Samsung's new QN90B television delivers 4K beauty and a winning performance

Samsung's QN90B 4K television
Why pay more for an 8K television when a top-of-the-range 4K will still blow you away? Photo credit: Supplied / Samsung

It's easy as a tech journalist to get somewhat dismissive about new technologies, given it's a near everyday occurrence.

And then I remember as a youngster having to use the old 14-inch black and white portable television in the bedroom I shared with my brother to play ZX Spectrum games.

Oh, how far we've come. And how lucky we are to live in a society that's technologically advanced enough to give us movies and television in near-perfect quality on our screens over the internet.

Samsung's 8K television last year was an absolute stunner of a unit, but came with a price that even an evangelist like myself found a little too big to swallow.

This year the offer came to test out the much more affordable flagship 4K television, the QN90B. I jumped at the chance.

I've been using the Samsung 65-inch QN90B for a few weeks now and here are my thoughts.

The Good

If you're wanting an in depth analysis of Quantum Matrix Technology - "the pinnacle of ultra-fine light control" - or Neo Quantum 4K processors where the intelligence is perfected by deep-learning, you're reading the wrong review.

It largely comes down to one thing. How good is the picture? It's a short answer: amazing.

It was easy and quick to get the television set up: just a few screws and it was sitting where my old one had. In fact, setting up the software and internet probably took longer.

Samsung's QN90B 4K television
Photo credit: Supplied / Samsung

Over the last few years I've found myself becoming frustrated at some tech and how complicated it is to set up, even for a nerd like me. So kudos to Samsung for simplifying it and ditching unnecessary connect boxes.

The QN90B turns on very quickly and, thanks to the anti-glare properties of the screen, it is much easier to see during the day in my living room than my old set, even with a light directly facing it.

That helps with seeing the gloriousness of the saturated colours and the vivid brightness offered by the company's QLED technology.

In QLED televisions, quantum dots emit precise coloured light based on particle sizes, which gives both accurate and efficient light. And it's worth it.

It doesn't matter whether you're watching terrestrial television, streaming the new episode of Ms Marvel or playing the latest video games - you are in for an absolute treat.

The 3840 x 2160 display on the 65-inch model practically sings. The white balance is excellent, the contrast is fabulous, with very black blacks and very little light bloom that I could see. That was all out of the box.

Samsung's QN90B 4K television
Photo credit: Supplied / Samsung

For those that like to play with settings, there's no question you'll be able to finesse it to your own specifications. I just know that I can't recall seeing much better from home television sets.

The upscaling efforts - where lower definition content is boosted by the television's processors to make it look better on a bigger screen - also seem to have stepped up with this new generation of televisions.

I also loved the telly for those rare moments when I was able to indulge my gaming passions. The set has AMD FreeSync Premium Pro technology that reduces stutter and screen-tearing during gameplay, ensuring a ridiculously smooth performance and brilliant high dynamic range picture. With a very low latency too, for all those that take their gaming seriously.

Me? I chucked on Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and wandered about the stunning worlds, enjoying the sights and sounds between the numerous battles to the death. Breathtaking.

There are four 120Hz HDMI ports on the QN90B - which seems a lot until you collect tech like I do. By the time my sound system is plugged in, the PlayStation 5, my AppleTV and my Mac Mini, there's no room for the Xbox - oops. I guess that's what gaming rooms are for, right? Four is pretty standard, but the days are coming when it'll not be enough for a lot of people.

Without my soundbar turned on, the sound is as good as it gets for a stand-alone television. The new telly comes with Object Tracking Sound Plus and Dolby Atmos, with speakers near the top of the unit helping with virtual surround sound, with a nice bass and a very good overall experience.

Samsung's QN90B 4K television remote
Photo credit: Newshub

That said, I think once you've got a soundbar installed, nothing ever quite lives up to it and so it's always going to be slightly disappointing. If you haven't got your own, then it'll be more than good enough for your needs.

Last but not least, I want to give Samsung kudos for the latest version of their remote. That occasional lagginess aside, it's a thing of beauty.

Not only does it charge via a solar panel on the back, it can also harvest radio frequencies from your WiFi to keep it going even when it's dark. That means no more hunting around for AAA batteries and adding to the huge problems that disposable metals cause around the world.

Samsung's QN90B 4K television
Photo credit: Supplied / Samsung

Oh, and I haven't even mentioned how thin it is. Do you remember the days of televisions that were so big at the back you practically needed a new room to put them in? Those days are long gone and televisions, this included, have become much more of a statement than an accessory. It looks as good as it works.

The Bad

I don't know if it's my imagination, my new easy-going outlook on life(!) or something else, but I swear it's getting harder and harder to write negative things about expensive technology.

There are no major flaws with the QN90B, just a few niggles that pop up occasionally to remind you 'perfect' isn't achievable quite yet.

For movie enthusiasts, the television doesn't support Dolby Vision, which is available on many other brands. If you don't know what that is or, like me, you just want to know if the picture looks good (and it obviously does), then I think it's unlikely to make a difference. Perfectionists may differ in their opinion.

One of the letdowns is the Smart Hub software. It's an improvement over the previous version I'm still using on my main set, but it can still get a little laggy.

I lost count of the number of times when I pressed the remote and nothing happened, so I quickly did it again and ended up choosing the wrong option when it all caught up. I'm hoping this is easily resolved in the future through updates.

I also get a loud hiss from my wireless surround sound system when switching between some of the inputs. I haven't heard this with other Samsung televisions or other brands so I'm not quite sure what's causing it.

Samsung's QN90B 4K television
Photo credit: Supplied / Samsung

Of course, as with most new 'smart' technology, you'll need a decent internet connection to take advantage of all the functionality - and a Samsung account as well. If you have other devices in your home from the Korean tech giant, it's unlikely to be a problem but it always feels like an added hassle.

The good news is that Samsung in New Zealand tells me that on-screen adverts in the software haven't been switched on in Aotearoa, and that my previous experience of intrusive ads may be due to using VPNs. Hey, I need to try out lots of different things, okay - don't judge!

That made me slightly less worried about connecting it all up to the internet, which you need to do if you want software updates and access to your favoured streaming apps without a third-party media player.

As for Samsung TV Plus, which gets a whole special button on the remote alongside Netflix, Prime Video and Disney Plus? Well, the least said the better.

The new Samsung remote
Photo credit: Newshub

To be fair, the Freeview-like streaming service is relatively new and so has great opportunities for expansion down the line. For now it's filled with YouTube-quality shows, movies you've never heard of and - most likely - stuff you're never going to watch.

The most time I spent on a channel was a music one, smashing out hit after hit from the 1980s. While it was a little bit of a throwback to watch the videos, they felt somewhat unnecessary. My streaming music subscriptions are more than good enough for that.

All that said, it doesn't detract too much from a television that is a real joy to watch, even if it doesn't come cheap. And at least a couple of the issues can be resolved with future software updates.

The Verdict

It should come as no surprise that Samsung's new top-of-the-range 4K television is stunning.

While it'll set you back over $4500 for the model I tried, this feels like a television that's going to last a long time, so not a huge outlay for such an investment.

It seems unlikely 8K is going to dominate in the next few years - and with the crystal clear 4K gorgeousness on offer here, why would it?

Of course there are other models available, ranging from 43-inches if you've got a smaller lounge up to a mindblowing 85-inches <insert Homer Simpson drooling GIF here> that should cater to most budgets.

There's also the added bonus of Samsung's new gaming hub, which launched on June 30 for 2022 televisions. That'll be reviewed separately soon, but gives Xbox Games Pass subscribers in New Zealand the opportunity to stream games directly to the television with no need for a Xbox console.

Samsung's QN90B 4K television
Photo credit: Supplied / Samsung

That has the potential to be a game changer, no pun intended.

Samsung has made some missteps over the years. This beauty simply isn't one of them. I suspect the niggly software issue may well be sorted out by a future update and while Dolby Vision would be a nice-to-have, it's not a deal breaker for me.

With this on my wall, a game controller in my hand and my trusty sound system boosting the audio, I could die a happy man.

If you're in the market for a new television, it's going to take something seriously impressive to top the QN90B range.

Newshub was supplied with a 65-inch Neo QLED 4K QN90B for this review.