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In addition to Samsung’s wacky $899.99 portable projector that doubles as a speaker and a lamp that’s geared toward millennials, the tech giant is also updating its Neo QLED and The Frame TVs at CES 2022.
Samsung’s focus is on improvements to software with minimal changes to hardware. For starters, the “Tizen” TV interface is getting a redesign that packs more features into one place, and there’s a new Gaming Hub. On the hardware side, TVs are getting brighter, processing techniques are improving and The Frame is getting updated technology to reduce glare.
Let’s unpack it all while sharing some insights from our conversation with Samsung’s Dan Schinasi, director of product planning for TV, and Lydia Cho, head of product marketing for TV.
The Frame, now with a glare-free fine art touch
The main appeal of Samsung’s sleek lifestyle TV is that it’s not just an ugly black screen but also displays a work of art when it’s turned off. And though it’s not a complete redesign, the new year will bring a well-deserved and fundamental change to The Frame. For 2022, all sizes of Samsung’s The Frame will now feature an anti-glare and low-reflection matte display, which will help make the art look, well, more like art.
“Fine art has that parchment-type look and feel. And this panel will bring that out,” notes Schinasi. “It doesn’t matter which [type of] art you look at, that will be one of the added benefits based on the panel performance.” Regardless of what you choose to display, the new Frame should appear more natural, allowing for enhanced colors and accurate details.
We did call out the overall reflectivity of the panel on the 2021 Frame — for TV or displaying art. This should help correct the glare when you’re not watching the display, which tends to give away the parlor trick that it’s a TV, not a framed piece of art.
We’re excited to put The Frame’s new finish to the test and see how much of a difference it makes in our everyday space. And regardless of size, The Frame still delivers a 4K HDR picture from a standard Quantum Dot panel.
If you’re not torn about The Frame potentially showing some glare, the 2020 model is readily available, on sale for a lower price and is well reviewed from us.
- 32-Inch The Frame 2020 ($527.99, originally $599.99; amazon.com and samsung.com)
- 43-Inch The Frame 2021 ($947.99, originally $999.99; amazon.com and samsung.com)
- 50-Inch The Frame 2021 ($1,197.99, originally $1,299.99; amazon.com and samsung.com)
- 55-Inch The Frame 2021 ($1,397.99, originally $1,499.99; amazon.com and samsung.com)
- 65-Inch The Frame 2021 ($1,397.99, originally $1,499.99; amazon.com and samsung.com)
Neo QLEDs are brighter, but the real changes are with software
Last year, Samsung impressed with its Neo QLED 4K and 8K TVs, walking away with a Best of CES award from CNN Underscored. It was a change from standard LEDs to Mini LED technology, which essentially packs more miniature LEDs behind the panel to create a brighter, clearer image. The result was a more vibrant picture that was better at re-creating visuals and upscaling for an immersive viewing experience. This technology was paired with Samsung’s processing techniques and a 4K or 8K resolution HDR TV that could hit a 120Hz refresh rate.
All of that is staying put for 2022 on most of the Neo QLED models — the core lineup will still be 4K and 8K variants. But this year, these LEDs will get even brighter for a better picture. And similar to Sony’s Bravia XR Processor, Samsung’s processing and upscaling will now use AI to identify a scene’s focal point, helping to make the area you’re looking at more detailed. The idea is to create a more immersive viewing experience, though we won’t know for sure until we test it.
The other change is that select “premium Neo QLED models” will offer a variable refresh rate of 144Hz, which should appeal to gamers and fans of live sports. This is up from the former 120Hz of the other standard models. And all 2022 Samsung Smart TVs will also come with a new Gaming Hub.
“It’s a completely new platform designed to make it easy to browse, discover, access and launch all of your games. With cloud gaming in the hub, you can also access games from different places,” explains Cho. The Gaming Hub will let you pull games from a connected console like a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X, along with cloud services like Google Stadia or Nvidia GeForce Now. Surprisingly, Xbox Game Pass isn’t on board yet, but the company has teased it as a possibility in the future. You’ll also be able to customize the gaming-specific modes on the TV, like adjusting the screen size and ratio.
All of these features are part of a more extensive redesign for Samsung’s smart TV interface, giving you one-stop access to other services like on-demand, live programming and streaming without fumbling through a bunch of menus. The new interface will be broken up into media, games and an ambient mode, the latter of which will offer content that can be displayed when the TV is off.
In an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Samsung will be rolling out support for NFTs to be displayed and even purchased on the TV itself. They’re also expanding “watch together” options and offering smart calibration, which will make it easier to optimize picture quality.
The 2022 family of Neo QLED TVs will be available in the coming months, along with more minor updates to standard QLED models.
The Eco remote gets smarter with radio waves
Last year, Samsung’s Eco remote integrated a rechargeable battery with a USB-C port and a solar power cell, allowing us to ditch those user-replaceable batteries and juice up with ambient or artificial light.
For 2022, it’s getting more intelligent and environmentally friendly and will ship with most 2022 Samsung TVs — white for lifestyle TVs (The Frame, The Sero and The Serif) and black for Smart TVs. The new Eco remote will be able to collect RF waves and frequencies to recharge, which means it will actually pluck radio waves from your airspace and convert them into energy. So theoretically, you can keep it near your router for a stronger charge.
Samsung’s traditional TV hardware isn’t getting a huge upgrade, but that doesn’t mean it’s being glossed over. Improvements to the Neo QLED should deliver a better picture, and we’re eager to test out the improved smart interface. The Gaming Hub is launching at exactly the right time and will be focusing on more services for cloud gaming.
More interestingly, though, is the glare-free Frame, and we’re naming that a finalist for best TV of CES 2022. We also named The Freestyle projector a finalist, and you can see our full breakdown on why it matters here. We’ll be sharing our full finalists later this week ahead of the top picks in each category.
We’re looking forward to reviewing Samsung’s 2022 The Frame, Neo QLED in the coming months along with trying out the updated Eco remote.