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.

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.

Oracle 06413: Connection Not Open (x64)

Having changed to a 64-bit development machine at work recently I ran into an Oracle error while trying to generate files using CodeSmith. This error was ORA-06413: Connection Not Open. Assuming it was a connection string error, as I had not run this particular generation in some time and it was likely that the server or username/password had changed, I proceeded to test the connection from SQL Developer. Success!

After ruling out that the connection was indeed valid I did a quick Google search for the error message. After a few clicks I discovered a very well known (has been around for a few years) Oracle issue; When executing an Oracle command from an application with parentheses or equals — ‘(‘ or ’)’ or ‘=’ — in the path than the specified error message is thrown.

In this particular case, CodeSmith had been installed under C:/Program Files (x86)/CodeSmith which was causing Oracle to fail. The quickest workaround was to simply move CodeSmith from the Program Files (x86) path e.g. into C:/CodeSmith. However; there is a patch (5383042) for Oracle 10g, which is also applied to Oracle 11G.

Australian Internet Filter: What Can I Do?

What is it?

The Australian Federal Government is introducing a mandatory ISP-level filtering of all Refused Classification (RC) rated content. This means all websites (or part thereof) which have been refused classification under Australia’s classification laws will be blacklisted.

See the Electronic Frontiers Open Internet website for more information.

What can I do?

The simplest thing you can do is sign the EFA’s online petition.

Additionally, you can contact your local member of parliament or contact Senator Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Take Action!

iiNet Vs AFACT: The Verdict

As a lot of people are probably already aware iiNet was taken to court by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) for allegedly allowing its customers to illegally download copyrighted material (e.g. movies, music, etc).

This morning Justice Cowdroy has ruled in favour of iiNet stating that “I find that iiNet simply can’t be seen as approving infringement”. His verdict was that the “copyright (infringement) occurred as result of use of BitTorrent, not the Internet” and that “iiNet has no control over (the) BitTorrent system and (is) not responsible for (the) BitTorrent system.”

Common sense and Australia’s Internet Freedom prevails, for now (see mandatory Australia Internet Censoring).

Win 7 Live Messenger Task Bar Fix

For those of you ‘lucky’ enough to have already updated to the new Windows 7 then you have probably already noticed the major changes to the task bar. Good or bad, you decide. Personally, I like some of the new functionality that it provides but I also enjoy a slim taskbar — similar to that of Vista. Fortunately, Microsoft provided a “Use small icons” option in the taskbar properties (right-click the taskbar and select properties) which makes the task bar a similar size to that of Vista.

Changing the taskbar to use small icons, however, does not fix the fact that Windows Live Messenger likes to constantly take up space in the taskbar even when the window is not open. Since there does not currently appear to be an option in Windows Live Messenger to display the program in the system tray, instead of on the taskbar, we need to use a simple work around.

First, close any current Windows Live Messenger instances. Then open your start menu and locate the Windows Live Messenger shortcut. Right-click the shortcut and select Properties. Switch to the Compatibility tab and check “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” and select Window Vista (Service Pack 2)”. Now start Windows Live Messenger and problem solved. You should now see the Windows Live Messenger icon in the system tray. As you would on Vista, XP, etc.

Telstra HTC Touch HD — Enable Weather Module

ONE of the best features built-into the HTC Touch HD would have to be the weather module. This module allows you to view the current weather conditions, as well as a four-day forecast and all in a pretty cool looking interface. However; for some unknown reason Telstra decided to disable the weather module by default, instead opting to include a bunch of somewhat completely useless modules of its own.

There is good news… through a bit of editing you are able to re-enable the weather module and, if you desire, remove the unnecessary Telstra modules. First thing is first; we need to find the file which contains the HTC Touch Flow configuration. The file we are after is 26948339_manila.xml which is located in the Windows directory. Back this original file up. Copy this file on to your storage card, or somewhere you can access it from your computer (alternative you could use an application such as Total Commander to edit the file from your mobile device).

Continue reading “Telstra HTC Touch HD — Enable Weather Module”

It Was Only A Matter Of Time

Internet filtering plan may extend to peer-to-peer traffic, says Stephen Conroy.

The Federal Government’s controversial internet censorship scheme may extend to filter more online traffic than was first thought, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy revealed today.

In a post on his department’s blog, Senator Conroy today said technology that could filter data sent directly between computers would be tested as part of the upcoming live filtering trial.

Update 24/12/08Internet filter ‘technically impossible’… let’s hope so 🙂