The worst part of buying a big television is no longer the price. They’re really quite affordable now! It’s that you have this 65-inch black box hanging on the wall in your living room, like a black hole leaching away your own good taste.
Now, Samsung has designed what could be the perfect solution–by giving your TV its own invisibility cloak. The company’s new line of 4K QLED televisions, announced this week, feature an Ambient Mode that lets them blend right into your wall. How? After you hang the TV, you take a photo of the TV of your wall. Then the TV creates its chameleonic screensaver. As a result, the TV more or less turns invisible, with only its tiny bezel standing between you and Marie Kondo nirvana.
It’s worth noting that, over the past few years, Samsung has attacked the footprint of its own TVs with a singular obsession. After teaming up with Yves Béhar, the company released the Frame in 2017. Instead of hiding the TV, it transformed it into a literally framed piece of art, which you could load up with a selection of artists on demand. Then this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, it debuted the Wall, a 146-inch display that actually featured fake bookcases and vases (presumably so that you might be willing to buy a TV that literally required a wall of your house and cost the equivalent of a car).
But honestly, as noble as these attempts were, the products were a bit silly. In person, the Frame doesn’t fool anyone. Simply because of the backlighting, and its inability to reflect ambient light just as real canvas does, it looks like a TV with a picture frame around it (though for displaying digital art, rather than simulating oil paintings, it actually looked pretty good). Meanwhile, the Wall was just hilariously skeuomorphic. It didn’t even look good in staged photographs. So in person, it didn’t stand a chance.
How well will these new QLED TVs really blend in with drywall or wood grain? Almost surely not as well as you’d hope–at least not in every environmental circumstance. But the core design stunt here is actually quite sound. It’s downright clever! And the displays will only get better at juggling intricacies of ambient light and color temperatures. So until we literally have displays that can turn themselves invisible, Samsung may have cracked the code to get us 90% of the way there.