In a world of super-thin panels and bombastic features, Samsung The Serif puts the spotlight on a uniquely designed TV designed to make the TV occupy different spaces in the home.
The Serif is, unquestionably, a television different from the others. It is different because it not only puts a good load of technology on the table, but also bets on the aesthetics and utility of the day.
Televisions, as they are mostly conceived, need a space in which to stay. A piece of furniture or a wall that supports them. On the other hand, the concept of The Serif is much more versatile and allows you to install a television in any corner of a small living room or bedroom and turn it into another piece of decoration.
This Samsung model represents a very good solution for small spaces or as a second TV due to its versatility in installation, but perhaps the 1,199 euros it costs are a reason to reflect on it. For the avoidance of doubt, we will reveal all the details of Samsung’s new The Serif 2020 in this review
A Different TV With Design And Versatility By Flag
Samsung The Serif is the great design bet of the Korean firm, which has created this model for whom the television is not a simple device with cold technology , but can also become one more element in the decoration of your home.
This quirky TV has been created in collaboration with Parisian furniture designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, drawing inspiration from the serif typeface (from French serif ), hence its name The Serif.
The serif font family is characterized by having a kind of hat and a base, so that an “I” serif would be something similar to a column with its base and capital. That is literally the source of the inspiration for this Samsung TV .
Just take a first look at its packaging to realize that it is a different television. In her profile the reference to “I” serif that gives it name is clearly seen.
When most manufacturers (Samsung included) opt for models with increasingly smaller frames, in The Serif we find a generous 111.9 x 67.1 cm structure made of polycarbonate that, in the model we are analyzing, looks beautiful Cotton Blue color . It is also available in white under the name Cloud White .
The frame surrounding the 49-inch screen of The Serif we’re testing draws a 50mm profile on the sides. At the base, the profile draws a curve that starts from 108 mm widening to 206 mm in the central part to provide more base for the TV.
In the upper part, the part that forms the serif in the profile is presented as a curious shelf on which decorative objects can be placed, in addition to serving as a base to connect your smartphone to the television through an NFC connection point .
The Samsung Serif can be mounted on a piece of furniture like any other television, but what makes it really different are the metal legs that can be threaded to its base.
This gives it total independence since, thanks to its 21.9 kg , the television can be placed in any corner of the room and can be moved freely, raising it about 49 cm from the floor.
Those who have seen the television installed in my living room during the days we have been testing it have highlighted its curious design, which does not go unnoticed as original and decorative .
Unlike the rest of the rear of the TVs, the one of the Samsung The Serif is completely covered with a panel that matches the rest of the TV case and the connectors are not in sight.
This shows that it is a television concept that has not been designed to be attached to a wall, but to be installed in a place where the entire television is exposed and not only the front, as it can be at the foot of a bed, in a corner of the room or in spaces where it would be difficult to install a television by itself, so the back should look as well finished as the front.
To do this, Samsung has provided a cover that covers a little more than half of the back under which the connectors are hidden and an efficient cable management system that directs them to the ground in an aesthetic and orderly way.
The cover is fixed with a system of tabs that, with a minimum pressure, are released and allow the rear cover to be removed. On one of its sides we find the battery of connectors among which we find:
- 4 HDMI ports, one of them with eARC support
- 2 USB ports
- Optical digital output
- RF input (DTT)
- Composite AV
- Hidden CI + slot for which an included adapter is needed.
As you have seen, Samsung The Serif does not have an Ethernet connector and limits the internet connection to the WiFi network. This responds to the spirit of this TV in order to minimize the presence of cables, but limits the connection capacity if you do not have a quality WiFi connection in the place where it will be installed.
To maintain a clean and tidy aesthetic, The Serif that we are analyzing has impeccable cable management . Under the cover we find a series of channels in which the cables are inserted to take them to one of the holes located at the base of the television. Just above each hind leg.
The TV includes an accessory that is easily installed on the rear leg and hides the cables by practically imperceptibly lowering them to the ground.
When closing the rear cover everything is perfectly integrated and the only thing that remains in sight in the back is a small joystick from which the main functions of the television are controlled without having to depend on the remote control. It is the only physical “button” you will find on this television.
The commissioning and installation of The Serif is one of the simplest since it is enough to screw the legs to the base and place the TV in any corner of the room near an electrical outlet.
Its design is not the usual one on a TV in 2020 , so we will find supporters and detractors, but it is undeniable that it is a unique concept that Samsung has managed to achieve and that, as we have already said, it can be an excellent option such as second television or for rooms where you want to integrate the television as one more object in the decoration.
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An Old Acquaintance, But With A Touch Of Style
The remote control that accompanies the Samsung The Serif is an old acquaintance for those who have already used a Samung television since it is the One Remote control .
This command, despite the conciseness of its buttons, allows a wide range with which to control the operation of different devices connected to the television such as sound systems or decoders.
The differential touch provided by this control with respect to the usual one that accompanies many televisions in the Samsung catalog is color. The unit of The Serif that we are analyzing includes a remote control in matt white , although it would have been logical for the remote to follow the same blue hue as the television.
The same minimalism that we find in the television is reflected in the remote control in which the circular central pad stands out, a key piece in navigating through the television’s menus. Just above this circular pad we find the dual button that gives access to the numbers and colors assigned to functions.
We also find a button dedicated to the Ambient mode function , which this model takes on special relevance for its high content in design. We will talk in more detail about this screen mode a little further down in its corresponding section.
In a prominent position is the Voice Assistant button. Pressing it activates the native voice recognition configured on the TV, which in this case can be Bixby or Alexa.
The positive point is that the television only recognizes voice commands while this button is pressed, so privacy is not compromised with a passive listening system that recognizes a certain command to activate.
Beneath the circular pad are the playback and navigation control buttons, which allow access to the content bar and configuration menus, as well as pause or play the content from the installed apps.
The volume and channel change buttons are displayed as a single horizontal bar, although they are actually separate, and both do double duty. Pushing them up or down increases or decreases the volume or changes the channel, when pressed they mute the TV and give access to the electronic program guide (EPG function) respectively.
The bottom line is covered with the buttons for direct access to the Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Rakuten TV apps.
One Remote is a curious remote control that gives the feeling of being insufficient in the first instance, but it is enough to use it for a while to realize how well implemented minimalism is in this device and it surprises everything that can be done with it.
In addition, it is very compact and its curved profile allows it to fit perfectly in the hand so that all the buttons are within reach of the user’s thumb.
Entry-Level QLEDs With Satisfactory HDR For All Audiences
As we said at the beginning of this analysis of The Serif , Samsung has focused more on design. This does not mean that the screen of this television does not offer good quality.
However, in this model we will not find the best Samsung QLED panel since, in terms of quality with respect to the “conventional” models of the Korean brand, we could place it close to the performance that a QLED Q60T would come offering .
Does this mean that we will not have good image quality? Absolutely. QLED technology already implies a minimum of superior quality than conventional LCD LEDs , since the nanoparticles (Quantum Dots) that it integrates enhance the intensity of color optimizing the illumination of the panel.
What we will not obtain will be the extreme quality offered by the most premium QLED models of the brand such as the Samsung QLED Q95T that we analyzed a few weeks ago.
We are talking about a 49 inch VA panel with 4K UHD resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) with support for Quantum HDR, HLG and HDR 10+ standards and Supreme UHD Dimming dimming system .
All this translates into a good image quality, capable of showing very successful blacks that do not fill scenes with an environment as dark as those that can be seen in Carnibal Row of Amazon Prime Video , showing a good level of detail in those scenes thanks to the good management of the Quantum Processor 4K processor .
Although it is true that it is not the brightest HDR of the QLEDs , it does offer peaks of brightness of up to 1,000 nits established by the SMPTE ST 2084 standard. More than enough to obtain a good quality viewing experience allowing a good balance in the colors and high contrast.
The Serif, like the rest of Samsung QLED televisions, allows you to automate color management using Smart mode .
This mode can be suitable for watching various television programs, so it will be a good option to obtain a good color treatment for most users who do not want to complicate themselves by changing the image mode.
However, we have chosen to deactivate this adaptive image mode to opt for the Natural mode that offers a good level of brightness and contrast while maintaining realistic skin tones. For film content, the perfect choice is Movie mode that more closely approximates the color treatment designated by the content creator.
When compatible HDR content is played back, the proper profile is activated to boost brightness by expanding the color space to 100% DCI-P3 and achieving good black depth and low light blooming in highly contrast scenes. like when a scene of a torch flame is shown on a dark night, for example.
The scaling Full HD content from sources unproblematic. However, if we have found them from HD sources such as channels that broadcast in HD, showing a balanced content at the color level, but lacking definition and detail .
The viewing angles are very well set and there is hardly any loss of brightness or contrast when viewing the TV from a lateral position at very steep angles.
The Intelligent Image mode is also in charge of managing the movement, offering a good level of sharpness without falling into the so-called “soap opera effect”. If you prefer to adjust it to your liking in more detail, you can configure the sharpness level from the image options.
The Serif is not the fastest TV to connect to a game console or gaming PC from Samsung’s catalog. With Smart picture mode, the TV has given us 100ms of Input Lag . This greatly complicates the control of the characters since the delay between pressing the button on the controller and the reaction on the screen is excessive.
The television has a Game mode that reduces image processing, greatly reducing its latency. With this active mode it is much more comfortable to play, but it continues to show somewhat lazy behavior in games.
Generally speaking, The Serif offers the image quality we expected in a QLED panel of its range. However, we are left with the feeling that the image processor is not capable of squeezing this panel to the maximum .
It offers good performance when it comes to watching film or television content, but is not able to keep up when it is required to perform at its best when connected to a gaming console or PC, an area that is becoming increasingly important at the time. of choosing a television.
A Vitaminized Tizen To Understand With Your Mobile
Like the rest of Samsung models, The Serif comes with Tizen as the operating system and Smart TV platform.
Its operation is very fluid when changing between the different interface screens. Pressing the Home button displays a bar with the shortcuts of the most used apps and suggestions for the best content of each application are displayed.
Tizen has support for the main streaming content apps like Movistar +, HBO, Disney + and many others, so you will not have any problem in that regard.
From this same content bar you can also access the content of Samsung TV Plus , a content HUB in which the most outstanding titles from platforms such as Rakuten TV or Apple TV are selected, allowing direct access from there.
It is also the access door to the quick configuration options of the television, allowing to change the image, sound, etc. mode, in addition to accessing the general configuration menu of the television.
It strikes us that access to the configuration menus is at the end of this bar, so before reaching it we must go through options such as Ambient Mode , which already has direct access to the command. This takes some speed away from accessing such basic settings as changing the picture or sound mode.
It is also true that the fastest way to make basic changes of this type is by using the voice assistant activating it from the button on the remote control.
In The Serif, you can use Samsung’s Bixby wizard, or set Alexa to take control of voice features. Both respond smoothly, but Bixby has better integration with TV features, while Alexa provides a whole ecosystem of connectivity to control other devices.
Samsung has also integrated support for SmartThings , the Korean brand’s Internet of Things environment, with which you can activate previously configured scenes from the SmartThings app installed on your smartphone.
But if there is something for this Samsung The Serif it is due to the good tuning it has with smartphones and how easy it is to send mobile content to the TV .
Simply leave the smartphone on the TV so that, using NFC technology , both devices connect and the TV begins to play music or content from the smartphone.
Compatible mobiles can make use of the Tap View function that, with a single touch of the smartphone on the TV, transmits what you are watching on your smartphone to the TV screen.
In addition, it has a Multi View screen mode , so you will not have to stop seeing what you were seeing while playing the content of the smartphone. The Serif has support for AirPlay 2 , so content can also be streamed from Apple devices.
In addition to offering an innovative connection system with your smartphone by NFC practically unpublished on a television and that we would like to see in more models, the Samsung The Serif has an exclusive Ambient Mode created by the same designers of the television.
The Environment Mode seeks to turn the huge black rectangle is in the middle of the room while you are not using the TV in a useful and decorative space to integrate TV with the rest of the decor of your home.
For this reason, Samsung’s Ambient Mode offers a series of photographic backgrounds, works of art or decorative designs with textures such as those proposed by the Bouroullec brothers, inspired by nature and which fit perfectly into the design philosophy that they themselves have created.
When you activate this Ambience mode, the screen shows a series of patterns that match the finish of The Serif, as well as weather information and current news provided by our Upday colleagues .
Good Sound Power, But No Surround Experience
Samsung has been able to take advantage of The Serif’s 360 ° design to integrate into its base a sound system capable of offering a total power of 40 W distributed in four speakers.
Added to this good power rate is artificial intelligence management that applies different algorithms to analyze the ambient noise in the room and equalize the sound to highlight the dialogues over the rest of the content.
In a strict sense, the sound offered by the Samsung The Serif that we are analyzing has good quality, reproducing bass with sufficient depth, and achieving a good balance in the rest of the range of mid and high tones, with special emphasis on improving the dialogues with the Adaptive Sound function .
However, despite being compatible with the Dolby Digital Plus standard, The Serif fails to create a sound atmosphere around the viewer and the directionality of the audio is null. Simply, the audio is seen flat in front of the viewer, but in no case is the sensation of positioning of the sound appreciated.
The sound experience is much better when the television is supported by its legs than when it is installed on a piece of furniture due to the location of the main speakers at the base of the television and oriented downwards. By having more height, the sound is dispersed, while on the cabinet it is more muffled.
Conclusions: Outstanding In Design, Approved In Performance
Samsung has made every effort to offer a unique television on the market by showing a completely unique and differential design that moves away from the concept of a black rectangle in the middle of the room to make it one more piece of decoration.
Obviously, such a niche product cannot be judged with the same criteria as the rest because they directly play in a different league.
The Serif has successfully passed the design subject creating a decorative device in itself for fleeing the conventional forms prevailing in the television segment.
And not only has it obtained an outstanding for bringing us an aesthetically beautiful device, but its design also fulfills a practical function and provides additional versatility with its system of screw-on legs that allow it to be located anywhere in the house.
However, Samsung has left a few things down the road. One of the main ones is not having taken into account that this type of television can easily end up decorating a corner in the room of a teenager who probably takes 100% of its ability to connect with mobile devices , but will get too fair a performance when connecting a console or a gaming PC.
In terms of image quality in general, the TV The Serif that stars in this analysis more than meets the demands of most users, and only the most foodies will appreciate a slight lack of brightness in HDR content and will want more depth in blacks. But in this section The Serif is more than approved .
Samsung The Serif 2020 49-inch has a starting price of 1,199 euros and, comparatively, is approximately at the level of the QLED Q60T of the brand that can be found in the market for about 756 euros .
There is a notable difference between the two models that, at a technological level, may not be justified, but in terms of design and versatility, it leaves no room for doubt.
As we have already commented, this is a very niche television, in which its user looks for very specific characteristics in a television that does not always coincide with the best technological features, but must respond to other design and functionality values .
Putting ourselves in the shoes of this type of user, Samsung The Serif achieves a good balance between both demands , offering solvent performance and an outstanding design.