Impressions: What it's like playing on the Samsung Odyssey Ark, the 55" 1000R gaming monitor

The Samsung Odyssey Ark.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Samsung has just released its most extreme gaming monitor yet in New Zealand after winning hype when it was unveiled at January's 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

The Odyssey Ark is the world's first 55-inch, 1000R gaming screen that undoubtedly takes playing games to the next level - for an undeniably extreme price.

It costs NZ$4999 in Aotearoa. For that amount you could instead buy a PlayStation 5 (if you can find one for sale), an Xbox Series X, a Nintendo Switch, a couple of full-price games for each of those and a cheap 55-inch 4K TV to play them on, too.

So why are people forking out so much for this fancy new screen?

I had an hour-long preview session with the first unit in the country and here are my thoughts.

The good

There is no denying the awesome immersion I felt sitting down and getting into a few laps of Forza Horizon 5 with this crazy monitor.

It helped to have a great Logitech steering wheel and pedal setup, to be fair, but I've used great driving simulator setups in the past and never felt the total immersion that came with the Odyssey Ark.

When you're sitting in exactly the right spot, with the adjustable height and tilt just right, it fills your vision in a way that is just super gratifying.

It's a magic trick that's pulled off by the ultra-high quality quantum mini LED 4K screen being this size and distance from your eyes with just the right curve.

That '1000R' spec means the curve on it would form a complete circle with a radius of 1000mm (1m), which in addition to being extremely immersive is also said to reduce eyestrain over prolonged periods, help with depth perception and provide other benefits.

A few other tech specs:

  • Refresh rate: 165Hz maximum
  • Response time: 1ms
  • HDR 10+ gaming support
  • HDMI 2.1 ports: 4
  • VRR: FreeSync Premium Pro.

It also has a matte display which has really good anti-glare technology, which means any pesky lights in the room shouldn't be distracting.

In addition to the virtual car racing, I tested the Odyssey Ark in a few other ways, including using its multiscreen feature. With this, you have up to four inputs taking up part of the screen and they all look great.

If you're using the monitor for gaming and working from home, it'd be a great way to have four screens of multitasking power. It could also be really useful for streamers.

Flicking between the screens and other functions is fun in of itself thanks to the special 'Ark Dial' remote, which is basically a comically oversized dial with a few other function buttons. You get a normal remote as well, but the Ark Dial will provide a special satisfaction for some stuff - y'know, like turning the volume up to 11.

The Ark Dial.
Photo credit: Newshub.

Speaking of which, the built-in speakers are surprisingly good. There are six in total - one in each corner and two subwoofers in the middle - giving it an overall gruntiness and clarity that was quite impressive.

It's a Dolby Atmos certified speaker setup and very good for car racing, at least, but I imagine anyone spending this much on a monitor also has at least one very nice gaming headset they'd probably use more for most games.

You also get the Samsung Gaming Hub and Game Bar, of course, which have been a win for gamers on Samsung TVs in recent years.

The bad

There's obviously not much bad about a gaming monitor of this quality, aside from the eye-watering price. But there are a couple of things to think about, and one plain weird thing.

It has a 'cockpit mode' where you can turn the monitor from landscape to portrait. This is done manually by hand rather than with some mechanical system and is easy as pie to do - but I kept wondering 'why would you?'

If you're using the monitor for work or creative stuff other than gaming, there are some apps and workflows that benefit from a vertical display. I can't think of any that benefit from a curved out top and bottom, however.

Another idea for 'cockpit mode' is mirroring your mobile phone or even playing mobile games on it, but to me that's just weird - play them on your mobile itself, I reckon, and play state-of-the-art PC and new-gen console games on a screen like this.

I guess this is not so much a bad feature, just a pointless one; but if it adds to the production cost Samsung may want to offer a slightly cheaper version without it.

Other than that, if you're in the market for this sort of a luxury gaming purchase, I'd advise carefully looking at the dimensions of it and thinking of where it will go in your house. It's going to take up quite a lot of space and is the opposite of discreet.

As cool as the Ark Dial is, there are some things that the standard remote is better for, and still others your keyboard or mobile phone's keyboard will be better for. This may mean a bit of shuffling between the controls to get the right one for what you want, which could mean a few seconds of irritation.

I can't imagine the cool factor of the Ark Dial dying down for ages though, even if there is a bit of shuffling.

The Samsung Odyssey Ark, the 55" 1000R gaming monitor.
Photo credit: Newshub.

The verdict

Keeping in mind I've only had a brief go on it, this indeed did feel like the best gaming monitor I've ever had the pleasure of playing on. And I didn't even see it pushed to its full capabilities - I'd love to see an extreme gaming rig cranking on this at 4K and 165 frames-per-second.

For what it costs, however, you can get a really, really nice new TV that for most people will be more than enough quality for gaming, plus be a great home cinema for the whole family.

But with one of those you won't get the ultimate, custom-made gaming experience this thing is. You won't get the 1000R curvature, primarily, nor many of the other little touches that push this monitor to the extraordinary level it rises to.

This is a modern pinnacle of gaming screens that delivers an unparalleled experience - for those lucky enough to be able to afford it.

The Samsung Odyssey Ark started shipping to customers in Aotearoa on Wednesday.