Samsung is churning out yet another enormous product and we've been trying to squeeze this 40+ kilo heavy monitor beast onto our testing desk.
If there's one thing I really like about Samsung, it's how they've recently dared to go out on a limb. It's not always good when they more or less release prototype technology at full price and it's not always that the stuff sticks (for example, the noticeable screen bend in their folding phones and the problem-plagued curved edged panel in the Odyssey G9), but I like that they push the boat out and in many ways make the most innovative gadgets in each product segment. That's praise that Samsung deserves and the Ark 55" is one such product, too. Pure quality and something that perhaps belongs more on a trade show floor in Las Vegas than on my desk, haha.
So what is the Ark? Well, it's a 55" ultra-curved QLED monitor based on a VA panel with 165Hz refresh rate, 16:9 aspect ratio with full backlighting and 420 nits max brightness. It's a TV with built-in tuner and all, and optimised for gaming. It has a massive, 35kg giant table stand that allows you to rotate the screen from landscape to portrait with one hand, allowing the Ark itself to change picture mode in a mere second, and it has a very smooth picture-in-picture mode as well as a dedicated Bluetooth control box to handle controls and functions, dubbed the "Ark Controller" and there's built-in support for both Freesync as well as G-sync. On paper, this screen is a beast, and it would be strange if it wasn't, given that it costs £2,599. Yes, you read that right.
The idea from Samsung's side is that you'll set this up on your desk and use it for PC and console gaming but there honestly aren't many desks or room solutions that will work for this behemoth monitor and given the size, that makes it more useful to stick this on a TV cabinet and use it as a gaming TV. The crux of the matter is that 55" is a bit too large if you're going to use it as a gaming TV in your living room, which means I have some trouble seeing where the Ark really belongs. I don't really understand what the flip mode is for either, given that the extreme curvature means it doesn't really work for, say, running vertical games or for office work in vertical applications like Skype or Telegram.
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The screen itself is really good. The image is crystal clear, bright and offers fine contrast and blackness despite never coming close to an OLED. 420 nits is a tad dim compared to max brightness for 'true HDR', but I still like the punch of the image and think it's more than enough, and that HDR looks fine here. Response time is 1ms and the amount of input lag we've measured is up to 3.6 milliseconds, which is obviously brilliant. I've been sitting with my PS5 plugged into the Ark for the past few days playing The Last of Us: Part I, among other games, and it's very much an impressive gaming display. The fact that I can only use one HDMI source at a time, that the picture is missing the OLED screen (for obvious reasons, this is a VA panel), and that the monitor itself is a bit too curved for my taste does lower the rating slightly, but the Ark is impressive in many ways. I would have preferred it to be based on IPS and built in 21:9 ratio, which would have made it perfect for flight simulators and racing simulators, among other things, but for what it is, this is a really fun product that sets itself apart from pretty much everything else on the market.
However, there's no way to justify the price of £2600, not by any means. For that much you can buy an LG OLED C2 55" and a new computer and still have money to spare.