Samsung The Frame (2018)
Design - 92%
Video Quality - 90%
Inputs and Ports - 92%
OS, Apps and Features - 93%
Price / Quality - 88%
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Samsung has found itself in a tough spot lately. LG has managed to cut a big chunk of it’s market share and this mostly has to do with the development of OLED technology which LG has been using the last few years for their top models and has improved it a lot lately to a point where Samsung is really struggling to catch up with the dated LCD technology. You can check our article for 2018 LG TVs HERE.
Even like this Samsung has never stopped creating products that are outside the normal trends and thus in 2017 among all the other models in their TV lineup they created “The Frame”. A special TV model that may not be aiming for the best performance but tried to create a work of art…literally. Equipped with a special frame to make it look like a wall picture and some features that accompany it “The Frame” really draw the attention because it was something different than usual.
Now Samsung has updated this special model for 2018 by offering a few more features compared to last year so let’s see what this model has to offer in our Samsung The Frame TV review.
The Frame in many ways looks similar to other top of the line QLED models. What makes it different is the frame that encompasses it with the one that comes with the TV being made from metal. There is a selection of different frames that you can buy for a price made out of wood that will give it a more realistic frame design and in different colors.
The Frame was originally announced in two dimensions. A 55″ and a 65″ one and recently they added another dimension at 43″. A design like this begs to be wall mounted so The Frame supports Samsung’s no-gap wall mount and is included in the box with the TV. For this reason also Samsung has opted to include the OneConnect box instead of adding the connection ports on the back of the TV that would be troublesome to keep a cables free design.
As a result on the back of the TV you will only find a couple of ports for connecting the two necessary cables. The power cable and the OneConnect box cable making it relatively easy to hide them no matter where you place the TV.
The Frame comes equipped with a couple of sensors that are positioned under the TV and are mostly for the picture frame mode with one being a motion sensor that detects movement in the room in order for the picture mode to function when there are people near the TV and a light sensor that measures light levels in the environment. You can adjust the TV so when you turn the lights on the Frame will automatically turn on and when light turns off it will also turn off.
In general you get the feeling that a lot of thought went into the design of the Frame and it is a given because the premium price you pay for the TV is mostly because of it’s ability to turn a simple TV into a piece of art that you can marvel into your house or office. And in this Samsung seems to have succeeded in their vision.
One of the most interesting parts to check upon the Frame is the image quality that this set offers. It is natural that for every TV the number one element a manufacturer tries to offer as good as possible is the image quality at the TV’s specific price range. For the Frame this doesn’t seem to apply as it’s performance doesn’t seem to reflect the premium price that is asked for. But let’s see what is being offered.
The Frame is capable of processing all kinds of resolutions from SD, 1080p Full HD and 4K signals as well as HDR. It is equipped with an Edge-lit LED panel but it doesn’t come equipped with the Quantum Dot film that Samsung uses for it’s top of the line QLED models. From a first look the Frame seems to be very close in specs to the NU series but borrowing a few elements from the QLED series in order to create a TV that is not similar to any other in the Samsung lineup but an amalgamation of different models specs.
The result of all the above is that The Frame cannot reach either the peak brightness nor the wide color space of the top of the line QLED models. For the brightness we measured that during SD signals the peak measurements we saw was around 300 nits while during HDR we measured peak brightness of 500 nits. The results definitely leave a lot to be desired and in no way it can compete with the QLED models Samsung offers this year.
The omission of Quantum Dot film means the color space is not as wide as it could as we mentioned earlier. In this regard The Frame covers around 88% of the DCI-P3 color space and around 65% of the REC.2020 color space which is adequate but in no way satisfactory. The end result is colors that look good but not as vivid and alive as they could and we have seen in other QLED variants.
As for HDR The Frame supports the standard HDR10 open format and HLG. For the 2018 updated model Samsung has added support for HDR10+ which adds dynamic metadata but for the moment this format is only supported by Amazon and remains to be seen how much support it will gain in the future. In normal Samsung fashion there is no Dolby Vision support nor there will be in the foreseeable future so the only hope for those with Samsung TVs is for the HDR10+ format to become more mainstream in order to be able to enjoy HDR with dynamic metadata.
Motion performance is generally good and we didn’t notice any major problems other than some minor stuttering from time to time. You can use the MotionPlus system if you want to make motion more smooth but be aware that this will create the dreaded soap opera effect (SOE). In general we would say that the motion performance of the Frame is on par with other Samsung models in this price range.
The Frame has an input lag of around 80ms during normal viewing but once the Game mode is activated the input lag falls to 21ms which is one of the lowest we have ever measured making this TV ideal for gaming. But as good as the input lag is we cannot say the same about it’s viewing angles. The Frame as with almost all TVs from Samsung use a VA LCD panel and one of it’s characteristics is it’s very narrow viewing angles. Anything more than 25-30 degrees will result in major drop in image quality that will make viewing almost impossible.
As for sound performance we get the typical results you would get from built-in speakers of a flat panel. They may be adequate for broadcast viewing but if you really want to elevate your viewing pleasure you will definitely need to accompany the frame with a soundbar or a dedicated sound system. But by doing so you take away some of the elegance of The Frame and in some way it looses it’s purpose which is to elevate the artistic design of your room.
Samsung has equipped The Frame with their proprietary OneConnect box which means that there are no connection ports on the main body of the TV. Instead you have a separate box that houses all the electronics as well as the ports the TV supports. From the main body of the TV only two cables need to be connected. One is the power cable and the other is a small optical cable that connects to the OneConnect box.
The cable included is 5 meters long, enough for most situations but Samsung sells a 15 meters long cable also in those situations that a longer cable is needed. Unfortunately although Samsung included the OneConnect box as we see in most of their top of the line models they didn’t include the power feed in the same cable as the signals. In the top QLED models there is a single cable coming out of the TV which includes both signals and power but here we have to do with two cables.
On the actual box what we get is four HDMI 2.0b ports with all of them supporting HDCP 2.2 and one of them even supporting ARC, three USB 2.0 ports, one Ethernet port if you prefer wired connection to the internet, a Digital Optical Audio out port as well as terrestrial and cable in ports. Lastly there is the OneConnect port that connects the box with the TV and a power plug port.
More or less we get all the needed ports to connect all the devices you want. One thing that still puzzles us is that all manufacturers continue to use the archaic USB 2.0 ports when version 3.0 should be standard nowadays that the need for faster transfer rates have become common. Other than this we would say we are pleased with what is on offer.
OS, Apps and Features
The Frame comes equipped with the latest version of Samsung’s smart TV platform called Tizen and for 2018 we have reached version 4.0 which offers minor upgrades over the previous one. A single row on the bottom with various tiles allows you to choose from different apps and services on offer, as well as a plethora of options and features, all of them being easily customisable.
For 2018 Samsung has added a quick setup guide that allows users to easily set up the TV from a smartphone. It also has added Universal Guide and Bixby voice assistant. All these 2018 features could easily be added to last year’s model but as per Samsung’s policy they don’t bring these features through a firmware update rather they prefer to roll new updated models that offer these minor improvements.
The Frame comes with a unique feature that is responsible for handling the digital art on the panel. There are more than 150 pictures on offer that can be customized how they will be shown. You can additionally find more than 300 digitized art pieces from various artists in the art store but for this you have to pay a fee.
There is also the option to use your own photos from your smartphone through the SmartView app which gives you even more advanced options to play with. Just make sure that the photos you use are of high enough resolution because what may look good on your 5″ smartphone will definitely not look the same on a 65″ 4K TV.
Picture Frame may be a neat feature that will make your TV look like a frame and elevate the design of your room but it has a few drawbacks. First of all when the feature is turned on the TV still draws power so in a way your TV will always work even when you are not using it for your viewing pleasure. If you are in the room then the motion sensor will turn the TV on even if you are not looking at it. This means electricity consumption which costs money.
The other downside is that in order to have full access to the art store you will need to pay a 5$ monthly subscription which we find unacceptable when you have to pay such a premium price for such a TV. It feels a bit like stealing from Samsung’s part and this in our opinion should definitely be rectified in the future.
The One Remote that comes with The Frame is similar to the ones used in the mid-range TV models from Samsung but this one is offered in white color. The buttons arrangement remains the same as is it’s functionality. What is different is the power button as a single click will enable the picture frame mode while a prolonged push of the power button will turn on the TV. Everything else remains the same and while it doesn’t have the premium feel that the top of the line QLED remote offers with it’s aluminium casing it has a certain style that makes it feels rather pleasing to the eye.
The Frame is a very unique TV from Samsung as it doesn’t have any direct competition from the other manufacturers. It’s image quality is rather good but it will never reach the quality of the top QLED models as it was never meant to. It also comes equipped with the OneConnect box that can be very practical and convenient in order to hide all the mess that the cables create.
It also comes with the latest Tizen platform and in combination with the One Remote Samsung has created a great smart TV experience that has almost no rival except from maybe LG’s WebOS. Along with all the other features on offer the picture frame functionality is the one that makes this TV different and although it offers great functionality there is room for improvement.
On the other hand it’s HDR performance leaves a lot to be desired and as with all Samsung TVs there is no Dolby Vision support. Also paying a monthly subscription of 5$ just to get the full art store seems like stealing when you already have to pay such a high price. With all the above if you add a few more minor downsides like the inclusion of USB 2.0 instead of 3.0, the need for two cables when the top QLED models now need only one and the relatively high price of the TV can bring the score down.
In the end the price you pay is not for it’s performance but for it’s design which is a bit of unorthodox since the number one element you buy in a TV is it’s image quality. But here design takes first priority and in this matter the Frame really excels. If the price was more competitive it would definitely draw more attention but as it is right now the TV is intended for a very specific audience. But if you know what you want it for then the Frame will definitely delivers. Otherwise you can check for one of the other models Samsung has on offer for 2018 in our in depth article found HERE.
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Cheapest Places to Buy :
- Screen sizes (US): 55″ The Frame (UN55LS03NAFXZA), 65″ The Frame (UN65LS03NAFXZA)
- Screen sizes (Europe): 43″ The Frame (UE43LS003AUXXU), 55″ The Frame (UE55LS003AUXXU), 65″ The Frame (UE65LS003AUXXU)
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD Flat panel
- Processor: Quad-Core Processor
- 10 bit Support : Yes
- HDR (High-Dynamic Range) : HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG support
- Picture Engine : UHD Mastering Engine
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- Motion Rate : 240
- Screen Lighting: Edge Lit LED
- Depth Enhancing Technology: Contrast Enhancer
- Smart TV: Tizen Smart TV platform
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0b – HDCP 2.2 ports, 3 USB 2.0 ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Optical Audio Out, 1 Terrestrial port, 1 Cable port
- Built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet port
- Sound: 40W, 2.2 channels
- Remotes: Samsung One Remote Smart Remote (White)
- TV dimensions :
- 43″ : 966.6 x 556.8 x 42.5 mm (without Stand), 966.6 x 599.8 x 200 mm (with Stand)
- 55″ : 48.6″ x 27.9″ x 1.7″ / 1235 x 707.8 x 42.5 mm (without Stand), 48.6″ x 29.6″ x 7.9″ / 1235.0 x 750.7 x 200 mm (with Stand)
- 65″ : 57.2″ x 32.7″ x 1.7″ / 1453.9 x 830.9 x 42.5 mm (without Stand), 57.2″ x 34.5″ x 11.6″ / 1453.9 x 875.5 x 294 mm (with Stand)
- TV weight :
- 43″ : 11.2 Kg (without Stand), 11.7 Kg (with Stand)
- 55″ : 41 lb / 18.6 Kg (without Stand), 42.1 lb / 19.1 Kg (with Stand)
- 65″ : 56 lb / 25.4 Kg (without Stand), 57.8 lb / 26.2 Kg (with Stand)