September 25, 2023

Samsung S95C QD-OLED Review: A Window to the Future

I don’t have any windows in my office. Through sheer lack of funds as I was refinishing my detached garage into a soundproof workspace—high-grade acoustic windows apparently cost thousands—I ended up in an LED-lit cave. So when I review TVs, I do my best to treat them as windows, playing scenes from the outdoors as I work. My fake plants and I have watched thousands of hours of YouTube nature videos, which loop real outdoor imagery in 4K. Some TVs make the content look better than others, but the only model I’ve nearly been convinced might be a window is the Samsung S95C.

This quantum-dot-enabled organic LED display (QD-OLED) has perfect black levels and gorgeous colors, and it gets extremely bright when you need it to be. From all angles, it fills a room with beautiful pictures, even if all you use it for are videos of waves crashing into a distant shoreline. It has a few downsides (namely the interface), but if you’re after the most astonishing screen of the year, this is one of the best TVs you’ll find.

Help Required

Two kind gentlemen helped me assemble and place the 77-inch review unit inside my studio workspace, which makes this a good time to talk about modern screen sizes and thicknesses. If you’re going to get a model this large and thin, you’re going to need at least one other person to help you set it up. They’re too large and fragile to do it by yourself.

Photograph: Samsung

Once unboxed and placed on its center pedestal mount (!), the sleek black screen connects via proprietary Samsung cables to the Samsung One Connect box. This provides power and image to the TV, and you can place the box on the back of the pedestal mount or in another location farther away, where you can still use it to connect various inputs and outputs, depending on which of the two included proprietary cables you use. I placed the box below the TV and slightly to the back of my TV stand, where it remained out of the way, but it was still easy to connect a soundbar, my Nintendo Switch, and a long cable that ran to my desktop computer.

The S95C comes with Samsung’s solar-powered remote, an excellent bit of technology for those of us tired of hunting around for AAA batteries when all we want to do is watch Succession. (It charges perfectly fine with man-made light sources, just make sure you flip the remote upside down for the solar panels to absorb the light.) That said, you might spend the same amount of time regularly hunting for the remote as you would for batteries. It’s so slim and compact it can easily fall between the cushions of your couch.

Getting Started

I’ll come right out and say it—Samsung’s Smart TV ecosystem is far from my favorite on the market. It makes it inexplicably hard to find already-installed apps, and while it does offer every app you’d want, the implementation on this TV is extremely laggy, if not utterly unusable at times. I highly recommend you grab the streaming device of your preference. Apps ran so much better via Roku’s streaming stick and my Apple TV. Surprisingly, adjusting preferences on the TV is dead simple. Just press the settings button on the remote and adjust whatever you want on the classic-style (but still usable) settings menu.

I spent the vast majority of my time operating between Game and Movie modes, which work well to modify the image for their specific purposes. I especially like the low response time on this OLED, making games like Forza Horizon 5 feel more responsive when you input an action into the controller. Those who want the most unadulterated image can switch to Filmmaker mode, or set the TV to automatically adjust when this mode is available; it mimics the settings content creators have set for the media you’re streaming, coming in handy on Netflix and other major services.

With a 144-Hz refresh rate, the TV is also excellent at showing sports and other speedy events. I watched a few F1 races with friends at my place during my review time, and it was easily the best-looking TV I’ve tested for super-fast cars racing around the track. (The stream was limited to 60 frames per second, but the built-in variable refresh rate made everything from my PC smooth.)

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