung TVs – I got down to business by streaming 8K nature clips from YouTube. In that mode, the 85-inch model used for my hands-on test was wonderfully bright and the landscapes, mosques, lizards, sloths, and humans that spilled across its screen all looked wonderfully clear and crisp. I had been impressed with how last year's QN900C handled actual 8K content, but it looked even better on the QN900D.

Given the current lack of 8K source material, 4K and HD are what you'll mainly be watching on the QN900D and Samsung's top TV did an excellent job of upscaling 4K and lower-resolution sources for 8K display. Viewing the demonstration reel on the Spears & Munsil Ultra HD Benchmark 4K Blu-ray test disc, a shot of spindly trees on a beach showed a high level of fine detail in the branches and rocks, with no sign of artificial-looking enhancement. Even with my face pressed close to the screen I saw a solid, detailed image, and I had the same impression across several discs I played.

The QN900D's local dimming also proved excellent, with powerful HDR highlights balanced by deep, detailed shadows. I didn't have time to watch a wide range of reference movie clips, but I noted very few instances of backlight blooming on some of my go-to tests for that issue. This is probably too early a call for a hands-on review, but this year’s Samsung flagship has the most refined local dimming I've yet seen on a mini-LED TV.

Samsung QN900D showing upconverted 4K image of trees

The Samsung QN900D's AI-enhanced upscaling of 4K is a picture quality highlight (Image credit: Future)

As for numbers, we didn’t get a chance to do a full set of measurements during the hands-on test, but peak brightness on a 10% window in Filmmaker Mode was 2,338 nits, and a 100% window measured 520 nits. That’s notably higher peak brightness than the 2,000 nits we measured on last year’s QN900C. UHDA-P3 color space coverage was 92%, while BT.2020 coverage was 68%.

Samsung's 8K TV clearly gets the important things right when it comes down to picture quality, but not all was perfect during my test. Screen glare was something of an issue when overhead lights were turned on in the room I tested the TV in, and so was off-axis uniformity, with picture contrast and color saturation fading to a degree when I viewed at an off-center seat. There was also a fair amount of judder and motion blur artifacts when I watched a reference scene from the James Bond film No Time to Die, though that could be remedied by making custom adjustments for both in the TV's Motion menu.

More problematic during my test was a 'sparkling' artifact that showed up onscreen when I used 4K Blu-ray as a source. This appeared as a random pattern of uniform-colored pixelation noise that could be seen in darker images, and it persisted even after swapping out numerous discs, HDMI cables, and even 4K Blu-ray players. After my session, Samsung assured me the problem was isolated to the specific unit I tested and that the sparkling issue wasn't visible when they later swapped out the TV's One Connect box.

Samsung QN900D showing test pattern for off-axis color

Color and contrast fades slightly when viewing at off-center seats as shown in this test pattern (Image credit: Future)

To 8K or not to 8K?

Samsung’s 8K flagship is a truly impressive TV. Everything about the QN900C, from its cosmetic design to the pristine-looking images it displayed with both 4K and 8K sources, grabbed my attention. It’s too bad that connection issues with 4K Blu-ray popped up during my test, because otherwise I’d be inclined to give it two thumbs up out of the gate. For now, any such conclusion is conditional until we test a perfectly functioning unit.

Each passing year sees Samsung improve its 8K upscaling, and with the QN900D, it’s arrived at the point where it almost doesn’t matter if you’re not watching real 8K, because everything looks so good. Paying for that improvement is another matter, especially since the best TVs on the market also provide exceptional picture quality. Samsung’s big price boost for its 8K TVs in 2024 won't help matters, but I’m certain anyone who buys a QN900D will be very pleased with what they’re getting.

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Panasonic MZ980 review: a mid-range OLED TV that punches above its weight
1:00 pm | March 16, 2024

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

Panasonic MZ980: Two-minute review

The Panasonic MZ980 is the brand's mid-range OLED TV offering from 2023. Although it stands out as a great all-rounder, it’s a bit unfortunate – and actually ultimately unfair, as we’ll see – that the most headline-grabbing thing about the MZ980 is stuff it doesn’t have. Namely the brightness-enhancing Micro Lens Array and proprietary heat sink hardware that you get with the brand’s step up MZ1500 and MZ2000 models. 

The MZ980 does still get a premium OLED panel, though, as well as the latest version of Panasonic’s Hollywood-influenced HCX Pro AI picture processor. Plus, of course, it’s significantly cheaper than its more highly specified siblings, coming in at just £1,399 for the 55-inch sized model at the time of writing.

Making this price look all the more tempting is the simple fact that the MZ980 is a brilliant performer, holding its own against the best OLED TVs. Its picture quality benefits from all of OLED’s traditional benefits – spectacular local contrast, beautifully inky black colours, rich but subtle colours and wide viewing angles – while the excellent video processor adds a truly cinematic finish to proceedings.

The MZ980 sounds good too, despite lacking the forward-facing speakers carried by Panasonic’s step-up models, and while its smart system might not be the most sophisticated in the world, it’s easy to use and these days carries all of the most important streaming services. 

Panasonic’s step up OLED TVs are even better, of course – but unless you have a particularly bright room to cope with, the MZ980’s value proposition is hard to resist.

Panasonic MZ980 Review: Price and release date

A close up of the bezel on the Panasonic MZ980 TV

(Image credit: Future)
  • Release date: Late 2023
  • Price: starting at £1,399 for the 55-inch model 

Having launched a few months back at an already then tempting £1,799, the 55MZ980 is now widely available for just £1,399. Panasonic does not currently sell its TVs in the US or Australia. 

The MZ980s are, unusually for a mid-range OLED series, only available in relatively small screen sizes. The 55-inch model we’re looking at here is actually the biggest in the range, being joined only by 48- and 42-inch models. 

As we’ll see, though, you shouldn’t let this fool you into thinking that the MZ980 is only good enough to be considered as a ‘second TV’. This is still a very serious TV – just one aimed at people who don’t have cavernous living rooms.

Panasonic MZ980 review: Features

The ports on the back of the Panasonic MZ980

(Image credit: Future)
  • 4K OLED TV
  • HCX Pro AI processor 
  • Supports all four key HDR formats

So we can get it out of the way and put behind us, let’s start with things the MZ980 does not have. Either the combination of a new high-end Micro Lens Array panel with advanced proprietary heat sink hardware that Panasonic’s MZ2000 flagship OLEDs get, or the same heat sink hardware (minus the MLA technology) that the brand’s MZ1500s get.

It does still use a mid-grade OLED panel rather than an ‘entry level’ one, but even before we got our measuring gear out we know it wouldn’t be as bright as those step up models. 

Tests confirm that while the MZ2000 hits brightness peaks on a 10% white HDR test window of around 1650 nits in Dynamic mode and 1432 nits in its more stable Cinema mode, and the MZ1500 hits around 950 nits in its Cinema mode, the 55MZ980’s Cinema mode peaks at just over 700 nits. That’s basically a 50% brightness drop versus the MZ2000, and a still significant 250 nits versus the MZ1500. You will certainly feel this with HDR content, especially if your TV is typically used in a bright room. 

It’s worth noting, too, that the MZ980 measures slightly less bright than LG’s rival C3 models – though I should stress right away that while brightness certainly matters in the HDR world, it absolutely is not the only thing that makes a great HDR picture. Especially when a TV’s picture processing knows how to get the maximum performance from the hardware available to it – something Panasonic has been a master of with self-emissive displays like OLED since its plasma days. 

With this in mind, the big positive news about the MZ980 is that it retains the top-line HCX Pro AI processor also used by its step-up MZ1500 and MZ2000 siblings. Powered and endlessly refined by Panasonic’s engineers with years of experience dealing with both Hollywood creatives and self-emissive panel technologies, always with a strong focus on recreating creative intent, HCX engines can usually be relied on to achieve subtleties, balances and details precious few other TVs can. Especially when it comes to handling the sort of ‘near dark’ image content that’s typically one of the most difficult things for OLED TVs to manage.

While the MZ980 continues Panasonic’s obsession with accuracy, though, especially with its Filmmaker Mode, and True Cinema presets, it’s also open minded enough to provide an unusually wide-ranging roster of other picture presets that put more of an emphasis on pushing the panel to its colour and brightness limits.

The same spirit of trying to cater for everyone extends, happily, to the MZ980’s HDR format support. While many brands, including, most notably, Sony, LG and Samsung, only support three of the ‘big four’ HDR formats on even their flagship TVs, the MZ980 will play all four: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. So the 55MZ980 will always be able to take in the best version of whatever HDR content you feed it. 

Gamers, meanwhile, will be pleased to learn that the MZ980 supports 4K/120Hz gaming and variable refresh rates over two of its four HDMI ports, including the AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync VRR formats. We’ll cover the TV’s gaming abilities in more detail later.

Besides the four HDMIs, the MZ980’s connections include three USBs (two side, one bottom, one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0), an Ethernet port, an analogue video inout, an optical digital audio output, and a headphone jack that unusually does double duty as a potential line out for attaching an optional external subwoofer.

Smart features are provided by the eighth generation of Panasonic’s own My Home Screen operating system. Again we’ll cover this in more detail in a dedicated section later, so all I’ll add here is that this is actually the final outing for My Home Screen before it’s replaced on Panasonic’s future high-end TVs by a fully integrated version of Amazon’s Fire TV interface. 

As mentioned in passing earlier, the MZ980 doesn’t have a forward facing, truly multi-channel sound system like its step up OLED siblings do. Its 2 x 15W set up, though, still has enough power to potentially deliver some reasonably cinematic thrills, especially as it’s backed up by Theater Surround Pro processing designed to create a more immersive sound with the Dolby Atmos soundtracks the TV supports than you might expect to hear from a mere stereo speaker set up.

Features score: 4 / 5

Panasonic MZ980 Review: Picture quality

The Netflix menu on the Panasonic MZ980

(Image credit: Future)
  • Exceptional light and colour subtlety
  • Outstanding picture processing
  • Brilliant contrast disguises limited brightness

While the MZ980 might not deliver the razzle dazzle of the latest high-end OLED TVs, its pictures are so refined and immersive that it’s hard to believe they’re coming out of a 55-inch TV that only costs £1,399.

This finesse is at its peerless best when it comes to the MZ980’s handling of dark scenes. The screen’s ability to distinguish between incredibly small differences in light in even the darkest corners of the darkest pictures is mesmerising, giving such imagery a unique sense of depth and detail that feels as if it’s jumped straight off a professional mastering monitor. Especially as this extreme subtlety is delivered without a hint of the sort of instabilities, blocking or fizzing noise that can crop up with other OLED screens with near-black content. Dark scenes on the 55MZ980 are as clean and pure as bright ones, in fact.

Since this is an OLED screen there’s no need to worry about backlight clouding or blooming of the sort you would expect to see with LCD TVs. Nor is there any residual greyness hanging over dark scenes, completing the sense of insight and immersion that started with the immaculate near-dark detailing.

While it’s the MZ980’s handling of dark scenes and picture areas that makes the strongest immediate impression, its handling of light is in truth just as effective. From the subtle dark scene shading through to the brightest HDR peaks, the MZ980 delivers levels of light control (right down to individual pixel level, don’t forget, given this is an OLED screen) that appear flawless across every shade. As a result, the picture always feels completely authentic and natural, perfectly balanced and full of depth, while different objects in the image always look impeccably three dimensional, realistic and contextualised. 

Again you actually feel like you’re getting a gorgeously full sense of the subtleties of the professional masterer’s art. Despite this TV costing just £1,399 versus the many tens of thousands of pounds a professional mastering display costs.

While the processing and light control is at its most effective with the 55MZ980’s most ‘accurate’ picture settings, its profound understanding of the screen’s hardware strengths and limitations also means that it typically ensures that even the more ‘dramatic’ picture presets never stray into distractingly excessive territory.

The set’s tone mapping is astute enough, meanwhile, to pretty much exclude clipping (loss of subtle details) from the brightest parts of the picture, continuing the sense of ‘sweating the small stuff’ that’s the MZ980’s trade mark.

Colours, meanwhile, look surprisingly vibrant for a TV of relatively limited brightness - aided and abetted by a combination of the immaculate light control, exceptional colour mapping and outstanding contributions, again, from the HCX Pro AI picture processor. It helps, too, that colours are able to appear against a foundation of such deep and natural black colours. 

Obviously some picture presets push more vibrant colours than others, as you’d expect with any TV, but the True Cinema and Filmmaker Modes achieve outstanding accuracy and refinement, while even the punchier settings retain more colour balance and control than similar modes on most rival models.

Not surprisingly with a TV that puts so much store in precision, native 4K images on the 55MZ980 look gorgeously detailed and textured. The HCX Pro AI processor also manages to retain a startling amount of this detail and texture, too, when upscaling HD sources. Motion when watching 24p movies can look a touch juddery with no motion processing active (as it can on most OLED TVs, actually), but the lowest setting of Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation motion compensation system is now clever enough to slightly massage the judder effect without making the image look uncinematically smooth or adding too many distracting processing side effects.

The only major elephant in the room with the MZ980’s pictures is their brightness - or lack thereof. There’s no denying that its images don’t look nearly as light and bold as those of the latest generation of MLA-equipped OLED TVs. Nor are they quite as consistently punchy as LG’s similarly priced and specified C3 OLED range, especially where a scene or shot fills the whole screen with brightness.

While this does mean you need to treat the 55MZ980 with respect by lowering light levels in your room when you want to enjoy a serious movie night, though, the MZ980’s infinite subtlety and richly cinematic qualities make it worthy of as much respect as you can muster.

Picture quality: 4.5 / 5 

Panasonic MZ980 review: Sound quality

The speakers on the Panasonic MZ980

(Image credit: Future)
  • Good volume and projection 
  • Solid, clean bass handling 
  • Male voices occasionally sound muffled 

The bad news about the MZ980’s sound is that it doesn’t deliver either the scale of sound staging you get with Panasonic’s step up models, or as much forward ‘thrust’. This lack of directness might also explain why male voices can sometimes sound a little muffled and contained.

Just because the MZ980 doesn’t sound as big and detailed as its more expensive siblings, though, doesn’t mean it’s not actually a very decent audio performer for its money. Its speakers are powerful enough to get surprisingly loud without succumbing to distortion, for starters, and despite the limited number of speakers on offer a decently wide sound stage is created into which effects are placed with excellent clarity. There’s even a slight sense of height to some effects when playing Dolby Atmos soundtracks.

The speakers are sensitive enough to pick up even the faintest of audio elements in a film mix too, ensuring that soundtracks always sound busy and involving. 

Bass doesn’t reach the sort of depths required to unlock the full weight of a potent action scene (so you may want to consider adding a subwoofer via the switchable headphone output at some point), but it does at least delve deep enough to stop loud scenes from sounding harsh or thin. It does so, too, without the low frequencies becoming overwhelming, or causing the speakers to crackle or buzz.

Sound quality score: 4 / 5 

Panasonic MZ980 review: Design

A close up of the stand of the Panasonic MZ980

(Image credit: Future)
  • Slim frame around the screen 
  • Centrally mounted desktop 'foot'
  • A bit chunky round the back 

Viewed straight on, the MZ980 is an attractive addition to your living room. Its screen and frame exist on the same single plane, the frame is on-trend narrow, and although it’s a bit more plasticky than the stands of Panasonic’s more expensive OLED TVs, its centrally mounted plate-style foot looks premium and robust. 

Having its desktop mount placed in the centre of the TV rather than using feet tucked under each bottom corner also means that the 55MZ980 can be placed on even quite narrow bits of furniture.

The MZ980 is not such a great wall mounting option, though, thanks to the way that two to three inches in from the screen’s outer edges the rear panel suddenly juts out a country mile by OLED standards.

Design score: 4 / 5 

Panasonic MZ980 review: Smart features and menus

The remote of the Panasonic MZ980

(Image credit: Future)
  • Uses the My Home Screen 8.0 smart interface 
  • Long but comprehensive set up menus
  • Covers all the main streaming services 

With Panasonic announcing recently that it’s moving to Amazon’s Fire TV platform for the smart interfaces of its future premium TVs, the 55MZ980 represents the swan song for Panasonic’s long-running proprietary My Home Screen smart TV interface. And while the platform has certainly had its struggles along the way, this eighth and final generation sees it bowing out on good form for the most part. 

It now incorporates all of the key streaming and catch up apps the vast majority of UK and European TV buyers would want, and while its interface looks a little basic at first glance, it’s actually really simple to navigate and, best of all, exceptionally easy to customise. There’s voice control support too (Alexa is built in, while Google Assistant works if you have an external Google listening device).

My Home Screen isn’t as sophisticated as some rival smart platforms when it comes to intelligently recommending content you might like, and it can occasionally become a touch sluggish. For the most part, though, I quite like it and might even miss it a bit when it’s gone. 

The 55MZ980’s set up menus contain a vast number of adjustment and tweak options for you to pick your way through. There are, of course pros and cons to this. On the negative side the menus are long, text heavy, full of sub-menus and a bit jargon-heavy in places. On the plus side, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys a good tinker the flexibility the 55MZ980 gives you for adjusting any and all aspects of its picture quality is outstanding. 

Smart features and menus score: 4 / 5

Panasonic MZ980 review: Gaming

The back of the Panasonic MZ980

(Image credit: Future)
  • 4K / 120Hz support
  • Support for multiple VRR systems
  • Dolby Vision gaming mode

Aside from only two of its four HDMIs delivering the full roster of gaming support, the 55MZ980 is impressively equipped for cutting edge gaming experiences.

Those two high bit-rate HDMIs support 4K resolution graphics at 120Hz frame rates and variable refresh rates, for starters. In fact, the VRR support actually covers both the AMD Freesync and Nvidia G-Sync systems as well as the core HDMI-based format. 

The 55MZ980’s Dolby Vision support extends to a proper gaming mode, too, meaning you can game in Dolby Vision HDR from Xboxes and compatible PC cards without having to put up with high levels of input lag. In fact, lag drops to a very respectable 14.5ms with 60Hz sources.

Gamers can call up a dedicated Game Control Board interface containing key signal information and gaming adjustment options, including two different audio profile options optimised for RPG and FPS game types.

There’s even a True Game picture preset alongside the standard Game one, which offers a properly calibrated gaming image for any picture quality enthusiasts who want that.

All of these thoughtful features contribute to a hugely enjoyable gaming experience that looks crisp, ultra-detailed and exceptionally refined. It’s true that HDR graphics don’t look as aggressively bright as they do on some more expensive OLEDs and premium LCD TVs, but as with the 55MZ980’s video performance, the subtleties Panasonic’s screen delivers provide ample compensation.

Gaming score: 4.5 / 5

Panasonic MZ980 review: Value

  • Great price for what it offers
  • £200 cheaper than Panasonic's step-up model 
  • Slightly more expensive than the LG C3

Now that it’s available for a few hundred pounds less than it was at launch, the 55MZ980 is exceptional value. Just £1,399 really doesn’t feel like a lot to ask for a TV that offers as many features and as much top-notch performance - for both gamers and video fans - as the 55MZ980 does. 

There is some pretty tough competition around, though. In particular, LG’s excellent OLED55C3 mid-range OLED model can currently be had for just £1,299, offering four full gaming HDMIs and slightly more brightness. Though it doesn’t provide quite the same picture subtlety as the Panasonic.

Stepping up to Panasonic’s 55MZ1500, with the useful step up in brightness created by its built-in heat sink, will cost you an extra £200. Whether that sounds like a better deal or not will obviously depend on how near the top of your budget you already are with the 55MZ980’s £1,399 asking price.

Value score: 4 / 5

Should I buy the Panasonic MZ980?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Panasonic MZ980 review: Also consider

How we tested the Panasonic MZ980

  • Tested over 10 days 
  • Tested with 4K/HD Blu-ray, streaming and Freeview HD broadcasts
  • Reviewed in both dark and light dedicated test room conditions, and a regular (corner position) living room set up

Given that the 55MZ980 doesn’t carry either a built-in hardware heat sink or new Micro Lens Array technology like some of the best tvs, we started our testing by measuring its brightness using Spears & Munsil HDR window test screens and a professional light meter to try and get a feel for where it lies in the great (and now more complicated) OLED scheme of things. 

With its slightly lower than typical brightness in mind, we then went on to spend time watching both HDR and SDR content on it in a wider range of light and room conditions than we normally would to see how well or otherwise it coped with different environments. Ultimately we ended up spending longer with it in a largely blacked out room than we did in brighter settings, since it was in darker surroundings where the TV most excelled, allowing us to fully appreciate its strengths. The set was tested with a selection of our favourite test 4K Blu-rays - especially Babylon, Pan, It Chapter One, Blade Runner 2049, and the Spears & Munsil test signal disc - to see how it handled key picture attributes such as contrast, colour, sharpness, fine detailing, motion and upscaling of sub-4K sources. 

We fed it a variety of resolutions from various streaming and digital broadcast sources too, using both the built-in streaming apps and a Sky Q receiver, to see how well its HCX Pro AI processor dealt with the joys of compression artefacts, while gaming was tested using both a PS5 and an Xbox Series X, with a Leo Bodnar input lag testing device being used to measure input lag.

Read TechRadar's review guarantee

  • Reviewed in March 2024
Questyle NHB15 review: wired earbuds for the high-res audiophile
1:08 am | February 27, 2024

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

Questyle NHB15 wired earbuds: Two-minute review

Questyle NHB15 on table with laptop

The NHB15's USB-C connector allows for hookup to a computer or phone (Image credit: Future)

The Questyle NHB15 is phenomenal in a very specific way. It’s essentially a pair of wired IEMs (in-ear monitors) with a built-in DAC, which means you’re going to skip out on the kind of features we usually expect in the best earbuds while prioritizing crystal-clear lossless audio.

If you’re looking at these earbuds, things like active noise cancellation and an ambient mode are probably not top priorities, otherwise, you would probably be reading up on the Sony WF-1000XM5 by now. That’s not what the Questyle NHB15 is competing with. Instead, these are for people who value performance over convenience or extraneous features.

If you’re in this camp, the high price tag is probably more of a concern, especially with the explosion of IEMs that offer quality audio at a lower cost. Of course, the Questyle NHB15 has that integrated DAC, which is going to add to the price. However, if the cost doesn’t bother you, you’ll enjoy using these for listening to music and for other media.

Looking closely at the Questyle NHB15, it’s clear that it’s incredibly well-made. The earbuds themselves have a chrome-like covering that oozes elegance. And, the cable with its wrap-around design – they’re made to go over and behind the ears – is not only high-quality but can be detached from the actual earbuds.

The Questyle NHB15 is made specifically for sources with a USB-C connection. However, Questyle does include a cable to use with analog sources.

The most important part here is the DAC, which sits right in the middle of where it transitions from one to two cables, and is most likely the reason why the Questyle NHB15 is expensive. The DAC can handle up to 24-bit/192kHz high-res audio, and it will let you know if you’re listening to audio that detailed. If you’re listening at 48kHz or below (44.1kHz is CD quality, and where Spotify tops out), one red indicator light on the DAC will illuminate. If you’re listening to a higher-quality file or stream, then two will light up.

Questyle includes five different-size ear tips as well as a leather storage pouch with the NHB15.

Questyle NHB15 in package with accessories

Premium accessories include a leather storage pouch and five eartip options (Image credit: Future)

Now, it’s clear that this is a premium product that delivers quality from the source to the ears. But, will you find it to be an improvement over wireless earbuds? The answer: It depends.

Some of the best earbuds out there sound great, cost less, and come with the kind of features that you won’t find in the Questyle NHB15. Also, if you only listen to music through Spotify, which doesn’t offer higher resolution files like Apple Music, Tidal, Qobuz, or Deezer do, you probably won’t benefit much from the Questyle NHB15.

But, if you’re looking to up your audio game, you might enjoy the NHB15 more than a pair of Apple AirPods Pro 2. Now, these aren’t exactly neutral sounding as there is a low mid-bump in the frequency range. This boost is particularly noticeable with vocals and mid-range instruments as they seemed to have more body than they otherwise should when I listened to Kacey Musgrave’s Deeper Well, Childish Gambino’s 3005, or V.A.N. by Bad Omens and Poppy.

Beyond that, the bass is full and the highs are clear and detailed. The soundstage is also wide with good imaging, meaning I could easily place all the elements on that soundstage whether I was listening to music, watching a movie, or playing a game.

Also, since it can handle such a high bit-depth and bitrate, issues with distortion are non-existent. Essentially, the Questyle NHB15 will let you hear everything that your audio source can provide (though with a little bit of a low-mid bump).

Questyle NHB15 on table close-up of DAC

Red indicator lights on the DAC will tell you if you're listening to standard or high-resolution audio (Image credit: Future)

Questyle NHB15 wired earbuds: Price and release date

  • Price: $399 (about £315 / AU$610)
  • Released January 2024

The Questyle NHB15’s biggest downside might be its price. Considering that there has been a proliferation of wired earbuds known as IEMs offering very good performance, with many of them coming in at a cheaper price point, the NHB15’s price of $399 (about £315 / AU$610) can be hard to stomach.

That said, IEMs typically use an analog connection and don’t come with a built-in DAC with the capability of handling up to 24-bit/192kHz audio. To do that, you would have to invest in a portable DAC that can handle a similar or higher resolution such as the iFi hip-dac 3 ($199 / £199 / AU$349), though that would be a bulkier portable option than the NHB15.

There is an argument to be made that, at least for non-audiophiles, high resolution is not that important so keep that in mind when comparing the Questyle NHB15 to the competition. Also, keep in mind that you can purchase a standalone mobile headphone amp/DAC from Questyle called the Questyle M15i for $299 (about £238 / AU$459).

Questyle NHB15 on table in box

The complete Questyle NHB15 package (Image credit: Future)

Should you buy the Questyle NHB15 wired earbuds?

Buy it if...

You want crystal-clear audio
The Questyle NHB15 provides distortion-free audio quality with the ability to reproduce very high-resolution audio sources.

You don’t like your phone’s audio conversion
Most phones and computers don’t do as good of a job converting digital information into audio as a standalone DAC. Thankfully, the Questyle NHB15 comes with a high-quality DAC.

You care about premium quality
Everything about these headphones is premium, so if you’re comfortable with the form factor and the price, know that you’re getting quality.

Don't buy it if...

You’re strapped for cash
Let’s be real – a near-$400 price tag is painful to most people these days. If you’re limited on funds, check out the multitude of cheaper but well-reviewed IEMs.

You need the features of TWS earbuds
While it’s beside the point with a product like the Questyle NHB15, you’re not going to get active cancellation, ambient mode, or any of the other features that TWS earbuds offer.

Questyle NHB15 wired earbuds review: Also consider

Questyle NHB15 earbud on table

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Questyle NHB15

  • I used the Questyle NHB15 for a couple of weeks
  • Tested with music, movies, and games

I used the Questyle NHB15 regularly for a couple of weeks. I listened to a lot of music of all sorts of genres. I also watched some movies and played games just to see how the Questyle NHB15 translated across mediums. On top of that, I listened in both standard and high-resolution audio formats.

After spending time with the Questyle NHB15, I found these headphones to be of very high quality but with appeal only for those who lean in a more audiophile direction. 

I’ve tested a lot of tech gear over the years from laptops to keyboards and speakers, and so have been able to use my expertise towards giving an honest and fair opinion, not to mention a critical eye, to any product I test.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed February 2024

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen review: the best portable projector gets even better
2:00 pm | February 25, 2024

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

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen: one-minute review

Samsung’s first The Freestyle projector created quite the buzz with its compact, cylindrical form and superior streaming capabilities compared to other portable projectors. Notably, it featured the same Tizen smart TV interface found in the company’s TVs, which let viewers easily stream from a wide range of apps while also allowing for voice control via Samsung’s Bixby or Amazon Alexa voice assistants. Beyond that, the original The Freestyle could beam images as large as 100 inches, and it provided auto focus and keystone adjustments to quickly align pictures on any surface you pointed it at. We liked it so much when we tested it, that it rocketed to the top of our list of the best portable projectors.

The Freestyle 2nd Gen doesn’t stray too far from the original, but does get a key update with Samsung’s Gaming Hub, a section of the smart interface that houses a range of cloud-based gaming services such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, and more. This new feature lets you pair the projector with wireless gaming controllers and play premium games without having to connect a physical console – something the Freestyle 2nd Gen’s single micro-HDMI connection doesn’t make easy anyway.

Samsung offers a range of accessories to pair with its portable, including a rechargeable battery base that will give you around 3 hours of playback time and an adaptor to plug it into a standard ceiling light socket for power. While most users won’t need to have images beamed down from the ceiling onto a table or floor, having that capability is just one of the things that makes the Freestyle 2nd Gen a more flexible and fun option than typical projectors.

The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s LED light source provides only limited brightness, which means you’ll get the best picture when viewing in a dim room, or at nighttime if viewing outdoors. Even in those conditions, the projector’s picture lacks the detail and punchy contrast you can expect from the best 4K projectors, making it more of a convenient means to project a big image than a high-quality one. But the Freestyle Gen 2’s compact design and excellent feature set still make it a great portable projector, one that will easily fit in your backpack.

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: price and release date

  • Release date: August 2023
  • MSRP: $799 / £649

Samsung’s The Freestyle 2nd Gen sells for $799 /  £649. At this writing it is not currently available in Australia, and availability appear to be limited in the UK. The $799 list price is somewhat high compared to other 1080p HD-res compact portable projectors, though it does offer some unique features not found in the competition such as Samsung’s Gaming Hub. 

The Freestyle 2nd Gen gets regular discounts during holiday sales events, where it sells for around $599. That price makes Samsung’s portable projector a much better value than at its $799 list price, so sales are worth seeking out and waiting for.

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Gaming Hub interface

The new Samsung Gaming Hub interface (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: Specs

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen on table with battery base

Samsung's optional battery base accessory provides around 3 hours of power before needing a recharge (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: design and features

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Tizen smart TV interface for streaming
  • Samsung Gaming hub for cloud-based gaming

The Freestyle 2nd Gen sports the same white cylinder form factor as its predecessor. At just 1.8 pounds, it’s easy to tote around the house and is compact enough to easily stash in a backpack. An included cradle stand rotates 180 degrees and can be tilted 90 degrees, giving you plenty of flexibility as to where you beam images, ceilings included. 

Samsung includes a SolarCell remote control that doesn’t require batteries (as the name suggests, it draws energy from available light sources, as well as from your home’s wireless network) and the projector can also be controlled via Samsung’s Bixby or Amazon Alexa voice commands. Such commands can be executed by pressing and holding the Mic button on the remote, but the projector also has built-in far-field mics for hands-free voice control.

The single-chip DLP projector uses an LED light source that Samsung specs for 30,000 hours of use. Auto focus and keystone adjustments let you position the projector even at extreme angles from the wall or other surface you’re projecting on and The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s image will automatically align itself to a 16:9 aspect ratio. Those adjustments can also be carried out manually (and in many cases you'll want to tweak the keystone and focus settings), and there’s the option to shrink the image to a smaller size without physically moving the projector.

Samsung offers a range of accessories to use with The Freestyle 2nd Gen. A socket adaptor lets you plug the projector into a light socket, and is mainly intended for projecting from the ceiling onto a floor or table. There’s also a battery base, which provides several hours of charge and lets you use the projector indoors or out without having to connect to power. A carrying case is another accessory and one that will protect The Freestyle 2nd Gen if you’re bringing it outdoors or to another location.

The Freestyle 2nd Gen is all about streaming and features the same Tizen smart interface found in the company’s TVs. This provides pretty much any streaming app you could want and also has Samsung’s Gaming Hub onboard for cloud-based gaming from services such as Xbox, Nvidia GeForce Now, Utomik, and others. The projector uses the somewhat dated Wi-Fi 5 standard for streaming, although I didn’t have any issues during my time with it.

As a streaming-centric projector, connections on The Freestyle 2nd Gen are limited to micro-HDMI. No HDMI-to-micro-HDMI cables or adaptors are included, so, like me, you’ll probably need to order one online to be able to plug in an external gaming console, Blu-ray player, or other HDMI source. The micro-HDMI connection supports HDMI-ARC, which allows you to connect it to a soundbar or other audio system. Another option is Bluetooth, with dual Bluetooth supported for both wireless input and output connections, and there’s also wireless app casting from iPhones and Android phones.

Samsung calls The Freestyle 2nd Gen’s built-in 5-watt audio system “360 Degree” sound, and during my use, it did provide surprisingly spacious sound, although with unsurprisingly limited bass. The projector can also do double-duty as a wireless speaker for streaming music via AirPlay or Bluetooth, boosting its already impressive features list.

  • Design and features score: 4.5/5

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen beaming picture at screen

With The Freestyle 2nd Gen, you'll get the best picture quality results when viewing  in a dark room (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen review: picture quality

  • Limited brightness
  • Relatively accurate Movie picture mode
  • Plentiful picture adjustments

Lower-cost LED-based portable projectors typically don’t put out a very bright image, and having seen The Freestyle 2nd Gen in action before starting this review, I knew I would have to temper my expectations. With the picture blown up to maximum size on a 100-inch screen, it was noticeably dim, even when viewed in a completely dark room. Using an ambient light rejecting screen with 0.8 gain, I measured a mere 7.3 nits in Dynamic mode on a 10 percent white window test pattern, and 6.6 nits in Movie mode. By way of comparison, a standard home theater projector such as the BenQ v5000i ultra short throw model I recently tested can deliver 125 nits under the same circumstances.

Image brightness got a boost when I positioned the projector for a smaller picture (there is no zoom lens, though images can be digitally scaled to a smaller size), though it still seemed relatively dim. Picture contrast was decent, with blacks in images showing a good degree of depth, though shadows lacked detail, appearing as more of a dark gray mass.

Colors were most accurate in the Movie picture mode. With that selected, I measured color Delta-E (the margin of error between the test pattern source and what’s shown on-screen) at 5, and the grayscale Delta-E at 14.1. They were notably less so in the Standard and Dynamic modes, but even so, I preferred Standard because it provided a slight brightness advantage over Movie. Watching Asteroid City streamed on Amazon Prime, the film’s hyped-up color scheme came through with all its garishness intact, though there was also a softness to the picture, which was being downscaled to the projector’s native 1080p format.

The projector supports HDR10+, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range, but I didn’t see much of a picture quality difference when viewing in HDR from standard HD format – something the above peak brightness measurements, which were taken with the projector displaying in HDR backs up. As for other measurements, Samsung’s projector managed 88.5% P3 color space and 68.9% BT.2020 color space coverage, and input lag was 62ms with Game mode active. That last number is a relatively high one compared to what you’ll see from the best gaming TVs, as well as certain projectors such as the BenQ v5000i, though I didn’t have any issues when playing Xbox games in Samsung Gaming Hub.

  • Picture quality score: 3.5/5

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen inputs section

Side-panel connections include one HDMI with eARC and a USB-C port for power (Image credit: Future)

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen Review: value

  • Pricier than portable competition
  • Frequently gets discounts
  • Enhanced value for gamers

At its $799 / £649 list price, the Freestyle 2nd Gen sits in an awkward spot value-wise. It costs twice as much as other portable 1080p LED projectors with similar brightness specs such as the Anker Nebula Solar Portable. And spending around $1,000 more will get you a 4K model with a significantly brighter laser light engine such as the Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K.

If you find the Freestyle 2nd Gen selling at a discounted price, while still not cheap, it’s value gets a boost. The main advantages Samsung’s projector holds over similar models are its highly flexible setup options, easy portability, and superior smart interface for streaming and gaming. If limited brightness won’t be a big factor in your buying decision, there’s plenty to recommend the Freestyle 2nd Gen.

  • Value score: 3.5/5

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen remote control held in hand

The projector's remote features a built-in mic for voice commands (Image credit: Future)

Should I buy the Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen?

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen close up of lens and controls

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don’t buy it if… 

Also consider...

Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K
This powerful portable has a laser-based light engine with a whopping 2,400 lumens brightness, though it costs more than twice what you’ll pay for the Samsung. It also has a stunning design, though there’s no built-in battery for easy outdoor use.

Read our full Anker Nebula Cosmos Laser 4K review

Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen smart interface

(Image credit: Future)

How I tested the Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen

  • I spent about 5 hours in total measuring and evaluating
  • Measurements were made using Calman color calibration software
  • Used with an Elite Screens Kestrel Tab-Tension 2 CLR 3 projection screen

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

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

Unlike many portable projectors, the Samsung The Freestyle 2nd Gen provides a full range of adjustments to calibrate its picture. And while most users aren’t likely to bother using these, it’s nice to know they exist. Knowing that Samsung’s portable will almost exclusively be used for casual viewing, I bypassed a calibration and relied on both streaming reference 4K Blu-ray discs to test its performance in the Movie, Standard, and Dynamic preset picture modes

My projector testing experience spans almost three decades, going back to the early three-gun CRT models.

First reviewed: February, 2024

Sony X95L review: A mini-LED TV marvel with boosted brightness and contrast
4:00 pm | February 18, 2024

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

Sony X95L: Two-minute review

The Sony X95L is on a mission to fix the niggles of its mini-LED predecessor with an improved panel design, pepped up processing and a 10% higher local dimming zone count.

It sets out a pretty premium stall right away with its design, which combines a classic slice of Sony minimalism with an unusual amount of flexibility in the shape of thee different foot mount options. 

Smart features are provided by the latest version of Google TV, while the TV’s brains come courtesy of Sony’s latest and most powerful Cognitive XR Processor. 

The new backlight system is a revelation. Practically all the light ‘blooms’ seen around bright objects with Sony’s previous mini-LED models, the X95Ks, have gone, leaving a much more consistent and immersive picture that still enjoys outstandingly deep, rich black tones.

Sony has had to modify its previous ‘brightness at all costs’ LCD philosophy a little to achieve this new bloom-free look, mildly toning down very bright image highlights if they appear against a black backdrop. But the pros of this new approach far outweigh the cons, especially as the increased backlight consistency is joined by some of the most refined colours, most polished motion handling and most natural-feeling 4K sharpness we’ve seen.

As if all the picture heroics weren’t enough, the 65X95L also boasts a strikingly clear, detailed and involving sound system. 

There’s some seriously tough competition in the mini-LED space this year that might make determining the best TVs of 2024 a very difficult task but the X95L is talented and unique enough to stand tall in any company. 

Sony X95L Review: Price and release date

The Sony X95L on a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Release date: September 2023
  • Price starting from £1,899 / AU$4,495 and up to $4,499.99

Following a summer 2023 launch, Sony’s current premium 65-inch X95L LCD TV is now available for £1,899 in the UK and AU$4,495 in Australia. In the US, only one X95L screen size is available: 85-inches, which is priced at $4,499.99. In the UK, the 85-inch model costs £3,499 and the 75-inch is priced at £2,699. 

For smaller screen sizes, US consumers have to step down to the X93L range (a range that isn’t available in the UK). The X93Ls differ from the UK X95Ls by having fewer dimming zones, reduced contrast, no frame tweeters and no XR Clear Image processing. We’ll cover all these features the X95Ls have that the US X93Ls don’t in the next section if you’re not sure what they all mean.

Sony X95L Review: Features

A close up of the side of the Sony X95L

(Image credit: Future)
  • 4K mini-LED TV with local dimming
  • Cognitive XR processor 
  • HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR

As we’ve now come to expect of flagship LCD TVs from ‘serious’ AV brands like Sony, the 65X95L benefits from a mini LED lighting system backed up by local dimming. Sony claims that this dimming engine has been much improved from its predecessor – improvements that begin by upping the dimming zone count to 480 versus 432 on the previous 65X95K model. 

Combined with other improvements to the 65X95L’s processing and panel set up, this local dimming enhancement claims to generate 30% more peak brightness than its predecessor managed. If you’d like to put some actual measured numbers on this, the 65X95L produces a hefty 1560 nits on a 10% white HDR window, 1225 nits on a 2% window and 611 nits on a full-screen HDR window. Note that contrary to what you’d expect to see with OLED screens, the 65X95L’s brightness with the smallest 2% window is lower than the 10% window because of the way local dimming works.

OLED screens can’t currently get quite as bright on a 10% window or nearly as bright on a 100% test window as the 65X95L does. Though on the other side of the coin, of course, even 480 dimming zones can’t deliver the same sort of pixel-level light control you get with self-emissive OLED screens. That said, Sony has previously shown an uncanny talent for getting almost eerily good light control from much lower dimming zone counts than the 65X95L carries.

The improved processing, I mentioned earlier, is the latest version of Sony’s Cognitive Processor XR engine. A processing system predominantly motivated (depending on the presets you choose) by two aims: Making images look more like real life and getting sources to resemble as closely as possible the way they looked when they were created in a professional mastering suite. 

In terms of specific new processing enhancements for the 65X95L, the local dimming algorithms have apparently been enhanced, while a new XR Clear Image system claims to deliver even better upscaling of HD and SD sources to the TV’s native 4K resolution than Sony’s already brilliant previous upscaling systems have.

At first glance, the 65X95L’s connections roster of four HDMIs, two USBs, a hybrid composite/S-Centre speaker input, an optical digital audio input, an Ethernet port and inevitable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support looks pretty up to speed for a premium TV. Closer inspection, though, reveals that only two of the HDMIs support the sort of high bandwidths demanded by cutting edge gamers, and even those require you to swallow a compromise or two. We’ll discuss this more in the Gaming section of the review. 

As with Sony’s premium sets for a couple of generations now, the 65X95L goes a bundle on third party partnerships and endorsements. There’s a full house of Dolby action, for starters, with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos sound decoding both on the menu. The TV has also been certified by IMAX as capable of getting the best from the IMAX Enhanced home video format. Meanwhile, Netflix has granted it a Netflix Calibrated mode that sets the TV to closely match Netflix’s in-house mastering conditions.

The only notable absentee from the 65X95L’s format support list, really, is HDR10+. LG, too, refuses to adopt this rival for Dolby Vision (while Samsung refuses to adopt Dolby Vision). But there are TVs out there from Philips, Panasonic and TCL that support both formats – and both formats are fairly widely available in the content world now. 

The 65X95L’s premium features aren’t limited to its picture quality. A so-called Acoustic Multi-Audio+ sound system uses speakers placed all around the TV’s body, including frame-vibrating tweeters in its sides, to deliver what Sony claims will be a larger and more precisely detailed soundstage.

If you have or are thinking of adding a Sony soundbar to the TV, the S-Centre port I mentioned in passing earlier can enable the TV to do centre channel duties while the soundbar handles the rest.

Features score: 4.5 / 5

Sony X95L review: Picture quality

The Sony X95L on a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Excellent backlight control
  • Bright HDR pictures
  • Excellent image processing

While Sony’s mini LED debut, 2022’s X95K range, was good, it didn’t quite rise to the level of some of its premium TV rivals. It felt almost as if the twin challenges of handling vast amounts of extra LEDs and a much higher dimming zone count than Sony was used to working with was a step too far for its usually stellar backlight control systems. Happily, the extra year or so Sony’s engineers have had to work on the 65X95L have reaped fantastic dividends.

In particular, where dark scenes on the X95Ks could look rather inconsistent, especially when it came to ‘blooms’ of backlight appearing around stand-out bright objects, on the 65X95L they look brilliantly consistent and, as a result, much more immersive. Blooming around bright objects is hugely reduced in terms of the regularity with which you can see it, the extent of its ‘spread’ and, best of all, the intensity of its greyness on those very rare occasions when it does become faintly visible. 

One of the tools Sony has introduced to reduce blooming is to slightly dim down very bright objects if they appear against a very dark backdrop. This is something mini-LED rival Samsung has been doing for years, but Sony has previously avoided. The dimming is very mild, though, compared with the extent that it can happen with Samsung TVs, and so it’s much less likely to be distractingly noticeable. Which means it feels like a pretty reasonable compromise in return for the 65X95L’s greatly improved black level uniformity.

Dark scenes don’t just impress for the much improved evenness of their black colours, either. The sheer inky depths of the 65X95L’s black colours is also remarkable. So much so that it’s often hard to believe that you’re watching an LCD TV rather than an OLED TV. Except, that is, that the 65X95L is routinely capable of hitting levels of brightness OLED TVs can’t compete with. Especially when it comes to bright HDR shots that flood the whole screen area with brightness. 

Again I need to qualify this a little by saying that the 65X95L doesn’t get as bright as Samsung’s flagship mini LED TVs do. But as well as Sony’s mini-LED 4K flagship being significantly cheaper than Samsung’s, the way it handles its light is so effective that the brightness on offer feels ample for giving you a spectacular but also consistently believable and natural HDR experience.

The 65X95L’s improved brightness and contrast over the 65X95K feed into an improved colour performance, too. Saturations look more wide-ranging and vivid, and as usual Sony’s slightly mysterious Triluminos colour system does a spell-binding job of using the light available to render tones with outstanding subtlety. Achieving such a rich combination of vibrancy but also finesse is one of those things that really separates the best TVs out from the rest.

The subtlety of the colour handling and light control contributes to an outstanding sense of sharpness, detail and, especially, depth in the 65X95L’s pictures. Objects look genuinely three-dimensional without the need for any 3D goggles, and the image looks extremely ‘4K’ at all times. Even, actually, with HD sources, thanks to the X95L’s remarkably astute and effective new 4K upscaling engine the X95L boasts.

It’s worth adding here that despite the outstandingly deep black colours the 65X95L is capable of delivering, its light control, even at ‘near black’ levels, is good enough to ensure that you never feel as if you’re missing out any subtle shadow details even in the darkest picture corners. 

There’s no loss of clarity during motion-filled action scenes, either. Even with no motion processing in play the 65X95L handles judder with 24p film sources with impressive neutrality, but if you do happen to find yourself distracted by judder with a particular (likely very bright) 24p source, then some of the motion processing options Sony provides do an excellent, arguably class leading job of reducing the impact of the judder without leaving the image full of unpleasant processing side effects. So long, anyway, as you only ever use the motion processing options on their lowest power settings. 

It’s interesting to note, too, how the outstanding Cognitive Processor XR works, depending on your selected picture preset, on either subtly emphasising key objects in images as your eyes would when perceiving the real world, or recreating the emphasis preferences of original source masters. Both approaches deliver delicious results while catering for slightly different image preferences.

While the 65X95L’s pictures represent a big leap from those of its predecessor and are really never less than a joy to watch, there are a trio of small niggles to report. One I’ve already touched on: That while brighter than OLED, there one or two even brighter mini LED TVs out there. Though the brightness the 65X95L feels optimised to spectacular effect.

The 65X95L’s Vivid picture preset oddly jettisons the sensitivity and subtlety the TV so proudly displays with really all of its other picture modes, with colours in particular becoming blown out and unrealistic. Some presets can cause noticeable clipping (lost shading and detailing) in the brightest bits of HDR pictures too, and while the backlight controls are usually excellent, just occasionally a very aggressively mastered HDR scene containing a particularly dynamic mixture of bright and dark content, such as the party/orgy that dominates the opening section of Babylon on 4K Blu-ray, can feel a touch flat as the TV struggles to reconcile such complex and extreme brightness and contrast variations.

Most of the niggles are avoidable simply by being careful what presets you use, though, and those that aren’t so easily fixed typically only crop up very rarely. Meaning that overall the 65X95L’s pictures can be considered things of surprisingly consistent beauty.

Picture quality score: 5 / 5

Sony XR-65X95L Review: Sound quality

The back of the Sony X95L

(Image credit: Future)
  • Acoustic Multi-Audio speaker system works well
  • Punchy, undistorted bass
  • Wide and well-developed sound stage

Despite not appearing at first glance as if it has the physical room to house any speakers worthy of the name, the 65X95L actually sound excellent by built-in TV audio standards.

Using a wide array of speakers, including ‘frame vibrators’ built into the screen’s sides, helps to both disperse the sound much more widely than a simple stereo or down-firing speaker system would. The frame tweeters also do an at times quite uncanny job of making sound effects appear to be coming from just the right spot on or just off the screen – even tracking the sound of moving objects with startling accuracy.

Dialogue is excellent too, enjoying an artful balance of clarity and context, and again typically sounding like it’s coming from part of the screen where a talker’s head is, rather than from some separate speaker array below or to the side of the onscreen action.

There’s good balance between the various frequency ranges and elements of a busy movie soundtrack too, with nothing tending to sound overly bright or unduly dominant.

Bass is a bit limited in the depths of frequency response it can hit and the weight it can add to an action movie mix. What bass there is, though, does at least avoid buzzing, drop outs and other common TV audio distortions, while the mid-range is wide enough to stop the sound ever appearing thin or brittle. There’s enough power, too, to enable the sound stage to open up nicely as an action or horror scene gathers momentum.

Sound quality score: 4.5 / 5 

Sony X95L review: Design

A close up of the Sony logo on the X95L

(Image credit: Future)
  • Three different feet position options 
  • Can be raised to accommodate a soundbar 
  • Impressive build quality 

The 65X95L’s design offers an appealing combination of minimalist elegance and practicality. 

Its black, silver-trimmed frame is slender enough to represent barely any distraction from the pictures you’re watching yet feels very robustly built, while the feet supplied with the TV are so narrow when you’re viewing the TV head on that you barely see them. 

You can position the feet in no less than three different configurations too. The most elegant option sees them tucked right under the screen’s bottom corners, so that they almost feel like a horizontal extension of the screen frame. But you can also position them so that they lift the screen up far enough to place a soundbar underneath it, or else you can position them closer together so that the TV can be placed on a narrow piece of furniture. All very thoughtful.

The 65X95L’s rear sticks out a fair bit further than those of most of today’s ultra-slim TVs - but unless you’re wall hanging it you probably won’t notice. This is because the chunkiness is cleverly delivered in two distinct tiers, with the fattest bit sitting towards the centre of the back panel so that you can’t see it unless you’re looking at the TV from an extreme angle. 

Design score: 4.5 / 5

SonyX95L review: Smart TV and menus

The Sony X95L remote

(Image credit: Future)
  • Google TV support
  • Voice control support
  • Menus can feel a little overwhelming

Sony has long been aboard first the Android and then the Google TV train for its TV smart systems – so it’s not surprise to find Google TV in place on the 65X95L too. 

Google TV is a substantial improvement over its Android predecessor, with more attractive and intuitive menus. For me, though, it still feels a bit overwhelming for a TV rather than smart device interface, and doesn’t offer as many customisation options as some rival systems. Or, at least, it doesn’t make its customisation options as obvious. 

It doesn’t carry by default all the UK’s key terrestrial broadcaster catch up apps, either – though Sony has been able to get these onboard via its own agreements with the various channels involved.

There’s one exclusive to Sony streaming service that’s well worth a mention, too: Bravia Core. The big story behind this is that its large collection of movies (including some recent releases as well as a horde of catalogue stuff) can all be streamed at much higher bandwidths than most video streaming services provide, resulting in better 4K HDR picture quality. You need a broadband speed of at least 80Mbps to get the maximum benefit from Bravia Core – but you’ll be pleased to know that just by buying a 65X95L you’ve gained access to 10 free films to add to your library before you need to start paying for any others.

Voice control is supported via Google Assistant, and there’s one final more unusual smart feature to report in the shape of an optional (£199) Bravia Cam accessory. This can connect to the top edge of your TV and open up such features as auto sound and picture adjustment based on analysis of your seating position, video calling and even a degree of gesture control. Personally I’m not convinced the Bravia Cam is really worth the extra cash, but it picked up a CES 2022 Innovation Award, so what do I know…

Smart TV and menus score: 4 / 5

Sony X95L review: Gaming

The back of the Sony X95L

(Image credit: Future)
  • 4K / 120Hz VRR support on two HDMIs 
  • No Dolby Vision support for gaming 
  • Perfect for PS5 features

Surprisingly for a brand with such a huge video game presence, Sony has been a little lethargic compared with some of its rivals when it comes to whole-heartedly embracing the latest game graphics features in its TVs. This continues to some extent with the 65X95L.

For starters, only two of its four HDMIs support 4K/120Hz game inputs and variable refresh rates. And one of those two game-friendly HDMIs is also the one you’re supposed to use if you want to take advantage of HDMI’s audio return channel capability.

Also, frustratingly, the TV requires you to choose between either variable refresh rates or Dolby Vision HDR gaming; you can’t have both at the same time. Given that there’s no fast-responding Dolby Vision Game mode either, though, you probably won’t want to game in Dolby Vision on the 65X95L anyway.

There is support for auto low latency mode switching, however, where the TV switches in to its fastest responding Game picture preset when a game rather than video source is detected. Plus, of course, there are the other limited Perfect For PlayStation features Sony rolled out a couple of years ago in a bid to make it look like its TV and console divisions really do talk to each other. This includes the ability to have the PS5 auto-optimise its HDR output to suit whatever Sony TV model it detects that it’s connected to.

Sony now provides a dedicated game onscreen menu too, providing key information on the incoming game feeds and access to a few gaming aids. It’s not quite as advanced as some rival Game menu systems, including the one on Sony’s own A95L flagship OLED model. But it’s much better than having no such menu at all. 

The 65X95L manages to get input lag down to a decent if not world-leading 18.8ms when running in its Game picture preset, and actually produces consistently gorgeous gaming imagery, powered in particular by the set’s brightness, bold but also subtle colour management and high degree of sharpness and detail.

Gaming score: 4 / 5

Sony X95L review: Value

The Sony X95L on a table

(Image credit: Future)
  • Much more expensive than TCL’s 65C845K
  • Cheaper than premium OLEDs and some rival LCD flagships
  • Fair value overall for what’s on offer

The 65X95L’s UK price of £1,899 is the result of recent discounting, and so represents good value for a TV boasting such a strong feature count and premium level of picture and sound performance. The Australian price of AU$4,495 doesn’t look like quite such good value, working out at around £500 more than the UK price based on a simple currency conversion.

Samsung’s flagship 65-inch 4K mini LED model, the 65QN95C, is currently listed at £2,199 – though that is itself a big discount from the set’s original £3,699 launch price. The 65X95L is much cheaper, though, than Sony’s 65-inch flagship OLED TV, the 65A95L, which is currently available for a hefty £3,499. 

It’s impossible to do a review of a mini LED TV with lots of dimming zones right now without also mentioning the TCL 65C845K. This delivers more than 2000 nits of brightness and 576 local dimming zones for just £1,049. But it doesn’t share the same quality of video processing or general picture precision and accuracy that the 65X95L achieves.

Value score: 4 / 5

Should you buy the Sony X95L?

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Sony X95L review: Also consider

How I tested the Sony X95L

  • Tested over two weeks
  • Tested with 4K Blu-rays, multiple streaming platforms and resolutions, Freeview HD broadcasts, and HD Blu-rays 
  • Reviewed in both dark and light dedicated test room conditions, and a regular (corner position) living room set up

While a substantial amount of time was spent testing the Sony 65X95L in a blacked out test room environment to make it as easy as possible to spot potential flaws with its new LCD backlighting system, we also tested it at a series of different light levels using a remote controlled lamp, as well as testing it for a number of days in a completely regular living room set up, complete with changing day and night conditions. 

The ‘controlled environment’ testing typically focused on a selection of 4K Blu-rays and streaming sequences that we know from long experience tend to test different aspects of a TV’s picture and sound quality to the limit. Particularly useful for the 65X95L were the 4K Blu-ray of Babylon, the early stages of which present a tough challenge for LCD backlighting and colour controls; It Chapter One on 4K Blu-ray with its often intensely dark black levels and expansive Dolby Atmos soundtrack; and the HD Blu-ray of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the many dark and grainy scenes of which pose a tough test for upscaling systems.

A Sky Q box was used to provide both HD and 4K 60Hz content, and we also spun up favourite episodes from shows across all the main streaming services using their built in apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Disney Plus. 

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