The Samsung QE49Q7F has got us very excited here at The Grade. It’s a high end TV for under 1,300. It’s also 49- inch, meaning those with small rooms, or those who don’t want to change their living room into a full blown cinema, can finally get in on QLED technology.
It was released in 2017 and is part of Samsung’s Q7 range – the cheapest of their QLED line-ups (the others of the Q8 range and the Q9 range).
Does it deliver? You bet it does. In our review, we just can’t get over the colours and contract. We consider it to be the best value high end set out there.
It’s got all the mod cons – HDR, 4K, smart functions etc – built in. However, the real test is whether its picture can live up to rivals, most notably the OLED ranges. We’ve put a quick explainer together on the difference between the two (scroll down), but it’s very hard to say which is better. OLEDs tend to produce better blacks and viewing angles, but QLEDs pip them on colour vibrancy. If you’re after a really “fun” picture, then this is for you. If you’re after something more natural, then you might want to check out OLED.
What is easy to say is that the Samsung QE49Q7F is an excellent TV and is stylish to boot. Even at £1,299 is excellent value. If you are upgrading from a normal HD TV, you are going to be blown away by the picture.
Major retailers are selling this model for £1200 to £1300, which definitely represents excellent value. We have seen it drop down to £1,049 on the website PRC Direct and at that price it is an absolute steal. We’re yet to see if go sub £1000. You can click below to find the best price available today.
The metallic, silver casing gives a premium feel to the TV and the Y stand is a simple yet effective design. The bezel around the TV is super thin. There’s approximately 4mm black edge around the picture. Build quality is super sturdy and there is only a small bit of branding on the bottom of the panel.
Samsung has made a, not entirely successful, effort to get around the problem of unsightly wires using a “One Connect” box. This box is where you can plug in you XBox, Playstation, YouView box or any other third party devices. You can then place this where you want (within 5 metres) and connect it to the TV using an impossibly thin, clear wire that is designed to blend in with its surroundings.
However, the One Connect itself is a fairly wide black rectangle that you have to find a place for. Also, the TV still requires its own power source and, annoyingly, so does the One Connect box. Though it doesn’t make things worse, and it hides some wires around the set itself, which is a real bonus if you are planning to wall-mount the set, we’re still not sure that Samsung have found the perfect solution.
The set is pretty thin by LCD TV standards at just 45mm. However, it can’t live up to the razor edged OLEDs in this department because it still requires a backlight within its casing. However, Samsung has managed to get rid of any gap between the wall and TV if you’re planning to wall-mount it.
Any TV you buy in 2017 should be 4K and able to handle HDR content. 4K simply means it has 3,840 pixels across the top and 2160 down the side. This leads to 8.3million pixels overall – that’s roughly 4 times as many as a standard HD can pack in.
HDR, meaning High Dynamic Range, is less well known but equally important. It expands the contrast of the TV so that it can achieve brighter whites and darker blacks. It might not sound like much, but the picture below gives you an idea of the impact it can have.
Out of the box you might wonder if this is same TV you saw in the showroom. That’s because to grab attention shops often jack up the colour so you are seeing the brightest, punchiest picture possible. Our view is you should do the same right away! Why settle for anything less?
There are four default setting on the Samsung QE49Q7F
- Standard – which is, well, pretty standard
- Dynamic – instantly boosts colours and makes them really pop
- Natural – Also gives a big boost in colours, though slightly warmer than dynamic
- Movie – Much darker that others, but still with great colour. Almost has a slightly sepia tone
These last 3 settings can be a bit much for Standard Definition and probably why Samsung does not ship the set with any of these selected. However, we’re betting you bought this TV to see the best – not to compromise over SD content that is on its way out anyway. However, even in 2016 it seemed crazy that many Freeview channels were still going out in SD when vloggers could record and show their content in HD or greater on a shoestring and this still remains the case in 2017. We’re hoping that next year this will change.
You can also adjust “judder reduction” if like watching sport or are a devoted gamer. Watching Motherwell vs Celtic on BT Sport 4K there was still some was still a tiny amount of motion blur evident, as it is on all TVs, but this was pleasingly kept to a minimum. Numbers on shirts would become a bit blurry when a player was running at top speed, but the outlines of the players remained intact.
The main plus point, once you get the setting right, is that this is an incredibly bright screen (1500 nits) that has unparalleled colour and a wide range of black and whites. All of this makes the contrast really pop.
Colours are the QE49Q7F’s sweet spot. But the blacks, for the reasons we set out in “OLED vs QLED” (below) are not the best on the market. In dark scenes with a bit of light in the centre, the edge lit backlight means you don’t get the truest blacks. It’s noticeable during a show like Stranger Things. However the HDR technology still handles it excellently, and you will see a big jump if you’re upgrading from a non-HDR TV.
On a show like Blue Planet II we find ourselves being slightly disappointed when Attenborough is exploring the depths, but then we flip to a bright scene, with lots of colours and suddenly we’re back to seeing why Samsung has eschewed OLED for QLED.
It’s also worth a note on viewing angles. LCD TVs have always performed poorly in this area, but Samsung has been working hard to reduce this with its new range.
Another notable advantage of the QE49Q7F is that it continues to perform well even in really bright or really dark rooms.
Sharpness is also excellent, as you would expect from a 4K Samsung.
All this said, the bottom line is that the Q7F range has the wow factor and this is the most affordable high end set we’ve seen, with a picture than is unrivalled in 49-inch sets.
Thinner TVs have come at expense of sound. However, the QE49Q7F is actually way above the average sonically. The bass is genuinely impressive – a rarity for modern tellies. We would still recommend buying a soundbar if you want a true home cinema experience. However, you can get away without one.
Setup is really easy. The TV can connect wirelessly to the internet (you just need to select your network and put in the password from the back of your router). It can even auto detect some sources you put into the One Connect box. For example it auto detected that we had plugged in an XBox, though was not able to figure out we had connected a YouView Box (simply calling it HDMI – Unknown). We were still able to access both sources pretty much effortlessly.
The remote is easy to use too. A click of the home button brings up the Smart Menu that takes up half of the screen. Along the bottom you can connect to apps like Netflix or Spotify, or you can install more apps by navigating the “APPS”. It’s also very straightforward and done the almost iPod style navigation of the remote means its instinctive to use.
It plays well with paid for services too. For example, you can tell the TV you have Sky during setup and it will automatically be able to access Sky’s functions during using Samsung’s own remote. This doesn’t work so well for BT TV though!
Samsung are also playing around with voice control. You can hold down the button and say “Go to Netlix” and it will understand what to do. The problem is the Netlifx app, like most, doesn’t take voice commands, so this is as far as it can take you. It’s a fun, if not entirely useful, feature.
OLED vs QLED
OLED TVs caused quite a stir when they were first released in 2013. Organic Light-Emitting Diode technology was touted as being able to reach incredible blacks as each individual pixel could be controlled independently and could emit its own light or be switched off completely (unlike traditional LED TVs that needed a backlight for panel). Fast forward to 2017 and these are still the most expensive models in the shops – and for good reason. On a casual jaunt around John Lewis’ TV department, you will find yourself gravitating towards OLED TVs. Their vibrancy and accuracy stands out above all others, barring one important exception – Samsung’s QLED TVs.
While all the major manufacturers have been opting for OLED, Samsung has broke away from the pack and favoured developing its own QLED technology.
QLED stands for Quantum-dot Light Emitting Diode. Basically this technology takes a standard LCD TV and adds another layer of “quantum dots”, meaning the set can put out an exceptionally wide range of colours. However, it does still require a backlight. This means that the black areas of the picture may still have a small amount of light bleed into them. So they can’t reach the true blacks of OLED TVs, but they can be brighter and surpass them with the colours they can provide.
The tech is likely to improve over coming years to the point where each individual pixel can put out its own light, rather than relying on backlighting. At this point, the tech will be better than anything on the market. For the moment though it is more of an evolution of 2016 technology, but it still provides some of the best colours on the market and gives OLED a run for its money.
In terms of viewing angles, OLED TVs are the undisputed king, maintaining their colour and vibrancy even if you are sitting quite askew. QLEDs can start to lose their contrast and colour saturation when you start to move off centre.
On colour accuracy its used to be a dead heat between the two. With their 2017 range, Samsung has made huge leaps in this area and we would now say they have the best colour available.
Motion blur and the dreaded “soap opera” effect is technically more of an issue on QLED TVs, but the high end models have reduced this to a minimum.
QLED TVs also don’t suffer from “burn in”. This is a problem for some OLEDs where an image can cause a permanent defect on a screen, with its “ghost” continuing to hang around on screen, if it is viewed for more than an hour or so. If you do buy a QLED from Samsung they have put in a warranty against “burn in” in the box. This is a weird move given it can’t affect QLEDs, but is likely to be a marketing move by Samsung to raise the awareness of an issue that only affects its rivals.
The other benefit, of course, is that it tends to be a lot cheaper than OLED, and in our opinion are much better value!