Samsung, 8K, review, Ambient modeWhen you flip through Houzz, or design magazines on the Apple News app, have you ever noticed you never see a TV in any of the fancy rooms. Why? Because those big empty, dark screens are a major downer when it comes to design. Samsung has been working on that; why DO TVs need to go dark when not in use, anyway? Now, they don’t. Samsung’s new QLED TVs including the 2019 Samsung 8K Q900 QLED TV have something called Ambient Mode. What is Ambient Mode, how does it work and how can you customize it for your home? Let’s find out. (By the way, if you want to read the full review of the 8K Samsung Q900R, click here.)

What is Samsung TV Ambient Mode?

The gist of Ambient Mode on your QLED TV is that you can make your TV look pretty when you’re not watching it; watch the video above to see it in action. Ambient Mode uses your TV screen to display video or visual décor, weather information, and new to the 2019 QLED TV, artwork and trending pictures and stories based on your interests. It basically can turn your TV into a window, or a bit of art, instead of a black hole. You can also take a photo of the wall your TV is mounted on and use that as your TV’s background, so it blends in seamlessly. Whaaaaa?!

How to use Samsung Ambient Mode

You can control Ambient Mode settings using the Samsung One Remote or using the Samsung Smart Things app on your mobile device. With the remote, press the Ambient button and use the directional pad to select the desired Ambient mode. You can view the different Ambient options by pressing the Ambient button, then scrolling across the options that will appear at the bottom of the frame. However, you should be aware that if you use a remote control other than the Samsung Smart Remote, there may be restrictions for entering Ambient Mode.

When you select a category or tab at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see a preview of available functions and content. To view more detailed information, move the focus to it, and then press the Up directional button. Press the Home button to return to TV mode. If you press the Ambient button when the TV is turned off, the TV turns on in Ambient Mode. If you use the Samsung Smart Things app to control the TV, you will be able to make more precise adjustments to the settings of any mode.

Samsung, 8K tv, Q900R, review, ambient mode, upscaling
One of the many options for Ambient Mode

Once you’re in Ambient Mode, you can press the Up button on your remote to view detailed information about the content on your screen. But it doesn’t end there—you can even customize the content on your screen to make it look even more unique.

What are the different Ambient Mode Settings?

The Special Edition setting features different motion videos like Light Grid, a pseudo neon grid, Metamorphosis, a dizzying lineup of sharp squares that shift shade and tone, Elation Island, a series of abstract impressionist artwork that cycles every hour. Linear Dots is a pattern of circles that you can customize so it matches the colours in your room. Porcelain Hours is a wall of clocks.

Under the Decor tab, there are about 20 different options for you to customize things.
Sheltering Tree, a subtle shady tree that also features ambient outdoor sounds and motion and audio that changes throughout then day, depending on your weather and the time. Butterfly turns the screen into a butterfly enclosure with moving butterflies flitting about. My Album lets you customize a layout, gallery wall-style using your own photos. The Info option lets you display weather info as a screensaver, or simply display the time. Artwork presents to you a variety of stunning photographs you can display. Background Theme lets you have the entire TV display a solid colour. You can actually adjust the hue to precisely mimic the colour of the wall behind your Samsung 8K TV—except for a thin bezel, the TV almost vanishes into your space.

Samsung, 8K, review, Ambient modeIn my testing area I have a projector screen behind the TV at the moment, so it wasn’t super conducive to blending in, but I was able to get it to mimic the overall wall colour in the room.

How to Customize Ambient Mode Content

You can also customize these backgrounds to an amazing degree. You can make these customizations on screen or use the app for more precision.

  • Shadow Effects: Applies a shadow effect.
  • Brightness: Adjusts the brightness level.
  • BG Saturation: Adjusts the saturation of the content.
  • BG Colour Tone: Adjusts the colours.
  • BG R-Gain/BG G-Gain/BG B-Gain: Adjusts the red, green, and blue contrast.

Adjusting for room lighting: Ambient Mode Settings

One of the best parts about Ambient Mode is that it’s self-adjusting; you can set the brightness to automatically match the level of light in the room. You can also set a timer for Ambient Mode to turn off automatically, say, after your company has left.

Samsung Ambient Mode on the new Q900 8K TV is pretty amazing. Not only does it look great, and turns your TV into part of the room instead of a decor distraction, it’s infinitely customizable, and very easy to use. Having this option for the home definitely pushes a Samsung TV higher on my new TV wish list.

Get Ambient Mode on all Samsung QLED TVs, including the new Samsung 8K QLED Q900R.

Editor TV and Home Theatre
Erin is a journalist, writer, and TV producer with a fascination for technology and a love of gadgets. Check out her blog