You don't have to be all that old to remember when terms like bigscreen and flatscreen were almost holy adjectives when applied to television sets. Go back to the 1990s, and cathode ray tube TVs — of the curved faces, thick glass and thick, boxy proportions — were still the norm. Any TV with a display more than 36 inches across qualified as big, for most Americans; if you had one both big and flat, odds are good your house was the one all the folks in the neighborhood wound up at for the Super Bowl.
But to paraphrase the old Virginia Slims ads, TVs have come a long way, baby. The maturation of new display technologies — first plasma screens, then LEDs, then OLEDs — means televisions have become sharper and sharper as years have gone by. Constant, Moore’s Law-esque increases in both internet bandwidth and computing power have enabled companies to cram even more components into smaller bodies, and to pipe higher-quality content straight through to your face. Walk into a Best Buy today, and you'll probably have to ask for help looking for a new set if you want one less than three feet across or that doesn’t offer 4K.
While average TV size has started to level off (around 55 inches, in case you were curious), the technology beneath those black mirrors has continued to evolve. Samsung's Neo QLED TVs, for example, debuted in 2021; The latest model, the QN900B revealed at CES early in 2022, was a significant enough upgrade to pick up an Innovation Award Award Honoree title at the show that year — so it only seemed right to put it through its paces.
What's Good About This Samsung Smart TV:
The QN900B delivers an insanely high-quality picture
As is Samsung's way (apart from the new GP100-winning S95B television), the QN900B doesn't use OLED, or organic light-emitting diode, technology as the foundation for its display; instead, this smart TV uses QLED, or "quantum dot LED" tech. Explaining exactly what that means would take the better part of this article, but in a nutshell: QLED adds a layer of microscopic particles — said quantum dots — between the light-emitting diodes and liquid crystal display to better fine-tune the image and deliver additional color variance. (Honestly, it's probably easier to think of it as an Ant-Man situation, where adding "quantum" just makes things better.)
The QN900B packs a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels, which is doubly even more impressive when you remember that, due to the way geometry works, that's four times the surface area of a 4K display, and 16 times that of a traditional 1080p hi-def one. 14-bit HDR mapping pumps up the detail, a refresh rate of up to 144 Hz across all its HDMI ports that makes it great for video gaming, a souped-up processor helps it render even sharper, brighter images, and, well, I could go on for a while.
What's that mean in person? Well, it basically means an image so clear, bright and sharp, it takes you aback at first glance. I genuinely drew a sudden breath when I turned it on for the first time. I'd never had anything to complain about with the $350 4K Amazon Fire-bloatware-laden Insignia I'd had before — at least, until I turned on the Samsung. Everything I've watched — from cable shows like Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli and Below Deck to streaming ones like She-Hulk and House of the Dragon — has been clearer, better color-balanced and more engaging than on my old TV...or, in all honesty, pretty much any TV I can recall watching.
The design is genuinely beautiful
When the QN900B rolled into my apartment and I set to work unboxing, my first thought was, Good God, this TV is gorgeous. (My first thought: Good God, this TV is heavy. At 67.2 pounds with the stand and a width of at least 65 inches, maneuvering it into place is a two-person job.) Its bezels are basically nonexistent; with the TV on, it almost looks as though the picture is floating in the air, science fiction-style. Turned off, it's more noticeable — a shortboard-sized piece of black glass in the middle of a room tends to dominate it — but its monopod stand and hidden cords makes it look like more like a brobdingnagian iMac than a conventional boob tube.
What's Not Ideal About This Samsung Smart TV:
There's not a ton of 8K content to take advantage of its full capabilities — at least, not yet
Impressed as I've been with this Samsung's picture quality, that's largely been while watching 4K content on Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+ (go watch Andor, seriously), interspersed with the lower-quality stuff flowing over the cable box. The only chances I've actually had to watch 8K content is streaming it on YouTube, a catalog that mostly consists of nature video compilations I'd bet exist just to give companies something to show on 8K TVs for display purposes.
Looking at it one way, it can feel like the QN900B is like the TV equivalent of an Aston Martin Valkyrie — a car with limits so high, you'll never access them. Look at it another, though, and you're basically buying a future-proof TV that's ready for the next round of high-quality visual magic to come down the streaming turnpike. (In case you were wondering where it might stop: 70mm IMAX film, the highest-rez stuff in common use, is roughly equivalent to 12K resolution, though it usually gets downgraded for release.)
And hey, if you don't really want all that jazz, you can buy a 4K version of a very similar Samsung Smart TV for a lot less money.
The QN900B's thinness is a double-edged sword
There's an old, chauvinistic quote that says you can never be too rich or too thin. While perhaps only Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos can speak to the former, the latter is certainly false for humans — and, perhaps, for television sets, too.
The same lack of literal depth that contributes to the Q900B's stunning looks also means its HDMI ports and other inputs have to be located on an auxiliary device — a thick black rectangle that vaguely resembles a video game console and rides atop the back of the TV's stand. Which seems like a fine solution — unless you have it situated close to a wall, as I suspect most of us do our TVs. At which point accessing those ports becomes a struggle of moving the heavy TV without toppling it, or trying to squeeze past its mighty back panel. It also involves removing and replacing a cover over the edge of the box, which is oddly frustrating due to its finicky tabs. Short-lived irritants, to be sure — how often do you monkey with the back of your TV? — but still annoying when they arise.
Likewise, while the QN900B boasts a quartet of speakers on its back that might have apartment-dwellers occupying small spaces with nosy neighbors thinking they can get away with the TV's integral sound system, that's not true in practice. With such a thin frame, the speakers create annoying bass vibrations that throw off the sound even at modest volumes. A soundbar or home theater system is a must-have, unless you're planning on using headphones or closed captioning 24/7. (Samsung, of course, is more than happy to offer one of its own soundbars, such as the super-thin HW-S801B with available wireless Dolby Atmos also provided for review; going with another Samsung device makes setup as easy as plug-and-play, although you can find plenty of other options in our best Atmos soundbars guide, as well.)
The QN900B Samsung Neo QLED 8K Smart TV: The Verdict
Let's face it: we're lucky enough to live not just in a golden age for television in terms of content, but also in terms of TV technology. (Perhaps there's a correlation between the two; after all, it's hard to imagine people being quite so willing to forgo movie theaters in favor of streaming films and prestige TV if the only way to watch cinema at home was on those fat old boxes.) It may be arguably overpowered for now, but I wouldn't want to be the one to bet on entertainment technology not advancing over the next decade — and that includes 8K content. In the meantime, though, this Samsung manages to be both an attractive living room conversation piece and a TV so good, it seriously makes you consider giving up that AMC Stubs membership.
And can be the case with electronics, lofty prices often make like Toad the Wet Sprocket and Fall Down. While the 65-inch model I tested launched earlier this year at close to $5,000, it's currently retailing closer to $3,300 at various retailers. Considering everything else in the world got more expensive in that time, you could almost call that a steal, right?