Samsung QLED Q8C 4K UHD HDR QLED TV Review (QN55Q8C, QN65Q8C, QN75Q8C) Overview
Stephan Jukic – December 31, 2017
Samsung’s QLED Q8C is the company’s main curved premium 4K HDR TV of 2017. For consumers who liked the curved screen look that’s taken hold of many ultra HD TVs in the last few years, then this model is probably one of the best you can get your hands on among 2017 4K HDR TVs. All things considered, the Q8C is one excellent model with some very robust and powerful performance specs that will probably leave even the majority of discerning display technology fans impressed. Like all of the QLEDs from Samsung’s 2017 lineup, it deliver some of the best color reproduction we’ve ever seen and complements this with great contrast, relatively high brightness capacity and some very strong motion handling for all types of content. On the other hand, the Q8C is not without its flaws, especially when you consider the very high price its retailing for.
- Excellent overall performance
- Bright Display with strong peak brightness
- Smooth motion handling across the board
- Incredible color support
- Deep contrast and black levels
- Great looking TV
- Too expensive, partly because of curved display design
- Curved display does nothing to improve picture quality
- Contrast not as good as expected
- Bright but not HDR 1500 bright
The Bottom Line
The Q8C is generally an excellent 4K HDR TV by any measure and competes well on display performance with most of today’s other premium HDR models. However, its price reduces its value by a certain amount unless you really want a curved 4K TV. Samsung’s own Q7F flat TV performs nearly as well but costs at least a couple hundred dollar less than the Q8C. This TV is beautiful indeed but more functional-looking models like Sony’s X930E and some of LG’s OLEDs like the C7 or B7 offer better overall value and even quality in our estimation.
There are many good aspects to the Q8C. Some of them are even downright spectacular to behold. This is after all a premium and very advanced Samsung High Dynamic Range 4K TV so we could hardly call it anything less than superb in how well it delivers home entertainment. The weaknesses of the Q8C only exist relative to other major premium 4K HDR TVs, not in an absolute sense. Compared to nearly any mid-range 4K TV or any budget model, the Q8C outshines them by a wide margin with exceptional specs and performance in several key areas, those being the following:
The Samsung Q8C delivers what is basically the best color performance we’ve ever seen among the HDR TVs of 2017. This is the case for all of the brand’s QLED TV’s we’ve reviewed so far this year and the visual effect is quite incredible indeed. If you’re playing back native high dynamic range content on the Q8C, it delivers its absolute best performance and it’s one that simply does not leave much room at all for disappointment.
Of course, the wide color gamut and 10-bit color performance of the Q8C is not something that will be applied to the majority of the TV, cable or streaming movies you’re likely to see since both wide color gamut and 10-bit color currently only work with native HDR video sources. And if even 4K movies and shows are still rare on the ground then HDR 4K entertainment is even less common. However, the Q8C’s capacity for excellent HDR color performance also happens to translate over into generally fantastic performance for any kind of well mastered content. In other words, the Q8C delivers great color across the board.
As our description of its HDR color chops above makes clear, the Q8C is also a fantastic television for general high dynamic range delivery. The combination of extremely good color delivery, very strong peak brightness capability and some solid, deep black levels ensures that this TV really shows off the best of any HDR10-mastered content you play back on it from any source. For convoluted reasons, Samsung is one of the few major TV makers out there which doesn’t yet support the even better Dolby Vision high dynamic range standard so that’s out for the Q8C but despite some comparative weaknesses with HDR10, it still delivers fantastic color and contrast performance with any content mastered in the format and the Q8C does about as fine a job of showing this content as you’re likely to see from a 2017 4K HDR TV.
The Samsung Q8C doesn’t offer the brightest 4K TV display we’ve ever seen. On that its own cousin the Q9F flagship TV beats it and so too do Sony’s X930E or X940E models. However it’s still capable of some superb brightness by any normal HDR TV standard and it definitely beats its lower priced cousin the Q7F and curved Q7C variant on this spec. That’s good. The higher a TV’s peak brightness capacity, the better the television renders High Dynamic Range contrast levels and on this the Q8C excels, not only because of those very bright highlights but also for the more refined reason that it can create very bright colors while still preserving color volume and vibrancy. In this, Samsung’s TVs are rather uniquely good performers since most rivals lose some of their capacity for strong, accurate colors as their screens display extremely luminous highlights.
Motion Handling & Gaming support
If there’s one other thing besides color which Samsung does exceptionally well, its motion handling in ALL of its 4K UHD TVs that we’ve reviewed for the last couple of years at least. Decent motion handling has been the case for all models, premium to budget but for the high-end TVs such as the Q8C, the quality of how well motion blur, motion interpolation for fast-paced content and judder in all types of movies are handled is quite excellent across the board. This TV will not disappoint on how smoothly and clearly action moves across the screen no matter what kind of video sources you throw at it.
In addition to motion handling, the entire line of Samsung TVs that we’ve examined so far handles gaming with consoles and PC rigs superbly. For console gaming, the Q8C is fantastic, with excellent low input lag across a whole range of resolution, color sampling, high dynamic range and frame rate formats. We offer specific metrics of this for different game settings further below in our “Visual Specs” section.
No 4K TV is without its defects and the Q8C is no exception. It has some minor design and performance weaknesses that come nowhere near being deal breakers in terms of absolute television quality. In fact, for anyone who has never before owned a 4K high dynamic range TV or much less a premium version of one, the Q8C will look like a truly fantastic product. Its few weakness below are only really notable when you compare this model’s performance to that of other high end 4K ultra HD TVs.
More importantly than the following performance issues, the biggest problem with the Q8C is what it costs and how that price compares to alternative 4K HDR TV options, but we’ll get to that shortly in our summary.
Brightness Issues and Contrast Ratio
Starting things off, the peak and sustained brightness capability of the Q8C is very good but not quite as impressive as we’d expected. At a maximum, this TV can create incredibly luminous highlights, as we mentioned above but its two biggest problems in this area are that it doesn’t quite match what we’ve seen with similarly priced rival models like the Sony X930E or even what we’ve seen from Samsung’s own 2016 SUHD TVs. That’s right, the nearly flagship Q8C underperforms last year’s best Samsung HDR models on this crucial metric. That’s hard to ignore. Additionally, the TV has an annoying tendency to dim down sustained bright scenes during actual SDR (normal non-HDR) entertainment viewing.
To summarize this complex little weakness: the Q8C is exceptionally capable of high brightness and it will impress most users but its best brightness is not as good as we were told to expect by Samsung or even as good as what cheaper rival brand models can offer.
Local Dimming & Backlighting
The Q8C does offer local dimming and this is a great thing to have no matter what. It’s also pretty much obligatory in a 4K TV of this price and level. However, the overall performance of the Q8C’s local dimming is only mediocre. The main reason for this is that even in its premium HDR TVs, Samsung still insists on using edge-lit backlight arrays, which can only create broad, imprecise local dimming zones. Full array LED backlighting would solve this problem nicely and we know that rival brands like Vizio and TCL have both shown that it’s possible to create a stunningly complete full-array LED backlight array and make it deliver highly precise local dimming without spending or charging a fortune on the technology.
Native Audio Quality
Really simply put, the built-in sound system of the Q8C is relatively good for ordinary use. It delivers some decent volume and bass but pushing it to the extremes necessary for a really immersive movie or music audio experience won’t deliver high performance. Thus, we’d recommend an external sound bar if you’re going to invest in a premium TV like the Q8C anyhow.
Viewing Angles and Other Little Details
This is just a minor issue and not really Samsung’s fault anyhow but the Q8C doesn’t deliver excellent viewing angles. It comes with a VA display panel and while this is good in that it generates deep black levels and excellent contrast ratios, it also creates washed out color vibrancy and contrast distortions if the Q8C is viewed from more than 25 or so degrees off to either side of dead center.
Price vs. Value & Final Opinion
We really like the Q8C. We don’t think its curved screen is useful in any way but hey, some people like that type of design for aesthetic reasons. That’s okay. In terms of all other specs, this model performs extremely or at least really well. It will impress anyone who’s never before owned a high-end 4K HDR TV.
That said, the same curved design is something that Samsung uses to justify a rather steep price for this model. We’ve seen the same price hike in the curved MU8500, which is otherwise identical to the flat MU8000, and that price bump is the Q8C’s single biggest defect because it reduces its value per dollar that you spend. For what you’d pay for either the 55 or 65 inch models of the Q8C, you could get a generally better TV from Sony, or by simply buying one of Samsung’s own nearly as good but much cheaper Q7F models.
Key Samsung Q8C Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 in QN55Q8C, 65 in QN65Q8C, 75 in QN75Q8C (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: 4,824 : 1 (native, real contrast with local dimming activated)
- Black Level maximum: 0.018 cd/m2
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions (55 inch model): 48.2 x 27.7 x 3.6 inches w/o stand, 48.2 x 31 x 11.8 w stand
- TV weight (55 inch model): 44.1.2 lbs w/o Stand
- 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 Q8C. 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 Q8C is definitely a high-end TV in its overall performance quality. Samsung’s flagship Q9F and Sony’s comparable rival the X930E beat it in certain specific regards but the Q8C 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 Q8C’s contrast is very good. 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 Q8C’s level WITH local dimming activated. That said, the Q8C’s contrast ratio of roughly 4,824 is very good in a general sense and it creates a richness of visual experience that goes well with the high peak brightness and strong color support of this television. The TV’s black level is also very decent at 0.018 nits but local dimming only increases it slightly
Black uniformity on the other hand could definitely use some work. The middle section of the TV’s display shows some notable clouding and again, on this spec we noticed that cheaper models from Samsung’s own lineup perform better, strangely enough.
As we elaborated above multiple times, the Q8C is one exceptionally bright 4K HDR TV almost across the board. Its main issues are that first of all, it fails to maintain high sustained brightness for non-HDR content and in general is not a very remarkably bright TV for regular content display. Secondly, the Q8C generally doesn’t quite match the brightness we’ve seen from other similarly priced high dynamic range models. It’s slightly lower than expected black levels don’t help with these factors but color reproduction during the brightest highlights that this television can produce is very, very good. Brightness performance during playback of HDR video sources is however generally very strong even for sustained high luminosity scenes, so you’ll love your favorite 4K HDR Blu-ray discs on the Q8C’s screen.
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: 270 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 558 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 1301 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 126 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 687 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 132 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 562 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 821 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 1112 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 497 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 701 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 484 nits
The Q8C’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. Additionally, the Q8C
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 Q8C is a fantastic performer: Color delta E (inaccuracy of colors) sits at a very good 1.2 after calibration, gamma sits at no more than 1.49 after calibration and white gamma for brightness in shadowy areas is really good at 0.29.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
The motion handling performance of the Q8C 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 couldn’t find any real complaints on how well this television handles motion in any video at any resolution.
Furthermore, the Q8C natively interpolates lower frame-rate content sources wonderfully despite its native 120Hz display panel. 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 Q8C 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 Q8C works at extremely low levels of input lag that any Xbox One X, PS4 Pro or other type of competitive console gamer will appreciate. The following are the specific specs for its gaming chops in different console setups:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 21.1 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 22.2 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 19.1 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 22 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 72 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 20.2 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + HDR: 21.1 ms
- 4K with interpolation activated: 81.3 ms (leave the interpolation off)
As you can see below, the Q8C 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 Q8C 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 Q8C 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 QLED Q8C Pricing
Samsung is selling the Q8C’s three different size ranges 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.
Price vs. Value & Final Opinion