Looking for an honest Samsung Serif review? Samsung is well known for producing some of the best TVs you can buy. Its high-end 4K QLED range is a technical masterclass in punchy colours and brightness, while its mid-range sets are perfect for bedrooms or kitchens, offering a great performance for the money.
However, Samsung has another trick up its sleeve, with its more design-focused TV ranges. Offering something a little different than the majority of its competition, the Serif is for those of us that might want the black box in the corner of our living room to more stylish than your average TV.
What is the Samsung Serif?
The Samsung Serif is the recently updated version of what is arguably Samsung’s most style-focused TV. It has been created in collaboration with Parisian furniture designers, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, with the hope of appealing to those who are more into their interior design than their tech.
It sits on four metal legs and has a rather chunky bezel, by today’s standards, and is available in white or blue. It is wider at the top and at the bottom, which creates a sort of shelf along its upper edge, and also allows it to stand independently of the legs, if you prefer.
From our experience, this design gives the screen a set-back appearance, almost like a picture frame, which draws you into the picture even more. It is also where the Serif gets its name from. In profile, the frame looks like the letter “I” in a serif font.
As its made from plastic, it perhaps doesn’t feel the most premium, but it certainly doesn’t look like any other TV you’ll see on the market either, and that is a large part of its charm.
Of course, this is a 4K TV, and uses Samsung’s premium QLED screen technology, though it isn’t the best example of it in the company’s range from a performance perspective.
How easy is it to set up?
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a TV whizz to set up the Serif. In fact, most of Samsung’s recent TVs can be set up using the Samsung SmartThings app on an Apple or Android device.
This includes walking you through the process of getting your TV set up on to your wi-fi network, helping you hook up any extra devices or inputs like a Sky box, Blu-ray player or antenna for Freesat or Freeview, and helping you add extra apps to your smart home screen.
If you’d prefer to use the remote, you can do. It's also possible program the included Samsung remote to control any extra bits of kit, like your soundbar or Blu-ray player.
Don’t forget to dive into the picture settings and have a play around with them. You can make some big changes by simply changing the picture mode – have a look at Standard or Movie for the most accurate colours and stay well away from Dynamic if you want things to look realistic.
Who will the Samsung Serif suit?
The Serif is aimed at someone looking for a TV that stands out from the crowd, design wise. From a picture perspective, it won’t offer the very best performance you can get from a Samsung TV for the money, but that’s because some of your budget is going into its statement looks.
It’s also great for average to smaller rooms thanks to its availability in 42in, 49in and 55in – anyone wanting larger design-focused TV would have to look at The Frame, which is available up to 65in.
How does the Samsung Serif perform?
We spent a few weeks getting acquainted with the Samsung Serif, and this is how we found it performed.
Bold, punchy picture but not without compromise
The inclusion of Samsung’s QLED technology here means this is the best picture we’ve seen from a Serif TV yet. Without getting too bogged down in tech specs, QLED helps to boost colour vibrancy and brightness as well as enhance contrast (how bright the bright bits get and how dark the dark bits get) compared with regular LCD TVs. The idea is that these improvements help it to better hold its own against the competition, especially popular OLED screens from LG, Sony and Panasonic.
It works, to a point. The Serif serves up impressively bold colours and and delivers a crisp, detailed 4K picture with good upscaling for regular TV, but it is not the absolute best picture you can get for the money.
The Serif works to a similar level as Samsung’s Q60R entry-level range of QLED TVs, which costs between £150 to £300 less than the Serif, depending on screen size.
Being an entry level panel means there are some compromises. For example, the TV is only edge lit and so can’t offer the same brightness or accuracy as pricier screens that offer full array backlighting can.
The biggest victim of this is contrast, which has a knock on effect to how impactful its HDR performance is.
HDR works hand-in-hand with 4K to make good picture quality really stand out, and is a big selling point of new TVs. It basically takes the dial on colour and contrast and pushes it up more than a regular telly can manage. The Serif is capable of HDR - it supports HDR10 and HDR10+ – but the results are not as instantly impressive as a more talented TV is capable of.
No more black screen with Ambient Mode
What you might miss out on in pure performance terms with the Serif, you pick up in special touches, like Ambient Mode. At the click of a button you can display a range of artwork on your TV, get it to match your decor automatically or even display calendar information or personal photos. It means your TV can look just as pretty when it’s switched off as when it’s switched on.
Top-notch smart TV
Samsung’s smart TV system is one of the best you can buy. It has a brilliant range of apps, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and the new Apple TV app, so there’s really no more complaining that there’s nothing on TV.
It’s one of the easiest to use as well, with a simple bar appearing along the bottom of the screen that shows all your apps. Select one, and another bar appears above it with suggested content to help you get to content quickly. It doesn’t get in the way of your current TV watching while your choosing your next programme either, which is great.
No matter what angle you look at the Serif, it’s gorgeous. That means you don’t have to hide it away in a corner if you don’t want to - it has a clever cable management system that runs down one of its metal legs, meaning you can tuck most of them away and you won’t have a load of wires dangling down and ruining its look. There’s also a cover for the HDMI inputs to keep all those hidden too, as this TV doesn’t make use of Samsung’s separate OneConnect box.
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The Serif’s chunky frame allows some slightly chunkier speakers to be built into its design, offering 40w of sound over the standard 20w. This helps them to go pretty loud, and there’s a decent amount of detail and clarity too, but for those big action movie moments, you’ll get a better experience from a soundbar or a proper speaker setup.
Intelligent Mode is both helpful and annoying
Samsung has built in an Intelligent Mode on the Serif, which takes into account your room size and environment then adjusts the picture (brightness, mostly) and sound levels to suit. It can even learn the volume you’d usually have the TV at, to make sure that when you turn it on, it’s always at a level you like.
While I found this mode to have a good impact on the sound, helping to make the audio a little more direct and refined, the automatic brightness adjustment is something I’d live without.
Voice control is getting there
Samsung has built in Bixby to the Serif TV, and though it isn’t as clever as something like Alexa for Amazon’s Fire TV just yet, it can manage some simple commands like changes to channel, source and volume, opening apps by name ('Open Netflix') and switching on Ambient Mode.
While Samsung is really pushing its own smart ecosystem, particularly by getting you to set the TV up within its smart home control app SmartThings, it hasn’t ignored the big players in the smart assistant world. It works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, meaning you can use a Google Home or Amazon Echo device to perform certain commands by voice, as well as build it into a smart home routine.
Not one for wall mounting
We prefer the design on its stand rather than sitting independently on a piece of furniture - it’s just more striking that way, but it will depend on where you are hoping to use it in your home. Its design will mean you definitely won’t want to wall mount this one anyway, have a look at The Frame if you have that in mind.
What did I like?
The design is a real head turner, it’s super easy to use and set up, and the picture quality is undeniably good in a lot of ways. Many people will be able to switch it on and enjoy a picture that’s a lot better than the TV they currently have in their living rooms.
There’s also the Ambient Mode, which introduces a new dimension to your TV, making this a compelling proposition for people who don’t want tech to look too techy.
What didn’t I like?
While it does offer a great picture for day-to-day watching, there’s better available at the same price – particularly when it comes to HDR performance – so you’ve got to really want this design to invest in it.
Viewing angles are also a little tight – you’ll want to be watching front on to get the best from this TV.
Real Homes verdict
An undeniably design-focused TV that leaves a little to be desired in the performance stakes. But if you’re looking for a 4K TV that turns heads and gets your guests talking, the Samsung Serif is one to check out.