Samsung QN88C Review: A great option for both gamers and cinephiles
The Samsung QN88C is an entry-level Neo QLED TV series that uses Mini LED backlighting. More efficient than traditional full-matrix mini-LED backlighting delivers higher HDR peak brightness and much better black level accuracy thanks to multiple, intelligently controlled zones of multiple tiny LEDs.
The big surprise is how good this TV’s performance is in terms of black depth. Even the best QLED TVs aren’t as effective at closing the gap with OLED, which still has a monopoly on true blacks. In addition, the Mini LED is immune to image retention, which is another tick on the list of wins. In the Samsung QE65QN88C Mini LED Neo QLED 4K HDR review, we will find out all the pros and cons of the new TV.
Samsung QN88C Review
Let’s start with the look. The Samsung QE65QN88C TV is not unlike some of the 2023 Neo QLEDs, namely the QN90C and QN85C . The panel is the same in terms of design and only the stand seems to have changed. In the series under consideration, it is silver-sand color. Unfortunately, don’t expect to find a Samsung One Connect Box in this model.
The Samsung 65QN88C TV uses the NeoSlim design, making it incredibly thin. This is mainly the result of the mini-LED backlight, which greatly helps to minimize the overall thickness of the case. As a result, this figure is only 2.6 cm for the 65-inch model, so it looks great on the wall.
As for its titanium black bezels, they are very thin and have the same thickness as the 2022 models. The back of the TV is completely the same as the QN85B . The panel is plastic, in the traditional Samsung style has a matte texture. All ports are grouped in a sidebar, which is located on the left side, and all look sideways. Thus, it will be easy to reach them if the TV is hanging on the wall.
At the bottom of the panel, special grooves are made in order to place cables and lead them through the central rack. The power connector, as usual, is located on the right side of the rear panel, away from the other connectors. The VESA wall mount holes are the only element visible from the rear. The Samsung QN88C TV uses a small hexagon in the center as a stand. The stand differs from the QN85C in black.
With such a stand, there is always some kind of beating, but not strong. At the very least, you don’t have to look for a wide surface to place your TV on. With this stand, the gap between the screen and the surface is about 7 cm. That is, most soundbars will fit under the screen without any problems. The included remote control is exactly the same as the S95C . It is very similar to the 2022 remote, but has lost one button at the top and has a design with more rounded corners on all sides.
Let’s start with the brightness of the contrast matrix. In a 10 percent white window, measured brightness is approximately 1000 nits for SDR content. This is an excellent indicator. For HDR mode, this value is 1100 nits. Like most modern TVs, the 65QN88C is equipped with an Automatic Brightness Limiter (ABL). This system reduces the overall brightness of the screen when large areas of the screen are too bright for a long time.
In terms of contrast, the QN88C comes with an ADS panel . This is an IPS-like panel, and usually, unlike VA panels , it has mediocre contrast. This is where the local dimming feature of the TV comes in handy. The contrast in this case improves significantly, remaining at the level of 2022 – about 1100:1. But the ADS matrix has decent viewing angles.
HDR support is another area where nothing has changed. We get the simplest HDR10 required for 4K UHD playback. There is also HLG, used mainly for broadcasting. And finally, the newer HDR10+, the most advanced HDR protocol. This uses dynamic metadata to provide the best image quality for every frame, similar to what Dolby Vision does.
In the QN88C TV we also find HDR10+ Adaptive and HDR10+ Gaming. HDR10+ Adaptive uses its AI engine to analyze viewing conditions. As a result, the brightness and contrast of the scene are optimized. Unfortunately, Samsung still refuses to use Dolby Vision on its TVs and sticks to its own HDR10+.
Color gamut and color accuracy
QE65QN88C TV, in fact – QLED, uses a special layer of Quantum Dot from Samsung. This allows the TV to display brighter and more realistic colors. Samsung claims 100% DCI-P3 color space coverage for all of its QLED and Neo QLED series. But you should never take these numbers literally as they are mostly used for marketing purposes. The actual numbers usually deviate greatly from these claims.
In our case, the measurements show about 92% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. In the wider Rec.2020 color space, we get 72% coverage, which is again very good. Before calibration, the TV has very good color accuracy, but not without inconsistencies. The white balance and color temperature are very close to their target values, but the gamma is slightly too high. More careful tuning will correct most of these errors. The color gradients are very good too, with some banding visible only in shades of white and blue.
Motion and Game Processing
Samsung QN88C TV is equipped with a panel with a frequency of 120 Hz and a backlight dimming frequency of 960 Hz. This high frequency ensures that the flicker is completely invisible, but in some modes the PWM frequency drops to 120Hz. Motion interpolation is referred to here as Motion Xcelerator Turbo+. The QN88C is able to eliminate jitter and stutter, but as usual, artifacts become visible in some cases.
If you want to improve the clarity of movement, leave these two sliders at their minimum. A value of 1 or 2 can smooth out the motion enough without affecting the blurring of the image too much. Black frame insertion (BFI) for motion smoothing is also available, controlled by the LED Clear Motion setting. The end result is very good, but due to the black frames, the brightness is noticeably reduced.
In game mode, the Samsung QN88C series shows an average output latency of 10.8ms in both 1080p and 4K at 60Hz. When switching to 120 Hz, the input lag is reduced to 5.8 ms. It’s also worth mentioning that the TV supports Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM). There is support for HGiG mode.
The QN88C is sure to include all VRR support. Thus we find HDMI Forum VRR, AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-Sync . And you can work with all of them in the new Game Bar 3.0. This is an OSD menu that allows you to adjust the screen aspect ratio in real time, check output lag, FPS, HDR, configure your wireless headset, and more.
Samsung has updated its OS to the latest 2023 release, but it’s a minor update. The new Tizen takes up the entire screen, rather than being a row of tiles at the bottom of the screen like Google TV and webOS have been lately. The new OS is trying to give you options tailored to your browsing habits. Thus, you will see personalized ads, recommendations for streaming services and broadcast channels, and even shopping offers.
The new Samsung Smart TV Hub includes various sections and makes it easy to navigate through them. The left side of the screen has a single column with several central choices, while the rest of the screen uses rows for streaming services, apps, and other available features. Navigation is quite smooth, and transitioning from one app to another is relatively quick and without obvious delays.
Voice control is possible both through the remote control and through the TV microphone. Samsung is trying to promote its own Bixby service. But if you don’t really like it, Amazon Alexa is the assistant. And if you’re an Apple fan, then there’s Airplay 2 support. Through it, you can even use Siri for voice commands.
Like most brands, Samsung has developed its own audio system for use in many high-end and mid-range models – object-tracking audio. The QN88C received an Object Tracking Sound (OTS) variant that hasn’t changed since last year. 2.2.2 channel configuration with 60W output power is used.
The Samsung QN88C model supports Dolby Atmos, but this is mainly for promotional purposes, since the TV cannot create true surround sound. If you want to get the most out of it, you will definitely need a dedicated audio system, or at least a soundbar with surround speakers. There is still no DTS support.
The Adaptive Sound+ function analyzes the content for each scene and can determine and reproduce the most appropriate type of sound. There is also an active voice amplifier (AVA). Its use detects ambient noise and enhances reproduced speech. Finally, Q-Symphony version 3.0 integrates a TV audio system with a compatible soundbar.
Starting at the top right corner, we see two USB ports, one digital optical output, four HDMI 2.1 ports (one with eARC support ), a 100Mbit Ethernet port for wired LAN connection, and the usual antenna jacks. WiFi5 (802.11ac) is supported along with Bluetooth 5.2.
Samsung QN88C is a great option for both gamers and cinephiles. The obvious omission is the lack of Dolby Vision, but excellent color accuracy and bright indoor lighting are the icing on the cake. All the key streaming apps are easily accessible, and providing a game center that integrates cloud services and connected services is pretty cool too.