Samsung Frame TV: When the screen's your canvas

The television used to be called the idiot box earlier (some still call it that). Today, we keep talking about smart TVs (and various contraptions that could make the “dumb” ones smart). With Samsung’s Frame TV (Rs 2.74 lakh for the 55-inch one), it seems televisions could get a brand new moniker.

The Frame TV impressed me at first glance. While it might look boxy and bulky compared to the sleek lines of its cousins, think of it as a mounted canvas, and you’ll understand what the inspiration is. At Samsung’s office, I saw the TV mounted on an easel (or a stand shaped such). In a room with optimum lighting, the only thing I missed was the smell of fresh paint and charcoal. 

While I didn’t mount the 55-inch review unit on the wall, I’ve seen the company-provided “no-gap” mounts and, indeed, these TVs can be mounted just like canvases. I liked the easy-to-install industrial-looking table mount that made it good to go in no time. Like other top-end Samsung TVs, this too supports OneConnect and so there are only two wires connected to the TV.

What’s more, Samsung provides a choice of frames, which need to be purchased separately, so that the TV matches your décor.

Since it was afternoon and the curtains weren’t drawn, there was considerable reflection, something the QLED range doesn’t have. When I switched to Art Mode, with some of the 100 or so preloaded artworks, it was this reflection (and the soft glow of light at night) that gave away the fact that this was a TV and not a canvas. That said, I quite liked the provided artwork in monochrome and the fact that one could subscribe to an “art store” for newer prints. A caveat: pressing the power button once on the remote while in TV mode enters Art Mode. If you want to switch off the TV, you need to keep the button depressed till the screen shuts down and this can be confusing at first. That said, it is interesting to come back home to a live canvas. The TV features motion sensors that turn on the canvas the moment you’re in the room (but this is still a work in progress). One can also project images from the phone to the TV using the app, but they need to be high-resolution ones to do justice to the screen. Photos shot with the Samsung Galaxy Note8 and iPhone X did splendidly.

I watched the Prometheus Blu-ray on the TV and while it was great, I had a slightly better experience with Samsung’s QLED line and other OLED TVs. I did end up binge-watching Red Oaks and StartUp as well as the latest episodes of The Blacklist and Blindspot. The dialogues were crisp and loud. But while watching the re-mastered Blu-ray of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, I had to connect to the home theatre for a truly cinematic experience. 

The Samsung Frame TV may not be for everyone. You might get a more technologically advanced TV at the same price point, but none that would come with pre-installed artwork. If you like your décor to be picture perfect and want a live canvas, this is it.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel