Computer vision

Samsung S95D QD-OLED Review: A Matte Screen for Reflective Rooms

Samsung S95D QD-OLED Review: A Matte Screen for Reflective Rooms

Maybe that’s why Samsung’s obstinate Tizen interface feels so vexing? The system is easy enough to set up on the TV itself (it crashes every time I’ve tried to use the mobile setup option). It’s aesthetically pleasing and makes connecting and labeling devices a breeze. Yet its scattered layout can make some features feel inordinately difficult.

Adding the Peacock app, for instance, was twice as hard as it should be. It’s not featured in the app store and didn’t register in search until I typed it out completely. Once I found it, as with all new apps, I had to manually add it to the home screen or it lay hidden in the “Installed” window like a second-class citizen.

The main settings bar is similarly unintuitive, with various picture settings randomly interspersed between other settings. You can rearrange things, but it’s usually simpler to just click All Settings to access the legacy setup window. I also experienced a few odd Tizen quirks over a week or so of testing, like apps freezing and even some audio dropouts. Unplugging and replugging the TV seemed to fix things apart from a few minor video-loading issues.

Credit where it’s due, Tizen is packed with extras, from its swath of health and fitness apps to split screen features. There’s even a handy Game Hub with built-in cloud gaming from apps like Xbox Cloud Gaming, NVidia GeForce now, and Amazon Luna. Like most competitors, there’s also a dedicated gaming bar for on-the-fly adjustments.

A (Mostly) Loaded Package

Samsung’s Gaming Hub complements the S95D’s stout collection of gaming features, including VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and Freesync Pro for buttery high-frame-rate gaming, and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode) for speedy input response. All four HDMI 2.1 inputs support high refresh rates at up to 144 Hz to match high-frame-rate gaming from PCs, and there are a slew of game-oriented picture modes, making it easy to lock in a gorgeous picture.

The TV’s 4.2.2-channel audio system provides surprisingly solid sound. There’s some moderate punch in the lower midrange and fantastic overhead expansion (especially for a TV this thin), shooting Dolby Atmos effects overhead and side to side. Adding a newer Samsung soundbar with Q-Symphony lets you utilize both devices in concert.

Other features include options like Amazon Alexa or Samsung Bixby voice control, Apple AirPlay streaming, and support for HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) HDR formats.

What you don’t get here is Dolby Vision HDR or, bizarrely for a company that makes Android phones, Chromecast streaming support. These omissions are pretty common across Samsung devices, but each year I hold out hope they’ll eventually cave and add them.

The main advantage of omitting Dolby Vision is one less picture setting to mess with, not that you’ll need to do much to the picture settings anyway. The TV looks almost flawless out of the box in the Filmmaker mode, requiring only minor tweaks. For those who like a slightly brighter picture, the Movie mode is also solid, though you may want to turn off settings like motion smoothing. Whatever your settings, you’ll want to ensure the oddly inaccurate Intelligent Mode is off.

Inner Reflection

Samsung’s new anti-glare screen technology is the S95D’s most exclusive feature and works phenomenally well compared to other such options. As previewed at Samsung’s TV event in March, the matte surface is incredibly effective at reducing reflections, even with lights aimed directly at the screen from mere feet away.

There is a trade-off for killing the glare. Part of the beauty of a perfectly black screen on which pixels only pop on demand is just that: perfect black. With the matte screen, lights or reflections aren’t the conspicuous eyesores they are with traditional screens, but they don’t all disappear completely. The screen diffuses but also expands some reflections across a broader area, raising its backdrop from glossy obsidian to lighter charcoal.

Samsung S95D QD-OLED Review: A Matte Screen for Reflective Rooms

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