Samsung S95D QD-OLED review: Matte screen for reflective rooms

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Perhaps that’s why Samsung’s stubborn Tizen interface seems so annoying? Setting up the system on the TV is easy enough (it crashes every time I’ve tried to use the mobile setup option). It looks attractive and makes it easy to connect and label devices. Yet its scattered layout can make some features overly difficult to access.

Adding the Peacock app, for example, was twice as hard as it should have been. It’s not in the App Store and it didn’t register in search unless I typed it in full. Once I found it, like all new apps, I had to manually add it to the home screen or it was hidden in the “install” window like a second-class citizen.

The main settings bar is similarly unintuitive, with various picture settings scattered haphazardly among other settings. You can rearrange things, but it’s usually easier to click All Settings to access the legacy setup window. I also experienced some odd Tizen quirks in a week or so of testing, such as apps freezing and even some audio dropouts. Unplugging and replugging the TV fixed everything except for some minor video-loading issues.

As far as credits are concerned, Tizen has a number of additional features, ranging from health and fitness apps to a split screen feature. There’s also a handy game hub with built-in cloud gaming from apps like Xbox Cloud Gaming, NVidia GeForce Now and Amazon Luna. Like most competitors, it also has a dedicated gaming bar for on-the-fly adjustments.

A (mostly) full package

Samsung’s Gaming Hub completes the S95D’s impressive collection of gaming features, including VRR (variable refresh rate) and FreeSync Pro for stunning high-frame-rate gaming, and ALLM (auto low latency mode) for faster input response. All four HDMI 2.1 inputs support high refresh rates up to 144 Hz to match high-frame-rate gaming from PCs, and there’s a range of game-oriented picture modes to make it easy to lock in a great picture.

The TV’s 4.2.2-channel audio system delivers surprisingly solid sound. With some moderate punch in the lower midrange and great overhead extension (especially for a TV this thin), the Dolby Atmos effect shoots overhead and side to side. Adding a new Samsung soundbar with Q-Symphony lets you use both devices simultaneously.

Other features include options like Amazon Alexa or Samsung Bixby voice control, Apple AirPlay streaming, and support for HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) HDR formats.

You don’t get Dolby Vision HDR or, strangely for a company that makes Android phones, Chromecast streaming support. These omissions are common in Samsung devices, but every year I hope they’ll eventually add them.

The main advantage of skipping Dolby Vision is that you don’t have to tinker with a picture setting, not that you’ll need to do much to the picture settings anyway. The TV looks almost flawless in Filmmaker mode, with only minor tweaks needed. Movie mode is also great for those who prefer a slightly brighter picture, although you may want to turn off settings such as motion smoothing. Whatever your settings, you’ll need to make sure the oddly inaccurate Intelligent mode is turned off.

Internal reflection

Samsung’s new anti-glare screen technology is the S95D’s most striking feature and works well compared to other similar options. As previewed at Samsung’s TV event in March, the matte surface is incredibly effective at reducing reflections, even when light hits the screen directly from a few feet away.

There is a trade-off to eliminating glare. Part of the beauty of a completely black screen on which pixels pop only on demand is that: perfect black. With a matte screen, lights or reflections are not as obviously eye-sore as with traditional screens, but they don’t disappear completely. The screen diffuses but spreads some reflections over a wider area, changing its background from shiny obsidian to pale charcoal.

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