Samsung Q80A QLED – Just as good as the Neo QLEDs?
The Samsung Q80A QLED is more or less the top of the 2021 QLED series. The next most expensive model in Samsung’s lineup is the QN85A Neo QLED, which, unlike the Q80A, is equipped with a mini LED backlight.
Otherwise, the two models have a lot in common, since both have an ADS panel with quite similar properties. This is at least true for the 55, 65 and 75 inch variants. The 50 & 85 inch variants use a VA panel, whereby it is still unclear whether the 85 inch variant will appear in Europe.
Therefore, the question arises whether you should really buy a more expensive NEO QLED or whether the Q80A could be a cheaper alternative.
The Samsung Q80A QLED has a slim, quite minimalistic design, but it looks pretty high-end. It has a very narrow, plastic frame that does not distract from the image, so you get an immersive TV experience.
When using the center stand, the Q80A stands slightly wobbly, but it can be placed on smaller TV furniture – which is usually normal for center stands. The design of the TV is also convincing on the wall, even if it protrudes a bit due to the not so small device depth.
When wall-mounted, you’ll be pleased to find that the interfaces are aligned towards the right side of the screen and there are recesses in the back that allow for neat cable routing.
Furthermore, the cables can be bundled through the stand – so nothing stands in the way of clean cable management.
In short: The design is confusingly similar to that of the 2020 Q80T.
Average device depth
Slightly wobbly stand
Neat cable management
Samsung Q80A - Can the ADS panel keep up with VA variants?
The shock that Samsung deviates from the usual VAVertical Alignment, type of LCD Panel panel in its QLED models was not quite as big after the QN85A Neo QLED. However, this step is not quite comprehensible. It uses a 10-bit (8bit + FRC) panel with a contrast of around 1600:1 and a not very deep black, which can look a bit grayish in some circumstances.
Its contrast ratio is improved by the Full Array Local Dimming feature, but this has been anything but well implemented. BloomingAdding a brighter area around bright objects on a dark background around bright objects can therefore not be avoided and it is also too slow, so fast movements do not show up well.
In this area, the difference to Samsung’s Mini LED series is clearly visible, which has a considerably better local dimming – but that’s not too hard either. The 2020 Q80T also does better here than its successor.
With a peak brightness of around 960Nits, the Q80A QLED gets quite bright, so bright highlights in HDRHigh Dynamic Range – image/video with more dynamic range (contrast range) content can be displayed well. However, the ADS panel does not handle HDR content very well, which is again due to the low contrast. Nevertheless, the colors appear extremely vivid, which is due to the very large color space.
One advantage of the ADS panel is the wide viewing angle, which allows the Q80A to present a decent picture even at oblique viewing angles. Its reflection handling is good enough for most rooms, but reflections and glare cannot be avoided in sunlit rooms, since it does not have an anti-reflective coating, unlike the Q80T.
Samsung also relies on HDR10HDR10 Media Profile – HDR with a color depth of 10 Bit in the Rec. 2020 colorspace+ as the dynamic HDR format this year; Dolby VisionDynamic HDR-format with a color depth of up to 12 Bits and Mastering of up to 10,000 Nits is still not available from Samsung.
The 50 and 85 inch variants of the Samsung Q80A most likely use a VA panel with considerably higher contrast and a deep and even black, which makes their picture quality clearly superior. In return, the viewing angle is quite limited.
10 (8 + FRC) bit ADS panel
Contrast Ratio 1600:1
Poor black levels
Full Array local Dimming
Peak Brightness ~960Nits
Wide color gamut
No Dolby Vision
Clear movements with little motion blur
The Q80A can display movements really well. Its 120Hz panel has a response time of about 4ms, which means very little motion blur is noticeable during very fast movements. Motion blur can be reduced even further with the Black Frame InsertionProcess that inserts black “blank images” as intermediate images. This makes movements appear finer and clearer. feature, but this setting reduces the average brightness, which will make this mode attractive to fewer users.
Slight stutter can occur with low frame rate content, which is due to the low response time. However, these jerks can be reliably eliminated by the motion interpolationArtificial calculation of more frames than the source material has to offer feature.
The background illumination flickers with a frequencyHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. of 960Hz, which is so fast that it is perceived as continuous illumination by the eye. Thus, even sensitive users should not have any problems with the Q80A in this regard. JudderInconsistent time frame due to the input frequency not mismatching the TV’s frequency (e.g. 24p via 60Hz) can be eliminated from all sources.
Response Time <4 ms
Reduction of motion blur
960 Hz backlight frequency
Judder can be removed
50 inch: Only 60Hz panel!
Q80A QLED - Almost everything gamers could wish for
In terms of gaming features, the Q80A can hold a candle to even the high-end models. Input lag is impressively low at under 10ms at 4K@60Hz with HDRHigh Dynamic Range – image/video with more dynamic range (contrast range), so gaming on the Q80A feels incredibly responsive.
With the HMDI 2.1 interface, it has some features that make it really interesting for next gen gaming. As such, it supports 4K with a refresh rateHertz is the derived SI-unit of frequency with 1Hz=1/s – When talking about TVs this means how many different pictures a TV can display in one second. of 120Hz and an input lag of around 5ms.
To keep the input lag as low as possible, it has an Auto Low Latency Mode, which automatically detects a switched-on console and switches the TV to gaming mode. The TV also supports a Variable Refresh RateVariable Refresh Rate – synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the output refresh rate of the graphics card via FreeSyncVariable Refresh Rate with AMD graphics cards or consoles or HDMI Forum VRRVariable Refresh Rate – synchronizes the display’s refresh rate with the output refresh rate of the graphics card, so screen tearing is a thing of the past.
For multiplayer gaming, the Samsung Q80A QLED is also extremely well-suited, as the ADS panel has a wide viewing angle and therefore no gamer has a disadvantage of fading colors when he or she looks at the display at an angle.
Input lag <10 ms
Auto Low Latency Mode
VRR via FreeSync / HDMI Forum's VRR
Good sound with great features!
The integrated 2.2.2 channel sound system has an output power of 60W (RMS). The sound profile is quite well balanced, especially in the treble- and mid-ranges, allowing dialogs to be reproduced clearly.
Surprisingly, the basses are good for this price range. However, you should also keep in mind that a flat-screen TV doesn’t have the necessary volume to produce deep basses. Therefore, most TVs can’t really compete with good sound systems and soundbars with external subwoofers.
If you want to expand your home theater system with an AV receiver or soundbar, you can create a really enveloping and immersive sound, as the Q80A supports uncompressed Dolby AtmosObject-based surround sound format with 3D-Sound from any direction via Dolby TrueHD through the HDMI eARC – but you have to do without DTSMulti-channel-sound-system (Surround Sound) competing with Dolby Digital.
2.2.2 channels with 60W (RMS)
Good sound profile
Lack of deep bass
Dolby Atmos via Dolby TrueHD
Samsung Q80A QLED - even smarter with new Tizen OS!
With the new iteration of the Tizen operating system, Samsung TVs are even more intuitive to use and navigation has become even smoother. It includes many features and the selection of apps is huge, so you do not have to miss any popular streaming services.
Unfortunately, it is not completely free of ads, but that is normal nowadays – even for other manufacturers.
The excellently designed remote control has also become smarter. It is no longer necessary to replace batteries, since the remote is equipped with a solar cell that charges the integrated batteries – but if there is no light available to charge the remote, it can also be charged via the USB C interface.
Those who find the Smart Remote too cumbersome can also use one of the three voice assistants Amazon Alexa, Samsung Bixby or Google Assistant. But beware, the Samsung Q80A requires a third-party device to use Google Assistant, while the other voice assistants are already integrated.
Apple users will be pleased to note that the Samsung Q80A supports Airplay 2, so exchanging data to Apple devices is dead simple and fast.
Through Samsung Smart Things, the QLED becomes a control center of a smart home. Other applications that are compatible can then be controlled from the TV via remote control.
The Samsung Q80A QLED also has a built-in twin tuner, which allows it to use the USB recording function and the Time Shift function.
Good gaming performance and good in bright rooms - unfortunately not so much in dark rooms.
On the whole, the Samsung Q80A is a good mid-range TV, but it also has some weaknesses. Thanks to the ADS panel, it has a good performance in bright surroundings and a wide viewing angle.
However, this is unfortunately at the expense of the contrast and the less deep black level despite full array local dimming – its predecessor, the Samsung Q80T, did much better here.
This makes it less convincing in a dark home theater environment than competitors with a VA or OLED panel. However, it has extremely convincing gaming features and an HDMI 2.1 interface that enables all the functions of the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 – including 4K@120Hz, VRR and ALLM.
However, it lacks Dolby Vision, which is a real downer for a TV in this price range.