In a world of super-thin panels and bombastic features, Samsung The Serif puts the spotlight on a uniquely designed ‘I’ shaped beautiful TV to fit perfectly in the different spaces in the home. The Serif is, unquestionably, a television different from the others. It is different because it puts a good load of technology on the table and bets on the aesthetics and utility of the day.
As they are mainly conceived, Televisions need a particular space to be fitted; a piece of furniture or a wall that supports them. On the other hand, the concept of The Serif is much more versatile. It allows you to install a television in any corner of a small living room or bedroom and turn it into another decoration piece.
This Samsung model represents a perfect solution for small spaces or as a second TV due to its installation versatility, but perhaps the $999 it costs are a reason to reflect on it. To avoid doubt, I will reveal all the details of Samsung The Serif in this review.
Unconditionaly Beautiful Design from Every Angle
Samsung The Serif is the excellent design bet of the Korean firm, which has created this model for whom the television is not a simple device with cold technology. It can also become one more unique 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 (Serif font), 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 cabinet. That is the source of inspiration for this Samsung TV.
Just take a first look at its packaging to realize that it is a different television. In its design, the reference to 'I' Serif that gives its name is clearly seen.
Size & Color of Samsung The Serif TV
When most manufacturers (Samsung included) opt for models with increasingly smaller frames, in The Serif, I found a generous 111.9x67.1 cm structure made of polycarbonate that looks beautiful Cotton Blue in the model we are analyzing color. It is also available in white color under the name Cloud White.
The frame surrounding the 49-inch screen of The Serif I tested draws a 50mm wide design on the sides. The design draws a curve that starts from 108 mm at the base, 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 design 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 different is the metal legs threaded to its base.
Weight & Stand
It gives it total independence since, thanks to its 21.9 kg, the television can be placed in any corner of the room and moved freely, raising it about 49 cm from the floor.
Those who have seen the television installed in my living room during the days I have been testing it have highlighted its curious design, which does not go unnoticed as original and decorative.
Unlike the rest of the TVs, the Samsung The Serif is wholly covered with a panel that matches the rest of the TV case, and the connectors are not in sight.
It shows that it is a television concept that has not been designed to be attached to a wall but installed where the entire television is exposed. Not only the front, as it can be at the foot of a bed, in the corner of the room or in open spaces where it would be not easy to install a television, so the back should look as well finished as the front.
Hidden Cable Management & Connectors
To do this, Samsung has provided a cover covering 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 tabs system that can be released with minimum pressure and allow the rear cover to be removed. On one of its sides, I found 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 (Adapter is Needed to Connect).
As you have seen, Samsung The Serif does not have an Ethernet connector and limits the internet connection to the WiFi network. It responds to the spirit of this TV 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 I am 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 television base, just above each hind leg.
The TV includes an easily installed accessory 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. 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 are 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 was not the usual one on a TV in 2020, so I will find supporters and detractors. Still, it is undeniable that it is a unique concept that Samsung has managed to achieve. As I 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.
The remote control that accompanies the Samsung The Serif is an old acquaintance for those who have already used a Samsung television since it is the same remote control.
Despite the conciseness of its buttons, this command 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 concerning the usual one that accompanies many televisions in the Samsung catalog is color. The unit of The Serif that I am 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 I found in the television is reflected in the remote control. The circular central pad stands out, a key piece in navigating through the television's menus. Above this circular pad, I found the dual button that gives access to the numbers and colors assigned to functions.
I also found a button dedicated to the Ambient mode function, which this model takes on particular relevance for its high content in design. I will talk in more detail about this screen mode a little further down in its corresponding section.
The voice assistant button is in a prominent position. Pressing it activates the native voice recognition configured on the TV, which can be Bixby or Alexa.
The positive point is that television only recognizes voice commands. At the same time, this button is pressed, so privacy is not compromised with a passive listening system that identifies a particular command to activate.
Beneath the circular pad is the playback and navigation control buttons, which allow access to the content bar and configuration menus and 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 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 access the electronic program guide (EPG function), respectively.
The bottom line is covered with the buttons for direct access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Roku TV apps.
On remote, a curious remote control gives the feeling of being insufficient in the first instance. Still, 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.
Performance: Entry Level QLEDs with Satisfactory HDR
As I 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, you will not find the best Samsung QLED panel since, in terms of quality concerning the "conventional" models of this 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.
We will not obtain the extreme quality offered by the most premium QLED models of the brand, such as the Samsung QLED Q95T that I analyzed a few weeks ago.
We are talking about a 49 inch VA panel with 4K UHD resolution (3,840x2,160 pixels) with support for Quantum HDR, HLG, HDR 10+ standards, and Supreme UHD Dimming system.
All this translates into good image quality, showing very successful blacks that do not fill scenes with an environment as dark as those that can be seen in Carnival Row of Amazon Prime Video - offering a good level of detail in those scenes thanks to the excellent management of the Quantum Processor 4K processor.
Although it is not the brightest HDR of the QLEDs, it offers peaks of the brightness of up to 1,000 nits established by the SMPTE ST 2084 standard. It is 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 good to obtain a good color treatment for most users who do not want to complicate themselves by changing the image mode.
However, I have chosen to deactivate this adaptive image mode to opt for the Natural mode that offers a good brightness and contrast level 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 high contrast scenes. Like when a scene of a torch flame is shown on a night, for example.
The scaling of Full HD content from sources is unproblematic. However, if we have found them from HD sources such as channels broadcast in HD, it shows a balanced range at the color level, 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.
PC Output & Game Console
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. It dramatically 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, significantly reducing its latency. This active mode is much more comfortable to play, but it shows 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 to feel that the image processor cannot squeeze this panel to the maximum.
It offers good performance when it comes to watching film or television content but cannot keep up when required to perform at its best when connected to a gaming console or PC. This area is becoming increasingly important at the time of choosing a television.
Tizen Powered Seamless Connection
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 supports mainstreaming 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 mode, etc., 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 fundamental 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 (IoT) environment, with which you can activate previously configured scenes from the SmartThings app installed on your smartphone.
But if there is something new for this Samsung The Serif, it is due to the excellent tuning with smartphones and how easy it is to send mobile content to the TV.
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 use the Tap View function that transmits what you watch on your smartphone to the TV screen with a single touch of the smartphone to the TV. 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 unavailable on televisions, we would like to see more models. The Samsung The Serif has an exclusive Ambient Mode created by the same television designers.
The Environment Mode seeks to turn the vast black rectangle in the middle of the room while you are not using the TV in a valuable and decorative space to integrate TV with the rest of your home decor.
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 have created.
When you activate this Ambience mode, the screen shows a series of patterns that match the finish of The Serif and weather information and current news provided by our up-day colleagues.
Sound Quality: Good Sound 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 particular 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. The audio is seen flat in front of the viewer, but in no case is the sensation of the positioning of the sound appreciated.
The sound experience is much better when the television is supported by its legs than when installed on a piece of furniture due to the location of the main speakers at the base of the tv and oriented downwards. By having more height, the sound is dispersed, while it is more muffled on the cabinet.
Buy It on Amazon
Samsung has made every effort to offer a unique television on the market by showing a special 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.
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 to flee 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 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 $999 and, comparatively, is approximately at the level of the QLED Q60T of the brand that can be found in the market for about $800. There is a notable difference between the two models that may not be justified at a technological level, but it leaves no room for doubt in terms of design and versatility.
As I have already commented, this is a very nice television. Its user looks for particular television characteristics that do 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.