2020 is set to be a big year for Samsung innovations. A year that will see the company chart a bold new future not just for technologies like AI, 5G and IoT, but everyday devices like gaming monitors as well.
Since producing its very first gaming monitor less than four years ago, Samsung has soared to the top of the market with a portfolio of offerings that combine outstanding performance with immersive visuals.
Now, the company has announced that beginning this year, its Odyssey line of gaming laptops, PCs and VR devices is expanding to include gaming monitors, too. This will establish Odyssey as Samsung’s official product line for gaming gear.
Visitors to Samsung’s CES 2020 booth can see firsthand how the company applied the futuristic design cues that the line is known for – and gamers love – to create the all-new Odyssey G7 and G9. Both the (27- or 32-inch) G7 and the (49-inch) G9 come packed with next-level specs including ultrawide, 1000R-curvature screens, a rapid 1ms response time, a 240Hz refresh rate for incredibly smooth FPS (first-person shooter) gameplay, G-Sync compatibility, and much more.
A New Chapter for the Odyssey
When discussing the process of refining the Odyssey G7 and G9’s designs, each member of the team, from Samsung’s Visual Display Business, stressed the importance of putting the needs and interests of gamers first. That, at its core, is what the Odyssey line is all about: equipping users with the tools they need to enjoy the best possible gaming experience.
However, as Visual Communication designer Adam Burgess noted, the launch of the Odyssey G7 and G9 not only demonstrates Samsung’s commitment to offering consumers game-changing gaming technologies, “It also creates an opportunity for us to thoughtfully communicate the philosophy of the Odyssey line in a way that feels authentic to our product offerings now and to come.”
That philosophy is realized in a pair of monitors created under design principles that can be summed up with the words “courageous,” “futuristic,” and “confident.” The devices’ simple designs set the tone for Odyssey monitors to follow, and are distinguished by their sharp contrast of black and white elements and use of eye-catching blue accenting. (It should be noted that the “Odyssey” name will also be applied to Samsung gaming monitors that are already on the market.)
“The word ‘Odyssey’ brings to mind the idea of navigation, of a journey,” said Burgess. “As Samsung’s official product line for gaming gear, Odyssey offers consumers next-level gaming experiences, powered by a combination of advanced gaming technologies and purposeful design. Together, these two attributes evoke the image of advancing toward the future.”
The Odyssey G7 and G9’s futuristic designs are products of the team’s careful observation of market trends. Odyssey G9 designer Juwon Cho explained the team’s approach.
“Our market research has shown that Samsung gaming monitors consistently earn good reviews,” said Cho. “However, we received feedback that some consumers would like to see genre-specific gaming elements incorporated into gaming monitor designs. To chart the best course for enhancing our offerings, we first examined some of the popular games and devices that gamers tend to prefer.” When the research showed that many gamers prefer futuristic concepts, the team adopted that term as a key design principle.
For gamers, one of the Odyssey G9’s most appealing – and futuristic – design elements may just be the Infinity Core Lighting on its back. As Cho explained, the key to its design boils down to the same factor that enables the monitor to transform users’ gaming sessions: immersion.
“When designing the lighting, we utilized light and mirrors to create the sensation that you’re being transported to another dimension when you look at it,” said Cho. “Of course, gaming on a 49-inch curved monitor with a 32:9 aspect ratio evokes that same immersive sensation, and that alone would be very enticing to many gamers. However, we wanted to create gaming monitors that offered more. That is to say, we wanted them to be monitors that users would be proud to show off.”
As design team member Ki-hong Kim explained, however, immersion wasn’t the only factor that guided the Odyssey G7’s lighting design. “Like all Samsung gaming monitors, the Odyssey G7 features what we like to call Arena Lighting on its back,” said Kim. “We differentiated the design by adding dynamic shapes and lighting to the monitor’s front bezel. It’s all part of creating a monitor that, just like futuristic armor and weapons from sci-fi games, projects a strong image as gaming gear.”
Convenience Is Key
Kim emphasized that the consumer is always key when it comes to product design, and because gamers are always interested in what the professionals are using, “We asked professional gamers to share their detailed opinions and preferences so we could incorporate them into the product.”
For example, many pro gamers consider a gaming monitor’s stand to be a very important design consideration. This is because often times, when gaming, they require a large space to move their mouse, and a wide monitor stand may get in their way. It’s also important that the monitor stand does not prevent them from placing their keyboard in a comfortable position. To address these inconveniences, the team carefully calibrated the angle of the Odyssey G7’s stand to enable users to comfortably position their keyboard and move their mouse freely. Users can also easily swivel, tilt and adjust the height of both the Odyssey G7 and G9 to accommodate their posture and eye level.
Continuing his breakdown of the Odyssey G7’s design, Kim described various ways that the team enhanced the gaming monitor to differentiate it from conventional offerings. The G7’s 1000R-curvature screen is a sharp departure from typical gaming monitors, which feature boxy rectangular frames. He also explained how the team optimized the accent lighting to enhance the gaming experience and make the monitor stand out.
“Some members of our team were concerned that incorporating lighting into the front of the display could disturb gameplay,” said Kim. “This led us to come up with a lighting design that directs light downward. The design received positive reviews from users, and with that aspect of the design sorted, we were able to continue developing the product.”
The Odyssey G9’s glossy white design is another departure from convention. After surveying customer opinions, the team elected to utilize the color because feedback indicated that white creates the strongest impression of a futuristic design. Feedback on the monitors themselves has been terrific thus far, as both have already garnered Innovation Awards at this year’s CES – the Odyssey G9 in the Computer Peripheral Device category, and the G7 in the Gaming category.
Getting the Most Out of Your Monitor
In addition to discussing the process of refining the Odyssey G7 and G9’s designs, the designers revealed how they would utilize the monitors to enhance their own gaming experiences.
“Often times, when I play games, I play in a dark environment so I can immerse myself in the game and concentrate better,” said Kim. “The lighting on the front and back of the G7 was designed with consideration for such environments, and helps make the gaming experience that much more immersive.”
Cho added that the Odyssey G9’s immersion-amplifying design has the power to transform how users experience their favorite games. “The G9’s 1000R curvature allows it to fill the user’s entire field of view,” said Cho. “When you play games that support the monitor’s 32:9 screen ratio, especially FPS, flight simulator and racing games, the level of immersion is such that you feel as if you are inside the game itself.”
The market for gaming monitors is estimated to grow from roughly 7.8 million units in 2019 to 12.2 million by 2023.1 Going forward, Samsung will continue to lead innovation in the market by offering gamers monitor designs that put their needs first.
“Even after a gaming monitor launches, the team will constantly seek out feedback and data to reflect in the designs of future products,” said Cho.
“Our goal,” added Kim, “is to anticipate trends in the rapidly evolving gaming market, and design products that lead those trends – rather than products that are simply different from what’s already out there.”