A Week With Xbox Cloud Gaming On Samsung TV
I’ve been eyeing off a new TV for a while. An old relic that my wife owned since before we met nearly a decade ago had been acting as the TV for my kids in our family room, meanwhile, the Samsung we’d bought in 2016 was starting to show its age a little bit. The situation worked pretty well because I wasn’t the greatest visuals snob, and high framerates weren’t the be-all and end-all for me, but then a few things changed that reshaped the narrative. First, the mother-in-law in an act that I still cannot quite comprehend managed to leave a scratch across our best screen, then the old one in the family room gave out on us. In the meantime, I built my studio space (which you may see used for Player2 video content like Patched or P2 Plays, as well as my podcast baby, Dev Diary), and in doing so, got myself a nice new monitor to complement the work I was doing. Hell, even the Nintendo Switch OLED Model launching plays a part in this narrative. The combination of each of these events, from damaged screens to deceased TVs, a fancy new monitor that showed games well as the crispness of an OLED screen, all served as the impetus to upgrade. The scratched screen can go in with the kids, and I can upgrade to a nice new screen befitting all of my needs.
So I began to take stock of what was on the market, and assembled a list of things I’d need from my new living room centerpiece. It would need to support HDR, because my then-living room TV didn’t and my monitor showed me the value of that, as games themselves began to reliably support 60FPS, I started to actually notice the differences, so okay, a high framerate was essential. The OLED display of my Switch was incredible to me, so OLED or QLED needed to be on the table, but beyond that, what could enhance my playing experience further. As I explored the market, I noticed many of the same things, the 4K TV is of course a standard now, HDR is a given, HDMI 2.1 as well, Kayo (as a sports nuffie) is essentially everywhere now, and all the other nifty accoutrements are pretty much standard across the board. So where’s the point of difference? Cue the 2022 Samsung line and Xbox Game Pass.
The 2022 line of Samsung televisions come with an Xbox Game Pass app installed on them, and 2021 models will have it available via an update too, and it was the key point of difference between the Samsung range and its competitors. OLED v QLED is of minor importance to me, but Game Pass, well that was a game changer. Of course for those unaware, the Game Pass app allows you to instantly stream any game that is available on Game Pass directly through the app on your TV, and this sealed the deal. I’d considered the possibility of picking up an Xbox Series S for the studio, leaving me with a console in the house, and one that was in the studio immediately ready for any content I might want to make. The Samsung 65″ QN85B Neo QLED 4K Smart TV, negated that need for a second Xbox instantly, and, were it not for the fact that I’ll sometimes receive codes for games on Xbox to review, almost entirely makes the Xbox Series X that I already have redundant. Or at least it would if it worked well, and we all know the notorious reputation that Australian internet has. So how does the experience shake out?
I’m pleased to report however that with an NBN connection, not an extraordinary one, just a simple FTTN and a basic connection to the home from there, Xbox Game Pass for Samsung TVs works extraordinarily well. I connected up my DualSense (sorry Xbox, I’m still a PlayStation guy at heart) to my TV via Bluetooth, and jumped in. My first port of call was the newly released Squanch Games title High On Life. A less than ten-second boot-up, and non-existent lag from there made for a fantastic first impression, and a mini-binge later, and it was time that I turned my attention to what else was in the enormous Game Pass library. Forza Horizon 5 was the obvious next choice, and let me tell you, there are few things as enjoyable as the virtual breeze through your hair when playing Forza Horizon 5, but when you can do so without even installing the game – well that’s a game changer. Finally, another real test, a faster-paced FPS, and so I took Halo Infinite for a run, and while I got my rear-end kicked in by a group near the back-end of the game who were loaded up and ready to kick my teeth in for going in rusty, I was glad that it wasn’t a technical barrier that created my issues, rather my inability that was the sole obstacle.
Of course, it’s not perfect, my fairly standard Aussie connection, which is of course quite lame compared to other parts of the world, struggled to support my game streaming, from the moment I heard the dulcet tones of Thomas The Tank Engine emerging from the TV in the other family room – which meant my kids had fired up Netflix. I don’t blame them, as I write this, we’re all stuck in COVID-enforced isolation at the moment, but it did instantly break the ability to play through Game streaming at that point – the network just couldn’t handle the high bandwidth needs of game streaming as well as high-quality video streaming at the same time. Of course, if you also play on a Series X regularly, then you’re likely to notice a small, but still noticeable visual downgrade that comes with the streaming option, but if you’re not the most elite of sticklers for visual fidelity, then you’re not likely to mind considering the mode of play you’re experiencing.
Then of course there’s the TV itself. My god, HDR, and QLED TVs, where have you been this entire time? I’ve run each of the big three consoles (Xbox Series X, PS5, and Nintendo Switch) all through this beast, and I’ve never seen games look better than they do now. The Samsung 65″ QN85B Neo QLED sure is something astonishing to gaze upon, and it’s made the remainder of this COVID lockdown I’m currently in infinitely more bearable. Right now the barrier for most might be extremely steep, a $3000+ TV is not something that everyone is in a position to lay their hands on, but cast your mind forward a couple of years to a point where TVs such as this one have dropped in price, and newer models have launched – this point of Xbox Game Pass game streaming is getting awfully close to becoming an exciting new standard for game delivery, and I’m excited for the prospect of its continued growth and adoption.
If you’re interested in the same model of TV that I bought, you can find it at JB HI-Fi, and other retailers