Samsung is bringing a larger collection of virtual artwork to its line of Frame TVs, which the company first introduced in 2017 and which use what would otherwise look like a boring piece of glass when it’s turned off to brighten up a home’s interior with art and beautiful imagery.
The company has already been pursuing a version of this same thing in its 2018 QLED TVs with features like Ambient Mode, a feature of the TVs that can be used to sense the color and aesthetic of its environment and blend into the background when not in use. The 2018 edition of the Frame TVs also include a few magnetic bezel covers, as well as more artwork like a few dozen iconic photos from The New York Times. What’s more, users can set a personal collection of images to rotate across the screen when the TV — there are 55-inch and 65-inch models — is on standby.
Samsung in a company blog post explains a bit more about its Ambient Mode feature, which it insists is a far cry from something like a basic screensaver reimagined for the TV. “Ambient Mode,” Samsung explains, “analyzes the pattern and texture of the wall where the TV is mounted and displays the result on screen, leaving only the TV frame visible. Contrast and brightness can be adjusted for the best result. Ambient Mode can also display news and weather forecasts in real time.”
It’s not hard to see the logic here. By Samsung’s reckoning, most people only switch on their TVs for five hours a day on average. That means it’s a boring glass rectangle hanging on the wall, occupying a prominent space maybe in the living room yet doing nothing, for some 19 hours a day.
Not just a boring rectangle — turned off, it also makes smudges and dust and fingerprints easier to see. This way, when you’re not on a Netflix binge, you can imagine yourself a discerning collector of art or simply using some interesting visual patterns to liven up the room.
The 55-inch model of Samsung’s 2018 Frame TV is priced at $2,000, which goes up to $2,800 for the 65-inch. You can find art and photography to display on it by visiting the Samsung Art Store, where a $5-a-month subscription lets you access art that ranges from photography to works from master painters.
According to Samsung UX designer Yoojin Choi, the company began playing around with the idea that would lead to Ambient Mode by observing customers who didn’t always want to see a black screen in the living room when the TV was turned off. That’s what gave the company the inspiration to do more.
More art in a home is certainly never a bad thing, and co-opting an unused TV set for such a purpose — hard not to see how that’s even better.