Videos might be best viewed in horizontal format, but we just can’t seem to get used to holding our phones that way. Using apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram, where vertical videos are the norm, trains us to record videos vertically. There’s a good reason for that, too. Humans are generally vertical in proportion, and we often take photos and videos of ourselves and others to post on social media. But try to watch that vertical video on a TV or laptop screen, and it just looks wrong.
Samsung claims to have a solution for exactly that problem. The tech giant has just unveiled a new television that can physically be turned on its side to watch content that has been filmed vertically on mobile phones. Dubbed “The Sero,” this orientation-flipping TV is aimed at younger people who have grown accustomed to watching content vertically on their phone screens. Measuring 43 inches, the Sero is designed to encourage millennials to project more of their smartphone content onto larger devices. It includes 4.1 channel 60W speakers, a minimalist silhouette, and an integrated navy blue stand.
The Sero’s QLED screen can also slide up and down on the stand, and it can even be switched to “ambient mode” to display clock faces, photos, and art when it’s not in use. Currently only available in Korea, it comes with a hefty price tag of $1,600. Creative strategists think Samsung is using it to test potential demand for such a product, hoping to convince younger generations that they need more than just a smartphone to enjoy video content. It’s unclear just how much the quality of videos recorded on phones might suffer when they’re projected onto a 43-inch display though.
The vertical TV also questions assumptions about how we use our smartphones, and how viewing the same content on a larger device might affect the experience of watching it. Held in our hands and viewable from a small radius, our phones feel private, almost like extensions of ourselves, and we have an immediate sense of connection to them thanks to touchscreens that allow us to interact with all we see. Taking that content and enlarging it not only puts more distance between it and the viewer, but it also makes it feel like more of a public and shared experience. Whether people like that or not remains to be seen.
News of the Sero TV comes fresh off Samsung’s folding phone fiasco. The $1,980 Galaxy Fold is supposed to be available to the public on May 31st, but that launch date has been called into question after a number of early review units broke. That gadget looks like a regular phone until it unfolds into a 7.3-inch tablet, and its debut was expected to change the game for smartphones of the near future.
Some media reviewers at CNBC and other outlets found that the screen cracked or went black within a matter of hours, while others mistakenly peeled off what looked like a plastic screen protector, accidentally removing a key part of the display. In an email to pre-order customers, Samsung said it will automatically cancel all orders if it can’t fix these issues by its launch date.