It's the option to seamlessly switch from landscape to portrait for me.
For the last several years, I have used a dual-monitor setup for gaming and work. Not only is it nice to look at, but the two-screen real estate has doubled my productivity, especially during work hours. While I have been told to switch to an ultrawide like the Samsung Odyssey Neo G9 for years, I've always held back, primarily because of the weird 32:9 aspect ratio. But for the last year, I have been looking to upgrade my monitors to a 4K display to take advantage of my RTX 3080 Ti graphics card.
Fast-forward to January 2022 at CES: Samsung shows off a wildly large and curved 55-inch monitor known as the Odyssey Ark. It's big and kind of intimidating, but I was awestruck watching attendees flip the monitor with ease and the display adjusts from landscape to portrait instantly. Not only that but it does the work of three monitors in one. And now we know the monitor will release early next month for a hefty price tag of $3,499.99.
Samsung Odyssey Ark
Ahead of release, I had the chance to go hands-on with the Odyssey Ark, and I was not disappointed. It was big, impressive, and has a lot of bells and whistles with all the streaming features from Samsung's newer smart TVs while incorporating the latest gaming hardware technology.
Is it a great monitor? So far it sure seems that way. Is it also a splurge? A ridiculous splurge at $3,500? Absolutely. Yet, the Odyssey Ark has quickly become a monitor I might strongly consider purchasing, checking off many boxes as I research what monitor(s) to buy for my setup.
Made for PC, but with specs that allow you to take full advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, the Odyssey Ark is a flagship product in Samsung's gaming monitor lineup. It's a 55-inch 4K Quantum Mini LED display that you could easily mistake for a TV.
The Odyssey Ark features four speakers: one at each corner and two woofers behind the center of the screen, which sounded full and rich to my ears when watching videos on YouTube. Samsung even confirmed that the Odyssey Ark is compatible with a VESA mount, so you could mount it to the wall if you wanted. It has a 165Hz refresh rate, a 1ms response time, variable refresh rate, plus four HDMI 2.1 ports. It also has a LAN port, too.
Alongside a stand and the needed cables to make the display work, the Odyssey Ark also includes a control dial, allowing you to quickly swap between different settings or monitors' windows. The dial was great, offering a tactile feel with all the settings options easy to access. I could easily access and switch the monitor's setting, such as adjusting the screen size from 55 to 27-inches or more general adjustments like adjusting the volume.
Outside of the 55-inch and 1000R curve, the Odyssey Ark's signature selling point is the ability to flip the monitor from landscape into portrait (or, as Samsung notes, “Cockpit Mode”). The ability to flip the display on the fly without worrying about changing the monitor's settings each time. This freedom is quite liberating and encourages experimentation, whether using the Odyssey Ark for gaming, work, daily use, or all the above. The cockpit mode is most interesting to me, though how it will perform with games, particularly simulation titles like Microsoft Flight Simulator, has yet to be seen.
While I did not have a chance to try games in cockpit mode, I played several games on the Odyssey Ark in the landscape. Most notably, Forza Horizon 5 looks breathtaking. Cruising through the open world of a fictionalized version of Mexico. The Mini LED backlighting helped the TV display darker blacks, but it also got bright enough to show the lush and vibrant environments that can be discovered in Forza Horizon 5. Even games like Microsoft Flight Simulator look extremely detailed and photorealistic, helping to immerse me into what I was looking at on screen that it was hard to pull my eyes away from it.
What was most interesting to me was the 16:9 aspect ratio; while not the same as an ultrawide monitor like the Odyssey Neo G9, which has a 32:9 aspect ratio. Its traditional widescreen aspect ratio is, in my opinion, one of the early strengths of the Odyssey Ark. Not only do I not have to worry about games being stretched or warped because they weren't designed for ultrawide displays, but the 16:9 aspect ratio provides ample opportunities to multitask given the Ark does the work of three monitors. I could, for example, have one window playing a game, a second window showing a live stream from twitch, and a third one opened up for Discord.
The Samsung Odyssey Ark will cost $3,499.99 and launch in early September, with preorders beginning today on Samsung's official website.
Taylor is the Associate Tech Editor at IGN. You can follow her on Twitter @TayNixster.