The TV supports the ‘Evolution’ upgrade capability. This supports plug-in modules to be released in future years, which upgrade the TV to support new features and functions. I recently had the opportunity to see last year’s model with the 2013 Evolution upgrade, and it was rather impressive.
Not only do you get the general capabilities, the upgrade included the quad core processor provided in this year’s TV. So it’s reasonable to conclude that next year’s Evolution upgrade will usefully transform the present TV into next year’s model, barring only some cosmetic differences.
Motion and Voice Control
The advanced control features have improved enormously from last year. There are a greater number of voice commands this time around, and in practice the TV accepted them with decent reliability. But don’t waste your time saying ‘Volume Down’.
It works, but a one notch reduction in the volume level is barely audible. It’s far easier to control the volume by using the dedicated keys on either of the remotes.
More fun was the ‘S Recommendation’ feature in which you can say such things as ‘Show me a news program’. The TV consults its guide and offers you a list from which to choose (by number).
If you select one that isn’t presently showing, the TV will offer to record it or switch to it automatically when it starts. The TV notes your responses, too, and over time builds up a profile of your preferences so it can offer better suggestions.
The TV even talks back, using a reasonably natural Australian-accented voice. You can choose the sex.
The touch pad remote works very effectively now, especially when it came to bouncing around a virtual typewriter keyboard when I was logging into the internet. It responded with 100 percent reliability to swipes and pokes.
But you can wave your hands in the air instead to attract the TV’s attention. Its hand control mechanism was also greatly improved, and surprisingly reliable. Put your hand up and a control icon appears on the screen. Move your hand and the icon moves. Grasp your hand while the icon is hovering over a command graphic, and the command is executed.
The Smart Hub panels all have clear pointers on the screen so this was also easily navigated by hand, so to speak. Indeed, fairly quickly I found it faster to use hand motions for moving around some of these well-populated panels than with the IR remote and, at times, even than the touchpad remote.
In photo mode you can do even cooler stuff, like raise one hand after the other so that you have two control icons, whereupon you can zoom by drawing your hands and their associated icons apart, or by kind of grasping and twisting them over, as though you were turning a large steering wheel on a ship, you can rotate a picture.
The Samsung UA55F8000 is one classy bit of kit. Incredibly smart, with very good basic TV performance as well, and an elegantly thin panel. And it won’t be left behind for the next few years if you want to pay for the Evolution upgrade.
I’d certainly be happy with one.
UPDATE: Well, it turns out that there is indeed a mute key on the touchpad remote. I had so much trouble believing that there wasn’t one there I examined its surface several times, carefully and slowly reading each label. But moments ago I picked up the remote, felt my thumb sink slightly into the body of the remote, and the sound of the TV went off. Turns out there’s a slim mute key on the side, right under the thumb of your right hand.