Finally, A TV For Portrait Videos

Vertical video is bad, or so we’re told, and you shouldn’t shoot a video with your phone in a vertical position. Why? Because all monitors are wider than they are tall. This conventional wisdom is being challenged by none other than Samsung. There is now a vertical TV (Korean, Google Translate link) , engineered specifically videos shot on mobile phones.

“Samsung Electronics analyzed the characteristics of the Millennial generation, which is familiar with mobile content, and presented a new concept TV ‘The Sero’ (loosely translated as ‘The Vertical’), which is based on the vertical screen, unlike the conventional TV,” so goes the press release.

Features of The Sero TV include synchronization between the screen and a mobile device, and mirroring functions based on NFC. This display is no slouch in the audio department, either: it features a 4.1 channel, 60-watt high-end speaker. A built-in microphone and support for Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant means artificial intelligence can easily control various functions of the display.

The Sero will be released in Korea at the end of May, with a reported price tag of 18,900,000 South Korean Won. A quick Google search tells us that converts to an implausible-sounding $16,295 USD, but it’s not as if you were going to buy one anyway.

Nevertheless, there actually is a market for ‘vertical’ or portrait displays; thanks to the ever-widening of aspect ratios by LCD manufacturers, it makes sense to edit documents with a vertically-oriented monitor. You can fit more code on the screen if you just rotate your monitor. Apple was one of the first companies to realize this with the release of the Macintosh Portrait Display in 1989, providing a wondrous 640×870 grayscale resolution display for desktop publishing. Of course, the Radius full page display was released a few years earlier and the Xerox Alto had a vertically oriented screen. But wait a minute, can’t you just rotate your monitor and save $16k?

54 thoughts on “Finally, A TV For Portrait Videos

  1. Yes many years ago I had a 2 A4 page monitor ( only monochrome) but great for working on documents.

    We’ve been conned by the entertainment industry oooohhh wide screen movies great for movies but crap for document work. At least mobile device producers got it right …..

  2. Am I the only person who thinks 19:10 LCDs *seem* way taller when in portrait orientation than they look wide when in landscape?

    Obviously it’s the same length, so I’m talking about impressions more than objective facts.

      1. And rotating screens have been around for ages, i think beginning with raster ops in het middle nineties. First i thought: damn, that was a good april 1 joke, but it is may now…

        1. There are some elaborate MAME arcade cabinet designs that include a motorized rotating monitor… when you play a horizontal game it’s horizontal, when you play a vertical game it rotates to vertical. Maximum use of screen space :)

        2. Radius introduced the Pivot monitor in 1990. Mercury switch inside that detected the orientation. With a Radius software extension installed the screen would update automatically.

  3. It had to happen. We’re so addicted to our phones even our TV’s have to take on the same shape. Yes, you can just rotate your monitor and some were even made rotatable for document viewing. I’m sure an electronics hack can take a cheap TV and add an orientation chip like those in every phone since the slab form factor became the defacto standard and save the $16K. Or you can just turn your head sideways and you’ll even save the cost of the chip.

    1. If it has more than 23 lines and is wide enough for at least 80 characters per line, I’m ok with it!
      Additional Sixel capability is nice to have…
      ;-)

  4. With as high resolution as phone cameras have become, why can’t they have a square resolution and just crop the video to landscape in either orientation? With a high enough camera resolution the pisition sensors could be used to auto level the video in any orientation along with shake canceling.

  5. I designed and laser cut a monitor stand that rotates, I’m typing in portrait mode right now. Maybe I can find the files and write it up one of these days.

  6. Here we go again…

    Hold your phone securely with one hand horizontally. Don’t cover the screen with your hand. Now try to operate the on screen controls. See why people hold them vertically?

    1. I just find it more comfortable, how the phone sits on my hand horizontally in a way that prevents me from dropping it is uncomfortable not to mention when I have to type, a horizontal keyboard eats up 75% of my screen real estate

  7. I have been able to turn my monitor sideways and it automatically orients the display for me for years
    I got that in 2015 for $300
    It’s a hinge with a switch that probably just reports to windows is now a 9:16
    Why does cramming good sound and a TV tuner in it make this 50x more expensive?

    Also as a millennial who uses a phone almost exclusively in portrait mode i’m not trending towards a portrait monitor, I much rather look left and right than up and down when working all day and only use it when reading large technical documents where I have to keep going back and forth between text and charts

  8. I have a rotating flat panel monitor I’m not using. When I was using it I didn’t install the software that auto detects rotating it and having Windows automatically change to match.

    Why? Because the software had some buggy anti-theft “feature” that couldn’t be disabled and there were reports of it bricking the monitor – and that the manufacturer wouldn’t debug the software nor would they do anything about monitors it bricked.

    I never used the rotation anyway so I had zero need for the software.

    Wayyyyy before big LCD panels, companies like Radius made rotating CRT monitors, mostly for use on Macintosh computers since back then nearly all book layout and other publishing stuff on computer was done with Macs. Expensive? Oohhhhhh yes. If one had the space it was much cheaper to connect one normal and one portrait monitor.

    1. this somehow is the best comment as it would end the discussion for once and for all.

      Unfortunately, protrait mode (or vertical video) is hot these days because people are too lzay to tile their phones OR because phones are too thin to handle without dropping them or to push a virtual (touchscreen) button accidentally.
      But no matter how you try to justify vertical videos, in the end our eyes are still next to each other (horizontal plane) and not one above the other (vertical plane). So watching horizontal is just the most pleasing way to watch.

      A company making a monitor/tv/screen that is “designed” for vertical video is ludicrous. Because then you have the problem of not being able to watch normal (horizontal) content, which fortunately (thanks to real cameras) shooting this way. Anyway,.. to make a long story short… I didn’t see this one coming (or at least not from this company).

  9. I can imagine the circles on the wall created by the scratches of jewelry and dirt from hands caused by the constantly rotating screen. As changing from vertical to horizontal a few times a day will most certainly leave it marks. Not to mention the dirt caused by the extra stream of air (convection heat) coming from the TV itself.

    1. That’s ludicrous. There are many things wrong with this stupid thing, and Millenials per se, but If this stupid thing ever really becomes a Thing, then why wouldn’t the manufacturers just include a powerful servo and have the display auto-rotate as needed?
      In the mean time, it could be an interesting idea for a DIY hack. Dremel in a power-servo into your shiny new OLED stupidbox, either in the display itself or in the stand/wall mount?

      In the before-times, when grandpa was young, TV watchers actually had to get their fat bottoms off the couch to change channels (in the case there actually was more than one; not always the case!) or adjust the volume.

      It didn’t take that long until we had TV remotes, so the sheeple could get even fatter, even faster.

      The similarity in this use case are striking – of course the TV-watching crowd would never accept the daily exercise of having to get off the couch to manually rotate the screen every time the streaming “content” would change.

  10. I have the feeling that since this years 1 April, every day is 1 April here in hackaday…. It hasn’t been a day, where at some post I have looked the publishing date, to see if it wasn’t posted on 1 April

    1. But the solution is simple – if phone manufacturers (Samsung / Xiaomi / Lenovo / Huawei – I’m looking at you) would just make their camera apps sense the orientation of the phone in a more intelligent way when shooting video- only horizontal – all would be good. Millennials would get their brains re-programmed free-of-charge to turn the phone horizontally when taking video, because the picture would be rotated 90° on their screen if they didn’t. Both horizontal orientations would be valid, 90° clockwise from “normal” and 90° anticlockwise (but not the two vertical orientations).

      1. Yes, yes, yes! +1M on this. The EU should make laws to enforce this, with billion-euro fines to make it happen.
        The Millenials are never gonna get it on their own, so this is one case where global legislation is really needed.
        Please, make it so!

        1. Much as I like to dump on Millennials, I have to note that this is far from a problem only with young people. I’m a Boomer (b. 1953), and lots of people in my generation (and despite the prejudices, you might be surprised by how many use smartphones) suffer from the same disease. I agree that the solution is, as daveboltman suggests above, to make it impossible to shoot a vertical video. Personally, I’d like to add an on-screen warning when taking vertical stills, to make sure the user understood the ramifications of doing so and used that mode only when truly appropriate (the latter is targeted at my wife…)

    2. “Vertical video gets 10x more annoying on news when they try to fill the edges with the burred version. Just leave black bars in.”

      Yes – fully agree!!! Although it’s already annoying when they leave the black bars in, just because of the knowledge that it could easily have been avoided if the ~~~camera~~~ cell-phone operator had used their brain and held their phone horizontally.

  11. Have some of those kind of displays since a lot of years. Both 17 and 19 inch from Samsung. Find the idea interesting, rotated them once to see how it was, then never used it anymore. The cables have to rotate along with the display, and that causes its share of problems with stretched or tangled cables.

  12. I actualyl have a dual screen setup that way. One 24″ in portrait mode and a landscape main screen 27″ one. I can open documents or reference stuff on the portrait screen whilst wotkibg on the main screen. Best of both worlds ;)

    1. Me too! Once you’ve tried it, no going back, a real productivity boost. I even carry a portable USB-C monitor in my laptop bag for use like that while on the go. Code in portrait, schematics in landscape. Datasheets in portrait, PCB layouts in landscape. PDF documents in portrait, email in landscape. Daily newspapers in portrait, HAD in landscape. Sometimes all at once :-D

  13. Videos (and monitors) are normally made in horizontal orientation because that is how human vision works. We have two eyes one next to another and our field of view is horizontal. If we instead had one eye on the forehead and one on the nose then vertical movies would make more sense.

  14. I’d be happy if they’d just get the displayed *content* aspect ratio correct. Circles need to look like circles, people shouldn’t look like they’re 25% heavier than they really are, etc. American broadcast TV is the worst offender, but the obscenity sneaks into internet video too.

  15. Try life as migraine sufferer. >:(
    Splitting the image, zooming it…. and then blurring it to wrap a the vertical video?
    That drives my brain nuts with trying to resolve the out of focus image and sort out why it’s not the same size and half can not be focused , not matter what commands the brain sends to the eye muscles.
    Triggers feelings of a nauseating headache in about five seconds.
    Trying to avoid getting hit with several of these vid clips in the evening “news” cast is seriously annoying.
    About 30~40 seconds of the blur-zoom is enough to send me to a darkened room, for a few hours, to wait till the urge to puke subsides.

    Much as I like Samsung TVS, I can only hope this goes badly for them.

  16. Vertical videos make me feel like I’m going blind, and give me a headache as I involuntarily strain to see the “hidden” parts. The physical world is formatted in landscape mode, and videos must be too. Portrait mode is only tolerable for, well, portraits.

    1. Also, look at your eyes in a mirror and note their shape. Try looking up & down versus left & right—which is more comfortable and works better?

      People who shoot vertical videos (and still photos!) without having a well-considered reason for doing so that they can articulate convincingly should be sent to reeducation camps.

  17. Oh and while on the subject of ways to f### up video. Can we call a moratorium on cropping the top & bottom of videos to fit cellphones?
    Youtube has gone terrible for doing this and thus cutting the subject out of frame for many “how to” & “Do It Yourself” videos.
    What’s worse is seeing it happen on proper cable TV services now.
    =
    and for petes sake Hackaday. All of this new scripting, to post, is the pits. :P

  18. Vertical video is fine for tall skinny subjects. Like towers, sky scrapers, and super models. When you can view said vertical videos on a vertical screen.

    In the end it doesn’t matter because most people can’t keep the subject in frame. We get videos of alternating ground/sky or just drifting to one side. And the person holding the camera screaming “ERMAGERD!!!1!1. Did you see that?! Did you see that?! This is so going on (insert favorite useless social media platform).”

  19. Now we need a genetic alteration to have upper and lower eyes instead of left and right eyes.

    And an app that sneds electric shocks to the phone user that starts recording with the phone in vertical position (or more seriously, at least an “are you sure you want to record a vertical video?” message before starting)

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