August 16, 2022
I believe very strongly that there is something hardwired in all of us. I don’t know the origin of this innate disposition deep within our DNA or when it even began — maybe it’s been here since the dawn of time. Regardless of why, or how, or when this intrigue became part of our collective human consciousness, we all share this wonder and fascination, and yet, we don’t discuss it enough amongst our peers.
What is this obsession? Things that look like one thing but are actually something else.
Boxes that look like books, bookshelves that open into secret passage ways, cakes disguised as tennis balls, race cars you can put a mattress in, or even rocks where you can stash your keys — and we’re not even touching on all manner of knives hidden inside of canes, paintings containing secret messages, or any enjoyment of reptiles who can blend into their surroundings.
We either stand in awe of the natural versions of this phenomenon or we continue to invent our own versions of it. From caves concealed by waterfalls, to unseen doors in floorboards, or even your buddy who wears camouflage hats all the time, we really like the mystery of something hiding in plain sight. For me, that’s 100% why we bought the Samsung Frame TV. For Anna, there’s probably a bit more to it, which we’ll get into shortly.
Either way, since the day we purchased this TV that looks like a picture, we’ve received a lot of, “wait, I didn’t even realize that was a TV” and “where’s your TV?” and even a few “what is this dark magic?” sort of comments. Today, I’m here to tell you that yes, it is a television and to also share a few honest thoughts on how we’ve enjoyed it the last few years. If you’ve been thinking of getting one yourself, we hope this post is helpful in weighing your options!
As always with our reviews, we’ll start by focusing on the design appeal of this product, which is easily it’s biggest selling point. Where many TVs tend to be a necessary evil from a design perspective, the Frame is a design enthusiasts dream, because, well, it doesn’t look like a TV. With the touch of a button, the Frame goes into “Art Mode”, where you essentially forget it exists.
Whether it be hanging over your mantle or featuring prominently in a gallery wall, having this feature is a massive game changer. The technology used on the screen (much of which revolves around how the screen is lit) truly gives it the appearance of a picture, rather than just looking like a fancy screensaver. You can very easily upload custom art or use some of Samsung’s collections (most of which are actually pretty good), and it’s very easy to switch the art and adjust brightness and color settings.
To take it a step further, Samsung made a separate box that connects to the TV via a single, small, clear cable, which is barely noticeable and is easy to hide if needed. This means that all of your HDMI cables and other connections can be attached to the box in a hidden space, rather than dangling from your TV. (FWIW, the TV remote control does not lose any connectivity by having the box covered or hidden.) The separate connection box is truly the underappreciated, genius feature of these televisions.
The finishing touch on this tv is the attachable frame options that are now more widely available. The Samsung Frame does come equipped with a minimalistic, magnetic frame (with various color options — we opted for white) that keeps a clean and easy look. However, if you want to go for a more traditional look, you can add an ornate frame like the ones from Deco Frames that we purchased recently. It’s extremely easy to install and adds a nice touch of drama to an otherwise intentionally understated piece.
All in all, if your primary focus is design, I don’t think there’s a better product for you this side of having a TV come out of your wall or floor.
For all the reasons the design community loves the Samsung Frame TV, the tech community struggles with it.
For starters, the screen itself uses an older technology in the lighting to give it the picture effect, so it’s not optimized for the same type of movement-focused visual crispness that other TVs are. Televisions today are all equipped with 4K functionality and varying levels of LED screens that will blow our minds. The Samsung Frame TV uses the QLED screen, which in the same tier as most other high-end TVs, but is not necessarily the most “state of the art”. This is a point of contention for some given the Frame’s price point.
Still, we’ve found that the actual operation of the TV is very smooth and simple. It’s very easy to customize the smart TV menu to use the apps you need and remove the ones you don’t, and it maintains a strong connection to our Wi-Fi at all times — in my mind, it’s been the perfect “cord cutting” TV for these reasons. I’ve found that jumping between apps (which we do a lot when trying to find something to watch on a Thursday night), changing settings, or logging into new streaming apps is all super quick on this device compared to others we’ve used before. Samsung has definitely nailed the user interface and remote control setup here! (FWIW, I’ve also never had any sort of trouble with the hardware of the TV at any point, and everything is very much built to last.)
Ultimately, after reading reviews and comparing tech specs, we opted for the design-friendly choice — we are a site (and couple) focused more on design than tech, after all. We felt like the differences were fairly negligeable in terms of what we would be getting visually from this TV and others, and the performance would be good enough for what we need: streaming tv shows, casual movie watching, and catching up on the NBA, soccer, and College Football regularly.
After having this TV for 3 years now, I stand by our choice. For our purposes, the Frame performs very well, and we’ve never had frustrations about the image quality, the size of the TV, or how it’s interface or hardware operates — in other words, we’ve never felt like we weren’t getting commensurate value out of this TV. If you are looking for the absolute state of the art visual technology available now, this device may not be for you; but for those who aren’t necessarily splitting those hairs, we can’t recommend the Frame enough.
I loathe all manner of hanging things on walls, especially in our current apartment. The walls are 100 years old, and you never know what’s behind the dry wall, whether or not you need an anchor, or if the uneven ceilings and floors are going to make your otherwise level thing look not-so-level.
Still, mounting the frame TV on your wall is very easy. The instructions are visual (great for me) and straightforward to follow. We recently had a Taskrabbit help us out with the re-hanging it, but I hung the smaller TV in our room and the one in our living room when we first moved in, and I found it extremely simple to navigate.
We recommend two people be involved with any installation, but the TV is technically light enough for one person to hang themselves. Once installed, you simply plug the clear cord into the box, and log into your various streaming apps, and you’re good to go!
(Installing a Deco Frame doesn’t add more than 2 minutes to this process either!)
Value will always be in the eye of the beholder with a device as divisive as this one seems to be. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we feel like the Frame TV fits exactly what we’re looking for: easy to mount, good connectivity and interface, solid image quality, and unmatched design functionality. For others, that last piece may be less important, and given the price point and unique appeal of this TV, we understand if some feel this isn’t for them.
For us, the value has surpassed our original expectations, and, since we originally found ours for $300+ under retail on eBay, we haven’t had any second thoughts about this purchase.
On that note, I highly recommend checking Best Buy’s “open box” options, Amazon’s “refurbished” options, or even eBay’s below retail Samsung Frame TVs. All three sites give you a good chance to find a great deal on this TV!
If you’re in the market for a new TV or have just wondered how well the “TV that doesn’t look like a TV” actually performs, we hope this post gives you the info you need! Shop the Samsung Frame TV below: