Remember digital photo frames? Relics from the pre-iPad era, they were designed to sit on your coffee table and cycle through shots of your recent trip to Cincinnati. Once Apple came up with the clever idea of adding a battery, a touchscreen, and iOS to the same general form factor, digital photo frames may well have joined the witness protection program.
Well, the novel little flatscreens just reentered the mainstream, and they’re sassier than ever. Alongside a bunch of new high-end 4K HDR TVs, Samsung announced that a picture-frame/television hybrid dubbed The Frame will make its way into stores this Spring. There’s no pricing information on The Frame just yet, but it was birthed from the mind of famed product designer Yves Behar, which is probably worth a thousand bucks alone.
The display is short on specs—Samsung hasn’t provided details on screen resolution, size, aspect ratio, or weight—but this panel isn’t meant to replace the 65-inch Vizio in your living room. You hang this thing on your wall, and while you can binge-watch CHiPs on it like any other TV, the real magic happens when you’re not watching your stories.
When the TV’s off, The Frame jumps into Art Mode, where it flips through more than 100 paintings and photographs. Even though it looks completely wireless, it isn’t; The Frame uses a single slim, transparent cable to sip power from a wall outlet. And like Samsung’s new high-end QLED televisions, The Frame uses a cleverly designed, recessed wall mount that lets you adjust the display fairly freely after you put it on the wall.
Art Mode is actually one of two “off” modes. The Frame has motion and light sensors built into the front of it, so the screen turns completely off if it doesn’t sense activity in the room. It’ll also adjust the brightness of the display based on ambient light levels. And because everyone’s decor is different, The Frame has interchangeable bezels to ensure it’ll look fine in your foyer.
Unique as it sounds, this isn’t the first TV-as-picture-frame product. A few years ago, LG released a limited-edition “Gallery OLED,” a 55-inch panel with speakers embedded in a peripheral frame that cost $7,500. A company called Electric Objects makes a $300 portrait-mode art frame that’s a popular item on holiday gift lists each year. Maybe Behar’s creation will find some room in the market.
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