Samsung 50-Inch Frame QLED 4K Smart TV (2021) Review: Elegant Design, Punch

April 1, 2022 0 Comments

Samsung’s The Frame is one of the most unique TVs on the market, with the ability to literally use the TV as a picture frame on the wall when not in use. Since the launch of the first generation of frames, we’ve seen a number of TV manufacturers offer a variety of ambient modes, including the ability to use your TV as a photo frame. But one thing that sets Samsung’s The Frame apart from the competition is its unique bezel that makes the TV look like a real frame, a connect box that simply makes the management a breeze and, of course, the TV’s picture quality. Today we have Samsung’s 50-inch 2021 frame. Does it live up to the legacy?

Samsung The Frame 2021: Specification at a glance

Panel size: 50-inch (available in 43, 55, 65 and 75-inch screen sizes)
Panel type: VA
Panel resolution: 3840 x 2160 – 4K
Panel Refresh Rate: 60Hz (55-inch and higher has a 120Hz display)
HDR 10 support: Yes
HDR 10+ support: Yes
Dolby Vision Support: No.
Weight: 12.2 kg
HDMI port: 4
USB port: 2
Bluetooth: Yes, 4.2
Wi-Fi: Yes, dual-band
Ethernet: Yes
Speaker: 20W
Built-in storage: 16GB
Price: 75,990

Samsung The Frame: Display Panel and Photo Quality

Turning things off with the display panel, the TV has QLED backlighting and it doesn’t come with any dimming zone. Using Calman we got a lasting brightness of 350 nits but in some real-world use we recorded a slightly higher brightness of 500 nits. But in the case of the PS5 (review) the brightness calibration is a mystery that we will explore in the next section. In our colorchecker analysis, we found an average delta error of 10.5 in BT 2020 color space on HDR which is quite impressive. Although the SDR numbers are higher than we would like in terms of delta error, it does not translate into the TV’s real-world performance. In real-world use, the TV can create some punchy colors that we’ve experienced on Samsung TVs in the past.

Maximum brightness of Samsung The Frame 2021

ColorChecker in HDR for frames

Color checker HDR

Samsung The Frame: 4K and HDR performance

Let’s find out the bad news, the frame doesn’t support Dolby Vision. It supports HDR 10 and 10+ with HLG Although the lack of Dolby Vision is missed, the TV can produce good HDR content. In this case, it is an acceptable tradeoff rather than a specification and lack of performance on paper.

Samsung Frame supports 4K, HDR, HDR 10+ but not Dolby Vision.

We’ve seen a lot of our standard content on TV from streaming services like Planet, Altered Carbon, Jack Ryan, Grand Tour, Ready Player One and many more. The most interesting thing to note is the photo presets. Even if you have the ability to switch from standard to movie, I’d recommend turning on the TV’s “intelligent mode” because it does a great job of judging the screen’s content and changing settings. Accordingly I would only recommend going to ‘Expert Settings’ and turning off ‘Image Clarity Settings’ to stop speed smoothing.

Intelligent picture mode in Samsung frame.

For HDR content, Intelligent mode brings warm tones when needed and skin tone looks natural. While the TV isn’t the brightest, as we’ve seen, it’s by no means dull, retaining plenty of highlights in HDR content. You only know what you are missing if you know where to look. If I were to describe the colors of this TV in one word, it would pierce and show it when you use HDR content.

Samsung The Frame: SDR Performance

We played a lot of content on this TV in SDR and did something very accurate with Samsung’s “intelligent mode” picture setting. When looking at animated content, the colors look very vivid. Even in a movie like Spider-Man: Homecoming, the red and blues in Spider-Man’s suit are very well articulated while the skin tones and other colors are natural without showing any unnatural vitality. Of course, you can play with the settings yourself. For example, the movie preset works well, just remember to change the color temperature to warm 2 and to bump up the backlighting completely.

Prime video in Samsung's frame.

Even on shows like Young Sheldon, the skin tone looks good without extra exposure and the colors look very normal. You can change the dynamic image presets to get punchier colors but the details cost. Again, turn on the intelligent mode and you don’t have to worry about anything.

Photo settings in Smasung the Frame.

Samsung The Frame: Gaming

Things get pretty interesting here. When you set up the PS5 with this TV and adjust the HDR brightness, it looks like the TV is compensating for its low peak brightness in some ways allowing you to set much more than you can handle the console brightness. This was very evident in a game like Dart 5 (review) that burned out when we played and we had to change the game’s HDR settings to get an enjoyable experience. Better results are obtained by going back to the PS5 settings and changing it based on what I thought was more accurate than what was on the display. Despite the loss of detail in very bright highlights, the image quality is by no means bad. Again, you don’t know what to look for because it was only in the extremely bright highlights that the details on this TV were lost.

Samsung The Frame 60Hz can do YUV422 HDR.

In Spider-Man Miles Morales (review), the sun is raining down on you while you can still make the details in Spider-Man’s suit impressive. The colors of the game pop only on this TV and even in Ghost of Sushima, the watercolor art style of the game comes to life.

The Samsung frame has a game bar.

The only downside to the TV’s gaming performance is that to take advantage of the 120Hz panel and some HDMI 2.1 features, you’ll need to invest in 55-inch or larger variants of this TV. 50-inch TV limited to 60Hz. The TV’s game mode supports low latency and the single-player games we’ve played, we didn’t encounter any annoying input lag on the TV.

Samsung frame attached to a ps5.

Samsung The Frame: Audio Performance

Samsung’s The Frame 2021 has a 20W sound output for the 43 and 50-inch variants with a 40W sound output in the form of a larger screen. Clear is the best way to describe the sound output from a TV. While you’ll miss Bang and Thad, an action movie, the dialogues are easily audible and the background scores of most movies and TV shows sound good.

Samsung frame art mode.

The speakers can be really loud but I’ve found that giving it a high room-filling sound at about 40 percent volume. There is a loss of detail at very high volumes but for the average bedroom, the performance should be fine. Considering the support for its eARC port and Dolby Atmos in particular, it makes sense to invest in a soundbar with this TV.

Samsung Frame: UI

Samsung’s TVs run on the company’s own Tizen UI and functionality is the best way to describe it. Pressing the home button brings all the apps neatly into a row at the bottom of the display, and if you have an external device like the PlayStation 5, it also pops up in content navigation. You can customize apps and external sources based on your preferences.

The settings are at the far left of the navigation bar, and once you’ve selected it, there’s a second row of quick settings to get in touch with you before you go deeper. Even other settings like images, external sources, audio and much more are easily accessible and the UI is very easy to navigate so no setting feels too cluttered.

The TV also has Art Mode and Ambient Mode which is a highlight of the frame. In Art mode, you can add pictures of your family or a huge catalog of Samsung to your home decor. Ambient mode has a large number of settings ranging from changing the background based on mood to comfortable views of the mountains and even bouncing the ball on the screen. If you do not use the TV, you can also put weather information on the screen.

Frame ambient mode.

To get deeper into TV settings easily, I recommend you to download and set up the Smart Things app. The app has a simple set of functions that let you turn on / off the TV, control the art and ambient mode on the TV, navigate the apps, control the volume, and change the source. Needless to say, if the remote control is out of reach, then the smartphone app is your best friend.

Samsung Frame: Remote control

As for the remote control, it has a minimal design. It has a USB-C port at the bottom so there is no need to change the battery. You can also leave the remote control under the light and let it recharge because it has a small solar panel on the back, which is really great. Coming to the buttons, they have a unique click when using the volume rocker and channel changer, and you can press the volume buttons to mute the TV. You have OTT hotkeys for Netflix, Prime Video and Samsung TV Plus. The rest is quite simple and overall, the remote control is easy to use.

Samsung Frame Remote Control.

Samsung The Frame: Build and Design

Samsung’s One Connect Box is one of the most unique designs that not only adds a handy feature, but also extends beyond the frame. It has simple black borders that can be customized with different color designs to make it feel like a photo frame. We have the light brown one here for review. Although it adds to the appeal of TV photo frames, some may find it scattered, especially in the age of almost bezel-less TVs. However, this is a personal choice.

Samsung Frame One Connect Box.

Samsung Frame One invisible cable connection.

Samsung Frame One Connect Box.

The TV can be wall-mounted and this is where it will do the most justice with its design, but if you place it on a table-top, it has 2 thin feet that hold the TV well. The legs extend forward so if you plan to place a soundbar under the TV you may want to check the space. Then we have the One Connect box with all the connectivity options It connects to the TV via a single cable, making the almost invisible TV the centerpiece of your room without being surrounded by wires. The One Connect box has four HDMI ports (one of which supports eARC), two USB ports, Optical, AV and Antenna.

The Samsung frame can be placed 2 feet on a table.

The last row

The 50-inch Samsung The Frame has a unique design that will surely appeal to those who want their TV to blend in with their home decor and the One Connect box simply makes management a breeze. The TV image quality for content use is great for HDR and SDR content, and Samsung’s Intelligent Picture mode is good enough that you don’t have to study your own image presets. The UI is smooth and easy to navigate, and even for gaming, it can pop up TV content. While HDR calibration isn’t natively ideal for the PS5, it’s not something that a little tinkering can make a good TV for gaming. However, those looking to take advantage of the HDMI 2.1 features found on the PS5 and Xbox Series X should look at the 55-inch or higher variant as the 50-inch variant does not have a 120Hz display. On the downside, the TV does not support Dolby Vision and loses some bright highlights due to its low peak brightness. Sound output through Clear is average for mixed content like movies and gaming. If you are in the market to get a 50-inch TV around 75 to 80K, you must consider the frame. The closest competitor we tested was the Sony X80J 7

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