Samsung Australia recently launched its latest and greatest gaming monitor — the 55-inch Odyssey Ark and I was one of a lucky few who were invited to Samsung’s swanky Sydney offices to get a first, hands-on review. So for those who might have missed it, the Odyssey Ark is the latest and greatest apex predator of the Odyssey family. It’s a BFGD(Big Format Gaming Display) with a massive 55-inch, 4K, 165Hz, VA, Quantum Mini LED panel which you can rotate into portrait mode. It’s the most bonkers monitor I’ve ever seen.
The Odyssey Ark is now available for pre-order at Samsung Online and Harvey Norman for, wait for it, $4,499.00. That’s some bankruptcy-filing money right there but Samsung is sweetening the deal by throwing in a SecretLab TITAN Evo gaming chair with a custom Odyssey magnetic head pillow(valued at $759) and a best-in-class 1TB Samsung 980 Pro NVMe SSD(valued at $235).
After a briefing from Samsung execs, I was left alone in a dark room with an Odyssey Ark connected to an RTX Gaming rig and an Xbox Series X for two solid hours to do as I please. While that isn’t anywhere near enough time to do a full review, I certainly got a good grasp of the potential of this monitor as well as pitfalls.
At 55-inches, the Odyssey Ark is massive — more so than I thought it would be and you only realize when you’re sat down in front of it. It stands at 1.1m tall, 1.1m wide and sits 311mm deep. It has a 1000R curve which looks kinda ridiculous but it really does wrap around you and completely swallows your entire field of vision. Seriously, you can’t see anything except screen. The curvature seems extreme but it really is easier on your eyes by making every corner of the display almost equidistant to your eye.
The Odyssey Ark doesn’t share its siblings white, gamer aesthetic even though it literally looks like Samsung welded two Odyssey Neo G9’s together. Its a shame because I actually think it would have looked awesome with the same styling. But, I think Samsung wanted the Ark to be the kind of monitor you can also use in your living room or boardroom without screaming ‘gaming’. Around the back are two LED light strip top and bottom but they feel like an afterthought rather than intentional design. They also don’t offer much in the way of backlight illumination.
Holding up the Ark is the Height Adjustable Stand(HAS) which is very much a desktop monitor stand. This engineering marvel holds up the 21 kilos of the Ark and gives it both height and tilt adjustment but even more wild, is full 90-degree rotation into portrait orientation and hold it there. Samsung calls this Cockpit Mode and it’s as impressive as it is ridiculous.
It’s perfect for multitasking by splitting your view into three or four stacked views — each with its own input source. Samsung says you could play games like Microsoft Flight Simulator in Cockpit mode for the ultimate immersion — something I wasn’t able to see during my demo. And of course, it’s also great for watching near life-size TikToks all day.
I was initially concerned about what that would mean for cable management but Samsung was way ahead of me. The Ark borrows the brilliant One Connect Box from Samsung’s TV line. The One Connect is a hub for all your connections, HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort, Ethernet, eARC and power. This then connects to the Ark via a single cable, removing cable clutter.
Another handy design feature are the dual remotes for controlling the Ark. The first is the Ark Dial which is a large, flat desk remote with a large rotary dial and a few buttons to quickly access the various functions and modes. It’s designed to sit on your desk next to your keyboard for easy access. The second is a standard slim remote for when you want to use the Ark like a TV and do some couch gaming or movie watching. Both remotes are solar powered so you never have to worry about swapping batteries.
Panel and performance
The Odyssey Ark uses a Samsung VA panel with mini LED backlight that has 1056 local dimming zones. It also has a peak brightness of 1000 nits with an impressive 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. All that means is that the Ark is incredibly bright but still manages to have deep blacks. It’s all powered by Samsung’s Quantum Matrix Tech and a Neural Quantum Processor which handles all the AI stuff to give you a stunning HDR picture that really sucks you into games like I’ve never experienced before.
The Ark actually gets eye-searingly bright. In Destiny 2, as I moved from the old abandoned buildings of the Cosmodrome into the bright sunlight, I was actually blinded temporarily. Sitting so close to the screen makes it even more so. However, the local dimming works fantastically to isolate super bright spots from super dark which makes everything pop that much more.
I noticed the same while watching Godzilla vs King Kong on Netflix in HDR. The dark tones of Kong’s fur were clearly discernable against the brilliant flashes of Godzilla’s atomic breath. Additionally, the 6 speakers in the Ark sounded brilliant with excellent volume, body and separation. Samsung says they are Dolby Atmos certified but I didn’t have any content to test that during my session.
But back to gaming for a moment. The Ark is capable of displaying games at 4K, 165Hz refresh with a 1ms response time. Now, you will definitely need a helluva rig to achieve those numbers and we didn’t have one. However, the Ark also supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro but I was particularly surprised that it doesn’t support Nvidia G-Sync Ultimate; especially given it’s high price. That said, motion was smooth and wicked quick which is also where my first big issue with the Ark appeared.
In a matter of minutes, I was experiencing severe eye strain. I knew immediately that it was a result of sitting so close to such a massive image and trying to keep track of all the different game elements. Remember how your Mum used to tell you not to sit so close to the TV? Yeah, in this case, she’d be right. It could be also because I wear glasses and so much of the Ark’s display was outside of my glasses coverage which caused me strain.
Moving to about four feet away from the Ark helped reduce the effect but the most effective was to use the Ark’s Flex Move feature to shrink the viewport to about 42-inch size. Yes, you can do that and a whole lot more. You can resize the view port into almost any size you want as well as position it any where on the screen. You also get a choice of cool background filler effects. And as you can probably imagine, you can have multiple displays in a variety of layouts thanks to the Multi View feature.
Everything is accessible with a quick spin of the Ark Dial control. In addition, the Samsung Game Bar from the TV’s is here as well and gives you a wealth of features to adjust your gameplay experience. One impressive feature in the Game Bar is the ability to change aspect ratio so if you prefer super ultra wide 32:9 gaming, you can do that as well as positioning the viewport so you can have just half the screen showing your game and the top half blank or displaying other content.
The Ark has all the same smart TV features you’d expect from Samsung. Running Tizen OS, you have access to a wealth of Streaming apps and services. Even better, it supports Xbox Cloud Streaming so even if you don’t have the console, you can still enjoy all the goodness of Xbox Cloud games. With a good enough connection, you’ll enjoy the service by pairing a Bluetooth controller to the Ark.
Even as I finished my hands-on time, I struggled to find the words to explain to the Samsung rep about what I thought. The Samsung Odyssey Ark is simultaneously awesome and nonsensical. It’s excessive without a doubt but it’s excess makes it extremely capable for much, much more than just 4K HDR Gaming. But it’s also a very niche product that is far too expensive to appeal to the mass PC gamer market.
For starters, it’s just too big for most things, even with the 1000R wrap around curve. And while I appreciate the screen management features, you still need to sit a fair distance away to comfortably use it. It’s even worse in Cockpit mode where you literally have to fully recline in your chair to see stuff at the top of the display. I’d love for Samsung to make a 48-inch version which would be much better for comfort while still being fully immersive.
That said, I enjoyed my time with the Odyssey Ark and I’d wish every gamer to experience this at least once even though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them to buy it. Quite simply, the Samsung Odyssey Ark is a tech marvel and I can’t wait to see what Samsung does next.
Samsung Australia invited this writer to its Sydney Headquarters for this hands on session. They provided flights and meals.