With a big fanfare, Samsung has launched one of its biggest line-ups yet, covering Smart TVs, not-so-smart TVs, devices to upgrade last year’s TV, and even a TV that features the astonishingly massive 4K Ultra-High Definition screen size.
“Our 2013 Samsung Smart TV range spans affordable large-screen sets all the way to mind-blowing, high- design luxury TVs,” Philip Newton, Samsung’s Vice President for Consumer Electronics in Australia.
“This year we are going to go even further with a reinvigorated design philosophy which touches every element of our new range, expanding our existing premium international and local entertainment content partnerships and enhancing the user experience with innovative, intuitive and interactive technology to help Australian consumers get the best possible home entertainment experience.”
The line-up of TVs and audio visual equipment for the year encompasses some neat models and interesting innovations, one of which was co-developed here in Australia.
At the top end of the market, Samsung will be selling the F8000, one of the brightest LED TVs manufactured by the company yet, with a thin profile and a bezel less than 6mm wide.
New technologies here include “Micro Dimming Ultimate”, which aims to make blacks deeper than ever; a new “HEVC” high-compression codec for improved streaming over slower connections; a quad-core processor for faster web and apps access; an expanded range of gesture controls, and a multi-panel Smart Hub interface.
For Samsung’s 2013 Smart Hub, Australians will be able to talk to their TV using a new remote, asking it questions like “when’s the news on” or “what time is Big Bang Theory?”. What’s more, the television is able to respond in a voice that sounds like it’s a local too.
The technology is called “S-Recommendation with Natural Language” and was developed in-part with a team at Macquarie University to allow Aussies to talk to the TV, and have the TV understand and respond appropriately to requests.
The S-Recommendation engine will also learn what you like, gradually analysing your viewing habits to suggest other content on TV that you can watch. Broadcast programming is included in these recommendations, and we’re told that streaming services available through Samsung’s apps (such as, Foxtel on Internet TV, Quickflix, iview, SBS On Demand) will be integrated into the Smart TV’s suggestions in the future.
Apps are a big part of Samsung’s line-up, too, and the company hopes to impress with access to Foxtel, Quickflix, and around 90 percent of world sports programming, via Fox Sports, ESPN, Livesports and others.
And Foxtel’s PVR functionality will be coming to Samsung TVs later this year, allowing you to pause what you’re watching without the need for an IQ box. Foxtel’s Go mobile streaming service – currently available only on iPad – will be available exclusively to Samsung Android phones and tablets after mid-year.
Elsewhere in the Smart Hub, you’ll be able to find and see what friends online are doing, sync photos and music between your TV and smartphone, and check out video on demand from other providers.
Not all of the features will be available across the massive Samsung TV range, but from what we understand, the majority of these should be available across the Series 8 line-up, which starts at $4199 for a 55 inch and reaches all the way up to the 75 inch F8000 for $9999, with availability from later this month on some, while June and July will see the bigger models.
You can see the rest of the range in our gallery at the end of this article, but above the F8000 in the highest echelon is Samsung’s first 4K UHD TV.
First previewed at CES earlier in the year, this is a display that will take on similar models from Sony and LG.
This TV, called the S9, features a easel-like stand surrounding it, a 2.2 channel sound system pushing out 120 watts, and a proprietary upscaling solution to make 1080p Full HD content look as good as possible on a screen supporting the much higher 4K resolution.
“Australian consumers are demanding TVs with larger screen sizes with better picture quality, more features including content partnerships and internet connectivity and all in a beautifully designed package,” said Newton. “Our new 85 inch Series 9 UHD meets all these requirements and more.”
Sadly, the 4K content isn’t easily found in this country, and when we asked Samsung if it was coming, and if they were pushing some of its app providers to deliver it, we were told that the company was looking at possibilities, but hadn’t found a solution yet.
“The content is there, but the question is how you deliver it on an affordable level,” said Newton.
Internet download speeds and bandwidth amounts appear to be among the problems in this area, and so Samsung has been working hard to make its interpolation technology better, even telling us the demo content we saw at the launch – which looked amazing – was, in fact, 1080p Full HD content upscaled.
You will need a fair amount of money if you want this bad boy, though, with Samsung saying the 85 inch S9 will be available in Australia for $40,000.
Yes, you read that right, and if you have that much to spend, you’ll be able to find it in select retail stores from May, although you might want to call ahead, as Samsung has confirmed that only around 20 demo models that will be in retailers across Australia.