Chances are that you’ve come across a Samsung The Frame TV in the past year, whether you realized it or not.
This picture frame TV has become wildly popular for its unique ability to disguise itself as a work of art when you’re not watching your favorite shows. What you thought was a print of Monet’s “Water Lilies” hanging on your friend’s wall might actually have been a premium smart TV hiding behind a sleek façade.
With the press of a few buttons, it can go straight from displaying wall art to streaming Netflix. But with all the oohs and aahs it incites with its clever design comes a pretty high price tag. We put it to the test to see if it was worth it.
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At the Good Housekeeping Institute Media and Tech Lab, we have been testing home entertainment equipment for years, from the best tv brands to soundbars and budget projectors. I’ve had the opportunity to test The Frame TV in my own home over the past few months to share details about my experience, from how easy it is to install to what makes picture frame TVs so popular.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Frame TV from Samsung and whether the investment makes sense for your home.
What is a picture frame TV?
A picture frame TV is a TV that can display all your favorite shows, movies and games, but unlike other TVs, it transforms into a piece of art when not in use. Essentially, it’s a TV that’s not just a TV. With a picture frame TV, homeowners can make use of what would otherwise be blank, black space and accentuate a room’s décor with photos and artwork. Thanks to a super thin, gapless design and a border that’s designed to look like a picture frame, when mounted, picture frame TVs can easily be mistaken for true artwork hanging on a wall in your home.
What’s the hype about the Samsung The Frame TV?
The most popular picture frame TV is Samsung’s The Frame TV, a QLED TV that not only features high-quality 4K resolution but is also one of the most convincing picture frame TVs on the market. When mounted, there’s virtually no gap between this pristine TV and the wall, and the bezel is thin and customizable so it can be mistaken for a true frame.
Also unique is that The Frame requires only one discreet cable, which connects to a box that you’ll hide in the vicinity of the TV. (Say goodbye to the hundreds of clunky cables ruining your room’s vibe.) And to make it even more disguisable as a picture frame featuring a beautiful photograph from your family vacation to Alaska, this TV comes equipped with a matte display so you won’t see any glares.
How much does the Samsung The Frame TV cost?
Most consumers can expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000 for a standard-sized 55” to 65” Frame Smart TV (2022). Increasing in size to 85″ will bring you closer to $3,000, making this TV an expensive investment. But if you’re set on a picture frame TV that effectively displays artwork and has great picture quality, this is the best option out there.
Just keep in mind that even though a black bezel is included with the Frame, you can expect to pay between $100-$250 extra if you want to swap it for a customizable Samsung bezel in another shade. (Samsung plans to add more metal bezel options to its lineup this year.) Another add-on to consider is the Auto-Rotate Wall Mount, which lets you go back and forth between horizontal and vertical positioning – a nice touch if you want to display portraits or vertical media.
How easy is it to install the Samsung The Frame TV?
Installing The Frame is a fairly painless process, but if you’re anything like me you’ll agree that drilling holes into a wall is always an unwanted hassle. I opted to take the easier road in my rental NYC apartment and leave my Frame on the included height-adjustable stand. But if you want the true illusion of artwork on the wall, you’ll have to break out the drill.
Fortunately, a slim-fit wall mount comes included, along with clear instructions. Everything is super well labeled to make the process as simple as possible, but if you’re worried you can always hire a professional directly through Samsung for an extra $120.
Once you’ve mounted your TV with the included mount or set it up on a stand, you’ll have to connect a cable to the One Connect Box Mini. Some Frame owners like to weave this cable behind their drywall to truly hide all the cables, but that does mean drilling more holes. While this is the most flawless setup of The Frame, if you don’t know the first thing about dealing with drywall (I certainly don’t), the cable can simply hang down from the TV. Because it’s transparent and thin it’ll still look great, and you can always hide it behind a plant or decorative vase.
The One Connect Box Mini can then be hidden anywhere within 16 feet of the TV. This gives you the option to organize any external devices you use with your TV, like gaming consoles, away from your TV for less clutter.
Testing The Frame TV: First impressions
The pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute have been reviewing Samsung’s The Frame TV since its first iteration. We’ve followed the development of each model as it’s improved, and this is what stood out in 2022’s version.
Streaming content on The Frame TV is certainly an upgrade from my previous five-year-old TV. Images are crystal clear and colors are vivid and bright thanks to 4K resolution. But what impresses me most is how sharp and defined The Frame’s picture quality looks at all times, especially given the unfavorable, bright conditions of my living room. For the first time in my apartment, I can actually watch shows that heavily rely on deep blacks and darker color palettes (think Stranger Things) in the middle of the day.
Because the Frame is a QLED (quantum dot LED), it uses ultra-tiny dots in the display to create bold, bright colors. In general, “these QLED TVs have solid upscaling technology, which is what enables lower-resolution content to look like native 4K images,” says Rachel Rothman, Good Housekeeping Institute’s Chief Technologist.
The Frame also features Quantum HDR, which allows for an expanded range of colors and better contrast. All in all, most people won’t be disappointed with The Frame’s picture quality. But if you’re looking for even more exceptional performance at a similar price, there are other TVs to consider like LG’s OLED evo C2 Series, one of Good Housekeeping’s favorite TVs for a cinema-like feel.
The Frame’s sound quality is certainly better than what you’ll find in older TV models. “Overall I’m happy with the sound quality,” Nicole Papantoniou says, GH’s Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab director who also uses The Frame. “I never have trouble hearing or find the sound dull.” The TV’s up-firing speakers support Dolby Atmos technology so you can experience cinematic surround sound, and it comes equipped with Object Tracking Sound so your audio will follow the action on your screen.
Nevertheless, I went ahead and paired my TV with a soundbar for an even richer, more immersive sound experience. I tend to have a hard time picking up dialogue, and pairing my Frame with a high-quality soundbar helps alleviate that problem.
Samsung’s operation system is powered by Tizen, and I found navigating among apps, art and other media extremely intuitive. Everything is organized neatly and downloading new apps or searching for content never takes long. “I like how the media interface looks and find it easy to navigate,” Papantoniou says. “Apps are easy to access and they install quickly.”
I absolutely love Samsung’s One Remote, which I not only use with The Frame but also with my Samsung monitor. (That’s right, it can turn both on and off.) It’s super slim and sleek and just feels great when you use it. “It has an Apple-like feel and is both super responsive and easy to use,” Papantoniou says. My favorite feature is probably the dedicated Netflix button, which goes directly to Netflix and eliminates the need to navigate through the interface.
It conveniently has a built-in mic so you can use Google Assistant, Alexa or Bixby to help you look up a movie. I also love that by just flipping over the remote when you’re out at work, it’ll charge via solar light.
How do you make a Samsung The Frame TV look like art?
First but foremost, the Samsung The Frame TV displays art so effectively thanks to its anti-reflection technology. The screen has a matte finish so you won’t get a pesky glare from lamps or bright sunlight streaming through the window. Samsung improved this technology in its 2022 model, and the matte appearance really makes a difference when you’re trying to convince guests that your TV is actually a picture frame. As someone who lives in an extremely bright apartment with 18-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, I can confirm that I’ve never noticed any light reflections on my screen.
Now onto how you actually display the art — The Frame’s Art Mode. You can easily switch Art Mode on and off by pressing the Power button on your remote. You can also navigate to Samsung’s Art Store where you can choose from around 1,600 pieces of art ranging from photography to classic paintings.
Unfortunately, a monthly subscription is required if you want full access to the store ($4.99 per month or $49.90 per year) or you can download and purchase individual pieces at around $20 each. While paying extra fees and tacking on yet another subscription is frustrating, you do have the option of uploading personal images or photos to your Frame for free via the SmartThings app or USB. You can also purchase cheaper art alternatives from websites like Etsy.
Once you’ve selected your artwork, The Frame will display it when the TV is off. While other TVs would be subject to screen burn from prolonged use, according to Samsung, the Frame is designed to withstand displays of art and photographs so you don’t have to worry about your TV’s lifespan. Though it will continue to consume power, Samsung estimates that it uses roughly 30% of what it would in TV mode. And to ensure that the TV isn’t always on (like when you’re not home or asleep), there’s a built-in motion sensor and Night Mode that will turn off the TV completely when no one is home or the lights are out.
Though it may sound confusing, the entire process is fairly seamless and I haven’t had to go into the settings to tinker with any of it. I’ll admit that I have woken up to find my Frame TV displaying artwork when I thought it was off, but you can easily fix this by turning off Night Mode so the TV doesn’t wake up with the sun.
Last but not least, to make your Frame look even more like real art, consider purchasing a decorative frame like one from DECO TV Frames, a company that makes frames specifically for the Samsung Frame TV. “Displaying digital art on the wall through your Samsung Frame combined with a Deco Frame makes a complete solution that’s truly believable as wall art,” Kevin Hancock says, owner of Frame My TV (and DECO TV Frames). Though it’ll set you back an extra $500-$600 on average, according to Hancock each frame is super easy to assemble and pop on the TV thanks to magnets and pins that hold it together.
While I haven’t tested assembling a DECO frame yet myself, I watched Hancock put one together for me on Zoom and can confirm that the process looked exceptionally easy. It also helps take your Frame TV to the next level so it truly blends in with your decor.
The bottom line: Is the Samsung The Frame TV worth it?
The Frame TV isn’t for everyone. If you’re not planning on using it to display artwork, then you’re better off investing in another TV with more bang for your buck when it comes to performance. While I was super impressed with the picture’s brightness and resolution, I’m not sure it’s worth the hefty price tag if you don’t plan on taking advantage of Art Mode. That said, most people who are in the market for a picture frame TV are buying it to watch TV and display artwork, in which case you shouldn’t think twice about buying The Frame TV.
If you’re someone who likes to entertain guests or you just hate how your TV wastes precious space, The Frame is a beautiful, minimalist solution that adds a splash of decor to your home and offers excellent picture quality for movie nights. It’s also nice having access to art without having to pay a huge premium for it and being able to rotate that artwork when the mood strikes is an unbeatable advantage.
Overall, Samsung’s The Frame TV is definitely worth it for anyone who wants an efficient, high-quality TV solution to their home entertainment setup that takes advantage of every inch of living space. After all, who doesn’t prefer gazing at Van Gogh’s The Starry Night instead of a black screen?
BUY THE SAMSUNG THE FRAME TV
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Media & Tech Reviews Analyst Olivia Lipski oversees product testing and covers consumer electronics, such as home theater essentials, audio equipment and more. She continues to stay on top of the industry’s latest innovations and helps readers make better buying decisions by testing and reviewing the best gadgets to hit the market. She’s been testing the Samsung The Frame TV in her home for the past few months, using it to display art by day and stream shows by night.
Media & Tech Reviews Analyst
Olivia (she/her) is a media and tech product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute, covering tech, home, auto, health and more. She has more than five years of experience writing about tech trends and innovation and, prior to joining GH in 2021, was a writer for Android Central, Lifewire and other media outlets. Olivia is a graduate of George Washington University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, political science and French, and she holds a master’s degree in communications from Sciences Po Paris.