Samsung Odyssey Ark hands-on: a raft of a gaming show

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Samsung’s Odyssey Ark had a stealthy presence at CES 2022, however the curved 55-inch gaming monitor-meets-TV is almost able to launch. It’s popping out in mid-September for $3,499.99, with reservations for preorders beginning immediately. I bought to check out a prototype of the Odyssey Ark with a batch of PC video games. Shock: gaming with my face three ft away from a 55-inch 4K show with 165Hz refresh fee is superior. However I used to be equally impressed with the bounty of options that the Ark can ship.

The Ark represents Samsung’s most aggressive play at distinguishing itself as a maker of gaming shows. The 55-inch 1000R curvature is, after all, one technique to go about protruding. It might probably simply be rotated to be used in portrait mode with as much as three video sources. The opposite main method is with some good TV performance, specifically the Samsung Gaming Hub that permits for cloud streaming by way of Xbox Sport Move, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna. Just like the Samsung M8 Sensible Monitor that I reviewed, it runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS — in case you need to use some streaming apps like YouTube or Apple TV Plus.

Given its excessive value, there’s likelihood that you simply’ll need to do extra than simply sport on the Ark. This display screen is sufficiently big to accommodate a number of use circumstances without delay with ease. Constructing upon the usual picture-in-picture (PIP) mode supplied by many TVs and a few displays, the Ark contains strong display screen manipulation settings that allow you to go from primary (stack 4 home windows, two by two) to extra area of interest (set one enter to be 32:9, with one conventional 16:9 enter above it). The probabilities, whereas not endlessly configurable, appear ripe for some attention-grabbing use circumstances in case you’re the sort who likes to tweak settings. And that’s earlier than you flip the Ark sideways into cockpit mode.

Doing so requires you to tilt the show upward, increase it to the best setting that its massive, minimalist, height-adjustable stand will permit, then flip it 90 levels counterclockwise. I used to be fearful that it’d be a two-person job, however I used to be in a position to do it myself with out a lot bother. What’s cool is that rotating the display screen will auto-rotate your supply’s image, too. With the Ark oriented like this, you possibly can view as much as three screens stacked vertically or stretch one from high to backside in case your sport helps it. In cockpit mode, it form of appears to be like just like the Ark is a wave that’s about to crash on high of you. Samsung’s Owen Sexton informed me throughout the demo that the Ark can also be wall-mountable and can embrace a VESA mount.

The Ark’s mount permits it to be rotated 90 levels right into a “cockpit mode.”

Regardless of Samsung’s promotion of the Ark closely favoring displaying it within the cockpit mode, I most popular gaming in panorama mode with a single supply taking on the whole display screen. Utilizing multiview mode is nice, although whether or not in portrait or panorama mode, the curvature of the display screen could make every slice of the display screen tackle a slight keystone impact, the place some corners look skewed. Which will break the immersion for gaming, however it needs to be nice for different duties. If I have been utilizing the Ark for work, I’d doubtless desire utilizing it in cockpit mode. Just like the thought behind the 16:18 side ratio LG DualUp, it’s simpler to shortly see a number of home windows by simply shifting my head up and down as an alternative of aspect to aspect like I’ve to with a number of displays or an ultrawide.

Samsung contains two remotes with the Ark, one being a typical distant to deal with the fundamental capabilities and one other extra concerned possibility known as the Ark dial. It’s a standalone command heart that places the Ark’s fundamental capabilities (energy, quantity, enter choose, and sport bar) on massive buttons. There’s a rotatable dial and a directional pad inside it to extra shortly alter settings. There’s even a photo voltaic panel to recharge it, so that you don’t must ever plug it in.

I ought to observe that neither distant appeared to make it elegant to navigate the monitor’s myriad menus and settings. There’s a particular studying curve to discovering the settings you’re on the lookout for, and a big a part of my demo was simply making an attempt — and generally failing — to go the place I needed to.

The Ark’s dial distant means you by no means should fiddle with a joystick on the show itself to regulate settings.

The Ark, like Samsung’s different high-end gaming displays, is a melding of its greatest TV panel know-how with options that players with deep pockets will doubtless take pleasure in, like HDR, VRR, and 4 HDMI 2.1 ports (although, curiously, no DisplayPort). It has Samsung’s quantum Mini LED backlighting that it claims is able to as much as 1,500 nits at peak brightness, and the corporate claims that it’s the primary 55-inch 4K panel that helps 165Hz refresh fee.

This show has a 1000R curve, and it’s each bizarre and funky to see the curve come again for a panel that appears a lot like a TV. The curve’s scoop isn’t as deep because the Odyssey Neo G9’s 1800R curvature (to every their very own, however I believe the 1000R is the candy spot by way of simply having the ability to see every little thing on the display screen with out peripheral element dropping by the wayside).

In my transient time with the Ark, enjoying video games like Doom Everlasting and Forza Horizon 5 appeared like superb showcases for the way vivid and quick this show can go. No complaints there. Its 16:9 side ratio meant that the image didn’t exhibit visible warping across the edges as we noticed on Samsung’s 32:9 side ratio Odyssey G9 and Neo G9. Nonetheless, I wasn’t as flabbergasted by the distinction in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator as I hoped to be. With the Ark’s curve and the QLED display screen, I used to be anticipating to be roughly sucked in with immersion. Although, the truth that I didn’t really feel that method could possibly be resulting from some elements, like the extreme brightness of the room, the visible mode of the Ark not being tuned correctly for gaming, or maybe that the tuning on this prototype unit isn’t fairly completed.

The Ark offers an immersive gaming expertise with out the warping you generally see on ultrawide displays.

All mentioned, the Ark expertise feels polished, however there have been another quirks on this prototype. When a Samsung consultant was strolling me via the image resizing options, some tutorial pop-ups wouldn’t disappear. The group mentioned this was a identified prerelease difficulty. Additionally, a sliver of the highest bezel didn’t need to stay seated, letting a smidge of backlight peek out. After I pressed down on the bezel, the sunshine leakage went away, however it got here again shortly after I launched it. Maybe it’s a difficulty with glue or one other drawback altogether. Hopefully, that’s not current in transport items.

The Ark looks like a identified amount on its face, however there’s one thing about it that feels distinctive. It packs spectacular gaming monitor specs right into a design that’s, by all accounts apart from the stand, an old-school curved TV. Provided that it packs in some good options, like cloud sport streaming and good TV apps, the Ark could possibly be a fantastic match for somebody who needs to go all-out — each by way of measurement and its $3,499.99 value. I’m virtually extra excited with the concept that it’s an indication that a few of these options might come to cheaper Samsung gaming shows within the close to future.

Pictures by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

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