Samsung’s The Frame Tv Will Transform Your Home Into The Louvre

20 June 2020
TV, Samsung, The Frame TV, QLED, The Louvre, Technology
Samsung’s The Frame is a QLED TV with a difference. It’s meant to be looked at, even when switched off

Unless you’re cultivating a bachelor pad of Ron Burgundy-esque proportions, your TV shouldn’t be the centrepiece of your living room. Most of the time it will just sit there turned off: a gargantuan black void in search of a personality. This is how televisions have always been, but Samsung’s The Frame wants to rip up the status quo and start all over again.

More so than almost any other TV you can buy, The Frame has been made fit into your home decor rather than dominate it. How? You can customise the design of its – you guessed it – frame with a multitude of colours and when you’re not actively watching it a series of iconic artworks from The V&A, Tate and Saatchi Gallery. Essentially, it’s a TV that’s also a digital photo frame… and is much more interesting than that sounds. We’ve been using one for the past fortnight and here’s how it shapes up.

Picture this

OK. Let’s be very clear from the off, if you’re not into The Frame’s central conceit you can get an equally good TV for less money. At 42.5mm thick, this telly is significantly more chunky than your average set nowadays and it needs to be wall-mounted to best showcase the whole art gallery at home vibe.

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These aren’t really criticisms of Samsung’s newly updated sets – The Frame range first launched in 2017 in much pricier form – they’re just innate facets of their existence. In the same way you wouldn’t buy a plug-in hybrid if you only wanted to run it on petrol, you shouldn’t get a Frame if you’re not going to embrace its unique ethos. With screen sizes starting at a diminutive 43-inches and extending all the way up to an expansive 75-inches, you can genuinely meld this TV into your home instead of vice versa.

Put some curation into the artwork displayed on The Frame and there is some charm to the concept. At the very least, it gives your set a sense of personality that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. You can upload your own family photos to be displayed in jumbo-size, but paintings do a better job of receding into the background while offering some interior design one-upmanship for when your friends are round. Especially since the use of Samsung’s latest QLED screen technology means The Frame is a fundamentally sound TV as well.

Bigger isn't best

Not au fait with TV screen tech standards? Congratulations on all the great life choices that brought you to this moment. Essentially, QLED is just the name given to Samsung’s more premium TVs, which use an LCD panel to screen content. QLED TVs come in a few different shapes and sizes, but they’re fundamentally different to the OLED screen tech favoured by top tier LG, Sony and Panasonic sets.

To cut a long story short, the 43-inch Frame that we tested is a very good TV indeed and especially so to the average binge-watcher. Whether you’re viewing in 4K or HD, imagery was crisp, colourful and well-judged in the midst of a blockbuster frenzy. In a world where it can prove nigh on impossible to buy a quality small telly, The Frame has a whole lot of upside. Even though it’s not quite as bright as other Samsung-made alternatives and tends to misjudge some skin tones on its default picture settings. Generally speaking, Netflix’s Space Force desert vistas were far superior to the show’s own comedic chops, Extraction’s kinetic blood-soaked frenzy proved reassuringly smooth and the murky tones of Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe didn’t descend into grey fuzz.

So although there are better TVs you can buy than The Frame, the compromise you’re making for its more unique features is happily palatable. Especially at the 43-inch sizing ($1,500), which just suits this product’s sense of feng shui more than its larger incarnations. While a 55-inch ($,2000) Frame is still plausible, the 75-inch ($4,120) option is overkill for the concept. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re spending anything close to two grand on a new TV then you’re probably the kind of person who can ably debate the virtues of different high dynamic range formats and prizes picture quality above all else.

You'll still want a soundbar

In essence, The Frame is a more casually minded telly for anyone who’s had the “Where is it going to fit?” debate while wandering the John Lewis showfloor. From Netflix to iPlayer and even Apple TV+, it’s got all the apps you could possibly want, supports voice commands via Amazon Alexa and room-filling sound via Dolby Atmos. Even if you don’t go all in on Atmos, you’ll still want to pair The Frame with a decent soundbar to do its visuals proper justice. 

We used a Samsung Q60T ($620) soundbar and subwoofer combination to do the job, which proved a commanding duo with booming bass and plenty of fidelity when handling the chaotic action-comedy of Lovebirds. Considering our usual go-to soundbar is the Sonos Beam ($450), it made a good case for the upgrade.

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If you want to get super nitpicky, The Frame’s most obvious technical miss here is probably HDMI 2.1. This is the new-ish data transfer standard for variable refresh rates that are soon to be employed by the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. There’s also no support for 8K visuals, but that’s something you absolutely do not need to worry about, seeing as it’s nigh-on impossible to watch anything in 8K right now.

Samsung The Frame 43-inch verdict

The Frame isn’t a TV for everyone, but it might well be the TV for you. We expected to be nonplussed by its central gimmick and turned out to be charmed by it. Mainly because the “art gallery at home” concept gives your telly a personality that reflects its owner, something that’s lacking from almost every other alternative going. Also, it’s a very good TV in its own right, with 4K punchy visuals that can carry off most viewing habits with relative aplomb. Cinephiles will quibble with its shortcomings compared to some of the latest OLED sets and that’s fair enough. For the people The Frame was made for, there’s a whole lot to like here. Especially if you're looking for a small TV with a touch of class.


Via British GQ