This is the monitor of gods, a display for NBA players or Erling Haaland. That's the first thing that came to my mind upon seeing the massive Samsung Odyssey Ark. It's almost a stretch to call the Ark a PC monitor because it has a gigantic 55-inch display that's also more curvy than usual. To its credit, Samsung has introduced a bunch of interesting features to make the Ark usable for ordinary mortals. But not all of these features pay off, while the size, and the whopping S$4,999 price tag, make the Ark more of a niche product.
- 55-inch curved (1000R) 4K mini-LED monitor
- 4x HDMI 2.1 ports (Up to 165Hz refresh rate)
- 4 speakers and 2 subwoofers
- Height-adjustable stand with pivot (cockpit mode)
First off, finding a desk large enough to accommodate the Ark can be an issue. Even with its curvy (1000R for those who care) screen, the Ark's footprint is larger than any monitor. It's larger than the 42-inch LG C2 OLED TV. The Ark uses the display tech from Samsung TVs — mini-LEDs, quantum dot colour, even a similar One Connect breakout box for all its connectors, such as the four HDMI 2.1 ports. It also uses a VA panel that's typically found in TVs, not the IPS display preferred in monitors. Hence, the Ark produces bright and vibrant colours that pop, especially in games. Playing God of War Ragnarök on the Ark was a great experience, with the curved screen adding to the immersion. Its 165Hz refresh rate isn't crazy fast, but decent enough, and you also get variable refresh rate support in the form of AMD's FreeSync Premium Pro.
But what differentiates the Samsung Odyssey Ark from others is Cockpit mode, which means rotating the monitor into portrait orientation. In this mode, the curved screen towers over you, and it almost feels like you're in a cockpit in a flight sim. Except that getting any game to run in full-screen portrait mode is a pain. And there's just no good reason to do so. By default, a HDMI source like the PlayStation 5 uses only one-third of the screen in Cockpit mode. The remaining two-thirds can be used to watch YouTube or browse the internet via Samsung's Multi View feature. But the Ark cannot display a second HDMI source simultaneously, which is a shame. You can shoehorn a PC to use the full screen in Cockpit mode, but you'd need to set the Ark to 9:16 aspect ratio, and change the display orientation to Portrait in the Windows settings.
The Ark's Flex Move feature reduces the usable size of the screen (goes down to 27 inches minimum) by rotating the dial in the included Ark Dial remote. This makes the Ark more manageable for day-to-day computing tasks. The empty spaces at the sides are filled by a built-in screensaver. You can also change the Ark's aspect ratio to an ultra-wide one like 21:9. In addition to being limited to one HDMI source, the Multi View feature has another downside. Besides YouTube and the built-in browser, you can mirror a laptop or smartphone wirelessly. But you cannot open another streaming app like Netflix or Disney+ instead. This is despite the fact that you can access Netflix and other streaming apps through the separate Tizen OS TV interface present in the Ark. There's no DisplayPort or USB-C connectors either, which is disappointing.
Seeing the Samsung Odyssey Ark in real life will make your jaw drop. But it feels clunky to use at times, almost schizophrenic. Like it can't decide if it should be a TV or a monitor. Perhaps the fact that Samsung includes both a standard smart TV remote, and the Ark Dial remote, is a sign. I think the Ark works well in a gaming setup for your console or gaming PC, with some streaming TV viewing on the side. But as a display for productivity, it has too many downsides. And then there's the price. At S$4,999, the Ark is even more expensive than Samsung's excellent S95B OLED TV. But it's definitely a one-of-a-kind display, so if you want to wow your guests, get it from Samsung, Shopee, and Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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