Television makers try something new every year to sell more sets. We've gone from 3D to curved screens, high resolution and now... Samsung's thinks art is it, with its Frame TV.
That means no more outlandish sci-fi design: the Frame tries instead to blend in with the rest of the stuff in your home and it kind of works, as long as you don't find a big 55 or even 65-inch screen obtrusive.
An interesting design feature is the, uh, frame that you can clip onto the Frame around the screen with magnets. Thinking I should try something unusual, I picked the Beige Wood because I've never seen a beige wood TV before.
The beige frame looks a little too "plood" but being able to change the colour (walnut and white are also available) might appeal, but you pay $300 for the privilege. More useful for aesthetic purposes is the ability hang the Frame flush with walls, and the minimal amount of cables snaking out from the set - there are just two, power and the thin fibre-optic wire to Samsung's One Connect console, which is what your devices plug into.
My 55-inch review set looked great otherwise, just a straight slab really with fairly thin bezels, no blinky lights or garish logos. Full marks there.
Mercifully, TV makers have put their sets on a diet and the 55-inch Frame weighs only 18.6 kilos making it easy to handle without a few weeks in the gym first.
Setting up the Frame is very easy, with most tasks taken care of you. The one annoyance is trying to sign into your Samsung account and entering usernames and passwords with remote using an on-screen keyboard which is for the birds as my American friends say.
While the default settings for the Frame work pretty well, if you do want fine tune almost every aspect of the image and sound quality, that's possible too with the advanced controls.
Once the Frame's up and running and you have updated its Tizen Linux-based operating system with a clean, easy to use interface, you can admire the many beautiful pieces of art that come with the Frame.
The idea is that the Frame doubles up as a changeable painting hanging on your wall. It is nice to have art to look at, instead of the usual big black screen of nothingness. That said, the art itself loses quite a bit in the translation from canvas and photos to a digital screen, and the colours, especially the whites, are a bit strange. There's a motion sensor that switches off the art display when you leave the room, to save power.
This is a 4K TV which means the LED screen has 3840 by 2160 pixel resolution. You also get 10-bit colour for smoother gradations between hues, high dynamic range (HDR) for more lifelike colours, brightness and motion sensors and fast 100Hz refresh rate that can double to 200Hz for smoother motion.
It costs a shade under four grand, $3,988, which means there are TVs out there with a similar feature set and which cost less, from Samsung as well. Don't forget to add the cost of the optional frame to the err, Frame, as well.
The reason you spend that much money on a TV is the image you get and the Frame is excellent. High dynamic range 4K content on Netflix for instance is very lifelike, and the Frame upscales lower-res content quite well.
Sounds from the built-in 40 Watt stereo speakers clear and loud too.
Samsung's right to try to design TVs so that they fit in with your home rather than dominate the space they're in, and in the long term it's a nicer, more useful gimmick than say 3D. You do pay a premium for the effort though which I think still needs a bit more work.