Samsung Q7F 4K HDR Ultra HD LCD TV Review (QN55Q7F, QN65Q7F, QN75Q7F)
After plenty of anticipation, the 2017 Samsung QLED 4K HDR TVs have finally arrived for review and the Q7F is one of the three main models we’ve seen so far. As expected, this 2017 television from the top-tier series of Samsung 4K TVs for this year delivers some excellent overall performance and in some areas exceeds the capabilities of the 2016 SUHD TVs in its class, such as the also excellent KS8000 which we reviewed last year. On the other hand, despite a great deal of hype about the improvements and superior new specs that we can look forward to in the 2017 QLED TVs, the A7F at least doesn’t quite live up to what many reviewers and consumers were probably led to believe.
Without a doubt, this is one truly superb 4K HDR TV with some fantastic specs but at least in the case of this lowest-tier model among the 2017 QLED TVs, a few key metrics for picture quality performance not only don’t exceed what we saw with 2016 SUHD TVs like the closely comparable KS8000, they actually slightly underperform to a slight degree. This is disappointing, though other aspects of the Q7F might still cause some buyers to prefer this edition over its cousins from last year.
For the vast majority of consumers and the vast majority of currently widely available 4K ultra HD content, including HDR video sources, the Q7F HDR TV is not just good, it’s absolutely fantastic. On the scale by which all 4K TVs available today can be measured against each other, this particular model easily fits into the top 10% or less of 4K TVs as far as raw performance goes for just about every imaginable use. This needs to be said beforehand to maintain a bit of perspective when we get into the disappointing aspects of the Q7F further down. Now, before we move onto those things we didn’t like about this model, let’s cover its particularly good characteristics, because there are many of them and they outnumber the defects by far.
First and foremost, the Q7F is a superb piece of HDR TV technology with some of the most advanced color and contrast performance specs found among any LCD 4K TVs sold today. One aspect in particular of these specs that Samsung has improved noticeably from the 2016 SUHD TVs is the color gamut coverage found in the Q7F. This model offers up a solid 99% DCI-P3 color spectrum coverage level which makes it the best of any 4K HDR TV we’ve reviewed so far (though reviews are pending for several 2017 TVs that we expect to match this measurement). The 99% is some 7% more than what was the case in the 2016 SUHD TVs and while some viewers might not even notice the difference, the fact that it’s the case does make a noteworthy difference. Combined with this TV’s true 10-bit color value and support for HDR10 high dynamic range mastering (with HLG and Technicolor HDR even to be added later in the year). In basic terms, the color delivery of the Q7F is a genuine improvement over what we saw with last year’s SUHD TVs and we’re guessing that this model along with its other QLED cousins will deliver some of the best high dynamic range color support of all the major 4K HDR TVs of early to mid-2017, at least by HDR10 certification standards.
Moving along, the Q7F handles motion exceptionally right across the board. The 2016 KS8000 and higher-priced SUHD TVs also did this and it’s a bit tricky to tell if this particular QLED model performs notably better than they did but at least we can say that the Q7F delivers motion handling across all major categories of measurement wonderfully or even virtually perfectly. Motion interpolation technology in this TV delivers smooth results for content that refreshes at less than the native display refresh rate of 120Hz on this TV and while there’s still a soap opera effect with the Q7F’s Auto Motion Plus feature, adjusting it a bit can deliver some excellent motion interpolation results with minimal soap opera quality. Motion blur on the whole in the Q7F is absolutely minimal due to this model’s excellent 9.2ms response time and in this particular area, this QLED TV delivers visibly better results than did its KS-Series 2016 counterparts. We also have to note that the Q7F offers superb, basically perfect judder-free 24p content playback that’s also free of soap opera effect.
Moving along, we come down to one more of the key display performance areas of any 4K TV and one that has particular importance for HDR TVs. This is black level performance and associated contrast quality. In the case of the Q7F, what you get is some excellent quality across the board in these areas. The black levels in this QLED TV are on par with HDR10 standards and the black uniformity in the Q7F is wonderful, particularly when you consider that this is an edge-lit model with LED backlights only along the bottom of its display, as far as we can tell. Native contrast in the Q7F is also excellent at over 5000:1 though there are some minor issues we don’t like about this model’s black performance and contrast which we’ll be covering in the next section.
Next, the overall quality of the Q7F as a console gaming television and for use as a PC monitor is downright superb. Samsung’s 2016 4K TVs of all types and prices were excellent in these two areas, offering particularly high levels of performance and low input lag for 4K and HDR console gaming. This has continued in the Q7F even if specific input lag levels for gaming in HDR, at 4K resolution at 60Hz and in 1080p resolution in Game Mode are possibly a bit worse than they were in the 2016 SUHD TVs like the KS8000 or KS9000. For use as a PC monitor the Q7F is also great, with support for 1080p resolution at 60Hz and 4K resolution at different frame rates and color sampling modes.
We’d also like to note among the good things in the Q7F the 2017 Samsung smart TV platform, We’ve loved the Samsung smart TV interface as a general rule across all the 4K TV models we’ve reviewed for at least a couple of years now but in the 2017 Q7F, the Tizen smart OS has become even better than it was last year in a couple of notable ways. For one thing, the smart platform has been given a cosmetic overhaul that makes it look more attractive than it did last year. Secondly, the interface is more usable than ever before, with a simple layout and more voice control features than ever before to make using it simpler. There is still some lag in the usability of the smart OS in the Q7F but it’s less common than it was in the 2016 models.
Finally, we love the design of the Q7F. It’s definitely a more elegant, sleeker TV than last year’s KS-Series SUHD TVs were and we think that the design for this year is also sturdier on a table or countertop. The Q7F feels sturdy and robust overall and we think that on the whole this TV basically looks downright beautiful in a living room or any sort of home entertainment setting. It’s burnished and polished silver finish helps makes this elegance work well and the extremely thin display bezels are another attractive aspect of the Q7F. There’s also a new single cable connection that goes between TV and its accompanying One Connect box, for simplified and much less obtrusive cable layout behind the TV’s stylish body. Samsung has also given options for a gravity stand and an easel stand for keeping the TV elevated in a random place without mounting it or depending on a TV countertop of some sort. The Q7F isn’t quite as thin as some LCD TVs we’ve seen and it doesn’t come even close to the thinness in profile of the LG OLED 4K TVs but this is no big deal. This model still looks good even when viewed from the side and people watching the TV itself in a normal way won’t notice its thickness behind the display in any case. We should also note that the general overall build quality of the Q7F is simply sturdier than the builds of the 2016 SUHD TVs were. This even applies to the TV’s remote, which is in fact made of tough burnished metal.
4.7 - 4 Reviews
First of all, we need to stress that by any normal viewing standard and especially by the standards of the vast majority of consumer users, the Q7F delivers what we’d definitely call superb picture performance. This is not a TV that anyone with a normal sense for quality would scoff at seriously. That said, the Q7F isn’t without some flaws, especially when it’s measured against other top-shelf TVs in its price range, or even against its own SUHD predecessors from 2016.
Starting things off here, we have what we consider to be perhaps the most trivial defect of the Q7F. This is its lack of 3D technology of any kind. For 2017 Samsung has decided to continue its strategy of discarding 3D technology due to a supposed lack of major consumer interest. We ourselves think this is a fine choice to make but for consumers who absolutely insist on having 3D in their 4K TV, the Q7F and all other 2017 Samsung 4K TVs of all kinds are probably not the best options.
Moving on, we come back again to the Q7F’s contrast ratio and black level. As we said above, neither of these are bad by any conventional measure but they are inferior to the quality of the same specs in the 2016 KS-Series SUHD TVs. Specifically, the Q7F doesn’t quite match the same contrast level as its 2016 counterpart the KS8000. Furthermore, its deepest possible black level is ever so slightly weaker than that of the KS-Series TVs. These differences are small and even sharp-eyed viewers wouldn’t notice them unless the Q7F was placed side-by-side with a TV like the KS8000 or KS9000 for example. However, the differences are there and surprising simply because Samsung could have at least delivered the same quality in its newer TVs on this front. The black level and high dynamic range on in the Q7F are made even weaker due to one other crucial and strange deficiency of this TV. This its peak brightness.
Yes, that’s right, the peak brightness and overall concentrated brightness in the QLED Q7F is much weaker than anything seen in the 2016 SUHD TVs either when HDR or SDR display was activated in them. This is all the more surprising after the heavy Samsung promotion of brightness improvements in the QLED TVs. Granted, we can’t yet speak for the pricier and presumably superior Q8 and Q9 flagship QLED TVs that are also now on sale but at least as far as the third-tier Q7F goes, its peak brightness levels for both SDR and high dynamic range (HDR content are dramatically lower than those of even the KS8000 from last year. This TV never quite breaks the 1000 nit mark and even when set to HDR mode doesn’t come close to matching the 1425 to 1450 nits of peak HDR brightness that the KS8000, KS9000 and KS9500 could easily pull off. This of course also weakens perceived black depth perception and as a result, HDR contrast (as opposed to HDR color) in this TTV simply doesn’t quite look as good as it did in the 2016 SUHD lineup.
Finally, the Q7F does deliver better viewing angles than the 2016 Samsung TV lineup but the improvement is very small. This is a minor issue but it’s worth mentioning specifically because Samsung claimed that the 2017 QLED TVs would offer exceptional viewing angles despite their VA panel display technology. We saw some very decent viewing angle results in the flagship Q9F at CES 2017 but at least as far as a consumer model Q7F goes, things have changed little from what was the case in 2016.
Despite our criticisms of the Q7F 4K HDR TV from Samsung in comparing its actual performance to its own hype and the performance of its 2016 predecessors, we can’t by any means call this particular television model a bad TV. Completely the opposite is the case. The Q7F is an excellent 4K HDR set and delivers a tremendous range of high-performance color, motion handling and general picture quality specs. However, we’d say that at least as far as this particular model is concerned, consumers would probably get a bit more performance from its 2016 counterparts the KS8000, KS8500 and KS9000. Yes, the Q7F offers new or improved features like an improved Tizen smart OS platform, HLG HDR support and 97% DCI-P3 color coverage but neither of these are quite as important as the black level and peak brightness specs that make this television a bit weaker than the KS8000.
• Screen size: 55 diagonal inches (review model), 65 inches, 75 inches
• Smart TV: Tizen smart TV OS with numerous pre-installed apps
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HLG HDR Included: Yes (as of mid-2017)
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
• Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Sony button remote with voice recognition
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0 ports (all include HDCP 2.2), 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out, WiFi
• Sound: 40W front-firing speakers with Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Premium Sound, DTS Premium Sound 5.1
• Contrast Ratio: 5035 : 1
• Black Level maximum: 0.020 cd/m2
• 3D Technology: N/A
• TV dimensions (55 inch model): 56.89"x8.07"x34.8" inches
• TV weight (55 inch model): 47.6 lbs w/ Stand
• Processor: Q Engine processor
Quantum Dot Refinements:
Quantum dots have been a core display feature of Samsung’s premium SUHD TVs since 2015 and they’re a key aspect of delivering wide color gamut for superior HDR performance in these TVs. In the 2017 QLED TVs like the Q7F, we see a further refinement to this technology by which three different improvements are the case, one of which we could clearly measure in the Q7F itself. Specifically, the new 2017 Quantum Dot technology supposedly incorporates a new metallic component to its Quantum Dot filters for the sake of superior color retention even ay high levels of brightness and at wider viewing angles. Additionally, the 2017 QLED TVs offer up better than ever wide color gamut coverage. This last is the only Quantum dot refinement we’ve been able to confirm in the Q7F in particular (we can’t yet speak for the Q8 and Q9 QLED models here, how they perform is to be found in our reviews of each of them). Viewing angles remain more or less as they were in the 2016 SUHD TVs and this TV’s peak brightness doesn’t reach high enough to confirm superior color retention at 1000 nits+.
Expanded HDR Coverage:
HDR10 has been the standard and only high dynamic range format found in Samsung’s older 4K HDR TVs and it remains in the 2017 QLED models. However, later in 2017, Samsung will reportedly be upating its QLED TVs and presumably whatever other models the brand releases with Hybrid Log Gamma broadcast HDR support for the so-called next generation of broadcaster 4K content with high dynamic range integration. Additionally, we haven’t confirmed this quite yet but the QLED models are also expected to get the addition of Technicolor HDR as well for whatever content comes mastered in that lesser-known standard. So far though, Dolby Vision HDR isn’t coming to Samsung HDR TVs of any kind since the company seems to be confident that high quality high dynamic range display can be achieved through HDR10 alone for the most part. The bottom line however here is that the QLED TVs are future proofed for a broader than ever assortment of HDR content as it arrives in the next couple of years or more.
New, Improved Tizen Smart Platform:
Tizen has always been one of our favorite smart TV platforms and this hasn’t changed with the new Q Engine modifications to the 2017 version of this smart OS. In the Q7F and its other QLED cousins, user-friendliness is better than ever, there are more 4K and other content apps options than ever before and even Samsung has put together its own two streaming services for both music and 4K content from their media partners. Furthermore, the new One Remote is not only sturdy with its burnished metal build, it’s also capable of a wider range of control options and improved voice command as well, with even things like brightness and other picture settings being adjustable via voice control. The Q7F smart platform is also completely ad-free, which is a nice bonus.
Streamlined Connectivity Setup:
The Samsung Q7F comes with an updated version of the same OneConnect box that we saw in the SUHD TVs of 2016 and 2015 but now, the connection from the TV to this box where all the HDMI, USB and other ports are duplicated is a single highly slim cable that’s easy to hook up and very easy to install for minimal visibility. This feature of the QLED TVs is a minor detail but it makes for a more clutter-free cable experience.
4.7 - 4 Reviews
The Visual specs of the Samsung Q7F TVs are nothing short of superb in an absolute sense or when they’re compared to the performance of a majority of LCD 4K TVs. However, despite notable improvements in some areas over the performance of their 2016 SUHD cousins, the Q7F models do suffer some display performance metrics which have actually decreased in quality from their levels in 2016. Despite this, the Q7F is one fantastic 4K HDR TV with superb color, contrast, black level and motion handling capacity since its fundamental performance even on weaker metrics (compared to 2016 models) is still excellent by typical LCD 4K HDR TV standards. Let’s get down to some detailed measurements here.
For starters, it’s worth noting that all of the Q7F models in their respective 55 inch, 65 inch and 75 inch ranges come with VA (Vertical Alignment) display panel designs, which are notable for their particularly good black rendering and on the negative side, their weak performance when viewed from more than a couple dozen degrees off center. Secondly, all of the Q7F models come with native 120Hz panel refresh rates, which are topped off by 240Hz Motion Interpolation technology for further smoothing out of their refresh rates if the Q7F’s “Auto Motion Plus” feature is activated. Activating this feature to too high of a level still does however produce a soap opera effect in this model.
Native refresh rate aside, the Q7F TV lineup delivers absolutely superb 4K and non-4K content motion handling specs for all sorts of video sources, from movies to TV programming to live sportscasts in either HD or 4K UHD. Motion interpolation is wonderfully smooth, motion blur is kept to an absolute minimum with only a 9.2ms response time that delivers extremely minimal “tail effects” behind moving objects on the screen. The Q7F TVs also deliver excellent 24p content playback with virtually no judder on any sources of video such as 24p movie disc content or streaming movies, 24p content via 60p and 24p video via 60i signals. Even with Motion Interpolation deactivated, this TV delivers excellent judder prevention. We should also note that the upscaling engine of the Q7F is superb for all major resolutions but particularly near-perfect for playing back upscaled or correctly-sized 1080p video and 4K UHD video sources respectively. It does however also play back 480p SD content and 720p video sources very cleanly as long as they have been formatted for maximum sharpness from their original source material.
Moving onto the display performance for color, contrast, brightness, HDR and black levels of the Q7F QLED TV, we get a bit more of a mixed bag of quality on this particular QLED model even if overall performance is almost never less than very good even at its worst.
Starting with the color quality in the Q7F we see that Samsung has lived up to its promise that this year’s quantum dot technology in the QLED TVs delivers superior color performance. The wide color gamut coverage of this TV sits at an even 99%, or at about 74% of Rec 2020 color space coverage. This isn’t a huge improvement over what we saw in the 2016 SUHD models but it’s a solid 7 or 8% better and that’s enough to deliver visibly superior vibrancy and realism in the colors. Additionally, just like the SUHD TVs and most high-end 4K TVs, the Q7F delivers 10-bit color support for content that’s formatted for 10-bit color.
Key metrics of color performance such as White Balance DE, Gamma and color Delta E re also pretty good out of the box, sitting at 3, 2.42 and 2.18 respectively right out of the box. Fter calibration in this TV, these are brought down to just 0.3 for white balance DE, 1.56 for color delta E and a Gamma reading that barely changes at 2.11. We should also note that the Q7F, as was claimed for the QLED TVs, supports saturated colors well even at high levels of brightness, keeping a more robust level of color volume even at its maximum levels of peak brightness, which we’ll be covering now.
The key HDR and SDR contrast-related measurements for the Q7F are definitely good but unlike the color performance on this TV, which exceeds the quality of most 2016 TVs and all of the SUHD models, the brightness and black levels in the Q7F disappoint a bit compared to those of the SK-Series SUHD models. The peak contrast ratio that the Q7F can manage amounts to 5035:1. A good level of contrast to be sure, but far from the 6000+ contrast of the KS8000 SUHD. Furthermore, the TVs black level bottoms out at only 0.20 nits, which is good but a bit weaker than what we saw in the KS8000, again. The black uniformity of the Q7F is however excellent with virtually no easily notable light bloom anywhere. This is great and especially for an edge-lit 4K TV.
Then there’s the peak brightness of the Samsung Q7F and this is where this supposedly superior 2017 television delivers its single biggest disappointment. Despite heavy insinuation that all of the 2017 QLED TVs would literally outshine their 2016 cousins and rivals with peak brightness levels in excess of 1500 nits, at least the Q7F falls far flat of this goal. It not only doesn’t match even the KS8000 for sheer peak HDR and SDR brightness, it doesn’t even manage more than 1000 nits. Topping out at 900 nits for SDR content in a 10% window and bout 978 nits for HDR content in a 10% window. The Q7F can also manage only a sustained peak 10% screen space brightness of about 615 and 638 for SDR and HDR content respectively. These lower values are still excellent when compared to what you’ll find in the vast majority of LCD HDR TVs today or from 2016 but given the amazing performance of the entire line of KS-Series SUHD TVs from last year, and the hype, we were expecting the Q7F to do better than it did this year.
Other display performance specs we need to cover briefly: The Samsung Q7F delivers modestly good local dimming. As an edge-lit 4K HDR TV, it doesn’t quite manage what we’ve seen in much cheaper full-array LCD TVs like the Vizio P-Series and never mind premium models like the Sony X940D or Samsung KS9800, but the local dimming in the Q7F is decent though there is no way to completely turn it off, something which could be done in the 2016 models with local dimming.
Aside from this, its panel is generally very good at delivering high black levels so the local dimming is of low importance anyhow. Then there’s the viewing angle issue. Viewing angles in this 4K TV are indeed better than they were in any of the 2016 Samsung televisions but we didn’t note them to be nearly as wide as implied in QLED display publicity from Samsung and they certainly don’t match the wide viewing angles of OLED TVs.
A few things are worth mentioning about the Q7F as far as its connectivity goes. First of all, this 4K HDR TV offers a superb array of connectivity specs with advanced inputs, and support for a bunch of resolutions, color sampling formats and different content types from assorted sources. The Q7F also offers up very low input lag for console gaming at assorted different resolutions and color formats or in HDR mode just as long as it’s tuned to “Game Mode” for maximum console connectivity compatibility. Under this condition, the Q7F can deliver average input lag of 24 ms or less for 1080p resolution at 60fps, 1080p resolution with interpolation, 4K UHD resolution at 60fps and in 4K or HD resolution with HDR activated. It also supports 4:4:4 color sampling in 4K and 1080p resolutions. Additionally, Samsung’s cheapest QLED TV serves wonderfully as a PC monitor, with support for 1080p and 4K UHD resolution at assorted refresh rates and with 4:4:4 color subsampling active as well. It’s also worth noting that the Q7F comes with HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 in all of its four HDMI ports. The 2016 SUHD models had more limited connectivity via HDMI.
The specific connectivity ports of the Q7F are all located in the included OneConnect box and only a single cable connection goes between TV and the connectivity box, with no other inputs except the power cord on the TV itself. Here are all of the OneConnect ports:
• HDMI : 4
• USB : 3
• Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
• Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
• Ethernet : 1
5.1 pass-through for Dolby Digital and DTS sound are also both supported in both the ARC and Optical formats.
Samsung’s QN55Q7F, which our review is based on, retails for an MSRP of $2,799, though we expect this price to decrease soon, especially on Amazon.com where we’ve already seen the TV sell for $2,499.99. The 65 inch model retails for $3,999.99 and the huge 75 inch version is retailing for $ 5,999.99 as of this writing.
These prices are however subject to frequent downward change, so check out the latest deals on the Q7F in its three different sizes here on Amazon.com.
4.7 - 4 Reviews
• Superb color volume, better than SUHD
• Nearly perfect motion handling
• Broader HDR compatibility
• Beautiful, sleek design
• Great connectivity
• Excellent TV for gamers or as PC monitor
• Weaker contrast than 2016 SUHD counterpart
• Peak brightness weaker than 2016 SUHD TVs
• Local dimming could be better
• display quality weakens at wide angles