In 2012 Samsung introduced a host of new features to its Smart TV line-up, some content and network related, some to provide greater interactivity and control, and in some models, one that fights obsolescence.
This year that last feature has been retained, while the others have been significantly enhanced and improved, including the addition of increased support for cloud services.
Samsung’s flagship 2013 LED LCD television, the UA55F8000 crams all the company’s top tier technology into a super thin (35mm) panel.
Don’t let that dimension fool you, though. That 35mm is the overall thickness, which is primarily due to the electronics and connection chassis at the bottom rear. This only reaches about three-eighths of the way up from the bottom.
The rest of the panel is a hair under 15mm thick, looking sleek and elegant.
And it’s beautifully finished with a clean black, rear panel, marred only by Samsung’s model ID plate.
Nonetheless this is a TV that can be placed so that the rear is visible. Removable covers hide the connections so even the cabling is relatively unobtrusive.
The 55 inch (140cm) display features a wonderfully thin bezel, just 6mm from the edge of the display to the outside world on three sides, 12mm at the bottom.
Speaking of which, its curved metal ‘Arc’ stand holds up the TV with two arms widely separated. Although nicely finished in a chrome look, you hardly see it because only the ends poke out from under the TV, which is raised from the bench by just 35mm.
Don’t plan on putting a soundbar speaker on the entertainment unit in front of this TV.
The TV has built-in WiFi, of course, plus Ethernet. There are four HDMI inputs and a bit of legacy support for analog audio and video, and three USB sockets. One of these can be usefully employed for recording or time shifting TV shows (via the TV’s single tuner) simply by plugging in a USB hard disk drive.
You don’t need to use one for a camera, though, because that, and a microphone, are built in at the top, in a section of the panel which swells slightly to accommodate them. The camera pops up and retracts as you require it, preserving the sleek lines of the TV.
One of the HDMI sockets supports MHL – the ‘Mobile High-Definition Link’ – by which an increasing number of Android devices can be charged, and deliver high definition video and audio to the TV. This is an excellent way to play back video from your mobile device.
The TV’s own camera can be used for the built-in Skype app, but also for the motion control function. By ‘motion’ I mean you use your hands to control the operation of the TV, Minority Report style, without moving from your seat.
And you can control it by voice, either with the aforementioned microphone, or with the microphone built into one of the two remote controls. One of those remotes is conventional, although smaller than Samsung remotes of the past. The other is a touchpad model.
That one lets you move the selection (or the cursor in the web browser) around by sliding your finger over a touch-sensitive area. This worked very well, except for the surprising lack of a ‘Mute’ key. Even the onscreen virtual remote, which you can invoke with this remote, lacked that important function.
There are lots of Internet features built in, including the usual Australian TV catch-up services (iview, SBS On Demand, PLUS7), as well as QuickFlix and Foxtel on Internet TV, which allows you to subscribe to more than 30 channels on a monthly basis, rather than contracting for the long term.
This service is available via the Xbox 360 console, but when it comes to TVs, Samsung has the exclusive.
You can download plenty more apps too, including one for BigPond Movies if that’s your preferred supplier, and the BigPond AFL Games Analyser.