ZDNET’s key takeaways
- The Samsung S95C It’s no longer the company’s latest OLED model, but it’s still one of the best for high-contrast, bright-light OLED visuals.
- While the S95C doesn’t have the same matte-treated display as the new S95D, it still sees significant improvements over the last generation, such as higher brightness and refresh rate.
- If you want the best OLED TV from Samsung right now, this is the one to buy. Otherwise, wait for the S95D, which we expect to be a top TV contender in 2024.
Samsung makes many TVs; There is an offering for virtually every display type, size and visual preference. But what always stands out to me is its OLED model.
See, OLED panels on TVs, much like displays on high-end phones and tablets, are notorious for delivering pitch blacks and high-contrast visuals. Naturally, those dimly lit scenes in movies and games are more vivid, true to color and very immersive to watch.
Also: Samsung’s S95D OLED is the best TV of CES 2024 and the best in the world right now
On the other hand, there is also a common problem with OLED panels and that is the brightness (or lack thereof). Sunlight, overhead lamps, and any outside light source can easily blow out the vibrancy displayed on an OLED panel.
But all that changes Samsung’s S95C. This, from what I’ve seen, might be the best (and brightest) OLED TV on the market right now, and it’s probably your best option before manufacturers start rolling out their 2024 models later in the year.
Recommended by ZDNET
Samsung S95C OLED TV
Available in 55, 65, and 77-inch sizes, the S95C OLED builds on last year’s model with Samsung’s QD-OLED technology.
How is the design?
What jumped out at me when unboxing the S95C for the first time was its width, or lack thereof. The Infinity One design, as Samsung calls it, is made up of a panel that’s just 0.4 inches thick and is compatible with the company’s redesigned One Connect Box, multiple HDMI ports, USB-A and even Dolby Atmos eArc, a now-accepted TV stand. By itself vs. the back of the display.
Together, you’re looking at a sleek and fashionable centerpiece that instantly modernizes its ambiance.
The unfortunate thing is that with the 14.2 x 11.7 x 11.1-inch stand attached, it almost defeats the purpose of the TV’s slim width because you have to accommodate the decor space for the stand, not the display. Therefore, I recommend mounting the S95C instead and extending the One Connect box into a drawer, for which Samsung provides a cable.
I’ll give Samsung some points for leaving enough space between the base of the stand and the bottom of the TV for the soundbar. For all the visuals you’re getting with the S95C OLED, the back-firing speakers just won’t cut it if you’re expecting to be enveloped in the sound of buses and cars exploding; You need a quality soundbar to match. And, ideally, one from Samsung that supports its surround-sound-like Q-Symphony technology.
As I mentioned earlier, the S95C OLED impressed me most with its remarkably accurate rendering of dim scenes, especially in certain areas. Avatar: The Way of Water. Throughout the movie, there are several scenes that take place in jungles and dark environments, yet I had no trouble distinguishing Na’vi (the blue man for those unfamiliar) from Pandora’s extraterrestrial props.
Also: The best Samsung TVs you can buy: 8K, OLED and more
Most of this is credited to the “QD” bit of the S95C’s QD-OLED display. Samsung has combined its self-illuminating quantum dot technology with OLED to emit more precise colors at different levels of contrast. That’s a funny way of saying that whether you’re watching a brightly-lit scene or a dark scene, you’ll be able to see most, if not all, of the colors the director wanted you to see.
The amount of detail that’s retained in the dark and little-to-no blooming is quite an achievement, but it’s the TV’s understanding of when to turn pixels off rather than automatically increasing exposure or brightness that puts the S95C at the top of the list. me
Also: The best outdoor TV for summer streaming
Generally speaking, I found the S95C’s native color profile a bit more jarring than what I’m used to. My first reactions when playing a 4K sample were both positive and negative; I loved how sharp the images looked, but the overload of saturation led me to make a beeline in the display settings to tone things down.
TV settings are adjusted In most cases Easy thanks to the carousel of presets for audio output, picture mode, Bluetooth device and more. I say “mostly” because you still have to dig into the “Expert Settings” tab to fine-tune aspects like sharpness, colors, and hues.
And if you’re not a fan of Samsung’s AI-based motion smoothing and blurring, which can work against still action movies at 24 frames per second (fps), you can make two adjustments in the same tab.
ZDNET’s buying advice
The bottom line for the Samsung S95C (2023) is that it’s the company’s best OLED TV yet, and addresses most of the problems that plagued last year’s model, including brightness issues and low refresh rates.
There’s also a good chance you’re cross-shopping between the S95C and LG’s G3 OLED. If you value the flexibility of TV mounting and freestanding, having multiple input sources in a neat, hidden-from-plain-sight compartment, and consider yourself a gamer, the Samsung is the best choice.
Samsung sells the S95C at a starting price $2,299 for the 55-inch model, with larger options available. If you’re looking for one of the best OLED TVs on the market, and don’t want to wait until the matte-treated version arrives later this year, this is the model to invest in.