Mini LED technology arrived on televisions, and the QN90A is the best 4K representative of Samsung in Brazil in 2021. On top of that, we still have an LCD panel with quantum dots that promises 100% of the color volume. The big change is behind: each LED to illuminate the screen has been replaced by 40 tiny LEDs, which can achieve higher peaks of brightness and, most importantly, improve contrast.
In addition to technological evolution, Samsung’s most expensive Neo QLED 4K has a slim design, new software features to integrate with other devices in your home and a 120 Hz refresh rate, with functions tailored for those who like to play games on TV. Is it worth it? I’ve watched dozens of hours of content on the Samsung QN90A over the past few weeks and count my impressions in the next few minutes.
Samsung Neo QLED QN90A Review in Video
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The QN90A was provided by Samsung on loan and will be returned to the company after testing. For more information, visit tecnoblog.net/etica.
Design, connections and remote control
Before turning on the TV, the design is the first detail that catches your eye. New lighting technology has allowed the QN90A to be slimmer, less than three centimeters thick. It’s still not surprising as an OLED, but it’s still impressive, especially if you opt for wall mounting. If you’re going to put the TV on a piece of furniture, that’s fine too: the heavy metal base is pleasing for its minimalist look and for taking up little space.
What disappoints me is the absence of One Connect, which centralizes the connections in an external box and facilitates the organization of wires. This Samsung exclusivity, which I had admired for a long time, became progressively more expensive: it was even on the Q7FN (an intermediate model from 2018), then it was restricted to the Q80R (a more expensive TV from 2019), then it was only for the Q95T ( the top of the line in 2020) and… no longer exists in any 4K brand in Brazil in 2021. It gets the impression that, with each passing year, a new TV in the same category has fewer features than in the previous generation.
The connections are on the right-hand side, and here, too, is one of those Samsung choices that leaves me with a foot behind: while rivals put up to four HDMI 2.1 ports on their TVs, the QN90A has a single HDMI 2.1 and three other HDMI 2.0 ports. It’s not a big downside, as most won’t have more than one device that benefits from HDMI 2.1, such as a high-end video game, but it’s disappointing to know that this “saving” was made on a TV of more than R$ 10 thousand.
The remote control is a nice surprise. While certain companies simply take chargers and headphones out of the box justifying a concern for the environment (which would be a very noble cause), Samsung has done something more sustainable and beneficial to the consumer on TVs: now, the remote is gone. batteries and can be recharged by solar energy.
In addition to being thinner, the SolarCell remote has kept its good ergonomics and very few buttons, a layout that I really like. At the bottom, there is a USB-C port to supply the battery in case it runs out, but you might even forget that it exists: even in winter, with closed weather in São Paulo and not so much sun, I finished the first month of use with more load than I started.
But let’s get to what really matters about the QN90A, which is the image quality of a new technology. I was very excited about the Mini LED, because it had been a while since we had a significant advance in LCD TVs. Theoretically, the Mini LED could get closer to the contrast and depth of black than the OLED, but with higher brightness and no fear of burn-in. And it worked.
The QN90A surprised me with its very strong sustained glow, which makes a difference when fighting against reflections if you are in an environment with a lot of sunlight. For sports content, clearer movies or even using the TV as a monitor, Samsung’s more expensive Neo QLED 4K screen looks great and leaves almost everyone behind. It’s even important to turn on smart mode (or at least auto-brightness, if you’re too purist), because the white at night can make your eyes uncomfortable.
The contrast was also excellent. Of course, that depends on your expectations: if you believed that an LCD could be on the same level as an OLED just because of new lighting technology, you can take the horse out of the rain. But the QN90A has the best local dimming feature and the best black depth I’ve ever seen on a TV with this panel, the kind that makes an OLED fan start looking fondly at other options on the market.
In synthetic tests, I noticed a certain delay in the lighting zones when a high contrast point quickly changed region. Still, the result was better than other TVs that admittedly had a good full-array local dimming, like the Sony X955G. In real content, I really liked the experience on the QN90A, without any absurd downsides, unlike some previous Samsung models that created very noticeable clouds around subtitles.
The colors are pleasing, despite being more saturated than in real life to surprise the eye, and the input lag is also not far behind, always below 15 milliseconds in 4K game mode at 60Hz, which is great for anyone who plays. The black uniformity is very good and the viewing angle shouldn’t disappoint even those with wider living rooms, as Samsung has repeated the good work it has been doing on its more expensive VA panels.
If it’s to criticize the image, I just wanted to highlight what I’ve commented on in previous QLED TV reviews, but now with more emphasis: Samsung, please stop insisting so much on HDR10+ and soon include Dolby Vision on TVs. All competitors have already adopted Dolby technology in premium models. This little fight of HDR standards is no longer fun.
The TV’s built-in sound is high quality and has little immersion. This sounds contradictory, but it is in line with what Samsung has been doing on its latest premium TVs: since it’s physically impossible to put a speaker with powerful bass on such a thin TV, the company seems to have given up on low frequencies in the built-in sound and left that job for a soundbar with a subwoofer you’ll probably want to buy.
It’s clear that Samsung threw in the towel because the QN90A has some of the weakest bass I’ve ever seen in built-in TV sound. The subbass, which make you feel the beats, just don’t exist. And the company didn’t make a point of raising the mid-bass in the standard EQ to try to fool their ears (which, in the end, was a good thing, as this practice tends to clutter the rest of the spectrum).
The QN90A has a 4.2.2-channel sound system with a total power of 60 watts, with the speakers spread out behind the screen, instead of being concentrated at the bottom, as in most TVs. This sonic scheme is used for the Sound in Motion Plus feature, which tries to follow the sound of moving objects in the scene. It’s nothing that impresses at first glance, especially when the built-in speakers are working alone.
But it changes the picture when connecting equipment compatible with the Sound Synchrony technology (formerly known as Q Symphony). When installing a Samsung Q600A, for example, the TV can work together with the soundbar (emphasis on “together”). The QN90A’s built-in speakers, which are even good, with clarity, dynamics and volume but without any bass, emit some of the sound, while the soundbar takes care of amplifying the power and releasing the real beats.
The result of a QN90A connected to a Q600A is excellent, but ends up making the game even more expensive, since this soundbar, the most simple and “accessible” from Samsung 2021 with support for the Sound Sync feature, has a suggested price of R$ 3,099. For those who play, it feels like paying the price of a good full game in a DLC.
Smart TV software and functions
The QN90A’s operating system is Tizen 6.0, which brings the visual redesign of Samsung’s 2020 TVs, with a darker interface and fewer distractions. The fluidity of the animations and the agility of the screens, which are great strengths of Samsung’s software, are still present. The features you’ve come to expect in a branded TV are here, like SmartThings to integrate other devices in the house and the trio of personal assistants Bixby, Alexa and Google.
The Ambiente Mode, which Samsung highlighted a lot in TV presentations and showed a photo gallery, weather forecast or an image to integrate with the decoration of the environment, lost space. It lost space even on the remote control, as the old dedicated button to call the resource was replaced with a shortcut to Multi View. This is a feature that I see a lot of value.
With Multi View, while you’re watching a live Formula 1 race, for example, you can mirror your cell phone screen in the corner of the TV, showing each driver’s timing panel. The secondary content can be in this Picture In Picture (PIP) scheme or on the side of the main content. The implementation is very good, and Samsung takes advantage of the speakers scattered behind the screen to emit the sound in the corner where the content is being displayed.
Otherwise, you can expect the same practicality from Tizen, with a well thought-out interface that doesn’t obstruct the content; and the same range of apps, with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Globoplay, Telecine, YouTube and Samsung TV Plus pre-installed. Other services such as Spotify, HBO Max and DirecTV Go can be found at the Samsung store.
It’s worth it, but with caveats. For me, the Samsung QN90A is a nice breather for LCD TVs, which lacked relevant changes for a long time. Samsung took great care in the image quality and minimized typical negative points of the technology, such as the level of black, which was excellent, while strengthening the white even more. Only some strange savings on the part of Samsung are playing against the model, but they don’t take the shine off the TV, pardon the pun.
Buying a QN90A and using only the built-in sound is heresy, as the speakers scattered across the screen alone don’t do justice to the picture quality. So add a few thousand dollars to your account if you want to watch your movies or even play games with more immersion. And of course, when it comes to gaming, it’s hard to swallow that Samsung’s most expensive 4K TV in Brazil has only one HDMI 2.1 port, with LG, main competitor, putting two or even four on simpler TVs.
Speaking of competition, the closest alternative to the QN90A would be the LG C1, successor to the LG CX that I have already analyzed in Techblog. The OLED has an impeccable contrast and still superior to what Samsung achieved with the Mini LED, but it doesn’t sustain a very strong brightness and loses in bright environments. Another option would be the new LG QNED90, also with Mini LED technology, which I liked when I saw it up close, but which I still can’t give a proper opinion for not having done the same rigorous analysis I did with the QN90A.
Still, in its proper segment, which is the most expensive 4K TV on the market, I would say the QN90A is a solid option for most potential buyers (ie, those who see sense in spending five digits on a high-end TV). 55 inches). The contrast is great, the colors are pleasing, the brightness is amazing and the extras like the solar remote control and the software full of valuable functions make a very interesting set.
Samsung Neo QLED QN90A TV
- Now I want this solar remote on all TVs
- Very strong brightness (even) to deal with bright environments
- Mini LEDs gave a breath of contrast and black level
- Excellent viewing angle for a VA panel
- Samsung continues to run the software
- Buying a soundbar is mandatory, preferably with Sound Sync
- Another generation, another year without Dolby Vision
- Only one HDMI 2.1 port? What a pittance, Samsung
- Model: Samsung QN55QN90A
- Panel Size: 54.6 inches (138.8 cm)
- Resolution: 3840×2160 pixels
- Update rate: 120 Hz
- Panel Type: VA LCD (Mini LED)
- Supported imaging technologies: HDR10, HDR10+, HDR10+ Adaptive
- Speaker power: 60 watts
- Supported audio technologies: Sound Sync, Sound in Motion Plus, SpaceFit, Dolby Digital Plus
- Operating system: Tizen 6.0
- Power consumption: 230 watts (maximum), 0.5 watts (standby)
- Video Inputs: 3 HDMI 2.0, 1 HDMI 2.1, 1 RF
- Audio outputs: 1 optical digital audio output
- Other connections: 2 USB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth, Ethernet
- Dimensions (width x height x depth): 122.7×70.6×2.7 cm (without the base) and 122.7×76.8×23.6 cm (with the base)
- Weight: 17.7 kg (without base), 21.9 kg (with base)