Review: Samsung The Frame TV
Samsung’s Frame TV (Rs2,74,900 onwards) converts, as the name suggests, into a picture frame when you are not using it to watch TV. It was unveiled as a concept television at the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 in January.
To resemble a picture frame hanging on a wall, the bezels have straight lines and a matte finish to eliminate reflections. These elegant side spines are flat and similar to the wood frame you would usually see for a high-end canvas painting. It has a gap-less wall mount that almost completely eliminates the space between the TV and the wall. The Frame can also be installed on a table stand.
This television has been created in collaboration with award-winning Swiss designer Yves Béhar.
Samsung lets you customize the colour of the frame—the default is the darker black colour, but you can buy wood-frame finishes in white, walnut and beige wood (prices are Rs13,990 for a 55-inch TV and Rs16,990 for a 65-inch TV), if you need to match it with the other pieces of art adorning your walls.
The Art Mode is the most exciting aspect of The Frame TV—and it may, of course, well be the reason you would buy it in the first place. For it lets you select paintings, digital prints and photographs that will be displayed on the screen. More than 100 options are pre-loaded on The Frame TV, across categories such as patterns, landscape, still life, urban abstract, architecture, action, digital art, architecture, drawing and wildlife. This categorization makes it easier for you to pull out any particular category of images you want The Frame TV to display when you have guests.
There are multiple viewing customizations for the art slide show. For instance, you can select the sort of layout you want in terms of the border, the photo aspect ratio and layout as well as matte colour filters.
All the art is categorized by the artist or photographer, which is useful if you tend to follow the works of particular artists. You can also optionally subscribe to the Art Store (Rs299 per month) to download more artwork directly on to the TV. And if there is a budding art curator in you, simply pair your phone with The Frame or plug in a USB drive with art images pre-loaded. However, The Frame will not upscale the images that you share from external sources, so you will need to be careful because lower-quality image files will not look best on this high-resolution display. All the pre-loaded content that comes with The Frame is in 3,840x2,160 resolution, which is also the display’s native resolution.
The Frame is available in 55-inch and 65-inch variants, with edge-lit LED panels. The display panel is not even slightly reflective once switched on, which makes it very comfortable to use in a living room, for instance. It ticks off most of the boxes for a high-end TV, including high dynamic range (HDR). For native 4K content, the detailing and colour brilliance look on a par with the best rival televisions. Full HD content is upscaled well enough to retain great detailing, without the distortions that otherwise become visible when viewing lower-quality content on a high-resolution display. However, it is hard to ignore the fact that The Frame is slightly less focused on performance than its OLED panel rivals such as the Sony Bravia A1 and the LG OLED E7T—The Frame’s panel will not be able to match the richer colours and the sheer vibrancy when it comes to the more dynamic visuals, particularly when compared with the E7T.
The sound quality is genuinely impressive. Not many TVs are able to offer such good sound from their integrated speakers (the LG OLED TVs have always been a pleasant exception). The Frame’s dynamic and wide sound, as well as the generous amounts of bass that work well for movies and music, are impressive. The clarity of vocals is great too, they don’t sound shrill or too sharp even at high volumes.
The Frame is designed to be a piece of art, so it isn’t exactly top-notch in terms of specifications. The audio-visual experience, however, is impressive, and the Tizen OS for the smart TV apps remains slick to use.
It does, however, have very capable rivals in the Sony Bravia A1 (starting from Rs3,64,900) and the LG OLED E7T (starting from Rs3,99,990), both of which cannot be ignored. The Bravia A1 impresses with the futuristic design and the Acoustic Surface audio system integrated in the display panel itself, while the LG OLED E7T is a performance-oriented TV with wide HDR compatibility too. The Frame is more about a vibrant personality and less about cutting-edge technology. But if a canvas print-esque TV is not your sole requirement, the LG and Sony OLED TVs are better performers overall, and more future-ready in terms of the spectacle too.