The line between TVs and monitors is blurring. And Samsung wants to remove that line entirely with Odyssey ARK gaming monitor.
It’s a 55-inch OLED display that feels like a TV and a monitor at the same time. Also — yes, it’s a curved screen that can rotate vertically. I had the chance to try out the display at CES 2022, and it’s as wild as Samsung makes it out to be.
Why ARK is more than a rebranded TV
There has been a struggle brewing between TVs and monitors over the past few years. TVs are getting better, with displays like the LG C1 offering up variable refresh rate and Samsung’s newly announced QD-OLED TV bringing 144Hz to the living room.
On the other side, we’re seeing more monitors that look like TVs. Last year’s 55-inch Alienware OLED gaming monitor is one example, and at CES this year, we’ve seen large format OLED
I’ve stuck my nose up at the 55-inch gaming monitors that have come out over the past couple of years. They’re just TVs, generally with a couple of legs on either sides and ports that look and feel like they would on a TV.
Although it’s mostly semantics, ARK is not just a TV. It comes with an adjustable stand. That gives you pivot and tilt, which you won’t find on the TVs masquerading as gaming monitors, but it also gives you height adjustment.
Your eyes don’t deceive you. That is a 55-inch curved OLED monitor positioned vertically. This is cockpit view, where the display stretches far above your head, and it’s remarkable to see in person.
Samsung demoed it with three 16:9 feeds. It might sound like a lot, but I could reasonably game on the bottom screen without any issues. You may struggle to find three windows to put on top of each other, but when they’re all present, the ARK looks great.
It’s a crazy display on its own, but the control dial is what makes the monitor tick. It’s wireless and it allows you quickly swap between different windows. It’s not final, but from what Samsung showed me, the dial looked great. None of the settings were buried in complex menus. Everything was a button press or two away.
Will anyone actually use this?
It’s a question you could ask of a lot of CES products. ARK doesn’t look immediately useful, but the vertical orientation could have legs for specific applications in the future. It’s cockpit view, and my mind immediately went to gaming.
Microsoft Flight Simulator is an obvious application, but I could imagine it in games like Star Wars: Squadrons and indie darling Cloudpunk, too. You wouldn’t normally game in cockpit view like you would with an ultrawide monitor. But for specific titles, ARK could be great.
ARK supports Samsung Multi View, too, so you can cast a video to the top while you’re working or use the bottom half for a console while the top half has your streaming rig. LG’s recently announced DualUp has a similar idea.
The vertical orientation is impressive, but it’s important to remember that this is still a 55-inch, 16:9 display. Unlike the DualUp, you can just use it in the horizontal orientation, and the ARK is a great that way.
In fact, the vertical orientation isn’t what impressed me most. With the control dial, you can instantly resize the screen to common screen sizes, change the resolution, and critically, change the aspect ratio.
You can swap between 16:9, ultrawide 21:9, and super ultrawide 49:9 in seconds. Want to turn it into a pseudo Odyssey Neo G9? No problem. And when you have the bottom taken up with an ultrawide or super ultrawide window, you can still populate the top with other windows.
Bringing TVs and monitors together
The Samsung ARK is gimmicky. The vertical orientation is cool, sure, but there aren’t any games that support that kind of aspect ratio, and I imagine most people will use the monitor in horizontal orientation.
It’s gimmicky, but the ARK itself isn’t a gimmick. It brings together the format of the OLED gaming TVs we’ve seen over the past couple of years with the features and ergonomics of a monitor. Don’t take this lightly: It feels like the ultimate gaming monitor.
Of course, there are still some question marks. Samsung isn’t ready to talk about specs outside the ones I’ve mentioned. We’re still waiting on HDR, brightness, refresh rate — I could go on. I can’t imagine they’ll disappoint, though, considering how much else the ARK has going on.
I’ve seen a dozen or more monitors at CES this year. The Samsung ARK is only one I’m considering buying when it comes out. It’s that impressive.
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