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Review: Samsung UE55SL003 – The Frame Design TV

Samsung UE55SL003
The Samsung UE55SL003, The Frame, has to give your television a new meaning. Not just a photo frame, but a television that serves as a fully-fledged art framework.
4.5/5 - (558 votes)

The Samsung UE55SL003, The Frame, has to give your television a new meaning. Not just a photo frame, but a television that serves as a fully-fledged art framework. With a design that you hang on the wall without hesitation, between your other frames. And complete with a wide range of art from which you regularly select something new.

Samsung The Frame specifications

  • What: Ultra HD Edge LED LCD TV
  • Screen size: 55 inches (139 cm), flat
  • Connections: 4x HDMI (1xARC, 4x v2.0a), 3x USB, 1x digital optical audio out, 2x antenna, network connection, Bluetooth
  • Extras: Art Mode, No Gap Wallmount, HDR10 +, HLG, WiFi (802.11ac) built-in, Tizen Smart Hub, USB / DLNA media player, DVB-T / C / S2, CI + lock, Smart Controller, voice control
  • Dimensions: 1,235 x 751 x 200 mm (including foot)
  • Weight: 19.1 kg (including foot)
  • Consumption: 103 / 0.3 watt (Energy Label A)
  • Recommended retail price: 2.399 euros

Samsung The Frame – design

A television that serves as an art framework requires a specific design. That is why Samsung worked with Yves Béhar for The Frame. Modern televisions are already extremely slim, have no ugly framework and are perfectly on the wall. It should not surprise us that Samsung had to tinker with the outside. At the front the screen has a black border of about one centimeter wide, and in profile the television is four centimeters wide. The view is that of a simple black art frame. With the help of an optional list you can change the color of the frame, the list is available in walnut wood, oak and white metal.

The back is completely closed, and has a stripe pattern. The finish all around is beautiful and allows you to choose the optional studio stand, with which the TV is set up on a tripod, as on an easel. The device comes with two simple legs, for a classic place on the TV cabinet. But the No Gap wallmount is also included in the box. With this you fix the device perfectly flat against the wall, an option that we suspect that many buyers will choose.

Connections

To be able to install the television with as little cable drum as possible, it is equipped with the One Connect Box and Invisible Connection. The One Connect box is a separate, small box, to which you connect all source devices. The Invisible Connection is a five meter long, 2mm thin optical cable that is the only connection between the One Connect and the television. The television also only needs a power cable, just like the One Connect box.

So just put your source devices somewhere in the cabinet, put the One Connect on, and carefully guide the thin optical cable to the television (avoid sharp bends, Samsung provides two bends with you so that you can secure the cable at the corners with the help of those bends )

On the One Connect box you will find four HDMI connections, and three times USB. There is an optical digital output, but no headphone connection, and analogue inputs are also missing. The Samsung does have Bluetooth. This connects a wireless headset or keyboard.

Samsung The Frame – ease of use

The ease of use is ensured thanks to Samsung’s excellent Smart Hub environment. This guides you step-by-step through all the necessary settings during the installation. The TV tries to recognize connected devices, but rarely succeeds. In most cases you will have to help him.

Menus and Smart Hub run like a train. Every interaction goes smoothly and quickly. The menus are organized in such a way that the more advanced settings are deeper. That is an excellent choice, so that you as a consumer are no longer overwhelmed with technical terms. What is better is the appointment of some institutions and the accompanying explanation. For example ‘image format’ may show some extra information, and use clearer terminology to explain how you can adjust the image format correctly.

Other settings such as Digital Clear View can no longer be activated in several steps, but can only be switched on or off. As a result, the choice to activate a very light noise suppression disappears, and you are regularly required to dive into the menus.

Remote control

The Frame comes with two remote controls, both executed in white. The first remote is the traditional Samsung remote. He has great, pleasant keys and a good layout. The Smart controller is also included on this model. The slightly curved remote control is easy to handle, and works with considerably fewer keys. That is not a limitation, thanks to the smart layout of the Smart Hub, and the use of on-screen keys for example channel numbers. The on / off button doubles on both remotes as the switch button for Art mode. Short press switches to Art, a long press turns off the TV.

Which remote you prefer depends entirely on your taste. But the Smart controller can also act as a universal remote, after going through a simple setup procedure. Open the Smart Hub, go to Sources (penultimate icon on the left) and scroll in the options all the way to the right, to ‘Set universal Remote Control’.

Samsung The Frame – features

Smart TV platform

Like most other Samsung models, The Frame is equipped with the Smart Hub. It shows all functions, sources and settings in a bar at the bottom of the image. You can adjust the order of icons so that your favorite items are at the front.

Above it appears a larger bar that shows options depending on your selection at the bottom. For example, in Netflix you get a number of suggestions. If you choose the sources below, you will see all possible sources.

Smart functions

The Frame is equipped with a full set of tuners for digital TV, and you can record to external hard drive. The media player reads as well as all of our test files, both Full HD, Ultra HD and HDR, and encoded in H.264, HEVC or VP9. Subtitles are no problem. The audio player also reads FLAC and ALAC.

The Smart remote is equipped with a microphone, and with that you can give a lot of commands or say queries, for the time being only in English. Even with Dutch as the menu language selected, that remains the case. Support for Dutch probably comes with a software update.

But the most important feature of The Frame is of course Art mode. With a short press on the on / off button you switch from TV mode to art mode. Then you choose a work of art from the extensive range, and ready. What makes The Frame so special as an art frame? First, he tries to look as much as possible as a paper work of art. This means that the brightness of the screen is considerably lower in Art mode than in TV mode. The light sensor adjusts the image based on the ambient light. This makes the image clearer when there is a lot of light, and vice versa. A motion detector (with adjustable sensitivity) sees when no one is present in the room and switches off the appliance after a self-adjusting period (from 15 minutes to four hours). If you activate the ‘Night Mode’, the Frame switches itself off when there is no light in the room. Via Smart View you can also manually adjust the brightness of the screen, and adjust the color temperature.

It is remarkable that you can only operate all those settings from a Smart Phone with the Samsung Smart View app. As soon as the TV is in Art mode you can no longer adjust settings, just select the desired art.

An art framework is obviously not useful without art. Anyone who receives The Frame at home can access the Samsung Art Collection. With 100 images of 37 artists in 10 categories (landscape, patterns, drawings, action, digital art, architecture …) you already have a large library. Some works appear on the full screen, others use a digital passe-partout. This collection will be expanded.

Are you looking for even more choice, then visit the Art Shop. There you can purchase one-off works of art (20 euro / work) or take out a subscription (5 euro / month). This gives you access to more than 500 images in different collections (Old Masters, Albertina, Magnum Photos, Museo Del Prado, Saatchi Art, …). And of course you can also show your own photos (via the Smart View app or via USB). You also get the option to put two or three photos in a montage or to use a panoramic photo.

A notable flaw is that you can not create a list of works that are then used as a slideshow. Samsung let us know that this option may be delivered via firmware in the future.

What does The Frame use? A television that is on a large part of the day, that should cost something? In its darkest position it draws 24 Watt, in the brightest 102 Watt. Under the assumption that The Frame stands for four hours every day, at a price of 0.22 euro / kWh, that amounts to around 8 to 32 euros per year. All in all very reasonable.

Samsung The Frame – Image quality

Under the bonnet of The Frame there is a screen that dates from the 6000 series. So do not expect quantum dot colors, or extreme HDR performance. We do not think that is a real defect, the Frame is intended for different uses, and should pay attention to its consumption.

Main settings

The best choice starts from the film mode.

Film Mode
Expert settings
Advanced
Backlighting: 12-15
Brightness: 0
Contrast: 95-90
Sharpness: 0 (to 20)
Color: 50
Tint: G50 / R50
Clean Digital View: Off / On
Auto Motion Plus: Custom *
Contrast improvement: Off
HDR + mode: Off *
Color tone: Warm 2
Gamma: BT.1886 / 0
RGB mode: Off
Color space: Auto

Explanation of main settings;

  • Clean Digital View contains all noise reduction techniques. It is advisable to activate this if you are watching DVD or other low-quality image.
  • Auto Motion Plus: this is always a matter of taste. Car is a good all-round solution. If you want more control, choose Custom and set a blurring reduction to 10 and a vibration reduction somewhere between 6 and 8. We do not recommend LED Clear Motion, the flickering in the image is visible.
  • HDR + mode can be activated to taste. It makes the image clearer.

General image properties and image processing

An art framework, how does that perform in terms of image quality? Pretty good, it turns out. The image processing is in line with the better Samsung devices. This means that it quickly and reliably detects different film and video frame rates, and provides good deinterlacing. Knurled edges or moiré effects will be a rare sight. The noise reduction works neatly away from compression noise (block formation) and random noise, but as mentioned, you can only turn it on or off. Since you do not mind letting him lose detail, you should dive into the settings menu for bad sources.

The sharpness of motion is surprisingly good, slightly better than some other Samsung mid-sized drivers that we have already seen. You get a lot of detail and only a limited vague edge around fast moving objects. Stay away from ‘Led Clear Motion’, it creates visible flicker in the image. ‘Auto Motion plus’ in the Auto setting works fine to eliminate shocks in pan images, but again you can only choose Auto or Off. Many people want more control. Then choose ‘adjusted’ and put blurr reduction on ’10’ ‘vibration reduction’ somewhere between 6 and 8.

The screen uses a VA panel and thus provides an extremely good static contrast. He combines that with an edge LED without local dimming. The black value is excellent, and the static contrast is 4.460: 1, a very good result. The screen also got a good calibration. The gray scale is very uniform, the color temperature is a bit too cool, but you probably will not notice that. All black details are neatly visible. The color range is fine, but Samsung displays something more intense colors than necessary. Fortunately, this is only the case with most bright, intense colors and not over the whole line. Again, it will seldom disturb, only with very colorful images it can sometimes stand out lightly.

HDR

The Frame has the clear goal of being an art frame that can nestle between your other frames without being noticed. HDR capacities are not required for this, as generally limited brightness is sufficient. There is HDR support provided on this television (HDR10 and HLG, later also HDR10+) and the screen has a good color range (88% DCI-P3, 64% Rec2020). The peak brightness is on the low side with about 280 nits (we have asked Samsung if they can confirm this measurement), and HDR images are therefore displayed considerably darker than they really should be. So you can view HDR content, but you do not buy The Frame for that, and it is not really equipped for it either.

In the expert settings of the image menu you can activate HDR + to give your SDR content an HDR touch. That choice makes images a little clearer, it is a choice that you can consider when you look at a lot of light.

Reflections and viewing angles

The VA panel provides excellent contrast, but a moderate viewing angle, as with all screens of this type. Reflections are pretty good, avoid direct light on the screen.

Gaming

In the film image mode we measure a lag of 82.2 ms. That is obviously too much for a good game experience. With the game mode active, the lag drops to 23.5 ms and that is another top result. Do not forget to activate that mode, you can find it in the settings, under General, Manage external devices, Game Mode. Formerly it was under the image settings, which was a lot more logical.

Samsung The Frame – audio quality

For the news, your daily soap and the occasional fascinating TV series, the audio reproduction is fine. With music and epic film soundtracks you can hear that the sound is too sharp, and the Samsung quickly reaches its limits. As long as you do not turn the volume too high, that is not a problem. The ‘optimized’ audio preset is certainly worth trying out, it gives the audio a fuller sound.

Review equipment

For the lag measurement we use a Leo Bodnar Display lag meter. For all other measurements we rely on a Spectracal C6 colorimeter, Xrite i1 Pro spectrophotometer, an AVFoundry HDMI Pattern Generator , an HDFury Integral and HDFury Vertex HDR patterns and the Spectracal Calman for Business software.

Samsung THE FRAME UE55SL003 – Conclusion

Samsung already had experience with style design, just think of the Serif from last year. With The Frame they go a step further. It was not only designed to serve as a style icon, but also with a very specific goal in mind, namely that of art. This makes your television a useful object if you do not watch TV actively. And in that mission they are absolutely successful. Yes, there are some (small) minuses. For example, for some institutions of the art section you need a smartphone, and you can not expect real HDR performance from this TV. The price also clearly points towards premium. Even if you take into account the value of the No Gap Wallmount, it is more at the level of the QLED models than at the level of, for example, a MU8000. But the appearance, the finish, the supplied No Gap Wallmount, the Invisible Connection and the optional frames make The Frame a device that you can hang up or place perfectly without betraying it as a television. The Samsung art collection has been expanded, and there is an option to expand it, albeit for a fee. And of course you get all the ease of use of the Smart Hub and excellent picture quality. The Frame is certainly not for everyone, but we think it’s an excellent idea, which is also well executed.

Cons

  • Some settings require a smartphone
  • No real HDR performance
  • price

Pros

  • Art frame functionality
  • Black value, contrast
  • Image processing
  • Smart Hub and Smart Controller

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