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Samsung’s 85-inch 8K QLED TV is now up for pre-order, but is it worth the price?

By Caleb Denison

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Signs plastered all over Berlin made it clear Samsung would show off an 8K QLED TV at IFA in Berlin this year, but Samsung’s strategic advertising tease left plenty of crucial questions unanswered. Now, with just hours left before Samsung’s press conference, details are emerging: Samsung’s huge 85-inch 8K QLED TV will be available for purchase this year, will cost less than many pundits have postulated, and will sport a blistering peak brightness of 4,000 nits.

By the specs alone, the TV has the goods to make enthusiasts squeal with delight. At the same time, many are questioning whether 8K makes any sense at this stage in the TV game.

According to Samsung, the new 85-inch Q900R will offer the company’s most advanced backlighting system to date, capable of reproducing unprecedented brightness levels to support dazzling high dynamic range (HDR) highlights. For perspective, the brightest LCD/LED TVs available today top out at about 2,000 nits, i.e., half of what this mondo screen can produce.

More important to picture quality than raw brightness muscle is its ability to produce deep black levels for contrast — easily recognizable to any viewer. Based on our experience with Samsung’s previous flagship TV the Q9FN, the Q900R TV is already in a great position to deliver impressive black levels, but it is possible the company has further refined the panel to deliver even deeper blacks. To be sure, the bigger the TV, the more challenging it is to deliver deep blacks, so we look forward to updating this post with our eyes-on impressions.

Samsung also points toward QLED’s ability to reproduce “100 percent color volume,” which, in simpler terms means the TV is quite cable of reproducing a wide range of colors and shades across a very broad range of brightness levels — another attribute we appreciated about the 4K Q9FN QLED TV.

The 8K question

Outside of contrast and color, Samsung boasts somewhat vaguely about an AI-powered 8K upscaling system paired with an 8K Quantum processor. The details around this system remain to be disclosed, but our understanding is that the more powerful processor enables a very advanced artificial intelligence system which uses complex algorithms to carefully analyze a picture at a granular level frame by frame in order to deliver a stunning 8K image, regardless of the quality of the incoming signal. This will be crucial, as 8K content is likely several years away from reaching even its nascent stages in the wild, let alone anything resembling the ever-widening availability of 4K content today, which took years to slowly advance to.

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The idea here is that the new Q900R should present any image with enhanced levels of sharpness and detail at very large screen sizes. And since screen sizes consistently increase even though living room sizes do not, this move to the next level of TV technology makes sense. With that said, this technology is, of course, very ahead of its time.

Picture quality may be the most important consideration among the target audience for this TV (enthusiasts and straight-up wealthy folks who just want the best), but Samsung’s QLED TVs best distinguish themselves from their competitors through meaningful user-facing features. Just as with the Q9FN, the Q900R will instantly recognize most connected components and automatically label inputs, automatically program its remote to operate nearly any device, automatically switch into game mode and reduce input lag when a game console is detected, and integrate Samsung’s One Connect box with Invisible Connection cable. One Connect allows users to connect all their devices to one slim box and route video signal and power through a virtually invisible fiber optic cable, making clean installation easy no need for cutting holes into the wall and routing multiple cables.

While no release date has been specified, we understand the Q900R will be available as soon as this fall. And while no price has been specified, we’d bet money that the cost will come in under $20,000.

The Q900R is available for pre-order right now via the Samsung website and will begin shipping on October 28. The price comes in at $15,000. That’s still a big chunk of change, but very much in line with ultra-premium TV pricing we’ve seen in the past.

We’ll be getting our eyes on the Q900R soon, so check back for an update to this article with further details and some revealing video coverage.

Updated on October 3, 2018: Edited to add pricing and availability information.

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