Samsung’s The Frame QLED 4K TVs are the flagship models in the company’s Lifestyle range. And while that “Lifestyle” tag might imply a lower level of performance, The Frame TVs feature the same Quantum Dot technology responsible for bringing a rich, expanded color gamut to the company’s more premium sets.
New for 2022: An anti-reflective screen coating has been added to enhance viewers’ enjoyment of artwork and photos displayed when the TV is in art mode – a key feature designed to persuade decor-conscious viewers to prefer The Frame over the other company TVs .
We had the opportunity to visit Samsung’s northern New Jersey facility for a full day of hands-on experience with The Frame and several of the company’s other 2022 TVs, including the company’s new S95B QD-OLED model. As part of the test setup, Samsung also equipped its The Frame 2021 with the same 65-inch screen size, so that we could evaluate both sets side by side.
Is Samsung’s 2022 The Frame the Lifestyle TV to Beat? From our first hands-on test, the verdict seems to be yes.
Price and availability
The 65-inch The Frame that we spent quality time with is part of Samsung’s 2022 TV series. Aimed at viewers who prefer to look at artwork or family photos on their walls rather than a large, black rectangle when the set is not in use, The Frame is sold in a wide variety of screen sizes – from 32 inches all the way up to 85 inches. Suggested retail prices for the new TVs are basically the same as last year’s lineup, something that comes as good news in this era of otherwise skyrocketing inflation.
Current prices for the 2022 The Frame TVs are listed below. All models are now available.
- The 32-inch The Frame costs $599 / £699
- The 43-inch The Frame costs $899 / £1,299 / AU$1,495
- The 50-inch The Frame costs $1,199 / AU$1,795
- The 55-inch The Frame costs $1,499 / £1,699 / AU$2,095
- The 65-inch The Frame costs $1,799 / £2,199 / AU$2,595
- The 75-inch The Frame costs $2,799 / £3,399 / AU$3,495
- The 85-inch The Frame costs $3,999 / £4,699 / AU$5,295
Design and Features
The Frame TVs come with a standard stand for tabletop installation, although most viewers will probably hang them flush against the wall, the way Samsung intended, using the included slim-fit wall bracket. A thin black border surrounds the screen, but to get the full TV-as-artwork effect opt for one of the company’s customizable frames, which are available at an additional cost in seven colors with either a modern or beveled design.
As mentioned above, Art mode is a key feature of The Frame TVs. It allows you to display personal photos, a selection of preloaded still images, or any of 1,400 digital artworks available for download from Samsung’s Art Store ($4.99 per month subscription). The TV’s Matte Display Film finish is very effective at filtering light to eliminate screen glare (see photo below), with the end result that photos and artwork show a much higher degree of detail (for example, the texture of brushstrokes in oil paintings). And while you might think turning your TV on 24/7 to display art is a less than eco-friendly idea, an intelligent motion sensor that is automatically activated in art mode turns the TV on when it detects your presence in the room, and turn it off when you leave.
Beyond Art Mode, The Frame TVs are all LCD models with edge-lit LED backlighting, and they use Quantum Dots to achieve “100% color volume,” according to Samsung. On-site measurements confirmed 99.7% coverage of Rec. 709 (HDTV) color gamut, with DCI-P3 (the gamut used for digital cinema and Ultra Blu-ray Disc releases) coverage of 92%. Not bad for a Lifestyle TV!
The Frame TVs also include Samsung’s Quantum processor 4K and support HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats. As with previous Samsung sets, there is no Dolby Vision support on board.
While we didn’t have the opportunity to go into detail about the company’s Tizen Smart TV interface, it does look fairly busy, although a horizontal app strip in the center of the screen can be filled with favorites for easy browsing. the remote control from Samsung. About that: Samsung has made great strides in simplifying its remotes to make them more user-friendly for the average viewer. But the downside here is that someone who wants to make regular picture adjustments – a TV reviewer, for example – will have to dig 10 times the button through the set’s menu system to make even minor adjustments to brightness or contrast.
When viewing a 100% white test pattern in full screen on The Frame, it showed no sign of hue or brightness drops from the center to the edges of the screen, but rather a brilliant and completely uniform white. This bodes well for displaying artwork and photos, which of course will also benefit greatly from the matte screen coating when viewing with room lights on and blinds open. While images looked great when viewed straight ahead, we also noticed that brightness uniformity was significantly reduced when viewed more than +/-15 degrees off center – a traditional weakness of LCD panel technology.
Other measurements showed that Filmmaker is the most accurate picture mode when it comes to color reproduction. The maximum image brightness (measured on a 10% white window) in that same mode was 307 nits, while the dynamic mode pushed it to 570 nits. To put those numbers into context, you can expect roughly the same maximum brightness levels from an average OLED TV, while the best LED-backlit LCD sets can reach over 2,000 nits.
One final measurement note – this one was aimed at gamers: the input lag on our The Frame sample measured a respectable 11.8 ms (milliseconds) with a 4K test signal generator and 13.2 ms with a 1080p source. (We didn’t have time to game during our session, although it should further be noted that a 4K/120Hz video input is supported by the set’s HDMI 4 port.)
Given its relatively modest light output (by LCD standards), it was clear that The Frame would look best with movies with the overhead lights turned off and the blinds closed, so we moved on to checking out a few reference 4K Blu discs in a dim room environment. Opening scenes from the most recent James Bond film No time to die taking place in sunny Italy generally looked fresh and clean. Colors were suitably vibrant, natural skin tones and white highlights showed a good level of fine detail. But compared to the other brighter Samsung sets we had available for comparison (including a QN90B 4K QLED and the S95B QD-OLED), The Frame lacked that final level of visual punch that higher-brightness TVs deliver with HDR. -sources.
More disturbing about movies was The Frame’s handling of dark scenes. Even in Filmmaker mode, there was a noticeable lack of detail in shadows. This was evident when looking at relatively dark titles such as Dune (2021), especially in scenes like the one where Paul Atreides is tested by the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. Instead of revealing details in the shadowy background, we saw a uniform black sheet. Same when watching the batter: Details in the film’s many dark scenes were often obscured, though the occasional flash of color looked satisfyingly vibrant.
The sound quality of The Frame’s 40-watt, 2.0-channel built-in audio system was quite good, although I didn’t put much emphasis on it while using it. While the dialogue was clear, connecting it to an external soundbar would undoubtedly have improved performance. (The Frame TVs come with Samsung’s Q-Symphony feature, which allows one of the company’s soundbars and the set’s speakers to play simultaneously.) A wireless Bluetooth output provides another option for TV audio support. .
Our first hands-on test showed that The Frame is a good overall set for everyday TV viewing, and particularly impressive for viewing artwork and photos – Samsung’s main design guideline for this category in its Lifestyle range. Add one of the company’s optional “frames”, hang it on the wall and load in an old master and this TV looks almost indistinguishable from a real painting.
- Looking for something sooner? Check out our guide to the best TVs available right now