Published On: April 9, 2024

Samsung S95D - Is This the Perfect TV?

Published On: April 9, 2024
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Samsung S95D - Is This the Perfect TV?

Does the newest OLED with a matte screen live up to the hype?

Samsung S95D - Is This the Perfect TV?

By Author: Eric Walasek


The anticipation surrounding the release of Samsung's latest flagship OLED TV, the S95D, has been palpable in the tech community. As a reviewer who has had the opportunity to experience some of the finest displays on the market, I was eager to get my hands on this cutting-edge television and put it through its paces.

For years, OLED technology has been praised for its deep blacks, wide viewing angles, and infinite contrast ratio. However, it has consistently fallen short in one crucial area: peak brightness. This limitation has become increasingly apparent in the era of HDR content, where the ability to display brilliant highlights and vibrant colors is essential for a truly immersive viewing experience. As a result, high-end LCD TVs equipped with mini-LED backlighting have begun to outclass OLED in terms of overall brightness and HDR performance.

Samsung S95D TV turned on

Enter the Samsung S95D, which promises to address this long-standing issue head-on. By leveraging the company's third-generation QD-OLED technology, which combines the self-emissive properties of OLED with the color-enhancing benefits of quantum dots, the S95D aims to deliver unprecedented peak brightness levels while maintaining the deep blacks and infinite contrast that OLED is known for.

If that wasn't enough, the S95D OLED is first to market with a long standing wishlist feature: an anti-reflective screen coating, a feature that immediately caught my attention due to my background in IT and appreciation for old-school matte laptop displays. In a world where glossy screens have become the norm, the idea of a TV that can deliver a crystal-clear picture without distracting reflections is an enticing prospect.

As I unboxed the S95D at my Florida testing facility, I was immediately struck by its sleek, minimalist design. The TV's slim profile and nearly bezel-less frame give it a modern, sophisticated appearance that would complement any high-end living room or home theater setup. But while its aesthetics are certainly impressive, the true test of the S95D's worth lies in its performance.

Over the course of several weeks, I subjected the S95D to a rigorous series of evaluations, testing its picture quality, sound capabilities, smart TV features, and overall user experience. I watched a wide range of content in order to assess how well the TV handled different types of material.

The results, as you'll see in the following in-depth review, were nothing short of remarkable. The S95D not only met my high expectations but exceeded them in ways I hadn't thought possible. With its unparalleled brightness, stunning color accuracy, and advanced image processing, this TV sets a new bar for what an OLED display can achieve.

TLDR;

In short, the S95D is the most impressive TV I've had the pleasure of testing in recent memory. It's pricey at $4599 for this 77" version ($3399 for the 65"), but if you're looking for the best picture quality money can buy right now, the S95D should be at the very top of your list.

The Samsung S95D is an outstanding exemplar of state-of-the-art OLED TV technology. With astonishing peak brightness approaching 1800 nits, nearly perfect color reproduction, infinite contrast, an innovative anti-glare screen coating, bleeding edge smart TV features and gaming capabilities, and drop-dead gorgeous industrial design, it's a true flagship powerhouse and statement piece in one. Minor audio shortcomings aside, the S95D checks every box you could ask for in a luxury TV and then some. It's a cinch to earn our Editors' Choice award.

Pros:

  • Sensational picture quality with class-leading peak brightness for an OLED
  • Perfect black levels and infinite contrast
  • Stunning anti-reflective matte screen coating eliminates glare
  • Sleek, ultra-slim design with vanishingly small bezels
  • Comprehensive gaming features including 4K 144Hz and FreeSync Premium Pro
  • Snappy smart TV platform with enhanced SmartThings

Cons:

  • Built-in audio lacks bass and impact
  • No Dolby Vision HDR support

Unboxing and Design

Once I had wrangled the sizable box containing the S95D into my garage for initial testing, unboxing was a fairly straightforward affair. Inside the plain brown outer box, the TV itself is well protected by stiff foam end caps and wrapped in a soft fabric sleeve. The hefty pedestal stand comes disassembled in a few pieces which easily slot and screw together.

Dreamedia banner and Samsung S95D TV

With everything unpacked, I took a moment to marvel at the S95D's striking industrial design before setting it up. The vanishingly thin bezels and ultra-slim 1cm profile make this 77" TV look surprisingly compact and decidedly futuristic. The rear of the panel sports an attractive texture adorned only with a subtle "Samsung" wordmark. At under 70 pounds, it's not too unwieldy to maneuver solo, although another set of hands is helpful for the actual assembly.

Popping the S95D onto its stand revealed superb build quality all around. The heavy-gauge metal stand imparts a feeling of solidity and provides excellent stability with no wobble whatsoever. It has an unobtrusive T-shaped footprint allowing it to fit on narrower media consoles if wall-mounting isn't an option. That said, this TV is practically begging to be wall-mounted - the uniform thinness would make it sit nearly flush.

S95D TV rear view

Bucking recent trends, the S95D still uses Samsung's OneConnect box to house its ports and processing components rather than building everything into the panel. This allows for the slimmest possible panel design while only requiring a single cable run to the TV.

The OneConnect has a decent selection of inputs: 4 HDMI 2.1 (one eARC), 3 USB, Ethernet, optical audio, and coax.

Unfortunately, the ATSC 3.0 for NextGen over-the-air broadcasts was dropped, and legacy analog video connections are absent as expected.

Anti-reflective screen and "Matte" finish

S95D TV remote

Once I got the S95D up and running, the first thing that struck me was the matte anti-reflective coating applied to the screen, especially apparent with the TV powered off. To put the S95D's anti-glare properties to the test, I left the TV in my garage, where I could easily control the amount of direct sunlight hitting the screen by opening and closing the door. With the door fully open on a partly sunny day, the TV was subjected to a significant amount of ambient light, allowing me to evaluate its performance in challenging conditions.

Comparing the Conventional VS OLED Glare free display

As I began to assess the S95D's picture quality, I was immediately impressed by the effectiveness of the anti-reflective coating. While not completely eliminating reflections, the coating managed to substantially reduce glare and minimize the mirror-like effect that often plagues OLED TVs in bright environments. The screen maintained a remarkably clear and detailed picture, even with direct sunlight hitting its surface. One of my primary concerns when I first heard about the matte screen coating was that it might compromise the deep black levels and vibrant colors that OLED is known for, similar to the effect seen on some older matte laptop screens. However, I was pleased to discover that this was not the case with the S95D. The TV's blacks remained inky and deep, while colors stayed vivid and true-to-life, without any noticeable greying or muddying of the image.

User Experience

A TV is only as good as the processing powering it, and the S95D's "NeoQuantum 4K AI Gen 2 Processor" proved more than up to the task during my testing. I immediately noticed how fast and snappy navigating the interface was, thinking 'I could get used to this' as I pondered upgrading my older Roku based system.

S95D

Samsung claims the SoC leverages a whopping 20 different neural networks for AI-based image enhancements - everything from upscaling to motion handling to color and contrast refinement. The end result is a clean, detailed, and coherent picture from any source. The 8 billion transistor processor enables several new image processing tricks. "OLED HDR Pro" promises enhanced color accuracy and luminance mapping, a claim seemingly borne out by the S95D's exceptional measured color space coverage. There's also a new depth enhancement algorithm that subtly alters luminance to create a greater sense of image depth and "pop." While it sounds a bit gimmicky on paper, I found this feature actually worked well - particularly on nature documentaries where it helped accentuate foreground subjects against backgrounds.

Apps and Software Features

Samsung's latest Tizen smart TV interface on the S95D has made remarkable advancements in terms of responsiveness, customization options, and overall features. The user experience is smooth and intuitive, with personalized profiles for each family member that provide tailored content recommendations and a convenient "for you" section that compiles favorites from all your subscribed services. The S95D's far-field microphones allow for completely hands-free voice commands using either Alexa or Bixby, enabling you to search for content, adjust settings, and perform general queries without the need for a remote.

One underappreciated feature of the S95D is its compatibility with USB webcams, which unlocks a world of possibilities for video communication and remote services. By connecting a camera to the TV, users can enjoy large-screen video calls with friends and family using the ConnecTime. Moreover, Samsung has integrated telehealth and televet services through apps, allowing you to attend virtual appointments with doctors and veterinarians from the comfort of your living room. The integrated Samsung Health app can use the camera to monitor your form, and you also can pair a Galaxy Watch 4 to display your vitals during a workout.

Samsung S95D TV options

The S95D's multi-device capabilities are also impressive, with seamless TV to mobile and mobile to TV mirroring, sound mirroring, and the ability to wirelessly turn on the TV from your phone. Apple users will appreciate the TV's support for AirPlay, which enables effortless streaming from Apple devices. The built-in web browser and picture-in-picture functionality further enhance the S95D's versatility, making it easy to multitask while enjoying your favorite content. The Chat Together feature brings party mode to movies and games, even connecting to Galaxy phones.

Ambient Mode+ is another standout feature that elevates the S95D beyond a traditional TV. Similar to Samsung's popular Frame TV, Ambient Mode+ transforms the S95D into a versatile display when not in use, showcasing art, photos, or important information. This feature allows the TV to blend seamlessly with your home decor, acting as a chameleon that adapts to your style.

Finally, the S95D's innovative Workspace feature transforms your living room into a versatile hub for productivity and collaboration. Optionally connecting a keyboard and mouse to the TV, you can effortlessly use the S95D as a large-screen interface for work or school projects, remotely accessing your PC for a seamless transition between entertainment and work. Samsung takes this concept even further with the integration of Samsung DeX, which allows you to power a PC-like experience directly from your Samsung smartphone. With DeX, you can harness the power of your mobile device to work on documents, browse the web, or even run compatible Android apps, all on the expansive screen of the S95D.

SmartThings Integration: Transforming Your TV into a Smart Home Hub

The Samsung S95D is more than just a cutting-edge OLED TV; it's also a powerful smart home hub thanks to its deep integration with the SmartThings ecosystem. In 2024, Samsung has greatly improved SmartThings with a host of new software features, including much needed user profiles and simplifying the hardware needed to get started by incorporating a Zigbee and Thread module directly into the TV.

Smart Home Hub

One of the most impressive features of the S95D's SmartThings integration is the new Now Plus dashboard. This intuitive interface appears automatically when you approach the TV, displaying relevant information about your smart home devices, such as camera feeds, indoor temperature, and the status of your connected appliances. The dashboard's card-based layout is reminiscent of popular smart displays like the Echo Show and Google Nest Hub, making it easy to glance at essential information without interrupting your viewing experience. The TV Quick Panel is another standout feature, providing quick access to core functions like turning on lights and locking doors, all from the comfort of your couch.

The S95D also introduces a new Map View interface, which offers an interactive 3D layout of your home and allows you to control connected devices directly from your TV screen. This feature, previously available only on the SmartThings app for phones and tablets, is now accessible on the TV, as well as on Samsung's Family Hub smart fridge and select monitors. With Map View, you can monitor the status of each room and smart device in your home, making it easier than ever to manage your connected gadgets.

Performance

Of course, we buy flagship TVs for their picture quality above all else, and the S95D delivers in spades. The TV's most instant attraction is its use of Samsung's third-generation QD-OLED technology, which employs a blue organic light shone through red and green Quantum Dot layers to produce its pictures. This results in a 'pure' RGB color reproduction without the need for an additional brightness improving white element used by standard WRGB OLED screens. This new technology sets the S95D apart from its competitors and is the key to its unparalleled picture quality and brightness.

To see what Samsung's third-gen QD-OLED was capable of, I queued up some go-to 4K HDR reference material: the sumptuously photographed space odyssey Ad Astra, Pixar's vibrantly colorful Toy Story 4, and the gritty noir-esque cityscapes of Blade Runner 2049.

Right off the bat, the most striking upgrade from last year's S95C is the overall luminance of the picture. Samsung claims a 20% increase in peak luminance, and based on my experience, this is no mere marketing hyperbole. The full-screen sustained HDR brightness in Movie mode during the white-washed ice planet scenes of Ad Astra was nothing short of mesmerizing, far surpassing any other OLED TV I've tested. Even more astonishing was the peak light output on smaller highlights, which approached the levels typically reserved for high-end QLED Mini-LED displays. The S95D's brightness performance is a testament to Samsung's continuous innovation in OLED technology, setting a new standard and leaving its competitors in the dust.

As I watched the vibrant neon cityscapes and rain-slicked streets of Blade Runner 2049, the expanded dynamic range was palpable. Small highlight details like glowing buttons, computer monitors, and muzzle flashes seared the screen with intensity. At the same time, the S95D aced the difficult dimly-lit interior scenes, its perfect black levels and shadow gradation rendering every detail in the darkest parts of the image without a hint of crushing. I've never seen HDR look quite this impactful or nuanced on a TV at home.

BLADE RUNNER 2049 - Official Trailer

The massive color volume afforded by QD-OLED was also readily apparent. Everything from the lush green landscapes to the saturated character hues in Toy Story popped with incredible vibrance and specificity. While the S95C could occasionally overreach in its color intensity and miss some fine gradations, the S95D's OLED HDR Pro tone mapping kept even the most saturated hues looking natural and realistically shaded. 99.9% UHDA-P3 and 85% BT.2020 coverage is outstanding.

Samsung's Real Depth Enhancer proved surprisingly effective at adding dimensionality to scenes without looking artificial. Watching the space battle sequences in Ad Astra, I noticed a greater perceptual separation between the astronauts floating in the foreground and the star field behind them. It's a subtle effect, but one that enhances immersion when done well as it is here. Combined with the S95D's higher brightness and color volume, images took on an almost three-dimensional solidity.

As much as I was enjoying the S95D's picture in a light-controlled environment, its biggest strengths became apparent when I relocated it to my moderately-lit living home theater in a typical Florida home. Not only were blacks and shadow details immune from washing out (as is typical with OLED), but the S95D's prodigious light output actually made HDR still look spectacular under daylight conditions - something you could never say before for OLEDs.

During daytime viewing on a sunny day, the S95D pumped out enough lumens to make small specular highlights convincingly sparkle and delivered enough overall luminance to maintain superb saturation. Its nearly flawless anti-glare properties also meant there were nearly no distracting reflections to speak of.

Cinephiles and creators will appreciate the extra effort done at the factory to deliver expert calibration as well as the inclusion of Filmmaker Mode, which disables all extraneous processing for a viewing experience that hews as closely as possible to the mastering monitor used by the director and colorist. It's nice to have it, but frankly, the S95D's movie preset is so tastefully calibrated that I didn't feel a huge need to utilize FM on most content. Whichever mode you choose, you can expect excellent color accuracy and fidelity. Other picture modes include the usual suspects, however the new EyeComfort feature is an interesting addition, preloading sunrise and sunset times to remove some of the blue light in the evening hours.

While the picture processing and upscaling are both fantastic, the remaining elephant in the room is Samsung's continued lack of Dolby Vision support. The S95D will accept DV signals and map them into HDR10, but you'll never have access to the full DV experience of content mastered in the format. For most viewers, this won't be a huge deal given how great the HDR10 presentation already is, but it remains an unfortunate omission in a premium TV.

Gaming

As expected for a flagship 2023 model, the S95D is a phenomenal choice for gamers. All four of its HDMI 2.1 ports support 4K 120Hz output (including one at 144Hz for PC gaming), as well as AMD Freesync Premium Pro VRR to eliminate screen tearing. I hooked up a PS5 and an Nvidia 3090 Ti equipped PC to see how the S95D handled some next-gen gaming.

Starting with the PS5, I loaded up the recent Dead Space remake. Even in Game Mode, the sci-fi horror game looked absolutely phenomenal. Every glistening pool of blood, flickering light fixture, and gruesome alien transformation was rendered in moody, ultra-saturated HDR. Details remained crystal clear even in pitch black corridors thanks to the self-emissive nature of the QD-OLED panel.

On the PC side, I ran some Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K 120Hz. The game's neon-soaked cityscapes and bustling street life looked sensational on the S95D, drawing me into Night City like never before. Fine details like the textures of clothing and puddles reflecting city lights jumped off the screen. G-Sync kept the action buttery smooth and input lag felt nonexistent.

Cyberpunk 2077 — Official Cinematic Trailer | E3 2019

Samsung's Game Bar 4.0 is a handy additional feature, allowing quick access to VRR, aspect ratio, and even HDR calibration settings. There are a wealth of gaming-specific picture presets including a new AI auto Game mode that detects the genre of game you're playing and adjusts accordingly. While this seems to be mostly a gimmick, FPS and RPG modes did indeed boost shadow details and color vibrancy in helpful ways.

Sound Quality

If there's one area where the S95D stumbles a bit, it's in the audio department. With a panel this thin, there's simply no room for large speaker drivers or any kind of meaningful enclosure volume. As such, the sound can come across as a bit pinched with a notable lack of low end authority. It gets serviceably loud and dialogue is rendered with good clarity, but action movie effects lack impact and the soundstage never really opens up.

OTS (Object Tracking Sound)+ helps somewhat by adding a dimension of height and expanding the soundfield beyond the edge of the TV, but it can't fully overcome the physical limitations of the tiny speakers. Dolby Atmos content exhibits negligible height effects in this implementation. Unless your ears are completely uncritical, plan to augment the S95D with at least a decent mid-range soundbar. Something like the Samsung HW-Q700B would pair nicely.

That said, the S95D's audio is perfectly serviceable for everyday TV watching, and a far cry from the completely anemic, unlistenable sound of some past ultra-thin sets. It's only in comparison to the stellar video performance that it comes up a bit short. Other audio features such as dual bluetooth headphone connections are nice upgrade.

Final Thoughts

After spending a couple of weeks evaluating and enjoying the Samsung S95D, I can confidently call it the finest OLED TV I've had the pleasure of testing. It sets a new benchmark for peak brightness in an OLED, finally overcoming the technology's traditional achilles heel of lackluster daytime performance. Coupled with an excellent anti-glare screen coating, the S95D delivers a true HDR experience under any lighting conditions.

But the S95D's brilliance goes beyond mere light output. Its QD-OLED panel covers nearly the entirety of the demanding UHDA-P3 color space, lending colors unparalleled nuance and saturation. Image processing is truly top notch, with AI-assisted upscaling that makes even heavily compressed cable feeds look sharp. And of course, gaming performance is second to none thanks to full HDMI 2.1 bandwidth and advanced sync support.

Tizen has finally come of age as a smart TV platform that I'd consider best-in-class. The new processor makes navigation feel instantaneous, and the wealth of built-in voice control and smart home integration options are class-leading. This is a TV ready for the connected home future, and one that will keep getting better via promised multi-year software updates.

At $4599 for this 77" version, the S95D isn't what you'd call 'cheap'. But having now experienced the benefits of QD OLED first hand, I believe the juice is well worth the squeeze for discerning buyers who want the absolute best. With no important weaknesses, the Samsung S95D earns my absolute highest recommendation and an enthused Editor's Choice award. This is the new king of OLEDs.

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