Samsung Q7C 4K HDR Ultra HD LCD TV Review (QN55Q7C, QN65Q7C)
Stephan Jukic – January 1, 2018
The Samsung 2017 QLED 4K HDR TV lineup is not only aesthetically beautiful in comparison to most other 4K TVs for this year and early 2018, it’s also one of the best performing lines of 4K HDR LCD TVs on the market. The Q7C, despite some minor weaknesses and its status as the cheapest of the QLED ultra-premium TVs, is still one generally superb 4K HDR television almost across the board and delivers particularly strong performance in its color rendering, gaming connectivity and motion handling specs while being weaker than other QLED TVs or major rival brand models in the same price range in a few other categories which we’ll cover in greater detail below. Overall, the Q7C is virtually identical to its Q7F cousin, which we also reviewed this year but comes with a curved display and a few other very minor design and performance differences.
- Excellent color performance
- Superb motion handling
- Very good HDR delivery
- Beautiful design
- High peak brightness
- Excellent gaming connectivity
- Contrast could be better (but still very good)
- Not as bright as we’d hoped
- Weak native speakers
- Poor viewing angles
- Curved build adds nothing to picture quality
The Bottom Line
We really like the Samsung Q7 QLED model 4K HDR TVs and consider their color delivery to be among the best we’ve ever seen in any HDR 4K TV so far. This applies to the Q7C and in general we really like this TV though we prefer the flat screen of its Q7F cousin for practical and pricing reasons. However, most users who’ve never before owned a premium ultra HD TV with full high dynamic range will be extremely happy with how well the Q7C delivers on content and if you like the curved screen look, then this model delivers it to an almost artistic level of design beauty.
Despite having some weaknesses relative to certain other premium 4K HDR LCD TVs on the market today, the Q7C also delivers a large amount of powerful performance specs and features that we do like about it. In other words, it’s justifiably called a premium 4K TV and it certainly performs better in how it lets you view content (and especially HDR content) compared to almost any mid-range 4K TV on sale right now, particularly from Samsung. Here are the best parts of the Q7C summarized.
The color performance of the Q7C is downright superb. We’d argue that it’s this television model’s single strongest feature and definitely something you’ll notice for its vibrancy if you use the Q7C for viewing actual HDR movies and other programming. The Q7C delivers both fantastically high wide color gamut coverage and excellent 10-bit color smoothness (minimal banding between color gradients). Furthermore, its overall delivery of color volume even under high levels of peak brightness is stunningly good. In practical home viewing terms, this translates to extremely rich and vibrant but also realistic rendering of any HDR content you feed to this sleek HDR TV. It also means generally superb performance at handling ordinary TV and movie content with faithful color reproduction. We’d go as far as to say that the Q7C is one of the best 4K TVs for color at this price range, slightly better than its closest Sony rivals and outperformed by nobody (not even pricier Samsung QLEDs since they perform pretty much identically on this spec).
The overall motion handling of the Q7C is also downright superb. This is something that all of Samsung’s premium 4K TVs seem to do really well and the Q7C is thus no exception. By the standards of premium 4K TV it delivers admirably, with very good motion blur control by LCD TV standards and fantastic motion interpolation for lower frame-rate content on its native 120Hz screen. The Q7C is also an excellent TV for playback of 24p movies from pretty much any source without notable judder. If you like smooth, blur-free movement during sportscasts, action movies and streamed programming of any kind from cable and internet sources, the Q7C handles it beautifully.
Gaming Connectivity & Performance
As a gaming 4K HDR TV, this particular Samsung model is also a superb performer. Again, Samsung’s 4K TVs are virtually all really good at delivering excellent, low input lag levels for gaming via consoles at all sorts of resolution, color sampling and frame rate settings. They’re also great TVs for smooth HDR 4K gaming with equally low input lag. On all of these fronts, the Q7C excels and is one of the better 4K HDR gaming TVs you can find on the market because of this. It not only delivers beautifully vibrant high dynamic range in the graphics of games equipped to handle it, it combines this with the above-mentioned smoothness of low input lag. This is a unique combo feature among premium 4K TVs.
Contrast and Local Dimming
There are some issues with contrast and local dimming in the Q7C that we don’t like, and we’ll be covering both of them just a bit further down but those criticisms aside, it has to be stated that in terms of overall contrast and the presence of local dimming technology, this TV does a good job on the whole. Its local dimming capabilities could have been better than they are at the price range this model is selling for but the TV does at least include backlight local dimming that this definitely helps with the creation of decent contrast and lower-than-average halo effects during high contrast scenes. The Q7C’s contrast ratio isn’t the best we’ve seen among LCD HDR TVs and oddly, it’s actually weaker than that of most of Samsung’s much cheaper MU-Series television models but it is still fundamentally very high.
Overall display brightness
As far as overall display brightness in the Q7C is concerned, we also have our issues in this spec as well but we’ll cover those in detail further down below. That said, overall, the peak brightness of the Q7C is excellent by the standards of most 4K HDR TVs and in high dynamic range mode, this television performs very well. Samsung promised higher-than-ever levels of peak brightness for all of its 2017 QLED TVs and while they largely delivered on this for the flagship Q9F model, the results for the Q7C haven’t been nearly so exceptional but despite this, the Q7 TVs still reach what are definitely strong levels of display brightness. More importantly, still color vibrancy is conserved even in very bright highlights on the screen, and this is something that the Q7C does much better than many other high dynamic range televisions manage.
On a final note, we really need to mention the design of the Q7C. Like all of the 2017 Samsung QLED TVs and many of the mid-range MU-Series televisions from this brand, the Q7C is simply beautiful physically. It’s easily one of the nicest looking lcd 4K TVs you’ll find on sale today and its burnished silvery body looks almost like a work of art instead of a piece of electronic hardware. In addition to its sleekness however, this television is also very sturdy and practical, with a cable management system that makes it very easy to use and mount in a way that doesn’t distract with tangled connectivity cables. The display edges are extremely thin as well, with a bezel thickness of just a third of an inch (about 0.8 cm) and in a darkened room, the display surface looks more as if it’s floating in space for a nice immersive feel.
The Q7C is not by any stretch of the imagination a bad 4K TV in any way. It’s not even what we’d call a really bad deal. However, it does have a few fairly minor issues and one slightly serious problem. The minor issues revolve around its display weaknesses and they are really minor. For users who’ve never before seen a premium 4K ultra HD TV with full HDR in action, most of these probably won’t even be noticeable at all since this television does indeed perform fantastically by average TV standards. It’s only if you compare it to its own premium market rivals that it looks less than perfect.
Peak Brightness Weaknesses
Among all of the QLED TVs, and among all of the ultra-premium 2017 LCD 4K TVs, the Q7C is the least capable of extremely high peak brightness. At CES 2017, Samsung claimed that their 2017 QLED lineup would offer display luminosity which beats what the 2016 SUHD TVs could pull off but at least for this model they didn’t deliver on their promise. At no point does the Q7C exceed 1000 nits of brightness, even in HDR mode. It gets close and this means that it’s still one exceptionally bright 4K TV but similarly priced models like the Sony X930E outdo it. So too does the even cheaper Sony X900E. This is unfortunate since brightness is a key metric of heavy duty HDR display performance.
Contrast & Black Levels
Because the Q7C is a premium HDR 4K TV, we’d expect it to deliver truly deep levels of contrast, and black performance. It doesn’t quite pull this off. It’s got a high contrast level but oddly, even Samsung’s own cheapest 2017 4K television, the MU6300 beats it in this regard and on black uniformity as well, which the Q7F only manages to a moderate degree of quality. This is strange for such a high end model with local dimming and it’s disappointing in such a pricey HDR QLED TV.
Like all VA panel 4K televisions, the Q7C doesn’t exactly offer the best viewing angles. At anything beyond about 29 degrees off to one side of the television, contrast, color vibrancy and brightness all deteriorate noticeably. The tradeoff that VA panels offer is their superior levels of contrast in exchange for these weak viewing angles.
Price vs. Value & Final Opinion
Overall, with a price that nears $1800, the 55 inch Q7C is way overpriced. It offers nearly identical performance to the flat-screened Q7F but costs $200 more and this is money that you’re going to be spending purely on the screen’s curve, which does nothing at all to enhance actual display performance. The same applies for the 65 inch model, which is priced at a premium of roughly $200 over its flat screen counterpart. Not only do these prices make the Flat Q7F version a better deal, they also mean that other very similarly performing 4K HDR TVs like Sony’s X900E, X930E (in particular) and even LG’s B7 OLED offer much better overall value and quality for their prices.
In other words, we like the Q7C, it’s a fantastic HDR 4K TV and if you liked curved display, it looks beautiful, but its price is a major weakness.
Key Q7C QLED TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 in QN55Q7C, 65 in QN65Q7C (TV being reviewed is 55 inches)
- Smart TV: Tizen Smart TV platform with
- HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
- VP9 Included. Yes
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Hybrid Log Gamma
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting (top and bottom) with local dimming
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port in external One Connect box
- Remotes: Samsung Smart Remote
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out, all located in eternal One Connect box
- Sound: 20W (10W x 2) with Dolby™ Digital Plus, DTS Premium Sound 5.1
- Contrast Ratio: 5,102 : 1 (native, real contrast)
- Black Level maximum: 0.019 cd/m2
- 3D Technology: N/A
- Processor: Quad-Core Q Engine Processor
Key Display Specs
The following are the several categories of key display metrics for picture performance in the Samsung Q7C. They may vary slightly from unit to unit so they should not be taken as absolutes. However, they should maintain a generally high level of similarity in all units that makes them good enough to be reliable indicators of quality.
As you can see from the below, the Q7C is definitely a high-end TV in its overall performance quality. Samsung’s pricier Q8C and flagship Q9F, and Sony’s comparable rival the X930E beat it in certain specific regards but the Q7C generally handles contrast, brightness, motion handling and color in particular better than the vast majority of today’s mid-range and other premium 4K Ultra HD LCD TVs.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
The Q7C’s contrast is strong. It offers a very high average contrast ratio when being used to play back both HDR and normal SDR content. However, oddly enough, the TV doesn’t quite pull off the same level of truly deep overall contrast that we saw in much cheaper mid-range Samsung TVs for this year. The MU8000 and even budget models like the MU6300, which doesn’t even have local dimming capability, all deliver stronger and more uniform black levels even compared to the Q7C’s level WITH local dimming activated. However, the the Q7C’s overall contrast remains great by LCD TV standards and the TV delivers some very robust black levels across the board, especially when local dimming is activated.
Black uniformity in the Q7C is however not the best and we’d have expected better. Quite simply, this TV does the same thing as its Q7F flat version and Samsung’s slightly more expensive Q8C. Specifically, the middle of the display shows some notable and slightly distracting clouding. Again, oddly, cheaper Samsung TVs like the MU6300 or MU8000 deliver better black uniformity.
As we elaborated above multiple times, the Q7C is one exceptionally bright 4K HDR TV almost across the board. However it does have a few issues. First of all, the model doesn’t live anywhere near up to the hype about the higher-than-ever peak brightness which Samsung promised for its 4K TVs for 2017. On this the company dropped the ball since any of the 2016 KS-Series SUHD TVs are better at their peak and sustained brightness generation for HDR in particular. Furthermore, some of the Q7C’s HDR brightness specs are actually weaker than the same settings in SDR mode, which is, well, pretty odd and disappointing to say the least. Additionally, when brightness needs to be applied to larger areas of the screen, the Q7C completely underperforms any of Sony’s premium 4K HDR TVs in SDR video mode and slightly underperforms them even in HDR video display. Last year the opposite was the case –Sony’s TVs were generally dimmer than Samsung’s premium models but for the 2017 QLEDs like this model, their Sony rivals kick more ass on brightness.
However, to be fair to this TV, it does generally deliver generally decent overall peak brightness and most users will not be disappointed even by the specs as we describe them here.
Also, to clarify, peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of the display or a section of it measured in nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display.
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 240 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 468 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 1189 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 126 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 588 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 132 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 432 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 725 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 989 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 467 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 702 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 484 nits
The Q7C’s color delivery is up to par with what we’ve seen in all previous QLED 4K HDR TV models we’ve reviewed. In other words, it’s downright fantastic and in almost all regards. For general color performance, this model offers up a rich, vibrant and highly realistic color palette, and for HDR video sources it’s a truly superb television to have due to the above-mentioned high DCI-P3 coverage and due to its full, smooth application of 10-bit color with virtually no notable banding. 10-bit color means transitions of color tones without lines that mark the shift from one value or tone to another.
Specifically, the TV manages to render a solid 99.1% of the DCI-P3 wide color gamut spectrum and even at very high levels of peak brightness still renders very vibrant, rich color volume. As for its color, onscreen shadow quality and how clearly it defines details in shady scenes, the Q7C is a fantastic performer: Color delta E (inaccuracy of colors) sits at a very good 1.07 after calibration, gamma sits at no more than 1.39 after calibration and white gamma for brightness in shadowy areas is really good at 0.26.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The motion handling performance of the Q7C is pretty much superb right across the board. All types of content, be it streaming internet 4K/HD video, cable movies and TV programming, disc media or just about anything else are delivered with minimal motion blur, very strong, smooth motion interpolation for lower frame rate video sources and all sportscasts or other fast-paced content types will play back on this TV with really high quality levels of smoothness.
We’d also like to note that this model offers full support for judder-free viewing of all types of 24p content from any source.
The Q7C is, like all Samsung 4K TVs we’ve reviewed since two years ago at least, an incredibly powerful performer on its handling of gaming from consoles. In a variety of resolutions, color sampling formats, with or without HDR and at different frame rates, the Q7C works at extremely low levels of input lag that any gamer who uses the Xbox One X, PS4 Pro or other type of powerful console will appreciate. The following are the specific specs for its gaming chops in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 22.1 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 23.2 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 19.4 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 21 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 73 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 20.2 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + HDR: 21.1 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 91.3 ms (leave the interpolation off)
Samsung Q7C Connectivity
As you can see below, the Q7C delivers the most advanced and newest in key 4K TV connectivity specs, with multiple HDMI, USB ports and other crucial connectivity slots. The television also offers a superb cable management system, with no ports inside the TV body itself, only a single nearly invisible cable running from the Q7C to an external and upgradable One Connect box with the following ports and specifications:
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out RCA : 0
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
The Q7C TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types.
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Samsung is selling the Q7C for the following prices at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon link(s) for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this excellent 4K HDR television model.