When it comes to most living rooms around the world, there is one piece of technology that rules above all else – the TV. There is of course that great quote from Joey in Friends, puzzled by someone not owning a TV, “so what’s your furniture pointed at?,” he asks. Looking at Samsung’s The Frame, your furniture can be pointed at anything you want, because this range of smart TVs – as the name would suggest – are designed to do more than your normal panel.
Serving up digital facsimiles of artwork, both famous and unknown, The Frame can serve as a centrepiece above your plasma unit, but it can also be placed on a wall or a stand when streaming movies and TV shows isn’t happening.
So, is this artwork angle simply a gimmick? Has the focus on art diminished its entertainment factor? Is it easy to set up?
We answer all these questions and more in our review of the 2020 model Samsung 65″ The Frame 4K UHD Smart TV, which we will be referring to as “The Frame” for the remainder of this review for brevity’s sake.
A sizeable unit
The 2020 model of The Frame comes in two sizes – 55″ and 65″. We of course had the larger of the two in for review and, while our daily 4K TV driver is a sizeable 54″ LG offering, this option from Samsung is substantial. Not only is it a two-person job to move it around in its packaging, it’s a two-person job to set up too.
That said, the set up process is relatively easy, depending on where you plan to place The Frame.
For our purposes, atop a plasma unit was the go-to option, but there is a wall mount, and if the inspiration strikes, a separate Studio Stand is also available to purchase. While we trust Samsung’s manufacturing standards, the stand does not seem necessary given that the this TV is 65″ and at 25.2kg might be best on a wall or on top of a cabinet.
Once unboxed, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with the One Connect hub, which features a bevy of ports and connections, as well as a thin translucent cable that connects the hub to the TV itself. Said hub features all the ports you may need, with four HDMI ones for example, which is about one or two more than you might find on other units.
As for the The Frame itself, its name is well deserved, with a relatively minimal bezel sleekly bordering the 65″ (3840×2160) screen. In the charcoal colour option our review model came in The Frame is fairly discrete, but there are other finishes available should you want to wall mount it.
As a premium piece of technology then, this one from Samsung certainly looks the part.
Once the physical aspects of setting up have been sorted, we move on to the perhaps the most frustrating part of The Frame – its operating system. Here things are run by Tizen, and the experience is mixed to say the least.
This as navigation does not feel particularly intuitive, often requiring multiple buttons presses before the desired option or result can be found. Adding to our frustration is a rather spartan white remote, which features a total of 12 buttons and a navigation pad for directions. It therefore means that typing sans a Bluetooth keyboard being connected becomes a chore, and something as simple as choosing the visual source also takes longer than desired.
Our gripes with Tizen don’t stop there unfortunately, as downloading of smart TV apps required the creation of a Samsung account. This seems an oddity as other Samsung TVs we’ve reviewed in the past have not required this kind of setup.
The biggest problem we encountered, however, was wireless connectivity, with connection dropping every 10 or so minutes we used the TV over the first couple of days. This confused us as no other devices connected to the same network suffered from similar problems.
We did find a fix though, having to manually connect to the 5GHz band of our dual-band WiFi router. After switching from the 2.4GHz, the problem appeared to sort itself out, so those wanting to pick up The Frame may need to ensure they have dual-band routers first. Again it’s unclear if this is simply a problem isolated to our review, but it was so frustrating, that it warrants its own specific mention here.
Shifting to the visuals, and on this front The Frame performs far better.
While streaming content on Netflix or Showmax, it looked superbly riche and nuanced, with 4K content in particular blooming to life on this panel. The same went for gaming, as frame rates remained sharp and no instances of lacklustre visuals were viewed.
It is interesting to note that watching live TV was not up to the same par. Watching live sports, and football in particular, proved difficult to get right. The standard modes available, which are limited to five including the adaptive picture mode, did not yield the ideal picture we wanted. Also, despite being a gloriously large QLED 65″ panel that caters to HDR10+, The Frame failed to cope with blurring as the football was pinged around by players in the pitch.
That said, this is a problem we’ve encountered on other smart TVs that have come in for review. As such, live TV leaves a little to be desired, especially if you plan on enjoying sports for large portions.
We also need to make a note of the art mode on The Frame. There are some truly impressive works of art available, and having them running in the background in a studio’s office or shared workplace makes a lot of sense, but the fact that you need to pay a monthly subscription is a little off putting. Had a set of a dozen or so digital pictures been included on top of the one featured in the header image, that would make the feature a bit more worthwhile to explore and potentially use.
Given that it’s an additional cost on top of the R34 999 (RRP) that The Frame costs, does not make it extremely desirable at this stage.
Samsung’s 2020 65″ The Frame Smart TV is great premium panel that delivers superb visuals while making use of streaming or digital content. Live TV leaves a little to be desired, but it is serviceable, not to mention looking quite sleek and refined in its styling given its sizeable dimensions.
At R34 999 (RRP) it does not come cheap though, and if you do some research, finding a similarly sized and specced smart TV for less can be found locally. It therefore boils down to whether you plan to use it as Samsung intends it – a large digital frame to showcase art too. If that is not one of your key considerations, Samsung has other smart TVs that will fit the bill without denting the wallet as much.
As such, this offering falls under a very niche category of smart TVs, despite doing a solid job of sitting simply atop a plasma unit as your entertainment hub.
Samsung 2020 65" The Frame Smart TV
The Frame Smart TV from Samsung is an impressive panel that delivers great visuals, but the niche art mode feature does not feel like enough to justify the price, especially as Samsung has similarly specced and sized smart TVs for less in its lineup.
Not quite picture perfect