The Best Samsung TVs
Samsung is the No. 1 maker of TVs and has been for 10 years, according to IHS. It’s easy to see why. Samsung sets tend to provide excellent picture quality, and most offer useful smart TV features. There’s also a wide range of options to choose from. From a 24-inch 720p set that’s $160 to an 88-inch QLED set that’s $20,000, Samsung offers an impressive variety of sizes, styles and technologies within its various lines and models of TV sets. All come with Wi-Fi connectivity and the Samsung Smart TV platform, which lets you connect to streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify as well as social media sites like Facebook.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017), Samsung unveiled its Quantum Dot LED (QLED) technology, along with a 55-inch TV that looks like a piece of art and displays paintings and photographs when it’s not on. This Samsung TV Buying Guide will help you determine which set is right for you, your space and your family’s viewing needs.
Cheat Sheet: Samsung’s TV Lineup at a Glance
|Series Name||Price Range||Screen Sizes||Best Seller||What You Get||Best For|
|M5300 and M4500||$159 to $479||24 to 50 inches||UN40M5300AFXZAThis 40-inch set costs just $379.$379 Amazon||1080p and 720p screens, 2 HDMI ports||Dorm rooms and kids’ rooms|
|6 Series (MU6500, MU6300, MU6290, MU6100)||$499 to $2,299||40 to 75 inches||UN50MU6300FXZAThis 50-inch 4K set costs $697, and has 2 USB ports.$697 Best Buy||4K, HDR Pro, 3 HDMI ports, 120 Hz refresh rate||Secondary TV or budget primary set|
|7- 8, and 9-Series (MU9000, MU8500, MU8000, MU7500, MU7000)||$599 to $4,499||40 to 82 inches||UN65MU8000This 65-inch TV will get you almost all the top features in this series for $1,600.$1600 Amazon||4K, HDR Pro and Extreme, 3 and 4 HDMI ports, 120 and 240Hz refresh rate||Those who want a great 4K picture, but can’t afford a QLED set.|
|QLED (Q9F, Q8C, Q7F, Q7C)||$1,999 to $19,999||55 to 88 inches||QN65Q9FAMFXZAThe 65-inch version in Samsung’s top line comes in at $4,000.$4000 Best Buy||4K, HDR 10, 4 HDMI ports, 240 Hz refresh rates||Those who want the best Samsung has to offer.|
|The Frame and Serif||$1,499 and $1,999||40, 55 inches||UN55LS003AFXZAThe Frame is the newer and more stylish of these two sets.$1999 Amazon||4K, HDR, a fancy design||Those who want a TV that looks like a picture frame.|
Full HD and Standard HD: Good Secondary TVs
The full-HD TVs in Samsung’s 5 series come with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, often referred to as 1080p. This is the resolution that broadcast TV, streaming internet and most Blu-ray use, which makes these types of TVs good secondary sets for a guest bedroom or kids’ playroom.
Keep in mind, though, that these models are poised to become obsolete as both the price on 4K ultra-HD sets continues to drop and as movie and broadcast TV studios continue to roll out more ultra-HD content.
If you’re looking for a long-term purchase and/or a new TV for the main room of your home, a 4K UHD TV is a better investment. After all, a 40-inch MU6300 is $499.99, while a 40-inch M5300 with 1080p resolution is only $100 less -- and it lacks 4K Color Drive, HDR technology, a third HDMI port and a refresh rate that can keep up with sporting events or video games.
The same is true of Samsung’s HD TVs (the 4 series), which come with the resolution found on standard-definition TV and DVDs. These sets range from 24 to 32 inches, making them a good size for a kitchen, dorm room, small bedroom or sunroom, where the ability to watch a movie or catch a game is more important than picture or sound quality. But they’re not what you want for your main TV.
|5 Series||4 Series|
|Size(s)||50; 49; 40; 32||32; 28; 24|
|Price(s)||$479.99 to $279.99||$229.99; $199.99; $159.99|
|Sound Output (watts)||20||10|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 (1080p)||1366 x 768 (720p)|
|Local Dimming||Micro Dimming Pro||Micro Dimming Pro|
UHD: Budget-Friendly 4K UHD TVs
The 6 series drops down to Essential Black Pro but is otherwise the same as the 7 series, as it includes UHD Dimming, 4K HDR Pro and 4K Color Drive Pro (MU6500 and MU6300 only).
These offer more affordable Samsung 4K UHD TVs for living room setups or, with smaller models, for bedrooms, kitchens or other parts of the house where you want a secondary TV but don’t want to compromise quality.
Here’s a comparison of the various 6 Series Samsung UHD TVs. Again, Samsung Smart TV, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and 4K resolution are features for each model. Also, the list includes only the M class of 4K UHD TVs that Samsung released in 2017.
|6 Series||6 Series||6 Series||6 Series|
|Size(s)||65; 55; 49||75; 65; 55; 50; 43; 40||75||58|
|Price(s)||$1,299.99; $799.99; $699.99||$2,299.99 to $499.99||$2,299.99||$899.99|
|Blacks||Essential Black Pro||Essential Black Pro||Essential Black Pro||Essential Black Pro|
|Colors||4K Color Drive Pro||4K Color Drive Pro||4K Color Drive||4K Color Drive|
|Sound Output (watts)||20||20||20||20|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)|
|Local Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming|
|HDR||4K HDR Pro||4K HDR Pro||4K HDR Pro||4K HDR Pro|
Premium UHD: Great for Game Night and Movie Night
With a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, 4K Ultra HD TVs have supplanted HDTVs (at 1920 x 1080 pixels) as the industry standard. Though these sets have the same resolution as Samsung’s QLED series, they lack the advanced quantum-dot technology that produces such vivid colors and blacks.
The three series of Samsung 4K UHD TVs includes some high-end sets with the motion-refresh rate and color pallette that make them great for watching sports, playing video games or sitting down to watch the latest blockbuster movie. (As with the QLED line, Samsung Smart TV, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and 4K resolution are standard features for each model.)
- The 9 Series (MU9000) features the 4K HDR Extreme format, along with Triple Black Extreme and 4K Color Drive Extreme technology. These are a step down from what the QLED provides but nonetheless offer a wide range of color shades, including blacks. It also matches the Q7F in sound output. If QLED technology is outside your budget, then the MU9000 is a good alternative.
- The 8 Series takes a step down from the 9 series with Triple Black and UHD Dimming but otherwise maintains the same specs. There are also curved panel options, which give people sitting at an angle a better view of the screen. Finally, the 49-inch MU8000 is the first Samsung set to come in below $1,000, as well as the first set that might be a better fit for smaller living rooms or for master bedrooms.
- The 7 Series reduces speaker output to 20 watts, HDMI ports to three and motion refresh rate to 120. It also scales back to 4K HDR Pro and Essential Black Pro.
Here’s a breakdown of the specs for the 9, 8 and 7 series. The list includes only the M class of 4K UHD TVs that Samsung released in 2017; the older K and J classes are not listed.
|9 Series||8 Series||8 Series||7 Series||7 Series|
|Size(s)||75; 65; 55||65, 55||82; 75; 65; 55; 49||65; 55; 49||65; 55; 49; 40|
|Price(s)||$3,499.99; $1,999.99; $1,499.99||$1,699,99; $1,199.99||$4,499.99 to $999.99||$1,499.99; $1,199.99; $899.99||$1,399.99 to $599.99|
|Blacks||Triple Black Extreme||Triple Black||Triple Black||Essential Black Pro||Essential Black Pro|
|Colors||4K Color Drive Extreme||4K Color Drive Extreme||4K Color Drive Extreme||4K Color Drive Pro||4K Color Drive Pro|
|Sound Output (watts)||40||40||40||20||20|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)|
|Local Dimming||Supreme UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming|
|HDR||4K HDR Extreme||4K HDR Extreme||4K HDR Extreme||4K HDR Pro||4K HDR Pro|
QLED: Perfect for Home Theaters
Samsung’s high-end sets use a technology called QLED; an array of quantum dots emit color in a narrow wavelength to enhance the color produced by LED lights. Quantum dots have a radius between 2 and 6 nanometers.
When light from an LED hits a quantum dot that emits red light, for example, the resulting red is richer and more vibrant than it would be from an LED alone. This makes QLED sets an especially good option if you like bright and bold colors. However, because these sets use LED backlights, which dim but don’t turn off completely to create black, they don’t display as deep a black color as an OLED set (organic light emitting diode).
Samsung offers four QLED TV series, with models that range in size from 55 to 88 inches and in price from $1,999.99 to $19,999.99. The following are standard on all of the models:
- The Samsung Smart TV platform, which lets you connect to streaming services, social media sites and the web.
- Four HDMI ports, which will let you connect streaming devices, sound systems and video game consoles, along with three USB ports and one Ethernet port.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
- A frame refresh rate of 240 Hz (per second), which is optimal for capturing the fluid motion of sports or video games.
- 4K UHD (ultra-high definition) resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
- Supreme UHD Dimming, which improves the contrast between light and dark areas in a scene.
- The HDR (high dynamic range) 10 format, which makes it possible for the sets to display more than 1 billion colors and eliminates the bands between shades of colors in an image.
The chart below highlights the key differences between the Samsung QLED TVs.
|Size(s)||88; 75; 65||75; 65; 55||75; 65; 55||65; 55|
|Price(s)||19,999.99; 8,999.99; 3,999.99||4,999.99; 3,499.99; 2,499.99||4,499.99; 2,799.99; 1,999.99||2,999.99; 2,199.99|
|Blacks||Elite Black+ with Infinite Array||4K Elite Black||4K Elite Black||4K Elite Black|
|Colors||Q | 4K Color Drive Elite||Q | 4K Color Drive Elite||Q | 4K Color Drive Elite||Q | 4K Color Drive Elite|
|Sound Output (watts)||60||60||40||40|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)|
|Local Dimming||Supreme UHD Dimming||Supreme UHD Dimming||Supreme UHD Dimming||Supreme UHD Dimming|
|HDR||HDR 10||HDR 10||HDR 10||HDR 10|
The Q9F comes out on top when it comes to speaker output, displaying blacks and in minimizing thickness. The 75-inch Q7F is 2.1 inches deep without a stand and 16.1 inches with a stand, while the 75-inch Q9F is 1.0 inch and 12.8 inches, respectively. In other words, the Q9F is the series you want if space is at a premium and you want the most vivid blacks possible.
Make no mistake, though: Any of Samsung’s QLED TVs would instantly turn a living room or den into a home theater that the neighbors would envy.
Frame and Serif: TVs That Look Like Pieces of Art
Also announced at CES 2017 and described as “lifestyle TVs,” Samsung's Frame TV and Serif TV series appeal to consumers who want something that looks less like a TV and more like a piece of art.
Frame TV, as the name implies, looks like a framed piece of art. It’s 8 inches thick and hangs flush with the wall. Customizable wood or metal frames are available. When it’s not being used as a TV, it displays paintings, prints or personal photographs. The Frame TV is clearly a conversation piece, even when it’s off.
Serif TV, meanwhile, was designed in Paris and has been available in the United States for about a year. In profile, the set looks like a capital I, which is where the set gets its name. It comes with detachable legs, which allows it to be set up like a piece of art on an easel, or can be set on a shelf or an entertainment center. There’s also a magnetic fabric cover that hides the inputs in the back, so the TV can be the centerpiece of a room. The Serif TV is a unique look that’s not for everyone.
Here’s a comparison of the Frame TV and Serif TV specs.
|Blacks||Essential Black Pro||n/a|
|Colors||4K Color Drive Extreme||PurColor|
|Sound Output (watts)||40||20|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160 (4K)||3840 x 2160 (4K)|
|Local Dimming||UHD Dimming||UHD Dimming|
|HDR||4K HDR Pro||HDR Premium|
The Frame is the better TV, with a higher motion rate, better sound and more HDMI ports. Its specs are comparable to Samsung’s Premium UHD line, with the exception of the Essential Black Pro that’s featured in the 6 series of UHD TVs. As the Serif TV is older, it uses the PurColor technology otherwise found on Samsung’s older J class UHD sets and the early HDR Premium technology.
Both lifestyle TVs cost more than comparable 55- and 40-inch models in the Premium UHD line. You’re paying a premium for a TV that looks like a piece of art.