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Samsung Q70 series (2019) review: High-performance QLED TV for a midrange price

Samsung's gaming features go beyond most TVs. The Q70 is compatible with variable refresh rates, called FreeSync, from some devices, including select PCs and the Xbox One X and One S. The Q70 allows rates up to 120Hz or resolutions up to 4K -- but not both at once. To use FreeSync you'll have to turn on the Auto Game Mode feature. In addition to enabling VRR, the feature lets the TV automatically switch to game mode -- reducing input lag -- when it detects you're playing a game. Game mode also has motion smoothing capabilities, called Game Motion Plus, although they do add a bit of lag (see below for details).

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  • 4x HDMI inputs with HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2
  • 2x USB ports
  • Ethernet (LAN) port
  • Optical digital audio output
  • RF (antenna) input
  • Remote (RS-232) port (EX-LINK)

This list is mostly solid, unless you happen to own a legacy device that requires analog video (component or composite) or audio. The Q70 is one of the few TVs that doesn't at least offer one analog input, audio or video.

Picture quality

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Click the image above to see CNET's picture settings, calibration details and HDR notes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Q70 is an excellent performer overall, with very good local dimming and contrast, excellent brightness, color and video processing. It fell short of the black levels of some less-expensive TVs like the Vizio M8 and TCL 6 series with HDR material, but delivered superior brightness for similar overall contrast, earning the same "8" (Excellent) in this category.

Click the image above to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Dim lighting: The very darkest scenes, like the attack on Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, showed that the Samsung held its own against the others, delivering deep blacks in the letterbox bars and solid shadow detail in the black clothing of Voldemort's minions. Only the LG with its perfect black levels was significantly better. There were some slight differences but overall all five LCDs looked very similar.

To get a more real-world example I looked at some dark scenes from The Greatest Showman. Again the Q70 acquitted itself well in the exchange between Barnum and Philip behind the curtain (47:56), with black areas and letterbox bars about the same as the TCL and darker (more realistic) than the Sony. Black levels and contrast in both Vizios (and the LG OLED) looked darker and better in this scene, however, with superior contrast and pop. That said the Samsung's shadow detail was as good as any of the displays in this scene, and it controlled blooming well.

Bright lighting: The Q7 is a bright TV, outdoing the Vizio M-Series Quantum and matching the TCL 6 series, but it's not in the same league as the Vizio PQ or higher-end Samsungs like the Q8 or Q9 from 2018 -- or (I'm assuming) their 2019 counterparts.

Light output in nits

TV Brightest (SDR) Accurate color (SDR) Brightest (HDR) Accurate color (HDR)
Vizio PQ65-F1 (2018) 2,184 1,570 2,441 2,441
Vizio M65-F0 (2018) 1,035 318 1,005 790
Samsung Q70R (2019) 1,006 592 953 767
TCL 65R617 (2018) 653 299 824 824
Vizio M658-G1 (2019) 633 400 608 531
LG C9 (2019) 451 339 851 762

As usual the brightest setting, Dynamic, was woefully inaccurate. For the Accurate measurements in SDR I used the Natural picture mode in combination with the Warm color temperature setting (the default temperature for Natural is quite blue). I prefer Vizio's approach of a dedicated, accurate bright-room picture mode.

The Q70 maintained steady HDR light output over time in Movie mode, measuring an average of 704 nits over a period of about five minutes in my test. In Dynamic mode with both HDR and SDR it fluctuated much more, however, starting out at around 950 nits but falling almost immediately to around 350.

This set lacks the fancy new anti-reflective screen found on the 2019 Q80R and Q90R, but it was still the best in this lineup. It reduced reflections better than any other display and preserved black levels better than any LCD, and about the same as the LG OLED.

Color accuracy: According to my measurements, the Q70's color was very good and watching the colorful Showman bore out the numbers, with skin tones accurate, and bright areas brilliant and well-saturated. Compared to some of the other sets the image did look very slightly less potent, however, for example in the makeup of the performers (27:19) and the red of Barnum's jacket. The differences would only be visible in a side-by-side comparison, however.

Video processing: As usual the Samsung aced my tests in this category, delivering true 1080p/24 film cadence with film-based sources and plenty of motion resolution (1,000 lines) with video-based sources. The TV achieved both results with an Auto Motion Plus setting of Custom with Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction at 0, so if I had this TV I'd "set it and forget it" right there.

If you want to tinker, you can always add more smoothing or soap opera effect by increasing Judder Reduction or choosing Auto instead of Custom. Meanwhile the LED Clear Motion option makes motion even sharper with the help of black frame insertion, at the expense of flicker and a dimmer image.

Samsung continues its recent tradition of excellent input lag in game mode with a score just over 14 milliseconds with both 1080p and 4K HDR sources.

Uniformity: Looking at dark, full-field test patterns, I found the Q70 showed a slightly less uniform screen than any of the others, with higher brightness along the bottom and sides than in the top-middle. With brighter such patterns its screen appeared more even, however, and closer to those of the other displays, and in program material (as opposed to test patterns) I didn't notice any uniformity issues. The Samsung maintained color and contrast from off-angle -- seats to either side of the sweet spot in front of the screen -- as well as any of the others, and better than the Sony.

HDR and 4K video: Watching the video montage from the new Spears & Munsil 4K HDR Benchmark disc, I found the Samsung showed ample brightness and punch in bright scenes, as I expected from its measurements. In nearly full-screen bright areas, like the white desert sand under the brilliant sun at 5:21, the Samsung looked and measured brighter than any of the others except for the TCL (which was about the same) and the Sony, which was the brightest by far. The Samsung was also quite bright in more specular highlights, like the sun through the radar dish (5:29), outshining all of the displays except the Sony and the LG, both brighter by a healthy margin.

Local dimming performance and black levels, however, lagged behind the other sets except for the Sony. In the difficult black background sequences, and nighttime shots like the ferris wheel (4:50), the Q70's black was brighter than the others (except the Sony) and showed more blooming. As a result the flowers, honey dipper and other objects looked a bit less dynamic in comparison.

The Q70 did a better job than the Vizio M8, the TCL and especially the Vizio PQ at smoothing banding in difficult transitions, for example the sunset sky at 2:02. On those sets the colors above the lake separated slightly (or significantly, in the PQ's case) while on the Q70, the Sony and the LG, they looked smoother.

Brilliant colors like the orange flower (3:26) and the bed of red tulips (3:56) looked very good on the Q70, quite close to the LG and with more depth of red than the Sony. The Samsung and Sony did have a tendency toward blue in near-black areas however, perhaps a symptom of their lighter black levels. As usual the colors of the TCL were the worst of the bunch, with oversaturated reds, greens and other colors.

Evidence of the Samsung's less-accurate EOTF (see my HDR notes above) was tough to spot in the montage. In some shots the TV's midtones were brighter than the others, for example in the frog on the leaf or the owl, and the honey dipper was brighter too. And in some of the cloud shots there was slightly less definition in the Samsung than the LG and Sony. Overall 4K HDR looked very good on the Q70 however, despite its less-accurate measurements.

Netflix's The Umbrella Academy has some impressive HDR effects in Episode 1 and the Samsung rendered them well, from the bright windows on the moon bus and the flashlights during the raid to the spotlights around the violinist. In darker sequences its black levels held together relatively well, beating the M8 slightly but still falling short of the others (aside from the Sony). Colors like the red carpet under Allison and her lipstick were powerful but not garish.

Geek Box

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.003 Good
Peak white luminance (SDR) 1006 Good
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.13 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 0.82 Good
Dark gray error (30%) 1.62 Good
Bright gray error (80%) 0.56 Good
Avg. color checker error 2.47 Good
Avg. color error 1.81 Good
Red error 1.62 Good
Green error 1.08 Good
Blue error 1.57 Good
Cyan error 3.30 Average
Magenta error 2.10 Good
Yellow error 1.23 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1000 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 1000 Good
Input lag (Game mode) 14.3 Good



HDR10

Black luminance (0%) 0.004 Good
Peak white luminance (10% win) 953 Average
Gamut % UHDA/P3 (CIE 1976) 92.97 Average
ColorMatch HDR error 7.66 Poor
Avg. color checker error 8.24 Poor
Input lag (Game mode, 4K HDR) 14.27 Good

Samsung Q70 CNET review calibration results by David Katzmaier on Scribd

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