Samsung has another TV innovation and you may think it’s not that impressive but you can’t help getting awed by the idea. Called “The Frame by Samsung,” this innovation is not a new television technology but more of a reimagining of the TV. Basically, it aims to breathe new life into the role the TV plays in living rooms or waiting areas.
Samsung is done creating banal flat (or sometimes curved) slabs capable of displaying vibrant images, serving as mirror screen for smartphones, or accessing the Internet. Now, the Korean electronics giant wants a TV+painting (or picture frame) fusion. With The Frame, the TV mimics a beautiful painting to enhance the aesthetics of any room.
A New Look for TV
Samsung markets The Frame with a witty tagline: “The most beautiful TV you’ve never seen.” In case you didn’t get it, it’s a TV you’ve “never seen” because it mimics a painting or large framed photo. Hence, you may have “not seen” it as a TV as you thought of it as a beautiful art piece on the wall. Certainly, this is not something that can be considered a breakthrough in television technology. It is more of a marketing strategy. However, it can’t be denied that The Frame is now possible because of the many advancements in TV tech.
It’s like a demonstration of all the best improvements in the good ol’ television. From the bulky CRT TVs of yore, we now enjoy power-efficient TV screens that have not only been made flat but also incredibly slim that they can be fixed on a wall and mimic a painting or a framed picture. Modern TV has also been designed to ensure efficient heat dissipation so they can be attached to walls without gaps. Also most notably, the modern flat and slim TV screens have already overcome viewing angle challenges that they can now mimic paintings on the wall, as they no longer exhibit noticeable color and contrast shifting when viewed from different angles.
The Frame is basically a combination of the following:
- A 4K 43”, 55”, or 65” TV with the option for a basic stand or no-gap wall mount
- Frame (optional, sold separately)
- One Connect Box with “invisible connection”
The Frame TV comes with all the bells and whistles of recent Samsung TVs, including 4K HDR Pro and 4K Color Drive Extreme. There’s probably nothing to complain about the colors and contrast unless you’re nitpicking on its lack of local dimming (which ensures that blacks are really blacks especially under dim lighting).
The TV comes with a light sensor so it can automatically adjust its picture to the surrounding lighting conditions. It is not an OLED panel but its quality and features should easily make it a shoo in for rankings of top LCD/LED TVs. It’s an edge-lit LCD display with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a 240 Hz motion rate.
The physical TV dimensions (excluding the optional frame) are 57.2”x32.7”x1.7” and 48.6”x27.8”x1.7” for the 65” and 55” versions respectively. The bezels of the TV are very minimal. You can install it on the wall as is or you can purchase the optional wooden frame (which results in larger bezels) to achieve a “picture frame” or “painting” look. Samsung offers a wide variety of frames to choose from. The 43” class (version) of The Frame has only been recently announced and there are no official details on its dimensions yet.
The One Connect Box, on the other hand, is a special accessory that makes it possible to install the TV on the wall as seamlessly as possible. It’s basically a box with HDMI, USB, optical audio, and other ports that connect to The Frame TV through a very thin cord that is 16 feet long. You can get an optional “invisible connection kit” to extend your TV-to-box connection by 49 feet.
A Smart TV that Emphasizes Beauty (and Novelty)
The Frame TV is a smart TV that runs on Samsung’s proprietary Tizen 3.0 OS. It comes with all the functions and features you would expect in a smart TV including the ability to install apps and access the Internet. It is equipped with a quad core processor for satisfyingly smooth operation. It also comes with the usual connectivity features you would expect in smart devices, particularly Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, and USB.
The Frame comes with an Art Mode, which makes use of its motion sensors to show paintings, photos, or artsy images when somebody is around (and when the TV is not used for watching something else). For discerning consumer electronics users, this Art Mode is obviously just a gimmick. It does not really offer anything of significant value. However, this gimmick shouldn’t be reason not to look at the creative possibilities.
You can use Samsung’s The Frame to display animated images on your wall a la Hogwarts Portraits. You can do epic pranks with it. For museums or art displays, The Frame can definitely serve an excellent purpose. Ultimately, The Frame by Samsung is all about highlighting the beauty of modern television. This product is not meant for those who seek practical functions; it’s for those who can afford to spend extra superficial attributes. It is about making the modern television not just an entertainment appliance or a status symbol, but also an eye-catching embellishment.
An Expensive Product that Could Be Better
The Frame by Samsung is not cheap. Many would even say it’s overpriced. The 55” model costs around $2,000 while the 65” costs around $2,800. The optional custom frame can be purchased from Samsung for $200. You can get a comparable TV that can serve a similar purpose by having your own bespoke frame and by installing custom apps. If you just need a TV you can seamlessly hang on your wall, there are cheaper options.
Also, you may not even have the space in your living room for a 50” or 65” screen so it would be more appropriate buying something smaller. Do a quick search online or refer to a review of the top 40-inch TVs to find better and cheaper options.
Additionally, The Frame’s ability to mimic a painting or a framed picture is not totally convincing. Because it’s just an IPS LCD panel (or an “LED” panel in marketing terms), the painting or picture-on-the-wall look is far from perfect. As one Gizmodo review writes, The Frame possesses the typical “dull glossy sheen” that can be observed in most TVs. You need to have the optimum lighting conditions and use the most suitable pictures to achieve a decent mimicry of a painting or framed photo.
It would have been better if it were an OLED panel. With Samsung’s OLED TV, The Frame can be a framed picture, a painting, a mirror, or even a window. OLED can produce a more realistic mimicry of framed photos, paintings, and sceneries viewed from a window. An OLED panel would mean an extremely steep price increase, though.
It’s safe to say that The Frame by Samsung is a novelty–a beautiful and expensive novelty item. It’s not the best idea to have come out of Samsung but it’s not an utterly bad way of re-imagining the typical television. It’s definitely not as ridiculous as having a roll-able or fold-able TV. It may just need more polishing and more convincing or pragmatic features.