The humble household TV has become slimmer, screen sizes have grown dramatically, and there are more pixels being squeezed into every panel than ever before. But, for the most part, the remarkable modern screens we get to enjoy are surrounded by dull gray or black plastic. Samsung is aiming to change that with the 4K Serif, which features a frame designed to look at home in an art gallery.
In its quest for a point of design difference, Samsung teamed with Parisian designers Ronan and Erwan Bourouellec to give this TV its unique profile. That profile, which is the same as an "I" printed in serif font, does add some bulk. The 40-inch model weighs 27.6 lb (12.5 kg) without the stand, making it a full 10 lb (4.5 kg) heavier than a regular 40-inch LED TV.
Rather than siting atop a cheap Ikea storage unit, or being mounted awkwardly on a wall, the Serif is designed to sit proud in the middle of the room. The back of the unit is covered by a blind, so it's even able to sit away from the wall without showing off the cords sprouting from the three HDMI and two USB ports on the back.
For those keen to do without wires, it's also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible.
Although there are four slim legs included in the box, you're able to put it on a shelf or table without those legs, like a picture frame at an art installation.
Samsung's faux-art theme doesn't stop with the frame, it's been applied to the pared-back remote control too. And when you turn the TV off, it doesn't actually have to be off. That's because the Serif is fitted with something called Curtain Mode.
No, we're not making that up, it really does have a Curtain Mode. The official literature is a bit vague on what it actually does, but from what we can gather the mode acts as a fancy, semi-transparent screen saver. When you're not watching a regular TV, it's just a bland black panel taking up space in your living room. The designers didn't want that for the Serif, so Curtain Mode lets you leave it on and treat it like a piece of art.
When the time comes to actually watch the TV, the panel within that artfully designed frame should live up to expectations. It's a 3840 x 2160 UHD unit, with an HDR Premium system designed to improve color and brightness. There's also UHD upscaling, and a contrast enhancer to make blacks look more real in a brightly-lit living room.
Inside, there's a quad-core processor for smooth browsing of the Smart TV menu system, which is the same as you'll get on the rest of the Samsung range. That's no bad thing, it works perfectly well, and didn't really need an art-deco redesign, although we would like to see what a more artsy TV menu would look like.
The Serif has been available in some European markets since the end of last year in 28-, 32-, and 40-inch screen sizes, but only the 40-in model will be available in the US. There will be three color choices available, and it will be available from August for US$1,499.
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