Samsung’s new compact OLED TV earns high praise despite absence of Dolby Vision HDR

lacking Dolby Vision HDR, Samsung, small OLED TV, winner

Samsung is set to release its new OLED TVs in 2024, and what’s interesting is that these models will be smaller than 55 inches. The Samsung S90D model range will include 42-inch TVs (available in the US only) and 48-inch TVs (available in the US & UK). Unlike the previous model, the S90C, which used QD-OLED panel technology, the upcoming S90D models will have the same kind of OLED panel found in LG’s OLEDs.

One concern that arises with these new Samsung TVs is the absence of Dolby Vision HDR. Dolby Vision is known for making HDR content look great on screens with lower brightness levels. However, after spending some time with the 48-inch Samsung S90D, it seems that the lack of Dolby Vision may not actually be an issue. The TV delivers bright and rich images, handles challenging HDR scenes well, and even offers impressive sound quality. With its impressive specs and performance, the Samsung S90D could potentially give other 48-inch TVs a run for their money.

During my testing of the 48-inch S90D, I used my own selection of movies and also used the Spears & Munsill test disc, which is essential for evaluating TVs. The TV performed exceptionally well in dark scenes, displaying nuance and texture in areas near light patches. Additionally, its brightness was sufficient for high-quality HDR content. Typically, smaller OLEDs tend to be less bright than larger ones, but the 48-inch S90D seems to have addressed this issue by using a screen that is brighter than previous models.

The color reproduction on the S90D is rich and vibrant, yet still feels controlled and realistic. Skin tones in the movie Oppenheimer looked true-to-life, and the level of detail showcased the film’s original quality. This shows that the TV is capable of delivering accurate and visually pleasing images.

One major concern for me was the absence of Dolby Vision on these TVs. Dolby Vision, along with other HDR formats such as HDR10+ (which the S90D supports), includes tone mapping data to ensure that the content is displayed as intended. Tone mapping is an essential process that adjusts the brightness and contrast of HDR content to fit the capabilities of the TV. When HDR content is played on a TV with lower brightness, tone mapping becomes crucial to preserve detail in both bright and dark areas.

However, the tone mapping on the S90D proved to be impressive. Even without Dolby Vision, the TV successfully handled HDR content with minimal loss of detail. I tested the TV with different HDR formats and found that the difference in image quality was minimal. The only notable difference was slightly washed-out white tones in challenging circumstances. Overall, the tone mapping on the S90D seemed to be so good that Dolby Vision may not be necessary for this TV.

Of course, a final judgment should be reserved until the TV goes through a comprehensive review and is compared directly to other Dolby Vision-supporting models. It would be interesting to see how the S90D fares against the LG C4, which uses the same OLED screen technology. However, based on my initial experience, the lack of Dolby Vision does not seem to be a significant drawback for the S90D.

In addition to its impressive display performance, the S90D also delivers impressive sound quality. Despite not having an array of speakers around the edge like other models in the S90D range, the TV produces height, depth, and dynamic range with its built-in speakers. With the “Amplify” mode turned on, the sound remains fairly natural and does not require additional soundbars. This makes the TV a suitable option for those who prefer a simpler audio setup.

Other noteworthy features of the Samsung S90D include a 144Hz screen with support for 4K 120Hz or 144Hz gaming on all four HDMI ports. It also supports variable refresh rate and auto low latency mode, making it an appealing choice for gamers. The TV also includes Samsung’s Game Bar menu, making it easy to customize gaming settings. Additionally, the S90D is compatible with certain Samsung Dolby Atmos soundbars, offering a wireless connection and even supporting Samsung Q-Symphony to combine the TV’s speakers with the soundbar’s.

Although the prices for the S90D models have not been announced yet, it is expected that these smaller sizes will be available later than the larger models in the range. Overall, the Samsung S90D seems to be a promising contender in the market of 48-inch OLED TVs. Its impressive image quality, sound performance, and gaming features make it an attractive choice for consumers looking for a smaller-sized OLED TV.

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