The Samsung Q8C is a versatile curved 4k LED TV with a great design and good build quality thanks to its brushed metal finish. It gets decently bright, and it can reproduce one of the widest color volumes we've tested, which is great for HDR. Unfortunately, its picture quality degrades at an angle, and its local dimming feature is sub-par.
The design of the Q8C is excellent. It looks very sleek and modern from the front, and the curved stand supports the TV well. The back also looks great, with a thin metal surface. Note that the OneConnect box and the TV require separate power cables, which may make installation a bit more difficult for some people.
The stand of the Q8 feels solid and supports the TV very well. As with other TVs that have a central stand, it will wobble a bit if knocked but this isn't an issue.
Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 10.8" x 31.6"
The borders of the Q8 are very thin and look good. The metal corners also feel high quality.
The TV stays fairly cool, though the OneConnect box can get warm to the touch, reaching a maximum temperature of 39 °C. This shouldn't be a problem during normal usage.
The Samsung Q8C LED TV has a good picture quality. When set in a dark environment, the high contrast ratio makes for a rich looking dark scene, where blacks look very deep and decently uniform. When set in a brighter setting, the SDR peak brightness could be better, but the fact that the Q8C can deal with reflection superbly makes up for it and still makes it watchable, even if a bright lamp or a sunny window is in the proximity. The gray screen uniformity is very good and dirty screen effect is not a problem here, so sports fans can watch football without even noticing it. On the other hand, since the viewing angle is poor, the Q8C won't be the best TV to invite all your friends to watch the big game, since those sitting off center will have a lesser picture quality. Finally, HDR movies look very good on the Q8C. The impressive wide color gamut results in rich and saturated color and thanks to the very good HDR peak brightness, highlights really pop and shine when compared with SDR content. The only drawback here is the poor local dimming, as it is not very effective at diminishing blooming and does not help to make highlights even more punchy than what they already are.
The Samsung Q8C has an excellent native contrast ratio. The contrast ratio is high enough so that blacks look very deep and this allows the Q8C to display dark scenes very well with a lot of details. This is particularly noticeable when the TV is set in a dark room.
When the local dimming is set to high (the maximum), the contrast ratio is almost the same. This is a good representation that the local dimming feature is poor on this TV.
The Q8C's local dimming is almost identical in performance to the Q7F as it is not better or worse in any way. As we see in our test clip taken from our test video, vertical blooming is following the bright moving highlight and no matter where is the highlight, vertical blooming is always apparent. This is particularly noticeable in black letter box bars when watching a movie.
Decent SDR peak brightness. While the TV can spike to incredible brightness for a short time, and even its sustained brightness is impressive for most windows, it severely dims bright scenes like our real scene test clip. This bright scene dimming behavior was also seen in the Q7F and Q9F, but not in other Samsung TVs like the MU8000.
Good HDR peak brightness. The TV's local dimming helps it brighten highlights in dim scenes, as shown by our 10% window test. The TV's brightness is still decent in its worst case, when its local dimming is defeated by our 100% window test. However, other competing TVs like the Sony X930E are brighter overall.
The Q8C has a good gray uniformity. On our 50% gray test picture, the center of the screen looks very uniform which is good since dirty screen effect is not noticeable when watching sports like hockey or football. The screen is a bit warmer toward both the top and bottom and both sides look to be a bit darker, but once again the difference is not that big and overall this is a very good result. We did not notice any bright edges like on the 2016 KS8000, which is good.
When looking at our 5% gray uniformity test picture, the picture is very smooth without any visible uniformity issues and as such, nothing wrong can really be noticed here.
Poor viewing angle, but fairly typical for a TV with a VA panel. Blacks turn gray and colors shift when the TV is viewed from even a small angle, while the brightness decreases at moderate angles. This TV is not a good fit for a room where people will be often viewing the TV from the side.
The Samsung Q8C black uniformity is below average. The fact that the local dimming can't be completely turned off here affects the uniformity test in a couple of ways. The first one being that we can't really show you how is the true native black uniformity since, at the minimum, the local dimming can only be set to low. Secondly, when set to low while displaying our test image, vertical blooming is visible in the middle where the cross is. Both sides are really black, thus affecting the whole screen evenness. Corners are usually where clouding happens most of the time on an LCD panel and in this case, we can't really show you if there is some near the corner, since the local dimming is turning off the backlight on both sides. We do notice some clouding below the white cross though, but it is very limited.
When the local dimming is set to maximum though, we see that the local dimming actually reduce the amount of blooming in the middle near the white cross and also, the faint clouding that was apparent when the local dimming was set to low, is now much less apparent, which is a bit better overall.
The reflection handling of the Q8C is excellent. Depending on your room setup the curve may result in result in magnified reflections or may avoid single light sources such as windows or lamps. The glossy finish results in more defined reflections but at very low intensity, reducing glare. There is some purple tint visible due to the anti-reflection coating. This is a great result even for a bright room.
Out of the box, when set to the 'Movie' picture mode, the Q8C has a decent overall accuracy. The white balance dE is high enough so that an avid enthusiast could notice the inaccuracy and the screen is a bit on the warm side. Looking at the gamma, we see that in the lower stimulus (dark), the Q8C is darker than our target and this may results in dark scenes in movies being too dark.
When it comes to the color accuracy, the color dE is actually not bad and with a dE of 2.74, it is still accurate enough that only people that are used to work with professional equipment may notice the inaccuracy. There should not be any problems color-wise if you use the Q8C out of the box without calibration.
After calibration, the Q8C is very accurate. Most of the issues of the white balance and the gamma were fixed, except for the lower stimulus. They are still a bit of target since it would have induced more issues if we would have put extreme values. But overall, this is a very acceptable result.
The color dE was almost halved to a more reasonable 1.62 value, and most of the colors are tracking a bit more closely their targets, which is great overall.
See our calibration settings here.
Excellent wide color gamut, wider than most high end TVs. Nearly the entire DCI P3 gamut is covered, and the Rec 2020 gamut is fairly well covered except for green and cyan, which is common for modern TVs. This color gamut is a little less than that of the Q7F and Q9F, but this is probably due to panel variation as all the QLEDs likely use the same quantum dot layer.
The TV's EOTF in the 'HDR Movie' picture mode follows the PQ curve very closely until it starts to roll off then clip at its peak brightness. Increasing the 'Gamma' setting to maximum makes the roll off less severe, as shown here. The EOTFs in Game and PC mode have much more roll off, and the maximum brightness of PC mode is less because local dimming is disabled.
Good color volume, mostly limited by color gamut. The TV's local dimming helps it show its wide color gamut at a range of brightnesses, though its local dimming isn't granular enough to dim the center of our 'black with white border' slide, resulting in a mediocre black point.
Decent gradient handling on the Samsung Q8C. No 8-bit banding is visible and overall the gradient looks smooth. The only main issues that are visible are some color banding in the darker shade and a bit in the darker grayscale. We did not notice any real banding problems in movies though, so those little issues are not causing any real problems with normal content. Note that this is a very similar result as seen on most of Samsung lineup.
Update 04/23/2018: Gradient performance has been retested with the Test Bench 1.2 Update
Like most of the rest of Samsung TVs lineup, the Q8C doesn't suffer from image retention. This is good news for gamers out there since even a very define static image should not cause any short-term image retention, which can be annoying for some people.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
Motion looks great on the Q8C. The panel has a very fast response time resulting in low motion blur, the TV can remove 24p judder from nearly any source, and motion interpolation can interpolate content to 120 fps for those who don't mind the soap opera effect. Unfortunately, the TV's backlight only dims using PWM, resulting in double image artifacts in content not shown at 120 fps.
Excellent response time. Only a very faint trail can be seen following moving objects, which is great when watching content with lots of fast motion. This response time is very similar to the Q7F and Q9F, but a little worse than OLED TVs like the LG C7.
These measurements were done with the TV in PC mode at 100% backlight to prevent backlight PWM from adding noise to the measurements. The photo though was taken at a lower backlight setting, and shows double image artifacts due to the backlight PWM.
The TV dims the backlight mostly through PWM at 120 Hz, though it does decrease the amplitude at lower brightness. In SDR Movie mode PWM is present even at maximum backlight in nearly all cases (except on a 10% window with local dimming on high). In PC mode however, there is no PWM at maximum backlight, as seen in this plot; PWM isn't activated until the backlight is at 13/20. Because PWM is nearly always present, motion will look less smooth on video not shown at 120 fps because double image artifacts will occur, as seen in the Motion Blur photo.
The TV has a Black Frame Insertion (BFI) feature called 'LED Clear Motion' that increases the amplitude of the PWM pulses, but unfortunately doesn't change the frequency of the PWM. This means that motion will be very smooth for video shown at 120 fps such as when using motion interpolation, but for video not at 120 Hz the double image artifacts will be worse, as seen in the BFI photo. 'LED Clear Motion' is not available in Game or PC mode.
Update 03/30/2018: It was discovered that many 2017 Samsung TVs change their BFI frequency to 60 Hz when a lot of 60 Hz motion is detected on screen. The score, photo and plots have been updated.
The Q8C has a 120 Hz panel, and can interpolate lower frame rate content up to a full 120 fps. Motion interpolation (soap opera effect) is enabled by changing 'Auto Motion Plus' to 'Custom' and increasing the sliders. The 'Judder Reduction' slider affects lower frame rate content, while the 'Blur Reduction' slider affects 60 fps and higher content. Motion interpolation adds artifacts, so set the sliders to low values unless you really like motion interpolation.
The Samsung Q8C provides an okay experience watching movies and 60fps content. Those who are sensitive may notice some stutter for 24fps content as the pixel response is fairly abrupt, so the image is static for ~31ms each frame. 60 fps content appears smooth.
The Q8C can correctly display 24p movies at the right cadence playing from 24p, 60p, and 60i sources. This means that no matter from which source you are playing 24p movies, you should be able to have a judder free movies experience. This is particularly important for people who are sensitive to judder.
To be able to watch movies without judder and without adding soap opera effect, the 'Auto Motion Plus' option needs to be set to 'Custom' and both 'Blur Reduction' and 'Judder Reduction' must be set to 0. When set as such, the TV should display correctly the movies without judder and panning shot should look smooth.
The Q8C doesn't support any variable refresh rate features.
The Q8C QLED can properly display almost any content, including HDR. It also has excellent low input lag, which will please all but the most competitive gamers.
Excellent low input lag, which will please all but the most competitive gamers. Both Game and PC mode have the same low input lag, but only PC mode shows 4:4:4 color properly. This input lag is very similar to all other 2017 Samsung TVs and the LG C7 OLED, better than nearly all Sony TVs, but a little worse than the TCL P607 and LG SJ8500.
Most common resolutions are supported. 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:4:4 or 4:2:2 color are only supported when 'HDMI UHD color' is enabled for the port used. 4:4:4 color is only shown properly when the input's icon is set to 'PC' (aka PC mode). PC mode is not possible for some input refresh rates such as 24 Hz; the icon will still change to PC, but the settings that are normally disabled in PC mode are not disabled, and 4:4:4 color is not shown properly.
Only one of Dolby Digital or DTS can be enabled at a time, the TV will not change between them automatically.
The Samsung Q8C sounds decent for a TV. It's not to say it would not benefit from an upgrade such as a sound bar, but most people will be satisfied with its audio capabilities.
Decent frequency response. The Q8C follows our target decently well, and at 91.7 dB, it gets reasonably loud. Its frequency extension is better than average, helping it have a full sound. It does have a significant amount of dynamic range compression at higher volumes, and it lacks a room calibration feature which would help it sound even better.
Decent distortion performance. The Q8C has relatively low THD at most volumes, and it remains reasonable even at higher levels.
The Samsung Q8C runs the 2017 Tizen smart platform, also known as Smart Hub. It's very easy to use but can take a little longer to navigate than some other platforms. The remote has few buttons, relying on the user navigating the Smart Hub to perform most tasks. The remote also has a great voice command feature that can perform many actions like changing between inputs and apps and directly changing settings. The Samsung app store has a lot of apps available for download, and apps run fairly smoothly. Unfortunately, there is an ad box in the home menu, which can be a little annoying.
The TV's interface is centered around the Smart Hub, through which you must pass to access the rest of the interface. This makes the TV easy to use and understand, but does add extra steps to some interactions which slows things down. This is alleviated somewhat by the second row of the Smart Hub, which has quick settings and suggested content, saving time during some common tasks. The interface has many nice animations but these often have frame drops and stutter, more than the 2016 Tizen platform.
The TV sometimes has ads on the Smart Hub bar, and they can't be disabled. The second row of the Smart Hub has suggested content when an app like Netflix is in focus, but this isn't very annoying as your eyes are usually on the first row.
The TV comes preinstalled with a few popular apps like Netflix and YouTube, and the Samsung app store offers a large selection of apps available for download.
The Q8C comes with a very nice metal unibody remote, like the Q7F and Q9F. Its great build quality and small size gives it a great in hand feel. It has few buttons, instead requiring the user to navigate the Smart Hub to do things like change inputs. This is alleviated somewhat by the remote's incredible voice command feature, which can perform many actions like directly changing settings, switching between inputs and apps, and entering text. The remote can also act as a universal remote for devices that don't support HDMI CEC, using Samsung's One Remote feature.
The Samsung SmartView app has a few useful features, such as streaming local files on a phone or tablet directly to the TV; but the app lacks a few features found on other apps, such as text entry. On certain Samsung phones the Samsung Connect app adds a few more features such as screen mirroring and playing the TV's sound through the phone itself.
We tested the 55" (QN55Q8C) version AA01. For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 65" version (QN65Q8C) and 75" version (QN75Q8C).
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Samsung Q8C doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review.
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The Samsung Q8C is a good, premium LED TV with good picture quality, but its price is hardly justified by its performance. Just about any of the TVs it competes with is a better pick.
The Sony X900F is better than the Samsung Q8C. The X900F has a full array local dimming feature that delivers better dark room viewing than the Q8C's edge lighting. The X900F is brighter with SDR and HDR, and is better able to overcome glare in a bright room, although the Samsung Q8C has better reflection handling.
The LG C8 is significantly better than the Samsung Q8C, unless the possibility of burn-in is a concern for you. The LG C8 has an OLED panel which delivers a perfect dark room experience, and has very good viewing angles, although there is the risk of temporary image retention or permanent burn-in. The LG C8 has better motion handling, as the OLED pixels have a near instantaneous response time. The Samsung Q8C does not have any risk of burn-in.
The Samsung Q8C is slightly better than the Samsung Q7F. Overall performance is very similar between the two. The Q8C is slightly brighter with SDR and HDR content. The main difference between the two TVs is the shape, as the Q8C is curved while the Q7F is flat.
The Samsung Q8FN 2018 QLED TV is better than the Samsung Q8C 2017 QLED TV. The Q8FN features a full array local dimming system that delivers a better dark room experience than with the Q8C's edge-lighting. The Q8FN is much brighter, good for overcoming glare in a bright room and has new features for gamers including VRR and Auto Low Latency Mode.
Sony's X930E 4k LED TV is one of their premium HDR TVs for 2017. It features some of the best picture quality we've seen on an LCD TV, and it gets exceptionally bright. It's one of the best TVs available this year, and compared to the Q8C, it's better in almost every way. Unless you plan on using your TV as a PC monitor where the curved design is useful, the X930E is a better choice.
The LG C7 is a 4k OLED TV that offers exceptional picture quality and great versatility thanks to its wide viewing angle, great motion, and low input lag. It's usually found a little cheaper than the Q8C and at that price, it's a complete no-brainer. Unless you absolutely want an LED TV, the LG C7 is a better TV.
The Sony A1E is a high-end 4K OLED that features a striking minimalist design and better than average sound quality for a TV. It has excellent picture quality as well as some of the best motion handling currently available. It's significantly more expensive than the Q8C, but it is a significantly better TV.