The idea of sitting in front of a massive 55-inch gaming monitor all day sounds like heaven. Being able to twist it into a towering portrait mode? The stuff of my multi-tasking dreams. That's the pitch behind Samsung's 55-inch 4K Odyssey Ark Monitor. As we saw during our first preview, it's a genuinely unique behemoth of a display, one that can easily immerse you in both Microsoft Flight Simulator and towering Excel spreadsheets.
Gallery: Samsung Odyssey Ark | 16 Photos
Gallery: Samsung Odyssey Ark | 16 Photos
Sure, you could just plug a 55-inch TV into your PC, but without the Ark's extreme curve, it would be too wide to comfortably use as a monitor. You also won't find any 4K TVs with the Ark's blazing fast 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time, let alone its surprisingly solid sound system. The Odyssey Ark stands alone. But is it actually worth $3,500? That depends on if you're able to live with its many annoyances (and if you don't think too hard about the price).
Samsung Odyssey Ark
- Gorgeous and immersive picture
- Excellent built-in speakers
- Game streaming apps built-in
- 165Hz refresh rate
- Awful off-angle viewing
- No DisplayPort or USB-C connections
- Portrait mode isn’t very useful
- Samsung’s software needs work
Annoyance number one? This thing is a bear to set up. Even with the help of two delivery workers, it took around 20 minutes to get the (very heavy) Ark monitor correctly attached to its (equally heavy) base. The entire unit weighs 91.5 pounds when put together, so be sure to have a sturdy desk at the ready. If that sounds a bit obscene, well, you'd be correct. Samsung's 55-inch QN90B NEO QLED TV weighs almost half as much (48.3 pounds), while LG's 65-inch C2 OLED TV clocks in at 72 pounds. Extreme heft is the unfortunate price you'll have to pay for a rotating monitor stand.
As soon as I sat in front of the Odyssey Ark, I understood why Samsung dared to build it. We've already seen its extra-wide 49-inch gaming monitors in action. And, of course the company that pushed the limits of phone screens would do the same for PCs. Given Samsung's robust TV business, it makes sense to explore the many other ways it could use 55-inch Mini LED panels. (The TV side is where we also saw Samsung debut screens that could rotate into TikTok-friendly portrait mode.) The Ark may not be entirely practical, but for Samsung it serves as a showcase for many of its display innovations.
Design-wise, the Odyssey Ark resembles Samsung's TVs more than its gaming monitors. It has a sturdy metal base (as it should, given its size), as well as a smooth metal case surrounding the curvy screen. It even comes with Samsung's One Connect breakout-box, one of the company's more intriguing TV inventions. It connects to the Ark over a single cable, while the box itself handles power and all of your typical connections (four HDMI 2.1 ports, an optical audio connection, 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB ports). While it was originally meant for screens you'd be mounting on walls, it's a welcome addition to the Odyssey Ark — nobody wants to push a near 100-pound beast around just to get to HDMI ports.
Samsung includes two ways to control the Ark: A simple remote with a directional pad and shortcuts for streaming apps like Netflix, as well as a dial for quickly managing the Ark's many different viewing modes. Both controllers are solar powered, so you'll just need to make sure they get a bit of light to keep running. I'd imagine that could be an issue in window-less offices like mine, but it wouldn't be that tough to place the remotes by a window every few months. On the plus side, they should be able to run indefinitely if you're lucky enough to have some light. (Solar cells can be charged by artificial lighting, but not very efficiently.)
The Ark's odd shape, as well as a few LED lighting strips on the rear, are the major signs that it's not a mere TV set. I've been in front of plenty of curved screens before, but nothing this extreme. The sides of the display almost seem like they're trying to embrace you with 4K Mini-LED goodness. It's an effective bit of immersion while you're viewing the Ark in its standard widescreen mode, reminiscent of specialized theaters like LA's Cinerama Dome. And unlike most TVs and monitors, the Ark's large frame allows it to house a six speaker sound system (four tweeters and two woofers), which delivers the audio punch of a medium-sized soundbar.
The combination of expansive sound and a wonderfully immersive picture make the Odyssey Ark a truly unique viewing experience. Movies, TV shows, and even trailers felt like they were drawing me into the action, so much so that I barely noticed the slight distortion from the curved sides of the screen. But while the Ark's sweet spot is indeed very sweet, showing off the added brightness of Mini-LED and the expansive color range from its Quantum Dot display, its viewing angle is incredibly limited. Just a few steps off the center and you immediately lose color and clarity. The curve giveth, the curve taketh away.