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Review

Samsung The Frame TV Review: Your TV can also be artwork

A television, when switched off, does nothing. But what if you could use that blank screen for something useful? What if you could use it to display pictures or artwork, like any ordinary frame?

samsung the frame image 1

Samsung The Frame 4 5
BGR Rating :
4/5

Highlights

  • Samsung The Frame TV is priced at Rs 2,74,900 for the 55-inch option and Rs 3,99,900 for the 65-inch option.

  • The Frame doubles up as artwork or a picture frame when you aren't using it as a TV.

  • The TV is a 4K Smart LED TV, running on Samsung Smart Hub, the Tizen-based UI for TVs.

You don’t normally think much about a TV beyond the brand name, size and resolution. You might also concern yourself with what the TV does; smart connectivity, the Netflix button on the remote, and HDR compatibility for more natural-looking colors. But all of those features hinge on the assumption that your TV is, and will remain, a TV. If Samsung’s newest TV strategy is anything to go by, TVs can be more than that.

While the latest from Samsung’s audacious range is a mammoth 146-inch TV called The Wall, it’s still just a concept. However, Samsung’s ‘The’ range isn’t limited to just one rather niche and oversized option. There’s also The Frame, which was launched in India back in October last year. The Frame is an ordinary full-fledged TV when you need it to be, but switching it off brings out its signature feature. It’ll work as a large frame that can display artwork or pictures when it isn’t working as a TV. But is there more to this TV than just a feature that is admittedly not TV-like at all? Find out in our review.

Samsung The Frame Design and Specifications

As with all modern TVs, there are two ways to set the TV up – wall mounting and stand mounting. Typical wall mounting would serve the form factor the best, as that would help it serve effectively as a frame hung on a wall. If you prefer, you have the option of two kinds of stand mounts as well. The regular stand-mount available in the box uses two stands on either corner of the TV and will need a wide enough table to place it on, while the studio mount incorporates an art-studio-style three-legged mount that is placed on the floor. The latter is sold separately though.

Unlike most other TVs, The Frame is designed to look like, well, a frame. While most top-end TVs today have slim form factors and narrow borders, The Frame goes for a different look. Indeed, it’s a fair bit thicker than most similarly-priced TVs, and has a structure that aims to mimic a typical picture frame. The standard color of the frame is charcoal black, but you can also buy optional magnetic plates that offer you different color options. These are expensive, mind you, at Rs 13,900 per set.

The Frame uses Samsung’s now-popular One Connect box, so you won’t have to go digging behind the TV when you need to connect other devices. However, the TV itself does need to be connected to a power source, as does the One Connect box. This means you’ll need two power sockets for the TV itself. The connection between the TV and the One Connect box uses something that Samsung calls an ‘invisible connection’. In reality, it’s a see-through optical cable that sends data from the One Connect box to the TV. It’s a simple and elegant solution that gives you the impression that the TV is indeed an independent device, maintaining the aesthetic elements of the device.

The One Connect Box, meanwhile, can be hidden away in a cabinet, and connects to any other devices you may need to use with the TV, such as a Blu Ray player, gaming console, streaming dongle or USB drive. It’s also the device that interacts with the remote, which uses infra-red to turn on, but functions using RF signals after that. It’s incredibly convenient to not have to point the remote at the TV to get it to work, and it’s something I’ve gotten used to reviewing high-end TVs. It’s also a basic, uncomplicated remote with only the necessary buttons and controls.

The TV itself is available in two sizes – 55-inch (our review unit) for Rs 2,74,900 and 65-inch for 3,99,900. Both variants feature a 4K-resolution (3840×2160 pixels) LED panel that supports HDR playback. It’s also a smart-TV, powered by the company’s Tizen-based Smart Hub user interface. The UI comes with support for a handful of streaming services including YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, as well as games and apps. You can also use the built-in browser to surf websites directly on your TV.

The USB interface lets you play back and view videos and images from a USB drive as well. If you use the Samsung SmartView app (available on iOS and Android), you can directly mirror the contents of your smartphone on the screen, or use the smartphone as a remote. Additionally, you can directly cast your display as well with supported devices.

Samsung The Frame Performance

First things first, we’re going to talk about The Frame’s ‘frame’ feature. When the TV is switched off (although the power still needs to be on), the screen dulls a bit, adjusts to the color and brightness of the ambient light in the room, and displays a pre-set image. This can be from the in-built art and photography collection, or an image from your photo gallery. You also get a subscription to an art service with the TV, which will give you licensed access to hundreds of art and photography works by famous artists. You therefore get to choose from different works of art, based on your mood, or one of your own pictures.

The in-built collection is interesting, as are the subscription options. For art collectors and enthusiasts, it’s an excellent collection curated from various sources including Saatchi Art and Museo Del Prado, among others. While there is no built-in slide show functionality that changes the displayed image, you can do this manually as often as you like. Samsung’s Art Store does need a paid membership, but you get a free trial with purchase, and the built-in works remain free for as long as you own the TV.

We had some concerns about power consumption, and Samsung did address these. The TV uses a motion sensor to detect whether someone is in the room, and only displays the standby image if it detects presence. It also detects ambient light for this, and therefore shuts itself off at night provided you aren’t in the room. In practice, this doesn’t always work. Often, the motion detector didn’t sense human presence in the room immediately, and wouldn’t turn on the standby image. Additionally, the auto-adjusting brightness was tricky at times, and the image was often too bright for the room. These issues are minor though, and hardly a deal-breaker in this case.

When it comes to running as a TV, The Frame doesn’t disappoint. With 4K resolution, a capable LED panel, HDR compatibility and smart connectivity, it’s got all the right ingredients that make a good TV. I tested the TV with a variety of content, including streamed TV shows and videos using YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, video clips off a USB drive, and shows casted from a smartphone using screen mirroring and a Chromecast.

4K and HDR content are fantastic, as expected. However, the use of an LED panel instead of Samsung’s signature Quantum Dot LED or even organic LED means that the picture stops short of being fantastic. It’s also the reason why the TV is a bit more affordable than top-of-the-line options from Samsung and Sony. Although you’re paying Rs 4,00,000 for the 65-inch version, the 55-inch option is available at under Rs 3,00,000, which is good value for a smart, HDR-capable 4K TV from a top manufacturer. The picture is, nonetheless, incredibly sharp, very clean and good with color reproduction.

Moving on to lower-resolution content, what appealed to me most is the quality of the motion. Now, while a lot of people prefer jittery motion for the familiarity of it, most modern TVs are capable of smoother, flowing motion. I personally prefer the latter, and the Samsung does well in offering this even with standard-definition content. What does end up being predictably poor is the quality of the picture with standard definition content. There’s naturally a lot to upscale, and The Frame doesn’t quite have the sheer processing power that some of the higher-end TVs do.

As a result, you’re unlikely to be very pleased with standard-definition content, such as most television channels and low-resolution streams. With The Frame, you’ll find yourself better suited to high-definition content, which shows better on the large screen. If you’re already suited to 4K content, you’ll have no trouble at all. Essentially, you shouldn’t expect stellar picture across the board, but it isn’t poor by any means.

Verdict

There aren’t any other TVs like Samsung’s The Frame, and for the time being, there aren’t likely to be any either. The Frame is both a TV and a very flexible, ever-changing work of art. If you’re an art enthusiast, collector or just like the idea of having a large photo frame in your house, The Frame is for you.

As a TV, it’s not too shabby either, although it certainly isn’t the best on offer from Samsung. And while the Rs 3,99,900 price tag for the 65-inch variant may seem a bit high for a TV that isn’t even state-of-the-art, the 55-inch variant for Rs 2,74,900 represents better value. The Frame is definitely worth investing in if you like your artwork, and will certainly be a conversation starter when guests visit your home.

  • Published Date: January 11, 2018 10:20 AM IST
  • Updated Date: January 11, 2018 10:33 AM IST