Samsung’s 55-inch Odyssey Ark: Taking gaming monitors to a whole new dimension

2022 was a great year for monitors. We’ve already received the world’s first QD OLED monitor from Alienware, with another on the way from MSI. And earlier this summer, Sony joined the fray with its new Inzone-branded gaming hardware. But now Samsung is taking things to a whole new level with the Odyssey Ark.

Featuring a huge quantum mini LED panel with a 1000R curve, the Ark offers an immersive experience with great graphics and surprisingly good sound. Not only does Samsung claim that the Ark is the world’s first 55-inch monitor with a 4K resolution, 165Hz refresh rate and 1ms response time, you also get support for HDR 10+ and Dolby Atmos audio. And while audio is often an afterthought with many monitors (assuming they can output anything at all), the Ark has a total of six speakers: one in each corner and two woofers in the rear. And when combined, Samsung says the Ark’s speakers are designed to create a dome of sound.

And now that I’ve had the opportunity to test this thing out in person, I can say that this monitor is unlike anything else on the market. Even compared to other ultrawide displays, the Ark can be wrapped like a kind of high-tech cocoon due to its dimensions. Colors are rich and thanks to the matte finish you don’t have to worry about reflections ruining your graphics. The monitor also supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for VRR, so you get the best performance whether you’re gaming on console or PC. And while you won’t see pure black like you’ll see on an OLED display, Samsung says the Ark’s contrast is four times better than previous-gen monitors.

To make controlling the Ark easier, Samsung includes not one but two remote controls, both of which have built-in solar panels so you don’t have to worry about keeping them charged. The first remote control is similar to that of a TV, but the one that feels a little more special is the wireless Ark Dial. It lets you quickly change video settings, adjust volume, and switch between the monitor’s special display modes. It’s super easy to use and best of all, you don’t have to reach around your back and fiddle with hidden buttons or a joystick like you do with many competing monitors.

Unlike most displays of this size, the Odyssey Ark supports the portrait orientation, which Samsung calls Cockpit mode.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The best thing about the Ark is all the modes and features that Samsung includes so you can get the most out of this massive panel. First, there’s the Flex Move Screen, which lets you resize and move your content if you don’t need the Ark’s full 55 inches. There’s also Samsung’s Gaming Hub, which natively supports game streaming platforms like NVIDIA GeForce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and Google Stadia. They even have RGB lighting on the back, not that you can really see it with that much screen between you and the back of the display.

But my favorite is the multi-view mode, which lets you open up to three different apps at once, including the ability to move and resize windows at will. That means you can play while having a movie and social media on the side, or you can double down by opening two games plus YouTube, or basically everything in between. And if you particularly like a layout, you can save that layout so you can open it all with a single keystroke next time. The only caveat is that due to a limitation of HDMI, you can only display content from the Ark’s built-in apps and an external device at the same time. Although you can have a console and PC connected at the same time thanks to the support for four HDMI ports (all HDMI 2.1), you cannot output content from both at the same time.

Gallery: Hands-on photos of Samsung Odyssey Ark | 12 photos

Finally, there’s the Ark’s special train, which can rotate to portrait orientation, or what Samsung calls cockpit mode. You still get support for all of the monitor’s features like Multi View and Flex Move, but now on a display that curves up and over your head. And guess what, it really does feel like you’re in the pilot’s seat of an airplane. My only regret is that I wish I could have installed a shoot ’em up like Ikaruga, allowing me to really take advantage of the Ark’s verticality in cockpit mode. And if you want a huge new display but don’t have a lot of desk space, Samsung even includes a VESA wall mount in the box.

However, starting at $3,500, the Odyssey Ark is a big financial commitment for anyone. But if none of the other monitors released this year are big enough for you, Samsung’s new flagship gaming monitor could be the massive centerpiece your home battle station needs.

Pre-orders for the Odyssey Ark begin today, and when combined with reservation discounts, potential customers can save up to $300 before sales officially kick off sometime in early September.

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