Samsung Odyssey Ark: Raft of Gaming Display

Samsung Odyssey Ark had a stealthy existence at CES 2022, but the curved 55-inch gaming monitor-meets-TV is almost ready to launch. It’s arriving out in mid-September for $3,499.99, with reservations for preorders beginning today.

Of course, gaming with your face three feet away from a 55-inch 4K display with a 165Hz refresh rate is fantastic. But you were equally impressed with the bounty of features the Ark can deliver.

The Ark symbolizes Samsung’s most aggressive play at distinguishing itself as a maker of gaming displays. Of course, the 55-inch 1000R curvature is one way to stick out. It can readily be rotated for use in a portrait way with up to three video sources.

The other significant way is with some intelligent TV functionality, i.e., the Samsung Gaming Hub that authorizes cloud streaming via Google Stadia, Xbox Game Pass, and Amazon Luna.

Like the Samsung M8 Smart Monitor you reviewed, it runs on Samsung’s Tizen OS — in case you want to use streaming apps like YouTube or Apple TV Plus. Given its high cost, there’s a good possibility that you’ll enjoy doing more than just game on the Ark. This screen is big and sufficient to accommodate multiple use cases at once with ease.

Creating upon the standard picture-in-picture (PIP) mode offered by many TVs and monitors, the Ark incorporates robust screen manipulation settings that allow you to go from basic to more niche. While not endlessly configurable, the possibilities seem ripe for some fascinating use cases if you’re the type who likes to tweak settings. And that’s before you turn the Ark lateral into cockpit mode.

Doing so needs you to tilt the display upward, raise it to the most formal setting that its big, minimalist, height-adjustable stand will authorize, then turn it 90 degrees counter-clockwise. You were worried it’d be a two-person job, but you could do it yourself without much trouble. What’s remarkable is that rotating the screen will auto-rotate your source’s image, too.

With the Ark introduced like this, you can view up to three screens stacked vertically or pull one from top to bottom if your game grants it. In cockpit mode, it looks like the Ark is a wave about to crash on top of you. During the demo, Samsung’s Owen Sexton told me that the Ark is also wall-mountable and will include a VESA mount.

Despite Samsung’s promotion of the Ark heavily biasing, showing it in the cockpit mode, you preferred gaming in a landscape manner with a single source bringing up the whole screen. Using multi-view mode is excellent, though, in portrait or landscape mode, the screen’s curvature can make each portion of the screen take on a slight keystone effect, where some junctions look skewed.

That may hurt the immersion for gaming, but it should be suitable for other tasks. If you were using the Ark for work, you’d likely prefer using it in cockpit mode. Similar to the idea behind the 16:18 aspect ratio LG DualUp, it’s easier to quickly see multiple windows by moving your head up and down instead of side to side like You have to with numerous monitors or an ultrawide.

Samsung includes two remotes with the Ark, one being a typical remote to regulate the fundamental functions and another more involved option called the Ark dial. A standalone command center puts the Ark’s main parts (power, volume, input select, and game bar) on big buttons. In addition, there’s a rotatable dial and a directional pad to adjust settings more quickly. There’s even a solar panel to recharge it, so you don’t need to plug it in.

You should note that neither remote seemed to make it elegant to navigate the monitor’s various menus and settings. There’s a definite learning curve to finding the locations you’re looking for, and a large part of your demo tried—and sometimes failed — to go where you wanted to.

The Ark’s dial remote means you never have to fiddle with a joystick on display to adjust settings. Like Samsung’s other high-end gaming monitors, the Ark is a melding of its best TV panel technology with features that gamers with deep pockets will likely enjoy, like HDR, VRR, and four HDMI 2.1 ports. In addition, it has Samsung’s quantum Mini LED backlighting that it claims is capable of up to 1,500 nits at peak brightness, and the company claims that it’s the first 55-inch 4K panel that supports a 165Hz refresh rate.

This display has a 1000R curve, and it’s both weird and cool to see the curve come back for a panel that looks so much like a TV. The curve’s scoop isn’t as deep as the Odyssey Neo G9’s 1800R curvature.

Playing games like Doom Eternal and Forza Horizon 5 will seem like perfect showcases for how bright and fast this display can go in a brief time with Ark. No complaints there. Its 16:9 aspect ratio meant that the picture didn’t exhibit visual warping around the edges as we saw on Samsung’s 32:9 aspect ratio Odyssey G9 and Neo G9.

However, you weren’t as amazed by the contrast in Microsoft’s Flight Simulator as you had hoped. With the Ark’s curve and the QLED screen, you expected to be more or less sucked in with immersion. Though the fact that you didn’t feel that way could be due to some factors, like the intense brightness of the room, the visual mode of the Ark not being appropriately tuned for gaming, or perhaps the tuning in this prototype unit isn’t quite finished.

The Ark provides an immersive gaming experience without the warping you sometimes see on ultrawide monitors. As a result, the Ark experience feels polished, but this prototype has some other quirks. For example, when a Samsung representative walked me through the picture resizing features, some tutorial pop-ups wouldn’t disappear.

The team said this was a known prerelease issue. Also, a sliver of the top bezel didn’t want to remain seated, letting a smidge of backlight peek out. When you press down on the bezel, the light leakage will go away, but it will come back shortly after you release it. Perhaps it’s an issue with glue or another problem altogether. Hopefully, that’s not present in shipping units.

The Ark seems like a known quantity on its face, but something about it feels unique. It packs impressive gaming monitor specs into a design that is, by all accounts aside from the stand, an old-school curved TV.

Given that it fills in some intelligent features, like cloud game streaming and smart TV apps, the Ark could be an excellent fit for someone who wants to go all-out — both in terms of size and its $3,499.99 cost. You will be almost more excited with the idea that it’s a sign that some of these features could come to cheaper Samsung gaming displays shortly.