While there are a lot of new launches in the budget and mid-range television segments all the time, the premium space tends to see a handful of big launches every year from major brands such as Samsung, Sony, and LG, to name a few. Specifications and types of screens might be different across the major brands, and I've typically found that OLED and quantum dot televisions offer the most impressive performance, with each excelling in its own specific ways. Samsung, in particular, has placed its focus on its top-of-the-line Neo QLED TVs in India.
The Samsung QN90A series of Neo QLED TVs is the current flagship Ultra-HD television line from the company, and I'm reviewing the 55-inch QN90A television here. Priced at 1,75,990 in India, the Samsung 55QN90A offers a combination of sleek design, premium specifications and features, and a promise of flagship-level performance. Is this the best 55-inch Ultra-HD television you can buy right now? Find out in this review.
The Samsung Neo QLED TV 55QN90A runs on the company's Tizen software for televisions
Samsung 55-inch Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV (55QN90A) design and specifications
Most large-screen televisions might be slim at the edges, but have a significant bulge at the middle of the back where the majority of the components are housed. The Samsung 55QN90A is considerably different in this regard, with the entire back of the TV just marginally thicker than the edges, which makes for a simple, clean look. You won't often be looking at the back of the TV in ordinary use, but this profile will make all the difference when it comes to positioning, be it on a wall or even when using its table mount.
The TV has a 55-inch Ultra-HD (3840x2160-pixel) quantum-dot LED-backlit screen, with slim borders all around. The Samsung logo and on-device control panel are near the right corner, rather than at the centre, as is usually the case. This TV weighs nearly 22kg with the stand attached; it's a heavy unit despite the slim body.
It is possible to have the Samsung Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV wall-mounted, thanks to its standard 200x200mm VESA compatibility. A wall-mount kit isn't included in the box, and I was unable to install my own wall-mount hooks onto the TV due to a mismatch with bolts; I had to stand-mount this TV for my review instead. You can, of course, have the TV officially installed by Samsung, which will provide the correct wall-mount kit and equipment.
The included stand mount attaches to the centre of the bottom of the TV, with a single curved slab of metal holding the TV in place on the table. This is particularly useful if you don't have a large table to place the Samsung Neo QLED TV on, and I found the stand to be very secure and stable. The slim profile of the TV means that accessing the ports might be a bit difficult if it's wall-mounted, but I was able to quickly and easily reach all ports and inputs with the TV on its stand.
The Ultra-HD 55QN90A TV supports HDR10+ high dynamic range content
The Samsung Neo QLED TV 55QN90A has plenty of connectivity options, covering most useful requirements. There are four HDMI ports (one supports eARC); two USB ports; a single digital optical audio output; an Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity; a single composite AV input to be used with a three-to-one adapter; and an antenna socket. There is no headphone jack, but the TV does support Bluetooth 5.2 for audio and Wi-Fi for wireless Internet connectivity.
Other specifications include high dynamic range support up to the HDR10+ format, micro-dimming, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby 5.1 audio, and a 60W 4.2.2-channel speaker setup. There is also auto low-latency mode for gaming, support for AMD Freesync Premium Pro, and a peak refresh rate of 120Hz at 4K. The TV is powered by Samsung's Neo Quantum Processor 4K, and boasts of what the company calls QuantumHDR 32X / 24X encoding which is said to enhance the quality of HDR10+ content.
Samsung 55-inch Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV (55QN90A) remote and features
TV remotes may have gone from large, button-filled blocks to sleek, minimalist slabs, but the basic idea has been generally simple. With the Samsung 55-inch Neo QLED TV 55QN90A, the remote sees a bit of a reimagining. Although the basic functionality is still in place, what makes this remote interesting is the fact that it's solar powered, with a small solar panel at the back to top up the in-built battery. There is also a USB Type-C port for charging, in case you run out of power on a cloudy day.
The remote was ready to go and powered up as soon as I unpacked it, and I didn't have to charge it at all during my time with the Samsung 55QN90A TV; there is no way to check the battery level, though. Otherwise, it's a sleek remote with just a handful of buttons including a d-pad for navigation and playback controls, a volume rocker, a programme rocker, home and back buttons, and hotkeys for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Samsung's TV Plus streaming service, among others. Pressing down on the rocker mutes the volume, but there is no quick way to access the TV settings. This needs to be done by pressing the home button and navigating to the settings through the interface.
The remote of the 55QN90A TV is solar powered, with a solar panel to charge the built-in battery
Other key features include support for Apple AirPlay and casting, Tap View for screen mirroring from supported Samsung smartphones, and support for voice assistants including Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, and Samsung's own Bixby. There are also some software-based features such as Multi-View and Ambient Mode, which I'll explain in a bit more detail in the next section.
Samsung 55-inch Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV (55QN90A) software and interface
Samsung uses its Tizen operating system extensively across product categories, and the 55QN90A TV runs the latest version of this software for televisions. It has what can be termed a ‘floating' software interface. Unlike Android TV which takes over the screen entirely, the interface is a floating bar of sorts, which works as an overlay above whatever source, app, or content is active.
Pressing the home button on the remote is the key to navigating anywhere within the Tizen interface; it pulls up the app drawer and core feature list to start with, and then lets you navigate to important points such as the settings menu, source selection menu, app store, and content rows with curated lists of movies and TV shows.
It's simple enough to get around, and supports most major apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Disney+ Hotstar, and Apple TV. Many popular Indian streaming services also have apps available, such as Zee5, Sony Liv, and Voot.
All apps that I used were able to play Ultra-HD and HDR content natively, and they were well optimised for use with a remote. Also worth mentioning is Samsung TV Plus, a channel-based streaming service made for the company's TVs, which plays programmed content in ‘channel' form, including some Indian music, news, and general entertainment channels.
Adjusting settings is a slightly more complicated process than on many TVs, since the Samsung 55QN90A doesn't give you quick access. You have to navigate through the interface to reach the settings, but once there, there are quick toggles for basic picture, sound and general settings, as well as a more extensive full list that lets you set up the TV to your liking. On the whole, Samsung's Tizen interface isn't quite as extensively stocked with apps as Android TV, but offers plenty of variety and ease of use.
Samsung 55-inch Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV (55QN90A) performance
The television segment in India has options across price categories, and if you're looking purely from a specifications point of view, it's possible to get a good 55-inch Ultra-HD HDR smart TV for under Rs. 40,000. That said, premium televisions such as the Samsung 55-inch Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV (55QN90A) do have takers, even despite their high prices. Although undeniably expensive for a 55-inch television at Rs. 1,75,990, the Samsung 55QN90A is among the best high-end televisions you can buy right now, when it comes to performance and the viewing experience.
Although OLED TVs are considered to be the best among the popular screen technologies right now, Samsung has managed to do a lot with its QLED TVs to the point that they're as good, if not better in some situations, than a good OLED TV from a brand such as LG or Sony. The Samsung 55QN90A offers up a bright and vibrant picture, punchy yet accurate colours, good sharpness, and black levels that are about as good as you can expect from a non-OLED TV.
Black levels on the 55QN90A, while not quite as deep as you'd see on an OLED TV, are excellent nonetheless
Although Samsung televisions in India don't support Dolby Vision yet, Samsung's hardware and approach to HDR make even HDR10+ content look practically as good as Dolby Vision content on a premium television such as the LG 48CX. I watched varied content across resolutions and formats, including Clarkson's Farm and The Grand Tour: Lochdown on Amazon Prime Video, Schumacher, The Last Dance, and Our Planet on Netflix, and various video clips on YouTube.
Starting with an episode of Our Planet, the high-quality HDR footage looked absolutely stunning on the Samsung Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV, reproducing all the various colours of nature with a capable level of accuracy and sharpness. The picture was bright, detailed, and entirely unfazed by sunlight from a nearby window; whether in a bright or dark room, the Samsung 55QN90A provided a consistently good picture.
At times, I found the picture too bright and had to change the picture mode to tone things down. However, even at its brightest setting, the Samsung 55QN90A didn't appear washed-out or flawed. It was simply a matter of my eyes not being comfortable with that level of bright white light, and this TV is easily among the brightest and most capable premium Ultra-HD televisions you can buy right now.
Flowing water and the quick movements of birds and animals in Our Planet were capably handled by the Samsung TV, with barely any hints of artefacts or any other flaws in the picture. Indeed, the lack of Dolby Vision support on this TV didn't seem to matter at all – the Samsung 55QN90A, with its carefully tuned HDR10+ optimisation, produced as good a picture with high-quality HDR content as I've seen on competing options in the premium segment.
Amazon Prime Video has a large collection of HDR10+ content, and I watched an episode of Jack Ryan, various episodes of Clarkson's Farm, and The Grand Tour: Lochdown to compare performance with content on Netflix. Although not quite as impressive-looking as Our Planet when it came to brightness, these shows captured the essence of HDR, offering a reasonably bright, detailed, and colour-accurate picture. Clarkson's Farm, in particular, looked attractive and vibrant, despite the otherwise plain looks of this show and its simple, rural English setting.
Even with non-HDR Ultra-HD content, the Samsung TV still performed well
Black levels on the Samsung Neo QLED TV 55QN90A are excellent for a QLED TV, thanks to effective micro-dimming and excellent contrast. While it wasn't quite as impressive as the pixel-specific dimming that an OLED TV can offer, the Samsung Neo QLED TV made for good interplay between bright and dark scenes in the same frame, particularly when watching HDR content.
Standard dynamic range Ultra-HD content looked decent on the Samsung Neo QLED TV 55QN90A, with only the brightness and contrast levels feeling a bit toned down; the picture remained sharp and enjoyable to watch, with good motion handling and reasonably decent colours.
The Last Dance, which is available in Ultra-HD but regularly transitions between low-res footage from the 90s and sharper current footage, was handled well. Motion and detail during the fast-paced basketball game scenes looked good, on the whole. This was the case even with Schumacher, although the interview scenes were in full-HD and thus looked a bit less sharp, but still suitably detailed thanks to good upscaling.
Natively low-resolution content, including various children's videos on YouTube, looked considerably less impressive, but this has more to do with the TV's excellent performance with high-resolution viewing. This is often the case with premium big-screen TVs, and definitely applies to the Samsung 55QN90A; this is a TV meant for high-quality Ultra-HD content, and is optimised to work with that.
Sound on the Samsung 55QN90A is loud, thanks to the 60W of output. However, despite the multi-driver setup, sound quality wasn't exceptional. It's decent for a speaker system built into a television, but didn't quite match up to the quality of the screen itself.
The sound is clean at moderate volumes, and voices can be heard clearly enough even at low volumes, but this TV didn't quite make anything else sound exciting enough, especially when compared to options such as the OnePlus TV Q1 Pro which offers a much more impressive sonic performance. The lack of support for advanced audio formats such as Dolby Atmos is also disappointing. You might want to look into a good soundbar or speaker system to complement this TV.
Samsung is among the leading TV manufacturers in the world, and the Neo QLED Ultra-HD Smart TV 55QN90A is a testament to just how good its televisions can be. Although expensive at Rs. 1,75,990, this is among the best premium Ultra-HD televisions you can buy right now. With excellent picture quality, good software and features, and a unique and innovative solar-powered remote, this is the kind of premium viewing experience that sets itself apart from the competition.
Sound quality is a bit ordinary in comparison to the picture quality, there's no Dolby Atmos support, and there are small quirks in the software and remote such as not being able to get to the settings quickly. Still, the overall experience is top-notch, to say the least. It might be worth looking into options such as the LG CX series and Sony A80J or X90J as well, but the Samsung 55QN90A definitely earns my recommendation among televisions priced at up to Rs. 2,00,000.
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