It’s no secret TVs are ugly. Lots of design-minded people don’t want one in a living room because it’s a giant black hole in an otherwise chic space. Samsung’s designers and engineers have solved this problem with the Frame TV. The Frame TV is made to look just like a painting when it’s turned off, hiding a high quality, high resolution 4K TV that sparks to life with the click of a button.
2021 Samsung Frame TV review
I first reviewed the Frame in 2017 and that review has over a million views. Now that Samsung has launched a brand new 2021 Frame TV version I thought it was time to get another look at the Frame.
Watch my in-home video review of Frame TV
In this all new review I’ll look at what the video quality is like, what the special art mode and new gallery mode features are all about and what differentiates them, plus we’ll touch on how to install it with the special no-gap wall mount, since I did it myself this time. I’ll also note any differences and upgrades from the original Frame TV too, since there are a few new features like Multi View.
What’s new with 2021 Samsung Frame TV?
One of the first and most noticeable differences is that the 2021 Frame TV is half as deep as the original, measuring 48.7″ x 27.9″ x 1”. There are also several new features, which we’ll get to…
Opting for white detachable magnetic decor frame
One other quick note about how my TV looks: I also opted to purchase an extra detachable magnetic white frame to hide the black bezel and help it blend into my space better. There are lots of other colours and styles available too but I went for the White Modern frame. It does appear that older Frame TV magnetic frames will not fit on the newer thinner TVs if you’re wondering. If you choose not to add a coloured frame, the bezel of your TV will be black.
How to install 2021 Samsung Frame TV: wall mount is a must with included cleat
In order for this TV to believably pose as a painting when it’s not showing video, it needs to be properly installed, in my opinion and that means wall mounting it. There are feet that come with the Frame just in case but I’ve already put them away in a drawer and you should too.
The wall mount (Samsung has called it the No-Gap Wall Mount) is significantly different from the original too; here two hinged metal hooks attache to the TV then will slide right into a completely flat two-piece bracket system that affixes to the wall. The previous version tucked into a recessed panel behind the TV and articulated a bit. With this one you need to measure perfectly and install it exactly where you need it because there’s really no adjusting it.
I’d say it took us about an hour to install it and most of that was measuring, finding studs and double checking. The instructions are pretty easy and it’s not hard to do, but it did take time to get it right.
Connecting components – Samsung One Connect & Invisible Connection
Another cool aspect of the Frame TV is the Samsung One Connect box and Invisible Connection which means you’ll see virtually nothing when it comes to cords and cables.
The One Connect box is available with other Samsung TVs, but with the Frame it is absolutely essential. The clean lines of this TV need not to be cluttered up with dangling cords and twisted cables. For that reason there are no ports in the TV itself; you must use the One Connect Box. You can either hide the One Connect cable in the wall, or run it carefully under the TV. It’s barely noticeable.
Now, the last time I reviewed the Frame it was a loaner, so I didn’t install any conduit in the wall to hide the cable and people hated seeing it. So this time since I’ve bought this TV for myself, we’ve opted to properly conceal the cable in the wall.
The One Connect box doesn’t need line of sight, so it can be hidden in a cabinet, or otherwise placed out of the way. The One Connect Box is where you’ll connect your peripherals like a game console, sound bar, or streaming devices— though the Frame now has most of the best streaming services built in so there’s really no need for more. There’s Apple TV, Prime Video, Netflix, YouTube and lots more.
I also opted to connect a Sonos Beam sound bar to my set up, though the TV’s internal speakers are fine and some folks won’t mind them at all.
Using the Samsung Frame TV – Art Mode and Ambient Mode in one stunning TV
While the 4K video resolution of this TV is important, that’d probably not the primary reason you’re looking at the Frame, so I’m going to start with the standout features including art and ambient mode, and this TV— unlike some others— has both these features.
Samsung Art Mode
Art Mode is what sets this TV apart from pretty much all other televisions. When the TV is not displaying video, you can have it display Art Mode where you get ultra high quality, high resolution art prints or photography
Unlike some other competitor TVs with The Frame, you can also add your own art and photos or download UHD/4K screensaver art from 3rd party websites.
New with the Frame 2021 is the addition of Ambient Mode. While the previous Frame had only still art, other Samsung TVs, including ones I’ve reviewed here had Ambient Mode.
Samsung Art Store
When last I sampled The Frame’s art with the original TV, there was quite a bit of free artwork, but now Samsung really wants you to pay for a subscription. You can choose to pay a subscription fee monthly (about $7/month) or go for the annual membership ($80). You can also buy individual works at about $27 each.
What is Samsung Ambient Mode?
Ambient Mode is another version of art on your TV, but in this case, it’s often moving art, or graphics art but it goes a bit further in that it can also show you weather information, and you can also take a photo of your wall or wallpaper and have the TV use that to make it completely disappear.
You might be wondering if the art will look fake or glassy since it’s coming from a TV screen and the answer is not at all. There’s no-glare glass on the screen so even when you’re standing in front of the the art, it looks legitimately like a painting.
I’ll admit that after the TV was installed and I picked some art, I sat in front of the screen, drank a martini and just enjoyed the view. The effect is stunningly realistic. The way the light plays off the screen and the detail of the replicated art is beautiful.
Built in light and motion sensor
Part of the illusion of making the artwork look realistic is about the screen’s light output.
A built-in light sensor adjusts the screen’s output constantly so that the art is always visible in its best light. Got sunlight streaming in and filling the room? The art looks realistic and bright. When night time rolls around you won’t get flaring glare from the screen; it adapts to display a dimmed version that still looks like it fits into the rest of the room.
You can also enable a motion sensor. This will lets the screen respond to movement, flicking the TV on to Art Mode when it senses someone nearby, but otherwise turns the TV fully off leaving a blank screen, to save energy. You can set this turnoff time to be as long or short as you like.
I found this feature very responsive. There was virtually no delay from walking into the room, and the TV returning to active art mode. I hardly ever noticed the dark screen .
Using the Samsung Frame TV
With the amazing art here to help the TV hide in plain sight and blend seamlessly into a room, it’s easy to forget this The Frame is also a 4K TV.
We watched movies on it, TV series and sports too. The 4K resolution is clear and stunning and the level of detail was very impressive.
By now most of you know 4K resolution is super sharp, colourful and realistic. It’s hard to replicate in a YouTube video or to accurately describe it, but you can be sure you’re getting a super high quality TV where everything looks amazing.
Streaming is built in to this TV, so you can access YouTube, Netflix and even surf the web from the TV itself. You can also connect other streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV or Google Chromecast using one of the HDMI ports in the One Connect Box if you’re so inclined.
One Remote + Voice Control, or use your smartphone
Controlling the TV is easy and you can do it two ways. The TV comes with a small remote, or you can use your smartphone.
Samsung One Remote
The remote has ambient light charging (called the Solar Cell Remote)… which is a new thing for me. On the back, a small light sensitive panel charges the remote using indoor light. It can also be charged via USB (C-type), with a full charge lasting for almost two years. Naturally I haven’t been able to test that yet…
The One Remote has just a handful of buttons. You can control tasks like playing/pause, and power with a touch.
This remote has voice control built in. Just say things like “channel 10” while holding the small microphone button and the TV changes channels for you.
Want to find 4K nature videos on YouTube? Just say that to the remote, and it will automatically switch from the TV input, to YouTube and perform your search without typing or further commands.
You can use the built in voice assistant or choose Google Assistant, which I did so I can also use it to control my smart home.
Samsung Smart Things app & remote
Your smartphone can also be the remote for your TV. Download the Samsung SmartThings app and pair up to your TV for instant control over the set. You can also tee up apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, The Weather Network, Crave TV and more. In the app , you can also view various art works and set them to your Frame too.
I will say the app is extremely buggy on my iPhone and iPad and crashes constantly; honestly, it crashes pretty much every time I use it so it’s been extremely frustrating.
I hope there’s an update for it soon, but trying to surf the artwork options was impossible… Apple users, you’ve been warned.
Play music to the TV
You can listen to music on the Frame. There’s a couple of ways to do this.
First is that the TV acts as an output source for your smartphone so you can listen right on the screen. Using a Bluetooth connection and my iPhone I was able to Airplay music, but that takes over the output and shows album covers, not art mode. I’d really love to use both my music and art mode at the same time, but I can’t see how that’s possible .
Some other Samsung TVs have what’s called Sound Mirroring, but this appears not to exist on the Frame.
You can access a couple of common music streaming apps right on the Frame. I was able to engage Apple Music and Spotify on screen, but again, you’re subjected to the album covers or lyrics stream, not art mode.
For me this may be the biggest downside of the Frame TV.
Screen sharing, airplay, mirroring on Samsung Frame TV
The Frame TV lets you do screen mirroring, AirPlay or otherwise share the screen of your laptop, phone or computer. There’s a few different options and it works for both PC (using PC on TV) and Apple. I have an iPhone and MacBook and can confirm it’s quick and easy to hit the screen mirror button and have everything pop up instantly.
What is Multi View?
The new 2021 Samsung Frame now has a feature called Multi View.
Multi View lets you watch what’s on The Frame and your mobile on the same screen at the same time. You can also see both the TV output and YouTube watch cable and a streaming device at the same time. Multi View lets you watch two different sources at once.
Whether it’s live tweets for big games or how to videos for gaming , simply connect your phone and multi-screen for a smart seamless experience. This feature worked amazingly well, though it is a bit weird to get set up and adjust. You can watch my other video, how to set up and use Multi View here on the channel.
To access Multi View press the Home button on the remote, and then select Multi View, which looks like three rectangles with a plus symbol in the middle.
First you’ll choose your content: Click on one of the two windows where content can be viewed using the cursor keys, then click the ok button on the remote. That will give you a menu to choose your sources.
Select Content: Choose the content that will be displayed on one side of the screen. If you’d like to use an external device, navigate to the Source menu, and then select Connection Guide. Then, select your device from the list.
If one of the things you want to watch is coming from your smartphone, like your Twitter or instagram feed, the next thing you’ll need to do is turn on screen mirroring on your phone. Once you do that, The Frame will see it an open it in one of the windows.
You can choose the Smart View/Screen mirror button on Android mobile or the Airplay button from an iOS device.
Sound Distribution: Select this option to hear the audio from both screens at once. The TV and external device speakers will play sound simultaneously. I will say you’ve got a tonne of options here with Multi View; different screen sizes, different display options, different sources. I highly recommend playing with the Multi View feature to get a feel for it as there’s almost so many options it can be overwhelming.
Additional designer frames
Does the basic black TV bezel not do it for your decor? You can purchase different colour frames or wood-looks for about $200 each. The frames come in four pieces which are perfectly sized to wrap around your TV. They snap on and off in seconds with magnets. The concept is actually pretty genius, and I love the look of my white frame Frame.
Overall review of new 2021 Samsung Frame TV
Overall there is a lot to love about the 2021 Frame TV and quite a few improvements in the 2021 version.
The art mode is amazing, and now with ambient mode too it’s a majorly versatile art showpiece whether you want still imagery or some motion. The fact that it’s also a deliciously detailed 4K TV is the cherry and chocolate sauce on an already amazing sundae.
It goes without saying that the 4K picture is stunning and realistic. With the HDR support for more accurate color representation and high end light replication, there’s just nothing bad to say about the picture.
Samsung Frame TV – burn in?
Some folks had asked if I was noticing any burn in. I can say definitively that in the three weeks I tested the TV I have not noticed that. In my opinion it would take far longer use for that to become noticeable.
Overall review 2021 Frame TV
I think the TV is very responsive and switches quickly between modes. The fact that it has smart capabilities and streaming built-in means you don’t need to add anything else to it unless you want to. Even the basic speaker in the TV is pretty good, but I did add my Sonos Beam sound bar to the kit.
I love Multi View and found it works extremely well to display both my social feeds via my phone and the TV content.
When it comes to the downsides, the Samsung SmartThings app is extraordinarily buggy and crashes constantly on the iPhone. I’ve essentially given up on using it until there’s an update.
The other major downside since we’re talking about that is that you can’t choose your own music to play over Art or Ambient mode.
Overall I think the 2021 Frame TV is the best TV on the market for folks who want a set in their main living space and need it to blend in.
For the home theater junkie you get amazing picture, and for the designer/decorator in the home, art and ambient modes just makes this TV blend in beautifully.
*A note about Affiliate Links: Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you choose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using this link.