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My first “adult” TV was a 200-pound CRT monstrosity that lived inside an even more monstrous 300-pound cabinet with doors. After that, I switched to a monitor and laptop setup that tucked away in the hidden compartment of my coffee table. The thing is, I hate black mirrors; the empty void that stares when a TV is off scares me. (I pity The ring.) I decided that all screens should stay hidden if I wasn’t actively looking at them and just avoided a wall-mounted TV – until the market came up with one that looked like art when on off.
Samsung’s The Frame came out in 2017. I bought a 43-inch model in 2019 and have been a huge fan ever since. Inside, it’s a fully serviceable smart TV with a QLED panel and Samsung’s Tizen operating system (which the company has just licensed for use with non-Samsung TVs). The picture is bright, the sound is clear, and Tizen is easy to understand – but I shelled out over $800 for the namesake feature.
The frame does a great job of looking like art hanging on my wall. The slim panel has picture frame edges and mounts flat against the wall like a giant picture. The panel connects via thin wire to an external receiver/port hub/tuner combo, meaning you can actually drop the wire behind the drywall and run it out somewhere else, reinforcing the illusion that it doesn’t. there is nothing electronic here. The brick walls in my old house don’t allow that to happen, so I hide the wire behind a plant.
As for the effect, I’ve had people ask me if we have a TV, a few meters from The Frame. It’s fun to turn it on and witness their total surprise. I will say that I’m jealous of the latest models, which have an anti-reflective matte finish that I wish my older model had. I think it enhances the effect.
The Frame’s sleek hardware is a plus, but the other big factor in the illusion of art, not TV, comes from Samsung’s Art Store, an $8 monthly subscription that provides access to a ton of works of art to display. There are collections from the Louvre (although picking a Vermeer to hang on your wall might stretch credulity) as well as the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts, Etsy, Life Picture Collection, Saatchi Art, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, BBC Earth , Magnum photos and many more. I tend to favor abstract and modern photography, and my child likes illustrations and animal photos.
But if you (understandably) get tired of subscribing to the 25 different services you pay for and don’t want to add another to the list, the included “Samsung Collection” offers 10 works of art for free. You can also use your own images if you prefer (just make sure they are large format or will look pixelated). Personally, I have never tried to use my own images; I leave the art to the professionals.
I like to swap out the picture a few times a month and can easily spend an hour choosing the next piece of art to adorn my walls. There is an option that will cycle through all images in a collection, automatically switching at regular intervals, from every 10 minutes to once a week. I strongly believe that adding a rug to the image makes it more real. After choosing the image you want to display, you have the option to select no rug, a modern rug, or a shadowbox rug. Both rugs come in ten different colors, but I’ve never found anything that beats the antique white color in the modern rug option.
Since the frame is technically always on, you may have reservations about the power consumption of the TV. In art mode, Samsung says a 65-inch frame consumes about 50 watts of power. I’ve personally made a series of life changes – reducing square footage, swapping a car for an e-bike, cutting meat, etc. – to reduce my carbon footprint, and I allow myself this minor indulgence. But if that aspect weighs on you, you might even consider the same carbon offsets people buy when they travel.
Additionally, there are a few features that ensure that the frame is not still on. With night mode, the TV turns off when the lights go out. Then in the morning, after sensing the light again, he turns the art back on. You can also set it to detect movement in the room and turn off when no one is around. When I tried this, my model kept shutting off and never detecting motion again, even if I was jumping right in front of it, so I opted to disable this feature. The same sensors that detect darkness and (theoretically) motion also adjust the brightness of the image, so it never looks too intense, a trait that makes things look more like an oil painting. framed and less to a TV. Which, to me, is the whole point.
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