2018 Samsung QLED TV Review

Sponsored post; I was fortunate to test, and subsequently purchase, the 2018 65Q9FN for a small incentive in exchange for this honest review for @samsungau

TLDR;

A beautiful TV with incredible detail in both the display and build quality. Although not quite OLED level blacks or pixel precision, QLED is definitely worth considering over an OLED; with its stunning bright display, minimal risk of burn-in, bundled with some great extra features, such as SmartThings, and you’ve got a great experience that is easy to use. There are however a few bugs/annoyances that I would like to see improved by way of firmware updates*.

Packaging

The 65Q9FN is snugly packaged in a well padded oversized box, as with most modern TVs. For the 65″, or larger, variant I would definitely recommend getting home delivery (unless you’ve got access to a van, truck, or similar vehicle).
Unboxing the TV was somewhat of a challenge, given its size, and surprising weight (26.7 kg without standing according to Samsung). The actual installation steps (not wall mounted) are very simple, with just a few screws to attach the stand to the TV and a single cable (which you can hide in the stand) to connect the TV to the one connect box. The difficulty comes in lifting the TV from its packaging to lay down flat on a table, in order to attach the stand. I would definitely recommend having a helping hand to do this; however, I was able to complete the installation alone so it is absolutely possible.

One Connect

Absolutely brilliant! I can’t believe that more manufacturers aren’t doing the same thing, and I can’t believe that Samsung is able to push all that data and power through such a small cable. It’s my understanding that there is also a 15 m version available, which I’m sure would help with lots of people who prefer to hide their media devices further away from the TV. It also provides the possibility of upgrading the TV, without having to update the most expensive component (the display) in the future.
The only time that the one connect does not provide an advantage is if you’re using a soundbar, as you still need to run a HDMI cable from the one connect box back up to the soundbar. Which, in most instances, is probably closer to the TV panel than the one connect box.

Setup

This has to be the simplest TV I’ve ever had to set up! After watching a welcome video, and getting a taste of how amazing the display looks, the TV took me through a simple step-by-step guide. It was as simple as plugging in my components (soundbar, Xbox one x, and NVIDIA shield) turning them on and seeing the Q9 find each device. My Samsung HW-N950 soundbar and Xbox One X were both identified, however, the NVIDIA shield was designated as a generic HDMI device.

Visual

The Q9 is extremely bright and looks utterly amazing in both bright and dark rooms. The layout of my living room places the TV next to a large glass sliding door which has ample amounts of sunlight shining in throughout the day. With my previous TV, I would find myself having to close the block-out curtains in order properly see the display, particularly in dark scenes. I have not had to do that once with the Q9. HDR content looks stunning, with lots of details in the shadows and also in the highlights. Compared to the OLED displays, that I have seen, the Q9 appears to crush some of the shadow details, however, it retains more of the highlights. From my research, before purchasing the TV, I was unable to find any OLED manufactures that would guarantee no screen burn-in. Samsung, on the other hand, provides a 10 year no screen burn guarantee on its QLED displays. This is particularly important to me as I play a decent amount of games with static HUD displays, and I’ve accidentally left static content on the screen for a period of time on more than one occasion.
The actual physical appearance of the TV itself is well done, with a nice clean bezel and gorgeous looking back (although I can’t imagine too many people would have the back of the TV on display). The stand feels nice and solid, with a clean thin look from the front.

Sound

The inbuilt 4.2 speakers are good enough for TV speakers and are completely acceptable to watch movies on, but let’s face it. If you’re spending this much on a TV, you’re probably also going to be spending some money on a decent soundbar or AV system. You’re doing yourself a serious injustice if you don’t!

Movies

This is by far where the QLED stands out. Every UHD HDR movie that I have thrown at the Q9, either from Blu-ray or streamed via Netflix or Prime, has looked absolutely breathtaking. From the deep blacks in Blade Runner 2049 to the bright colours of Planet Earth II, watching movies on the Q9 is more enjoyable, and jaw-dropping, than watching a movie at the local movie theatre. I have found, as with most Samsung TV it seems, that I get the best colour from changing the Colour Tone to Warm2 in Movie mode. Some of the other changes that I feel produce the best output for me include, setting the backlight to max, turning off digital clean view, setting local dimming to high, turning off contrast enhancer, and HDR+ mode, and setting the gamma to 2+. As with most modern TVs, the Q9 has a motion setting. The implementation of this can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. As my previous TV was a Samsung also I am used to the implementation that is on Samsung TVs. That being said, I think that Samsung has done a great job with this on the Q9, as even on Auto it does not seem to give that same soap opera effect that original implementations produced. I found a great scene, that shows how well the jitter reduction works, in the opening scenes of Planet Earth II when the camera is panning over the forest. Disabled there is clear jitter as the trees rapidly sweep across the frame. Enabled, the trees flow smoothly across the screen and look astonishing.
For non-HDR content, enabling HDR+ mode can improve the look of the content by seemingly boosting the contrast. The only issue with this is that it appears once you have enabled HDR+ mode it is enabled for all content, including HDR content. Which, in my opinion, ruins the look of the original HDR content.

Gaming

This is probably where I have spent most of my time with my Q9, and I absolutely love it. I have my Q9 connected up to my Xbox One X, and it is able to take advantage of most, if not all, of the Q9 features. Samsung has enabled auto game mode. So when a game is launched on the XB1 it sends a signal to the TV and enables game mode. This reduces the latency and turns off some of the processing that is used to enhance standard content. This is also advantages because I prefer to run games with a colour tone of Warm1 while movies and other content are at Warm2, and having this automatically switch is extremely convenient. This could also be used for additional picture configures options. The XB1 and Q9 also support 120hz fresh rate, however, due to HDMI limitations this is only available for up to 1440 resolution, so I have opted not to use this feature. I do, however, have freesync enabled. This allows the XB1 to set the displays frequency to match the content on the display to prevent tearing in the images. While I think this is probably not absolutely required as most console games have been engineered to prevent this from occurring, it does cover those cases where tearing can occur, making for a more consistent and visually pleasing gameplay. HDR is also supported and adds that extra level of visual aesthetics to gameplay.

Apps

Most of the common, and a few less common, apps come pre-installed with more available via the apps menu. All my most used apps (Netflix, Prime, Plex, Youtube, Spotify) were all there with only a few missing (AnimeLab). All the standard Freeview apps (7plus, 9now, tenplay, etc) are all there. It’s easy to add and remove apps, and there is an auto-update feature to keep up with the last changes and security patches. There is also a built-in virus scanner to help reduce the risk of security breaches in the ever-connected world we are living in today.

Extras

There are numerous extras to be found on the Q9, some of the bigger ones include Ambient mode, SmartThings, and the Universal remote.
Ambient mode, while nice, is a bit of a novelty item for me. Given my choice to display the TV on a stand, Ambient mode just isn’t as effective as what I think it would be for a wall mounted installation. One of the interesting uses I have seen for Ambient mode is from YouTubers using ambient mode as a feature in their backdrop.
The SmartThings inclusion is much more exciting to me. I have a number of smart devices, such as airconditioning controllers, power switches, and light bulbs connected to my smart home setup. In SmartThings I have configured a number of scenes, such as “Watch Movie”. This runs through a number of presets, dimming some lights, turning others off, and setting the mood for watching a movie. With the Q9 being integrated with SmartThings, I no longer have to select the scene from my phone, I can simply click home on the remote and navigate to SmartThings and select the scene.
The universal remote is a simple design, which looks, and feels, great with its metallic finish. It uses Bluetooth, so no more annoying pointing directly at the TV or missing commands. Most importantly, it just works. It was easy to set up and is able to control all of my devices.

Negatives

I personally prefer to watch on-demand video, not live tv, as such I don’t have the TV connect to an antenna. This means I don’t have any live TV signal. The Q9 allows you to remove the Live TV shortcut from the home bar, however, every time the TV is turned off and back on the shortcut is added back again.
The Q9 is Samsungs flagship tv; the HW-N950 is Samsungs flagship soundbar with ATMOS support; however, annoyingly, the two of them don’t work together seamlessly. For starters, I was unable to get Dobly ATMOS to be passed through from an external HDMI source into the TV (for HDR / freesync) and out to the soundbar. The only way to get Dolby ATMOS to the soundbar seems to be while using apps on the TV (I was able to watch Jack Ryan on Prime Video with Dolby ATMOS) and changing the expert settings to Dolby Digital+ (I believe it’s using DD+ due to HDMI 2.0 limitations). This brings me to the next and probably more annoying issue with the sound output via ARC; When a source provides a sound with a lower quality format (i.e. PCM) the Q9 defaults to this output format. This is particularly frustrating when after you watch a 2 channel PCM show, and then switch to watch a 5.1 Dolby Digital show you have to go in the sound expert settings to enable Dolby Digital again (every time!). The same is true for every time you want to watch a Dolby ATMOS show, you have to change from PCM or DD to DD+. I don’t understand why Samsung doesn’t make the Q9 output the best available option (i.e. Dolby Digital+, Dolby Digital, PCM) or let users set their preferred format order. This would have to be my biggest bugbear with the Q9, as I am constantly finding myself having to get in the expert sound settings every time I watch a new show.* note: this appears to have since been fixed via a firmware update.

Automatically Refresh A SharePoint 2010 Calendar View

For some reason (at least to my knowledge) SharePoint 2010 does not provide a function to automatically refresh a SharePoint calendar view’s items at a given interval. The lack of this feature means a full page refresh is required any time a user wishes to check for any updates. While this might be suitable for infrequently updated calendars, for calendars that get frequently updated this is not desirable.

Fortunately, SharePoint does include a JavaScript library that provides methods for updating calendar views asynchronously. The particular library of interest is:

SP.UI.ApplicationPages.CalendarInstanceRepository

This repository contains a pointer to all of the calendar instances on the current page. If there is only one instance on the page, or you’re only interested in the first instance, there is a helper method firstInstance() to retrieve that calendar. Otherwise, you can find the collection of calendars as properties on the $o_0 property. You can turn this into a list using the following code:

var calendars = [];
var d = SP.UI.ApplicationPages.CalendarInstanceRepository.$o_0;

for (var k in d) {
  calendars.push(d[k]);
}

Using The Calendar Repositories

Now that we have access to the calendar(s) we need to use them. One way of doing this is to create a hidden content editor web part that uses the following script to call refreshItems() every 10 seconds. First, create a new file RefreshCalendar.html and publish it somewhere on your SharePoint site.

<script type="text/javascript">
  setInterval(function() {
    try {
      var calendar = SP.UI.ApplicationPages.CalendarInstanceRepository.firstInstance(); // Get the first calendar instance on the page
      if (calendar) {
        calendar.refreshItems(); // async refresh of calendar items
      }
    }
    catch (e) {
      // ignore
    }
  }, 10000); // Every 10 seconds
</script>

Next, add a content editor web part to the same page as the calendar view you wish to update automatically; setting the content link to the location of the RefreshCalendar.html page, and setting the Chrome Type to none to remove any headers, borders, e.t.c. (i.e. make the content editor web part invisible to the user).

Automatically Refresh a Sharepoint Calendar View Content Editor

Now, when a user goes to the calendar view, the items are automatically updated every 10 seconds. Because the call is asynchronous the user will not be impacted when an update occurs, even if they are adding, or editing, a calendar item.

Getting a Hierarchy of Outlook Folders With Their Entry ID

Simple console application to output a hierarchy of Outlook folders, with their Entry ID, using NetOffice.

using System;

namespace OutlookFolderIdGrabber
{
    public class Program
    {
        public static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            using (var application = new NetOffice.OutlookApi.Application())
            {
                DisplayFolder(application.Session.DefaultStore.GetRootFolder());
            }
        }

        private static void DisplayFolder(NetOffice.OutlookApi.MAPIFolder folder, int level = 0)
        {
            Console.WriteLine($"{new string(' ', level)}{folder.Name} : {folder.EntryID}");

            foreach (NetOffice.OutlookApi.MAPIFolder childFolder in folder.Folders)
            {
                DisplayFolder(childFolder, level + 1);
            }
        }
    }
}
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<packages>
  <package id="NetOffice.Core" version="1.7.3.0" targetFramework="net461" />
  <package id="NetOffice.Outlook" version="1.7.3.0" targetFramework="net461" />
</packages>

Samsung Galaxy S8 Voice Issues

There appears to be a common issue affecting a number of Galaxy S8 users, whereby the person on the other end of a voice call cannot hear any sounds coming from the S8 owner. I was also affected by this issue, and nothing seemed to resolve it (although admittedly I was too hesitant to try a factory reset – given others already claimed this did not resolve it for them).

For me, the issue only occurred when I was connected to my home network. Playing around with relevant WiFi related features, I discovered the issue went away when I disabled Wi-Fi calling.

To disable Wi-Fi calling:

  1. Open the phone app.
  2. Go to settings (click the  icon at the top right).
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Call Settings page.
  4. Disable “Wi-Fi calling”.
  5. Restart your phone.

Enable Windows Keyboard Shortcuts In Citrix

This is a bit of an old topic; I recently, after reinstalling Windows, had to reconfigure my local client to allow passing windows keyboard shortcuts through to my Citrix instance. In this case, I was using remote desktop as a Citrix application. I have noticed that Citrix Desktops don’t seem to have this same issue. Since it took a bit of digging to find out how to configure this, again, I thought I would put it here as a reminder and to help other should they run across the same issue.

Open regedit (press the windows key  and type “regedit” sans quotes) on the client device.

  • Navigate to the key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Citrix\ICA Client\Engine\Lockdown Profiles\All Regions\Lockdown\Virtual Channels\Keyboard
  • Modify the key: TransparentKeyPassthrough
  • Set the value to: Remote

Next time you start up your Citrix app you should now be able to use your usual Windows keyboard shortcuts such as Alt+Tab, Alt+Ctrl+Del, Ctrl+Tab.

TRIM Outlook Add-In Module Not Found

Another HP TRIM Outlook issue; this time when trying to check-in a mail item from Outlook, when the TRIM record type has an External Link associated with it – in this case a Generic AddIn (.NET). When the Outlook Add-In gets to the point that it is checking the file in to TRIM the error The specified module could not be found. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8007007E) is thrown, but only if there is an AddIn associated with the record type of the record being created, otherwise it works fine.

As with most error messages, this one is not very helpful, simply indicating that a module could not be found. Fortunately this was working on my local workstation, however, the issue was present for test users on their thin client environment, so it was just a matter of finding out what was different between the two environments. After some investigating, I remembered that I had manually added the TRIM client installation directory to the PATH system variable to enable running a web site which uses the HP TRIM SDK. Removing the installation dir from the PATH variable did indeed result in the same error message, and funny enough adding the dir back resolved the issue, on both my local instance and on the thin client instance. I don’t know why the TRIM client install doesn’t just add the TRIM directory to the PATH variable by default. Oversight by HP? I’m sure it used to be… there are also plenty of SDK related forum posts suggesting to add it when starting your application (that doesn’t really help in this instance).

To add the TRIM installation directory to your PATH system variable go to your system settings; (start » type “Edit the system environment variables”) or (start » right-click Computer » Properties » Advanced system settings) » Environment Variables » under System variables locate and select Path » click Edit » append your TRIM install folder (default TRIM installation directory should be either; C:/Program Files/Hewlett Packard/HP TRIM or; C:/Program Files (x86)/Hewlett Packard/HP TRIM depending on your installation preference.

TRIM Microsoft Word Add-In HP TRIM SDK Not Found

If you’re using the Microsoft Word integration feature with HP TRIM and receive the error message “Could not load file or assembly ‘HP.HPTRIM.SDK’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.” chances are you probably have a generic .NET Add-In registered in your TRIM dataset for the record type you’re trying to save your Word document as.

To solve the issue you can copy the HP.HPTRIM.SDK.dll from your Trim installation folder into your Microsoft Office executable folder (e.g. C:/Program Files (x86)/Microsoft Office/Office14 or C:/Program Files/Microsoft Office/Office14 *note your office version may vary e.g. Office11, Office15, etc).

There may be another way to resolve this issue, but so far it’s the easiest and only fix I have worked out.

TRIM Outlook Add-In COM Exception

Recently I was getting the error 0x80030002 STG_E_FILENOTFOUND while trying to run any TRIM 7.3 Outlook Add-In function. The Outlook Add-In had loaded fine and was bringing up all the available TRIM options, it was just when I tried to execute one of the options that it would throw the, oh so very “helpful”, error message as with most COM operations. It wasn’t until I found this thread over in the HP forums that I discovered that Cisco Unified Personal Communicator can interfere with the TRIM Add-In. According to another post, any ODMA integration can cause issues with HP TRIM’s Outlook Add-In, in their case, it was Novell GroupWise causing the issue.

Trim Outlook Com Exception
Unable to cast COM object of type ‘System._ComObject’ to interface type ‘Redemption.SafeMail’. This operation failed because the QueryInterface call on the COM component for the interface with IID ‘{0A95BE2D-1543-46BE-AD6D-18653034BF87}’ failed due to the following error: could not be found. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80030002 (STG_E_FILENOTFOUND)).

Fortunately for me, Cisco Unified Personal Communicator was no longer required to be installed (and has been replaced by Jabbr – although I did not test if Jabbr causes issues with TRIM’s Add-In), so to resolve the issue I just had to uninstall Cisco Unified Personal Communicator; for good measure I also did a repair of HP TRIM Microsoft runtimes for VS 2008 and a repair of HP TRIM.

Day 7: Pineapple Carpaccio

Onto the first dessert recipe, Pineapple Carpaccio. Although carpaccio is typically a dish consisting of very thinly sliced raw meat or fish, this particular dish does not contain either; instead, it is merely thinly sliced pineapple with a delicious rum dressing.

The dressing contains seeds from a vanilla bean, 100 ml of white rum and 50 g of sugar. Heat the rum and sugar, and flambé. The rum takes to a flame very easily, getting a reasonably large flame quickly. As there was sugar in pan I found that if you let it sit there too long the sugar would start to burn and the flame would get even higher (see video). Once all of the alcohol has been burnt out, add the vanilla bean seeds, the zest and juice of a lime and mix.

Finally, pour the mix over the pineapple and enjoy!