Samsung has many different TV variants on the menu: the South Korean manufacturer can offer screens for almost all purposes and preferences. Some focus on pure performance and the best possible image quality, others place more emphasis on smart features. And then there are the lifestyle-oriented models where design and appearance are paramount. Here, especially the painting-like The Frame has been well received in Nordic homes. But now there is an even more exotic variant!
The different model The Serif is aimed at those who want a TV out of the ordinary, and want to make a proper “design statement” in the living room. It has a rather original design, which is similar to a Roman “I” with serifs seen from the side. Hence the name.
The Serif may have existed in the shadow of The Frame in recent years, but now Samsung has brushed the dust off the model and expanded the range with more screen sizes. Here we consider the middle model, the 49-inch 49LS01T – but you can also get The Serif in 43″ and 55″ versions.
Half TV, half furniture
Samsung is known for being quite creative when it comes to TV, but at Serif they have actually taken design help from outside: The design is signed by the French designer brothers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, who among other things design furniture for renowned manufacturers such as Vitra, Hay and Kartell.
– With Serif, we wanted to move away from the notion that a TV must be ultra-flat. Instead, it is an object that can be turned over and manipulated. It can be places anywhere, even on the floor, with its own legs. What we were looking for was a solid presence that could sit naturally in different environments, just like an object or a piece of furniture, the Bouroullec brothers write on their website.
Our immediate first impression is that the design looks appealing: The special framing makes it blend into the surroundings in a different way than a typical slim and right-angled TV.
Taste is an individual matter, and when we shared photos of The Serif in a design-oriented Facebook group, we got many different reactions: Some loved it, and some even admitted that they already owned a Serif. Others thought it would be impractical with children, and much preferred a wall-mounted model like The Frame.
Serif is definitely more voluminous than typical TVs in 2021, but does not feel thick or bulky in any way. The design is mostly plastic, but still feels exclusive. The TV immediately helps to give the interior a little “spice”.
Stands on its own legs
You can of course choose to put The Serif on a regular bookcase, but we think it looks particularly good on the included legs. It comes with four “stilts” that are mounted on the underside. When assembled, they raise the screen about 50 centimeters above the floor.
Otherwise, it is worth noting that Serif is not intended for wall mounting. It has no attachment for wall bracket or the like. The idea is that the TV should stand freely on the table or floor.
Ease of use and features
When it comes to operation and use, Serif is easy to get to know. Both the remote control and the menu system are largely identical to other Samsung smart TVs.
The Tizen menu system is fast and intuitive, and works excellently with the sleek and ergonomic remote control. The selection of apps is among the best in class. Streaming services such as Netflix, HBO and Disney+ are ready on the menu bar, and we know from experience that Samsung is quick to update when a new service becomes available.
The Serif is not the most obvious gaming screen in Samsung’s range. If you still want to use the screen for games, it is worth noting that it is the 55″ version that is best suited, connection-wise. It supports 4K video at 120 frames per second (4K/120 fps) and variable refresh rate (VRR). The smaller 43″ and 49″ models use 60 Hz LCD panels, that are not as suitable. Therefore: If you are going to use the TV for PS5 or Xbox Series X, go for the 55″ edition!
Ambient Mode: Blends into the surroundings
The Serif has to do without the art gallery feature that The Frame is equipped with. On the other hand, it boasts Ambient Mode, which is another well-known “pause mode” from Samsung. This can show different decorative patterns, wallpapers combined with calendar and clock, or a picture that blends in with your wall at home. The screen can also pick up different colors from the room it is in, so that it harmonizes with the rest of the interior.
That the TV blends into the environment is one thing, but primarily it is still made to watch TV! For that purpose, The Serif uses a 4K LCD image panel with LED edge lighting (Edge LED). Samsung has also included its QLED technology (color filter with quantum dots) which expands the color spectrum considerably.
The Serif works great for normal TV use: Thanks to the 4K resolution, the picture is really razor sharp, and able to reproduce the small details with high precision. We can sit close to the 49″ version without seeing a hint of visible pixel pattern.
This LCD screen also has good brightness, enough to watch TV in broad daylight. The light distribution is even and fine, without troublesome tendencies to dirty screen effect. The front glass is relatively matt, so that you are not significantly bothered by mirror images.
The color reproduction is really great too: We preferred the Film mode, as it gives the most neutral colors, combined with even and nice color gradations.
When it comes to contrast and black level, however, there are other Samsung monitors with higher performance. Eager readers of Lyd & Bilde will remember that the sister model The Frame got a brand new Dual LED picture panel in 2020, which gave a noticeable boost in just the contrast. The image panel used in Serif, on the other hand, is from an older 2019 vintage, without Dual LED. A little miss, there!
This gives some clear differences, especially when we look at the screen from the side. The viewing angle is not particularly wide, and here it is clear that dark areas in the picture get a more bluish feel than The Frame. The Samsung screen can also not compete with rear LED screens like the Q80T when it comes to black level.
When we sit perpendicular to the TV screen, however, the picture looks excellent. And here is some of the advantage of The Serif: It is easy to move around, and can be placed in a corner, where it is angled towards the sofa corner. In this way, it is easy to find an optimal viewing angle where you sit.
If you look solely at the price, there are definitely other models that can challenge The Serif on sheer image quality. But then you have to settle for a more ordinary look.
The Serif has a relatively standard sound setup with two small speaker elements on the underside. In terms of sound, the TV sounds quite nice, with a large sound image that goes far beyond the TV screen. The sound is clear and distinct, with good speech intelligibility.
That said, we think Samsung could have done even more diligence with the sound, especially since it does not match particularly well with a soundboard (due to the shape).
The sound gets a little strained at higher volumes, and lacks fullness in the bass. An extra subwoofer on the back would definitely have done the trick, we think. Samsung’s design model The Sero, for example, has a significantly more vibrant sound system.
You can of course choose to accompany The Serif with an external soundboard. The TV is basically well equipped for this, with high-resolution HDMI eARC audio output. Where to place it is another question.
For those of us who spend a lot of our time with square TV screens, it is refreshing to see a new design variant. Today’s sleek TV models do not provide much fun for the designers to play on, but at The Serif they have managed to create a rather interesting and appealing expression.
The technical performance is not as groundbreaking: The Serif has to do with a relatively ordinary LCD panel, without the harshest contrast. That said, it does an excellent job of watching regular TV, with great sharpness and smooth motion. Overall, we think The Serif represents a breath of fresh air in an otherwise quite monotonous TV world!