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Samsung QE55Q80D

At first glance, Samsung’s QE55Q80D looks a little run-of-the-mill. Its 55in screen seems a bit mundane after the mega-screens I’ve found myself gawping at in recent weeks. It uses a relatively conventional FALD (full array with local dimming) LCD panel configuration, rather than Samsung’s advanced Quantum Dot OLED or Mini LED technologies. And its resolution tops out at 4K rather than the 8K I’ve found squeezed into some of the other TVs I’ve looked at recently.

The QE55Q80D starts to look a whole lot more interesting when you see how much it costs, though. It’s currently £300 cheaper than Samsung’s cheapest 55in Mini LED set, and £600 cheaper than the brand’s 55in S90D OLED model. Of course, it will only be good value if its mid-range price isn’t accompanied by mere middle-of-the-road performance.

Picture Quality

It’s instantly obvious that the QE55Q80D’s picture quality is far from middle-of-the-road. In fact, in many ways it reminds me of the picture quality we used to get from Samsung’s flagship LCD TVs before Mini LED rolled into town. The idea that this sort of quality now represents what’s essentially the top rung of the bottom half of Samsung’s TV offering (for want of a more elegant expression) is crazy.

Particularly outstanding for a £1199 55in TV is the QE55Q80D’s phenomenal contrast range, starting with its ability to produce some of the deepest, most natural-looking black tones I’ve seen on anything below a truly high-end LCD TV. The black bars above and below wide aspect ratio films, for instance, look properly inky, blending almost completely into the darkness of a well blacked-out room. Even more impressively, on the odd occasion where a bright object in the image might cause a little backlight clouding to creep into the black bars, this light seepage remains faint enough not to become distracting.

Similarly, light ‘blooming’ around bright high dynamic range objects in the main image appearing against very dark backdrops is impressively faint, even though the picture doesn’t often aggressively dim down such bright objects to avoid blooming as some other high-end LCD TVs do. 

Despite the excellent black levels, shadow detail remains consistently good across all the picture presets. This is one area, in fact, where the 55Q80D actually works better, out of the box, than Samsung’s more premium LCD TVs tend to - though there are usually modes and adjustments on those premium TVs that can get around the problem, of course.

Making the QE55Q80D’s backlight control all the more remarkable is the fact that the screen only carries 100 separately controlled dimming zones. This isn’t a bad number for a lower mid-range TV, but it’s far short of the thousands of zones deployed on some high-end LCD TVs these days. 

There is some slight overall image brightness adjustment in ‘Standard’ mode during cuts between bright and dark shots, but this is less noticeable than it is on Samsung’s more up-market LCD TVs. In fact, unless you’re looking for it you’ll probably never notice it.

At the bright end of the contrast spectrum, the QE55Q80D punches out an impressive-for-a-mid-range-TV peak HDR brightness of just over 1000 nits. One or two sets at the QE55Q80D’s price point deliver even more brightness than this - but none of those combine it with the all-round light control this Samsung offers.

Samsung’s ‘Dynamic Tone Mapping’ system, which seeks to optimise an HDR input for the screen’s capabilities rather than just trying to track the source HDR values, mostly does a strong job too. HDR images typically look punchier with ‘Tone Mapping’ active, but not to an extent (outside the best-avoided ‘Dynamic’ picture preset, anyway) that leaves pictures looking ‘stretched’, forced or ‘clipped’ of detail and shading in the brightest areas. 

The QE55Q80D’s excellent contrast efforts combine with the TV’s Quantum Dot colour system to deliver exceptionally rich, vibrant (but also subtly delineated) tones right across the spectrum. This enables it to handle the wide colour gamuts associated with HDR content without any hint of the slightly washed-out tones you sometimes see with TVs that don’t have enough colour range to marry up with their brightness. The QE55Q80D’s intense colours, and bold-but-also-unusually-subtle light-handling, help its pictures enjoy a sense of solidity and three-dimensionality, with dark and bright scenes alike, that’s rarely seen with any mid-range TV.

One final star turn finds the QE55Q80D getting exceptional value out of its 4K pixel-count. Native 4K sources look fantastically detailed, crisp and clean, leaving you in no doubt that you’re watching 4K despite its relatively small (in a world where we now find ourselves testing 85in and 98in TVs) 55in screen. Even more startling is how close HD sources look to real 4K tend after they’ve been upscaled by the QE55Q80D’s powerful Neo Quantum 4 Gen 2 processor.

There are just a trio of niggles to report - and two of these can be tweaked away. 

The untweakable one is that viewing angles are a little limited, with backlight clouding around bright objects becoming much more noticeable if you’re more than about 30 degrees off axis. 

The first fixable one concerns the default ‘Auto’ setting for the QE55Q80D’s ‘Picture Clarity’ settings. This unhelpfully adds noise reduction to 4K images and heavy-handed motion processing to 24 fps film sources that both make images look processed and unnatural. The solution is to turn off all noise-reduction for 4K sources, and choose a ‘Custom’ mode for motion-processing where judder and blur-reduction elements are both set to around level 4.

The other fixable issue is that all picture presets can sometimes add a slightly salmony tone to some white- or skin-tones. Running the built-in Smart Calibration routine with your mobile phone helps with this - or, if you can’t be bothered with that, even just nudging the ‘Tint’ setting a couple of notches towards green helps.

With these out-of-the-box bits and bobs sorted, you can rest assured that you’re left with a picture from the 55Q80D that punches way above its lower mid-range weight. 

Sound quality

The 55Q80D delivers a promising 40W of power through a 2.2-channel configuration, with Dolby Atmos decoding on board - and happily it makes these handy specs count, with one of Samsung’s best TV audio performances to date.

For starters, its mid-range is surprisingly spacious, extending further into both low and high frequencies than is common with integrated TV speaker systems. There’s an engagingly rounded tone to all the sounds that emerge from this expansive mid-range too, and all but the very brightest trebles avoid harshness, while deep bass rumbles are handled without crackling or ‘phutting’ distortions. 

There are TVs out there that deliver more bass and raw volume than the 55Q80D, of course. But often those TVs struggle to keep their bass in balance with the rest of the soundstage, and can suffer from various distortions, break-ups and cabinet rattles when pushed hard. None of these issues affect the relatively genteel 55Q80D, which seems well aware of the limits of its speakers and sensibly chooses to stay within them, resulting in a more consistent, clean and, therefore, immersive sound overall. 

The 55Q80D also does a good job, within its volume limitations, of creating a large soundstage that extends well beyond the TV’s physical extremities. It uses that sense of audio space well to create a multi-layered, detail-rich audio presentation that gets at least some value out of good Dolby Atmos mixes.

Dialogue can occasionally feel a little trapped below the screen, and the sound doesn’t push forward into your room much. Overall, though, adding a soundbar to the 55Q80D is something you can consider at your leisure, rather than it being a Day One Necessity. 

Living with

The QE55Q80D is an attractive addition to your living room. While it’s far from the slimmest TV in Samsung’s latest range, it’s still reasonably trim for a TV using regular (rather than Mini) LEDs placed directly behind the screen. It’s robust, too - a fact emphasised by the deliberate chunkiness of its silver-finished screen frame.

You can also call up Samsung’s ‘Ambient Mode’ when you’re not watching the TV, so that the screen displays a photo, digitised artwork or looped video in low power mode rather than leaving you with a big black rectangular hole on your living room wall. 

The QE55Q80D’s connectivity is excellent, including no less than four fully specified HDMI 2.1 ports capable of delivering everything from eARC audio pass-through to 4K/120Hz gaming, variable refresh rates and automatic game mode switching.

Smart features are provided by Samsung’s Tizen operating system, which delivers lots of video content as well as a dedicated hub for all your connected and streamed gaming sources in a sophisticated, if slightly complicated, interface. The only catch here is that Samsung doesn’t support the Freeview Play platform, which brings together all of the UK’s main terrestrial broadcaster catch up services into one umbrella interface. Though the QE55Q80D does provide all of the most important catch up services as individual apps.

One other feature limitation is the lack of any support for the Dolby Vision format of high dynamic range. Samsung chooses to stick with its own HDR10+ format as its only premium HDR option.

The 55Q80D deserves to have us finish on a positive, though, so let’s do so by pointing out that its high brightness, expansive contrast and rich colours make it more adaptable than many mid-range rivals to the varied ambient light conditions of a typical living room.


Providing you don’t mind spending a minute or two in its menus to make sure you get the best from it, the QE55Q80D is another outstanding addition to Samsung’s 2024 TV range. And this one delivers its charms at a much more approachable price, too. 

Test samples

Blade Runner 2049 4K Blu-ray

Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s classic really shows off what the Samsung QE55Q80D can do compared with most mid-range competitors. Brightness is impressive with both the neon sign peaks and with full-screen bright shots such as those outside Sapper Morton’s place - all those ‘future city’ colourscapes are extremely vivid without losing subtlety, and the native 4K images are rendered with impeccable clarity and purity. Even the film’s immense Atmos soundtrack is handled pretty well, without the distortions, crackles or drop-outs it can cause on so many TVs.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse 4K Blu-ray

The stunning vibrancy and kineticism of Sony Pictures’ animated Spider-Man sequel looks radiant on the QE55Q80D, thanks to its winning combination of bold but also (after a little tweaking of the reds) balanced and subtle colours, and crisp (after tweaking the ‘Picture Clarity’ settings) motion-handling.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox Series X

The QE55Q80D is capable of delivering a fantastically responsive experience with the latest Call of Duty game thanks to its support for 4K/120Hz refresh rates, variable refresh rates and an ability in its ‘Game’ mode to render graphics in less than 10ms. Its sharpness, excellent backlight controls and bold colour makes game worlds look vibrant and immersive. 

What the press say

Why you should buy it

While it’s not as bright or quite as pristine with its out-of-the-box colour performance as Samsung’s premium TVs, the lower mid-range 55Q80D retains more of the brand’s processing and backlight prowess than you’ve any right to expect at this price. Its excellent pictures are joined by one of Samsung’s most powerful sound systems, too, and the set’s at least as good for gaming as it is for video.

Video review

Pair it with

While the Samsung QE55Q80D does a better job of upscaling HD sources than the vast majority of TVs in its class, it still thrives on native 4K content. Especially 4K HDR content. So, if finances allow, be sure to sign up to the top tiers of 4K, HDR-capable streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video.

But good though today’s streaming services can look, they’re still no match for a well-mastered 4K Blu-ray. If you can add a 4K Blu-ray player and a commitment to buying 4K Blu-rays to your budget, look at Panasonic’s UB820 or UB450 players. I recommend these Panasonic models specifically because, unlike many rivals, they support the HDR10+ format that’s supported by Samsung’s TV.

While the QE55Q80D’s own speaker system sounds quite good, it’s always worth considering a soundbar. And given that Samsung soundbars can provide exclusive features with Samsung TVs, such as adding the TV’s speakers to those of the soundbar rather than the soundbar just taking over, you might want to consider a Samsung Q990D, Q930D or more affordable Q800D. 

Alternatives to consider

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