Inside Samsung 837: A Sleek NYC Showcase (Don’t Call it a Store) – PC Magazine

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Samsung 837, which opened yesterday in New York City’s swanky Meatpacking district, is the Korean electronic giant’s flagship ________. You could put any number of words in that blank, from “digital playground” to “customer care center” to “product showcase,” because it’s unclear exactly what this place is supposed to be. 

In fact, Samsung uses a bevy of similar phrases to describe its New York outpost (we lost count at 10). The one missing word is “store.” That’s right, you can’t buy any tech here, but Samsung sure wants you to get excited about it. From refrigerators to the new Galaxy S7, its products look gorgeous, practically begging you to walk away with them.

PCMag took a tour of 837 this afternoon. It all starts with an art gallery, a giant walk-through tube that currently hosts an exhibit called Social Galaxy. Designed by Brooklyn programmers-cum-artists Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald (yes, the same Kyle McDonald who got in trouble for his “art” at an Apple store in 2011),the exhibit makes your Instagram profile come to life.

Input your Instagram handle into a Samsung phone at the entrance (we used @PCMagOfficial, naturally),don some shoe protectors, and step into the tube, which is covered on all surfaces—including the floor—with shiny, spotless mirrors.

Samsung 837 Social Galaxy

As you walk through, LCD displays show curated collections of your Instagram photos, while a female computer voice reads aloud snippets from your captions. It’s all quite surreal.

The gallery exit spits you out at the back of a stadium-like, three-story theater with a giant screen made of 96 55-inch displays. For the official opening yesterday, Florence and the Machine played here; in the future Samsung says it will host live streams, product demos, and movie screenings.

Rounding out the first level are two product showcases, for Samsung’s Gear VRheadset and the Galaxy S7.

Samsung 837 Galaxy S7

Upstairs, you’ll find a cafe with items from Brooklyn’s Smorgasbord food market, which represents the only things you can actually buy at 837. Of course, the cafe prominently accepts Samsung Pay.

Samsung 837 Cafe

Also upstairs are the Samsung “Techies,” who provide one-on-one support for your Samsung mobile devices in an environment that is vaguely Apple Genius Bar-esque. You sign up with the concierge, who pages you when your Techie is ready, at which point you sit down at long communal tables for advice and troubleshooting.

More product showcases line the second floor, including a unique kitchen full of Samsung appliances. If you want to test them out the old-fashioned way, you can open and close refrigerator and oven doors. But you can also experience the kitchen appliances on a giant touch screen that fills an entire wall.

Samsung 837 Product Showcase 3

The place was fairly quiet on its second afternoon of operation, with lots of friendly Samsung employees milling about. One said she was transferred temporarily to the NYC location from a nearby Samsung Experience Shop. In what sounded like a sales pitch, another representative manning the VR demo station was quick to point out a promotion that offers a free Gear VR with the purchase of a Galaxy S7.

If you can’t buy these products, though, what is Samsung’s end game with 837? Certain aspects, such as the Techies, are clearly meant to compete with Apple and Microsoft retail outlets. But at its essence, the store is a buzz generator. In the face of intense competition for mobile devices, having an undefinable outpost in one of New York City’s swankiest neighborhoods where ogling window-shoppers couldn’t even whip out their credit cards if they wanted to certainly sets Samsung apart.

Samsung 837 is located at 837 Washington Street in Manhattan. It’s open Monday-Friday from 11am-9pm, Saturday from 10am-10pm, and Sunday from 10am-8pm.

Monday – Friday 11am – 9pm

Inside Samsung 837: A Sleek NYC Showcase (Don’t Call it a Store) – PC Magazine