Samsung Odyssey Ark Getting Started: A Game Screen Raft

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Samsung’s Odyssey Ark had a stealthy presence at CES 2022, but the 55-inch curved gaming monitor and TV are almost ready to launch. It releases in mid-September for $3,499.99, with reservations for pre-orders from now on. I was able to test a prototype of the Odyssey Ark with a batch of PC games. Surprise: Playing with my face three feet from a 55-inch 4K display with a 165Hz refresh rate is awesome. But I was also impressed with the wealth of functionality the Ark can offer.

The Ark represents Samsung’s most aggressive play to set itself apart as a gaming monitor maker. The 55-inch 1000R curvature is, of course, one way to stand out. It can easily be rotated for use in portrait mode with up to three video sources. The other main way is through some smart TV features, namely the Samsung Gaming Hub which allows cloud streaming via Xbox Game Pass, Google Stadia and Amazon Luna. Like the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor I reviewed, it runs on Samsung’s Tizen operating system – in case you want to use streaming apps like YouTube or Apple TV Plus.

Given its high cost, chances are you want to do more than just play on the Ark. This display is large enough to easily accommodate multiple use cases at once. Building on the standard picture-in-picture (PIP) mode offered by many TVs and some monitors, the Ark includes robust screen manipulation settings that allow you to go from basic (stack four windows, two by two) to more niche (set one input to be 32:9, with a traditional 16:9 input above). The possibilities, while not endlessly configurable, seem ripe for some interesting use cases if you’re the type to like tweaking settings. And that’s before you turn the Ark sideways in cockpit mode.

To do this, you need to tilt the screen up, raise it to the highest setting allowed by its large minimalist height-adjustable stand, and then rotate it 90 degrees counter-clockwise. I was afraid it would be a two-person job, but I was able to do it myself without too much trouble. The cool thing is that rotating the screen will also automatically rotate your source image. With the Ark oriented like this, you can display up to three screens stacked vertically or stretch one up and down if your game supports it. In cockpit mode, the Ark looks like a wave that’s about to crash into you. Samsung’s Owen Sexton told me during the demo that the Ark is also wall mountable and will include VESA support.

In cockpit mode, it looks like the Ark is a wave that’s about to crash into you

The Ark’s support allows it to be rotated 90 degrees in “cockpit mode”.

Despite the promotion of the Ark by Samsung strongly favoring its display in cockpit mode, I preferred to play in landscape mode with a single source occupying the entire screen. Using multi-view mode is great, but whether in portrait or landscape mode, the curvature of the screen can give each edge of the screen a slight trapezoidal effect, where some corners appear skewed. It may break immersion for gaming, but it should be fine for other tasks. If I was using the Ark for work, I would probably prefer to use it in cockpit mode. Similar to the idea behind the 16:18 aspect ratio LG DualUp, it’s easier to see multiple windows quickly by just moving my head up and down instead of side to side like I have to. with multiple monitors or an ultrawide.

Samsung includes two remotes with the Ark, one being a typical remote to handle basic functions and another more involved option called the Ark dial. It’s a self-contained command center that puts the Ark’s main functions (power, volume, input selection and game bar) on large buttons. There is a rotary dial and a directional pad inside to adjust settings faster. There’s even a solar panel to charge it up, so you never have to plug it in.

I should note that none of the remotes seemed to make it elegant to navigate the monitor’s myriad menus and settings. There’s a definite learning curve to finding the settings you’re looking for, and much of my demo was just trying – and sometimes failing – to get where I wanted.

The Ark's dial-up remote means you'll never have to fiddle with a joystick on the screen itself to adjust settings.

The Ark’s dial-up remote means you’ll never have to fiddle with a joystick on the screen itself to adjust settings.

The Ark, like Samsung’s other high-end gaming monitors, is an amalgamation of its best TV panel tech with features gamers with deep pockets are likely to appreciate, like HDR, VRR, and four HDMI 2.1 ports ( although, oddly enough, no DisplayPort). It features Samsung’s Quantum Mini LED backlight which it says is capable of up to 1,500 nits at peak brightness, and the company says it’s the first 55-inch 4K panel to support a 165Hz refresh rate.

The Ark combines some of Samsung’s best TV screen technologies with gamer-specific features like VRR

This screen has a 1000R curve, and it’s both weird and cool to see the curve return for a panel that looks so much like a TV. The curve scoop isn’t as deep as the Odyssey Neo G9’s 1800R curvature (to each their own, but I think the 1000R is the sweet spot so you can easily see everything on the screen without peripheral detail do not fall by the wayside).

During my brief time in the Ark, I played games like Eternal destiny and Forza Horizon 5 seemed to be very good showcases for the brightness and speed of this display. No complaints there. Its 16:9 aspect ratio meant that the image didn’t show any visual distortion around the edges as we saw on the 32:9 aspect ratio of Samsung Odyssey G9 and Neo G9. However, I wasn’t as flabbergasted by Microsoft’s contrast Flight simulator as I expected. With the Ark’s curve and QLED display, I expected to be more or less sucked into the immersion. However, the fact that I didn’t feel this could be due to some factors, like the intense brightness of the room, the Ark’s visual mode not being set correctly for the game, or maybe the tuning this prototype is not it’s not quite finished.

The Ark delivers an immersive gaming experience without the distortion sometimes seen on ultrawide monitors.

The Ark delivers an immersive gaming experience without the distortion sometimes seen on ultrawide monitors.

All in all, the Ark experience seems polished, but there were other quirks in this prototype. When a Samsung representative was explaining the image resizing features to me, some tutorial pop-ups would not disappear. The team said this is a known pre-release issue. Also, a piece of the top bezel wouldn’t sit still, showing a bit of backlighting. When I pressed the bezel, the light leak went away, but it came back shortly after I released it. Maybe it’s a glue problem or some other problem. I hope this is not present in the shipping units.

The Ark seems like a known quantity at first glance, but there is something unique about it. It packs impressive gaming monitor specs into a design that is, in every way, aside from the stand, an old-school curved TV. Given that it incorporates some smart features, such as cloud game streaming and smart TV apps, the Ark could be a perfect fit for someone who wants to do it all, both in terms of size and sound. cost $3,499.99. I’m almost more excited that it’s a sign that some of these features might be coming to cheaper Samsung gaming monitors in the near future.

Photograph by Cameron Faulkner/The Verge

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