Samsung’s QN90B Neo QLED TV series is the second-tier 4K option in the company’s QLED range, in between the flagship series QN95B and QN85B. And while we wouldn’t call the QN90B series budget-friendly, it’s priced significantly lower than the QN95B sets, while offering many of the same features and technical innovations the company has introduced for 2022.
Chief among these is something Samsung calls Shape Adaptive Light Control System – actually a fancy name for processing that modulates the intensity of specific local dimming zones in the set’s mini LED backlighting to minimize “blooming” artifacts. And while the QN90B series has to contend with only a Neo Quantum Processor 4K with “deep learning” instead of the “neural networks” found in the flagship, it has Samsung’s new Real Depth Enhancer, a feature designed to improved sense of 3D-like visual space.
More important from a practical point of view, the QN90B series sets have an ultra-angle anti-glare screen. While the screen’s reflection-reducing technology doesn’t exactly match what you get with the company’s new The Frame TVs, it works very effectively to reduce glare in rooms with overhead lighting. Ultra Viewing Angle also manages to widen the “sweet spot” of the view to accommodate viewers in off-center seats.
We conducted our hands-on test of a 65-inch QN90B during a day visit to Samsung’s facility in Northern New Jersey, where we were left in seclusion to let the TV go through the ringer. In addition to running a full range of video measurements, we were able to spend enough time viewing reference Ultra HD Blu-ray discs using an Oppo UDP-103 player.
Price and availability
The 65-inch QN90B we tested is part of Samsung’s 2022 TV series. This series is offered in a wider range of sizes than the company’s other Neo QLED models, with screens ranging from 43 inches to a massive 98 inches (the 98-inch model is currently only available in the US). Not surprisingly, the price of the largest QN90B is $10,000 higher than its 85-inch sibling — a drift that suggests buying a projector/display combo to achieve that image size would be a much better choice from a value perspective. .
Current prices for Samsung’s QN90B TVs are listed below. All models are now available.
- The 43-inch QN90B costs $1,199 / £1,399 / AU$1,795
- The 50-inch QN90B costs $1,599 / £1,499 / AU$2,295
- The 55-inch QN90B costs $1,899 / £1,999 / AU$2,695
- The 65-inch QN90B costs $2,599 / £2,799 / AU$3,595
- The 75-inch QN90B costs $3,499 / £3,699 / AU$4,795
- The 85-inch QN90B costs $4,999 / £5,499 / AU$6,495
- The 98-inch QN90B costs $14,999
Design and Features
While QN90B series TVs lack the “Infinity Screen” design of the upgraded QN95 models, the black border around the screen is thin enough to almost disappear while watching. Samsung calls the design of the QN90B NeoSlim, and the kit’s slim, slightly curved back panel supports that label. An included iMac-style table-top stand with bending plate provides firm support and offers enough space to place an average slim-sized soundbar below the screen.
Another way the QN90B series differs from Samsung’s QN95 models is the presence of on-board video connections instead of an external One Connect box for A/V connections. All four HDMI ports handle video up to 4K/144Hz at a high frame rate, and other advanced features such as ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), HDMI eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), fast switching and Freesync Premium Pro are supported. For those who want to take advantage of free terrestrial broadcasting, the set has a built-in ATSC 3.0 digital TV tuner.
As you would expect from a Samsung TV with a “QLED” label, the LCD panel used by the QN90B series features a quantum dot layer for expansive colors. On-site measurements confirmed 99.9% coverage of Rec. 709 (HDTV) color gamut in Dynamic mode and 92% in Filmmaker mode. DCI-P3 (the gamut used for digital cinema and Ultra Blu-ray Disc releases) coverage in Filmmaker mode clocked in at a slightly disappointing 91.5%. Given the time constraints of our test, we didn’t have the opportunity to count the local dimming zones used by the kit’s Mini LED backlighting, but as you’ll read in the Performance section, the amount is enough to make a mostly seamless provide black-to-white transitions in images.
As mentioned above, the QN90B series is equipped with Samsung’s Neo Quantum processor 4K. It supports the HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats, along with HGiG (HDR Gaming Interest Group), but, as with previous Samsung sets, Dolby Vision HDR has been left out in the cold.
Samsung’s Tizen smart TV interface tends to get hammered (see our full review of the QN95B), but to me the QN90B’s home screen didn’t seem all that much busier than what you’ll find on its competition. What really bothered me was the need to create a Samsung account to download apps – something most other TVs won’t let you do.
A big push for Samsung on its 2022 sets is the Samsung TV Plus app, which compiles a comprehensive list of free-to-stream content. While I can’t argue with free, I found the control button that takes you straight to the TV Plus world annoyingly right below the Home button on Samsung’s otherwise sparse remote. When reviewing the QN90B, I found myself frequently pressing the TV Plus button instead of the Home button. This usually caused a 90s rap or grunge music video to pop up on the screen and I had to scramble to remove it.
Start viewing test patterns through a 4K signal generator and the Spears & Munsil UHD HDR Benchmark disk, a 100% full-screen white pattern, and a lower-level gray pattern both showed a slight amount of color tint and non-uniform brightness, although I can’t say I noticed the same problem when watching regular shows. Better news: the QN90B was able to maintain the brightness and vibrancy of colors at viewing positions up to 45 degrees off center, demonstrating the effectiveness of the Ultra Viewing Angle feature. I was also impressed with how good photos looked with overhead lights on—that anti-glare screen in action—although I did most of my evaluation with the room lights off.
While we measured the TV in Filmmaker (and Dynamic) mode, Movie mode turned out to be a better place to start adjustments. The colors in Filmmaker mode were mostly accurate, but there was a high level of black “crush” that obscured details in shadows. This was less of an issue in film mode, which provided equally accurate colors, although I still had to improve the set’s Gamma setting from the BT.1886 standard and increase the Shadow Detail setting to extract all the details from the shadowy darkness.
The QN90B’s maximum image brightness measured on a 10% white window in dynamic mode was a whopping 2,430 nits – far more than enough to deliver the goods with the most HDR content. Other measurements showed that the input lag with a 4K test signal generator was an excellent 9.8 ms (milliseconds) and 12 ms with a 1080p source, both in Game mode.
Switching back to the more eye-friendly movie view mode of the QN90B, I watched a few segments from the 2021 James Bond movie No time to die. This drive looked almost breathtakingly good on the Samsung, with sunlit scenes shot in Italy revealing a wide range of detail and subtle colors. The set also excelled in the dark scenes that take place in Havana, Cuba, with shadows transitioning to true black, but with plenty of shadow detail visible.
Color-infused, CGI-heavy movies like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also appeared on the screen of Samsung in a pleasant way. The sequence set on Ego’s planet, for example, featured a vibrant array of greens and reds, and in other scenes Yondu’s skin came across as a deep, satisfying blue. I noticed a slight amount of backlight-related bloom in the film’s black mailbox bars; this led me to check it further for a few torture test clips from the Spear & Munsil disk, where I noticed blooms in a few cases. For the most part, though, I wasn’t bothered by the (very) occasional breach during my QN90B viewing session.
Encouraged by what I saw in the Havana series of No time to dieI then looked Dune and was…disappointed. Black bars in the dark scenes of the film remained solid black, but the image lacked the overall visual punch I’d expect from a 4K/HDR presentation, even a relatively dark one like Dune† Switching the TV’s local dimming preset from High to Medium helped a little here, but not by much. More difficult was a relatively high level of noise, even after I switched to Filmmaker, an image mode that disables most types of image processing.
To check myself, I shot another dark looking 4K/HDR movie, the batter† Deep blacks came across well on this disc too, but there was much of the same flat and noisy quality, with raised shadows, that I’d seen with Dune† Interestingly, both films were shot digitally (by the same cinematographer, Greig Fraser), transferred to film, and then digitally transferred again to achieve a unique look. Was this post-production wizardry the cause of the problem? If I had had more time to dig into the QN90B and compare it to another TV, I probably would have come to a more satisfactory conclusion, but for now I’ll just say that both Dune and the batter didn’t look that great on the Samsung.
Since I spent most of my time with the QN90B on video, I didn’t get a chance to mess with the audio features much. Still, I had the volume turned up relatively high and I didn’t notice any cut off dialogue or unnecessary tension from loud movie sound effects. The set has some Samsung-specific audio features like Object Tracking Sound, Q-Symphony (let the built-in 2-channel, 40-watt audio system work with one of the company’s soundbars) and Active Voice Amplifier. And along with its HDMI eARC connection, it has a Bluetooth audio output for a wireless connection to a soundbar or headphones.
At $2,599 (and £2,799 / AU$3,595), Samsung’s 65-inch QN90B is hardly a casual purchase, and it faces a lot of competition from OLED kits and other mini-LED-backlit LCD units. But at $800 less than the similarly sized QN95B model, the QN90B strikes us as a relatively good deal in the rare realm of high-end Samsung TVs.
Although our hands-on test of the QN90B was more hit-and-run than we would have liked, we ended up walking away, mostly impressed. The picture is clear, the colors vibrant and the local dimming performance of the Mini LED backlighting is what you would expect from a high-end TV. The QN90B struggled somewhat with darker films, and that’s something we’ll be happy to explore in a future full review of Samsung’s next-to-flagship Neo QLED 4K TV offering.
- Looking for something else? Check out our guide to the best TVs available right now