By Don Lindich
Week 31, 2021
Q. I recently went to look at 65-inch TVs and really liked the Samsung 65″ QN90A TV and the Sonos ARC soundbar with Beam subwoofer. (Of course this is what the salesman recommended, and I felt he made some good points.) The combination is about $3,500. The TV is $2,299, on sale from $2,600. This is more than I wanted to spend but after thinking about it I feel that it might be better to stretch the budget a bit more for a better TV and soundbar. We have a glare problem in our living room and I felt the Samsung had less glare than many of the other TVs. I also feel it might be better to get a good 4K TV rather than a lower-line 8K TV.
Your thoughts? Are there any other combinations for about $3,500 that would be a better option and value?
A. Most lower-line 8K TVs are better than the top-of-the-line 4K TVs from the same manufacturer, so I’m not sure if your feelings about 4K versus 8K are correct in this instance. More relevant to me is the lack of 8K programming and the smallish (for 8K) 65-inch screen size. These points incline me to recommend a 4K TV for you. That seems to be the direction you are leaning, and so far you are doing great with your choices though I am going to recommend a different soundbar.
The Samsung QN90A is my favorite top-of-the-line TV from any manufacturer, save for perhaps the top Samsung 8K models that cost significantly more. I am an extremely satisfied owner of a 75-inch Samsung Q90R, the 2019 predecessor of the QN90A, and the new model is even better. I tested a QN90A this past spring and the color, deep black level, great shadow detail, and improved response from the television operating system is a noticeable step up. The QN90A is thinner, has a narrower bezel, and on the test bench shows improved technical performance in every parameter. As you have already noticed, the top Samsung televisions have an anti-reflective coating that makes them extremely easy to place even in rooms with a lot of ambient light. With the Neo QLED panel you never have to worry about burn-in so you can watch whatever you want for as long as you want, with the confidence you won’t have any image retention staring you in the face later. One piece of advice I have for all purchasers of new televisions is to make sure the color temperature is set to warm and any motion processing settings are turned completely off. You’ll get a more accurate, more natural picture with the warm color temperature, and pretty much every motion processing system I have seen in a modern TV makes everything look artificial, like it is CGI. Turn off that motion processing for every source connected to the television, you will be glad that you did!
The Sonos soundbars are popular recommendations, but I think the real benefit in buying anything Sonos is using it for whole-home audio. You aren’t doing that here and you are definitely paying a premium for the Sonos name. A better choice in all respects would be the Samsung HW-Q950A, which not only includes a wireless subwoofer, it also includes wireless Atmos surround speakers for true multichannel surround sound from a soundbar. The 65-inch QN90A and HW-Q950A combo currently sells for $3,599, just $99 more than your $3,500 budget. It is $99 very well spent!