Review: The S95C OLED is Samsung's best looking TV yet

Newshub's Daniel Rutledge reviews the Samsung S95C OLED.
The S95C will compete against premium 2023 OLED models from Sony, LG and Panasonic. Photo credit: Samsung

For the past couple of years, Sony has - in my opinion - been making the best of the best televisions in terms of pure visual fidelity.

LG, Samsung and Panasonic make great TVs too, but there has been something extra special about Sony's sets that gave them an edge, probably to do with the company's own unique way of image processing.

Well, this year Samsung is renewing its firepower by getting back into the OLED market as well as its new QLED offerings.

It's a great thing they did.

The good

The S95C OLED television is definitely one of the best looking screens I've ever enjoyed feasting my eyes on and is, to date, the best image quality I've seen on a Samsung TV.

It uses a quantum-dot technology which takes the best of OLED but fixes the format's brightness problem so that it competes comfortably with the best LCD TVs.

So it has the pure, pure blacks that only OLEDs can deliver - something even Samsung's impressive flagship 8K QLED models can't quite achieve. But the S95C offers more than that with its stunning, punchy brightness that looks lifelike and less artificial as it does in some other TV types.

It's like the gorgeous purity of the blacks that we love about OLEDs is applied to all the other colours in this model.

Samsung s95c OLED.
In New Zealand the S95C comes in 55-inch, 65-inch and 77-inch options. Photo credit: Samsung

I put it to the test first with Ted Lasso via an Apple TV 4K unit and Extraction 2 via the Netflix app on the TV itself. These were both compressed for the streaming format but thanks to the ultra-fast Wi-Fi of Netgear's latest Orbi system and the tremendous picture quality of the S95C, both looked truly next-level superior in 4K.

Next I watched the rugged Clint Eastwood classic High Plains Drifter on 1080p Blu-ray. With this one I had to turn down the TV's colour, brightness and contrast to get it looking right, but then even with a fourth of the pixels of 4K video, this looked incredible and super clear even when sitting about 1.5m close to the screen.

Then I turned to my favourite thing for testing out modern TV image quality: my UHD 4K Blu-ray copy of John Wick: Chapter 2. There's something about the way this film is lit and graded, and the way the action is shot that just makes it sing so beautifully in 4K. On the S95C it was the most beautiful I've seen yet.

On top of the amazing image quality, as this is a Samsung product you get some nice Apple-like ecosystem benefits if you have other Samsung devices, especially if they're all connected to the Smart Things app. I used it along with one of the new Samsung soundbars, some Galaxy phones and earbuds and they all work together in a satisfying way.

You can also essentially transfer your old TV to this one like you do when changing phones now too, which is pretty great for skipping all the logging in to everything process.

If you're into gaming, this is an extremely good choice and quite possibly the best TV of the year. It boasts four HDMI 2.1 ports and supports 4K at a whopping 144Hz refresh rate. Obviously there's support for ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and FreeSync Premium Pro in this, so it's ideal for PC gaming and with a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X you're getting the maximum potential on offer.

Samsung S95C side-on view.
The side-on view gives an idea of how thin this TV is. Photo credit: Samsung

The bad

I don't love everything about the S95C, however. Compared to last year's models, the frustrating push of Samsung TV Plus has been reduced, but it is still there.

Thankfully I wasn't getting old episodes of Fear Factor, Early Edition and Baywatch as the first and biggest thing on my homescreen, but the layout of Samsung's homescreen still isn't quite as optimised as some of its competitors, or the homescreen of the latest Amazon Fire Stick or Google Chromecast.

Another frustration I had is the inconsistent scanning of HDMI devices. It's awesome when it recognises the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC and Apple TV unit as what they are and gives them the right icon. But if you have to swap those cables around, it can forget which is which or incorrectly display one as another with no easy way of rescanning them afresh.

There's also no Dolby Vision support.

Then there's the price. These days 65" is pretty much the standard option and that'll set you back around $6000 in Aotearoa, currently.

There's no getting around that price, but that is around what Sony has been charging for its comparable models in recent years. It looks like the comparable LG G3 is going to be even more expensive, too - note that's not the LG C3, which will be cheaper and less premium but still a really, really good TV.

The verdict

Spending the extra few thousand dollars will only be worth it for people who demand the most elite image quality available. Not everyone will be able to tell the difference and some people who can, won't appreciate it all that much.

But for those of us that do, the S95C has set a new high bar for Samsung - a high bar that makes watching great movies and TV shows at home all the more enjoyable.

Newshub was supplied a Samsung S95C for this review.