Samsung’s ‘Frame TV’ Displays Large, Fine Art, Still Images – A Photography Presentation Alternative?

As a fine art landscape and cityscape photographer who loves big prints, I find this new mode of being able to display prints fascinating. This may be the start of a new trend that other manufactures will also jump onto.

I share some of my ideas of what this could mean for photographers at the end of this compilation of articles, in which I highlight many key points. I’ll start with a video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umsrZL_ox6c

Samsung Frame TV: Customizable

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Samsung Announces “The Frame” TV Pricing and Availability

Samsung pushes the envelope when it comes to merging TVs, style, and art with The Frame, a new TV that’s designed to double as fine art when it’s not showing TV shows, movies, or other video content.

The Frame was first shown at CES 2017 where it received a “Best of Innovations Award.” The look of The Frame comes from the mind of famous Swiss designer Yves Behar. There are two models in the series, a 55″ priced at $1999 and a 65″ the costs $2799.

“The Frame is a beautiful display designed specifically to bring walls to life whether it is in use or not,” said Yves Behar. “The Frame is not just another television, but a new experience of displays in the home.”

There are optional real wood bezels available in white, beige and walnut shades. These decor-friendly add-ons cost $199.99 for the 55″ and $249.99 for the 65″ version.

A primary feature of the frame is what happens when you are not watching TV. Its Art Mode presents a high-resolution slideshow that is customized to the customer’s artistic preferences. The Frame owners can tap into the “Samsung Collection” of exclusive, curated artwork from 37 top photographers and artists. These are separated into 10 categories as follows: Landscapes, Architecture, Wild Life, Drawing, Digital Art, Action, Still Life, Patterns, Urban Abstract and From Above. …

The Frame can sense if a person is in the room, allowing it to shut off when nobody is looking. It also adjust the brightness and color temperature so that the artwork looks natural under changing light conditions.


Is it a TV? Is it a picture? The incredible, transforming Samsung Frame by Yves Behar

…the screen, thanks to those embedded brightness and motion sensors, knows if people are in the room or not, so it only displays art if people are there to appreciate it. Perhaps most cleverly, the light sensors adjust the screen brightness so that the art looks as if it is printed on paper. And ingeniously the brightness of the image decreases as it gets dark later at night, matching convincingly the appearance of other pictures hung next to it. The effect, especially if you hang the Frame TV with other works of art, is superb. The TV simply disappears – which was entirely Behar’s intention.

“This was the magical element for us. It’s hard to develop – the sensors themselves have to be invisible so you cannot see an aperture. And it also has to be low-energy,” Behar says.

You can choose the wooden frame bordering the screen from a limited selection, including oak and walnut, which then are attached to the panel via magnets. When the TV is off, The Frame goes into “Art Mode”, where it can display more than 150 paintings and photographs, with more on the way. You can also, of course, put your own artwork and photos on the screen and customise borders, etc. …


Samsung’s Classy New TV Moonlights as a Work of Art

… Professional framers helped inform things like the 16×9 aspect ratio and the colors and textures of the digital mattes, which use a slight shadow at the edge to create the illusion of depth. In “art mode,” light and motion sensors dim or brighten the screen and shift colors from cooler to warmer, depending on the sunlight in the room. The feature gives the art a gallery-worthy display that looks like, well, art, and not a digital device. “Art doesn’t glow in the room when the lights are off,” says Jake Levine


Samsung’s site shows the landscape images bundled with the TV, which I don’t find impressive.


Samsung launches ‘The Frame’ starting at $2000

100 art pieces are included in categories such as landscape, wildlife, and architecture. More pieces can be bought for $20 dollars per piece (or $5 dollars per month for subscription) from Samsung’s store of more than 300 pieces by emerging artists. The store is curated by Artspace, LUMAS, Magnum Photos, Saatchi Art and Sedition. You can also choose to upload your own pictures and photographs.


This article shows some of the strengths and weaknesses of QLED technology compared to state-of-the-art and more expensive OLED technology (though the price is getting closer).

Their VIDEO compares the LG E7 OLED TV to a Samsung Q9 QLED TV, not Frame TV. I don’t know how closely this compares to Frame TV.

A few gleanings from the video:

OLED has “perfect black levels,” while QLED can’t get as black, which could be a big hindrance in presenting stunning, still images.

“The color temperature straight out of the box…tends to be a little toward the red side with the Samsung.” This could probably be calibrated back to neutral, but many users don’t calibrate their TVs.

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QLED vs. OLED TV: Similar names, totally different technologies

By Caleb Denison — Updated July 10, 2017 1:27 pm

[…]

Black level

A display’s ability to produce deep, dark blacks is arguably the most important factor in achieving excellent picture quality. Deeper blacks allow for higher contrast and richer colors (among other things) and, thus, a more realistic and dazzling image. …

QLED TVs improve on LED display black level performance, but they still rely on backlights shining behind an LCD panel. Even with advanced dimming technology, which selectively dims LEDs that don’t need to be on at full blast, QLED TVs still suffer from an effect called “light bleed,” the backlight spills through on what is supposed to be a black section of the screen. This effect is noticeable in scenes with bright stars on a night sky, or in the letterbox bars at the top and bottom of a movie. The result is a slight haze or halo around bright objects which blurs lines that should be sharp. Even on the most advanced QLED models, these are inevitable issues.

OLED TVs suffer from none of these problems. If an OLED pixel isn’t getting electricity, it doesn’t produce any light and is, therefore, totally black. Sounds like an obvious choice to us.

Brightness

When it comes to capable brightness, QLED TVs have a considerable advantage. LED TVs were already good at getting extremely bright, but the addition of quantum dots allows them to get even brighter. Because of this, QLED TVs claim superior “color volume,” meaning they are able to make all colors in the available spectrum brighter without losing saturation. QLED TV makers also claim they are better for HDR content because spectral highlights in images – the glint of light reflecting off a lake or a shiny car, for instance – are more powerful and more easily visible.

When it comes to that HDR argument, though, much can be said for the total contrast afforded by an OLED TV’s perfect black levels. When you start from perfect black, perceived contrast requires less intense brightness in those highlighted areas for HDR programming, and the end result for the viewer is similar to that of a much brighter QLED TV – at least in a dark room, anyway. In rooms with a lot of ambient light, a QLED’s brightness advantage can be very helpful at delivering that big visual punch HDR content should deliver.

…QLED makers claim better saturated colors at extreme brightness levels to be an advantage, but we have yet to witness this technical claim resulting in a real advantage in normal viewing situations. …

Viewing angles

OLED, again, is the winner here. With QLED screens, the best viewing angle is dead center, and the picture quality diminishes in both color and contrast the further you move side to side, or up and down. While the severity differs between models, it’s always noticeable. LG produces a type of LCD panel known as IPS which has slightly better off-angle performance than VA-type LCD panels, but it’s still no competition for OLED technology.

LED screens can be viewed with no luminance degradation at drastic viewing angles — up to 84 degrees. Some QLED TVs have improved in terms of viewing angle, but OLED maintains a considerable advantage. …

Lifespan

LG says you’d have to watch its OLED TVs five hours per day for 54 years before they fell to 50 percent brightness. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, as OLED TVs have only been out in the wild since 2013. For that reason — and that reason only — we’ll award this category to QLED. It pays to have a proven track record.

Screen burn-in

…burn-in stems from the days of the boxy CRT TV, when prolonged display of a static image would cause that image to appear to “burn” into the screen. What was actually taking place then was the phosphors that coated the back of the TV screen would glow for extended periods of time without any rest, causing the phosphors to wear out and create the appearance of a burned-in image….

The same issue is at play with OLED TVs because the compounds that light up do degrade over time. If you burn a pixel long and hard enough, you will cause it to dim prematurely and ahead of the rest of the pixels, creating a dark impression. However, in reality, this is not very likely to cause a problem for anyone — you’d have to abuse the TV intentionally in order to achieve this result. Even the “bug” (logo graphic) that certain channels use disappears often enough or is made clear so as to avoid causing burn-in issues. You’d have to watch ESPN all day every day (for many days) at the brightest possible setting to cause a problem, and even then it still isn’t very likely.

That said, the potential is there, and it should be noted. Since QLED TVs aren’t susceptible to burn-in, they win this fight by technicality.

POWER CONSUMPTION

OLED panels are extremely thin and require no backlight. As such, OLED TV’s tend to be lighter in weight than QLED TVs and thinner. They also require less power, making them more efficient.

Overall

OLED is lighter, thinner, uses less energy, offers the best viewing angle by far, and, though still a little more expensive, has come down in price considerably.

QLED has its own distinct set of advantages with brightness capability, and with recent tweaks, black levels have also improved. For many, a QLED TV will make more sense since a QLED viewed during the day will offer a punchier picture. But when the lights go down, OLED is a more attractive choice.


COLOR GAMUT

Is the color gamut (range of colors capable of being displayed) large enough to gorgeously display fine art?

I don’t see anything so far that says what Frame TV’s color gamut actually is, but Samsung says it has over 1 billion colors, but is this also true in art mode? I would suspect it would be the same, but would like to know for sure, based upon how they worded this:

When not displaying your favorite art or photos, The Frame is a TV with exceptional picture quality – 4K Ultra HD resolution, 4K HDR, and over 1 billion colors – so you get both beautiful art and a beautiful TV.

Photographers serious about color use monitors that have the larger Adobe RGB color space, whereas most TVs and computer monitors (including Apple) are only capable of sRGB.

This illustration shows what the eye sees (the outer perimeter), compared to what Adobe RGB and the sRGB color spaces are capable of.

The more colors  displayed the more stunning many nature photographs will look.

Adobe RGB capable monitors can display many green and blue hues that sRGB monitors cannot. And most high end inkjet printers can print the majority of the Adobe RGB colors. What about Frame TV?


This BenQ monitor is state-of-the-art for photographers preparing their images. It displays all of the Adobe RGB colors. Like Samsung statement above, they also say it has “more than one billion colors.” Does this indicate that Frame TV has a color space greater than sRGB, and is closer to Adobe RGB, or is this merely an indication of the number of gradients they show within the sRGB color space?

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BenQ SW320 31.5″ 16:9 4K Color Accurate IPS Monitor

99% Adobe RGB
Adobe RGB color space offers a greater range of color reproduction for shades of blue and green, resulting in a more realistic color representation for outdoor and nature photography.

10-Bit Color Display
Enjoy smooth color gradations on a 10-bit display, which shows more than one billion colors.


This may be useful to determine how different sized images will fit into Frame TV.

Standard dimensions of 55″ and 65″ TVs in 16:9 or 1.78:1 aspect ratio:

55″ = 27.0 (H) x 47.9 (W)……….1293.3 (sq.in.)

65″ = 31.9 (H) x 56.7 (W)……….1808.7 (sq.in.)

Vertical images won’t work well. And 3:2 images will fill the space better than 4:3 and the other less wide ratios, but 16:9 will look the best, especially when a mat is used other than pure black.

3:1 and 2.5:1 panoramas could look stunning in especially the 65″ Frame TV that has a width of 56.7 inches, almost 5 feet!

With this new 16:9 display option coming available, when possible, it may be a good idea to shoot a horizontal 16:9 image in addition to the preferred aspect ratio shot we would normally shoot.


Conclusions and more ideas:

I’m excited about this new way of displaying images if the result is stunning enough. A few factors concern me:

The Frame TV’s QLED display’s inability to produce deep blacks may be a big drawback. It’s possible Samsung or another manufacturer will do better in the future, using perhaps OLED technology instead, if it also wouldn’t be prone to display dimming or color loss over time.

QLED “light bleed” may be problematic with especially high contrast images. Otherwise, the 4K resolution should be fine enough to show great detail.

And having to sit directly in front of the Frame TV to not have a significant drop in vibrance is another big drawback when compared to regular prints. From the last article above:

With QLED screens, the best viewing angle is dead center, and the picture quality diminishes in both color and contrast the further you move side to side, or up and down.

Full spectrum LED lit prints use hardly any electricity. I wonder what the electrical consumption exactly is with Frame TV, and if Samsung will even say, especially because output varies as it adjusts for ambient light levels, and it may be higher than they want to admit.

The images that come with the TV don’t look impressive to me, so I wonder how the images Samsung sells compare, and what their variety will be.

This opens up an opportunity for freelance photographers to show their work instead. But can they sell images without buyers then giving them to others for free, what often happens to music if songs have no duplication safeguards? It’s likely that only Samsung’s store will have the technology that doesn’t allow reproduction.

At the very least, this should be a way for people to get a taste of how large, fine art images can affect the mood of their living space. And they can try different ones out inexpensively. Maybe some will purchase the actual prints of some they love the most.

It’s sad that the ten free landscape images that come with the TV are so mediocre. Other than that, Samsung seems to be doing a fairly good job of helping consumers know what their Frame TV is capable of.

It’s an exciting concept whose time may have come!

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