Samsung wants to make your TV feel less like technology.
At least, that’s the idea behind the Frame TV: a swanky, minimalist television set that’s designed to look like a large picture frame.
The Yves Behar-designed TV was first showcased earlier this year as a sort of concept device, but now Samsung is rolling it out as a full-on consumer product. The company announced on Friday that the Frame will be available to purchase on Samsung’s site starting June 18.
As you might expect, it’s not cheap: A 55-inch model will go for $1,999, while a 65-inch model will cost $2,799. A handful of different color snap-on bezels will cost $200 for the smaller model, and $250 for the larger one.
For that cash, though, you get a TV that’s a bit more striking than the usual black boxes sitting in most living rooms.
Samsung has dabbled with this “lifestyle TV” design before — the fancy Serif TV it launched in 2015 got at a similar aesthetic. The company says it wanted to harken back to a time when TVs were more like the wooden boxes that, indirectly or not, contributed to the vibe of a living room.
You can decide whether the Frame TV looks like something you’d want. For what it’s worth, though, I was able to briefly check out the new set at Samsung’s offices in New York earlier this month, and I can say that the TV is, in fact, nicely put together. You can still tell it’s a TV when you see it planted among actual picture frames, but it certainly feels less like a gadget.
To be clear, the Frame is still a LED Samsung TV at its core. It’s got a sharp 4K resolution, and it supports HDR10, which’ll give it more life-like colors with compatible content. There is some level of local dimming — a type of screen tech that boost contrasts and creates a more vibrant image — though it’s not as deep as on other Samsung TVs. There are a host of ports for HDMI, USB, and Ethernet, too, and the central smart TV interface is the same as it’d be on any other Samsung TV.
I’d have to spend more time with the Frame to make any judgments about picture quality, but Samsung likens it to the quality of its MU8000 series. So, it should be a step below the company’s highest-end TVs — which use a special “QLED” technology for better colors — and instead sit in the upper mid-range area. Everything looked more than pleasant in my demo; just know that you’re paying for the design first and foremost.
The big hook here is something Samsung calls “Art Mode.” The idea is that, when you’re done actually watching TV, you can flip the Frame TV into a separate mode that’s explicitly for displaying digital paintings and photos.
Samsung says the Frame comes with about 100 works of art from a few dozen artists and photographers by default. You can add your own photos through the USB port or Samsung’s Smart View app, which lets you beam content from your phone to the TV, though there’s no integration with photo apps like Instagram or Flickr.