Panasonic announced a bunch of new TVs and home theatre gear a week ago, and now it’s Samsung’s turn, with the company talking up features that provide more streaming content and offering free home installation on its premium Series 7 and 8 models.
The new product range announced this week in Sydney covers Slim LED, LED and plasma models, with a focus on apps that provide more streaming content at your fingertips. These apps will also be available on select Blu-ray players and home theatre systems.
“A great Smart TV requires compelling content, [and] compelling content drives consumption,” said Samsung Australia’s Phil Newton. “We now have over 28,000 companies worldwide developing apps for our platform.”
These apps include Samsung’s Music Hub, the recently announced Quickflix, Channel Seven’s catch-up TV app “Plus7”, BigPond Movies, Wiggle Time TV for the kids, and from July, 30 Foxtel channels.
Samsung also debuts its Signature Service apps, some of which are designed to let you interact with the TV in new ways. One of these is “Fitness Hub,” a collection of video on-demand work-outs complemented by charts that let you manage your weight goals. Digital appliances can be used with the TV, including Withing’s WiFi scale, and there’s an Android smartphone app that lets you monitor your progress on compatible mobile devices
More technology will be on offer in many of the new TVs, including the ability to stream the TV channel playing on a Smart TV’s big-screen to a smartphone or tablet over a home network, so that you can watch the same show as you movie around the house. You can also stream content from a source connected to a Smart TV, such as a Samsung Blu-ray player or a hard drive, to a mobile devices, and have it perform as a second screen. Samsung is yet to confirm products compatible with these functions, which is calls Clone View and Dual View, respectively.
Cloud support is also being thrown in, with 5GB of online storage provided with every Samsung TV purchased this year. Phones that support the storage can automatically upload pictures to be viewed on the TVs later on, and content stored in the cloud can be played on remote mobile devices – although, again, compatibility is yet to be confirmed.
“We’re at a point where consumers are starting to recognise the technology we have to bring,” said Newton, who went on to tell GadgetGuy that not all consumers know everything there is to know about the TVs.
To that end, Samsung will be offering free delivery and installation for its premium customers this year (buyers of Series 7 and 8 model Slim LED TVs), and will also educate them about how to use the new features.
“We need to explain to you how its going to work,” said Mr. Newton. “It’s not about trying to take everything out of the retailers hands.”
People will likely need this, as this year the remote control changes from being just that black brick you press buttons on. This year, Samsung’s remote combines touchpad technology for a mouse and scroll wheel, a microphone so you can use voice commands with the TV, and even facial recognition.
In fact, the linguistics have been specifically looked at to match the way Australians speak, with Samsung telling us “not only have we fine tuned it for Australians, but we have developed our own linguistics expertise for the Australian TV market.”
Announced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, many of Samsung’s new TVs will take advantage of what the company calls “Smart Interaction”, allowing you to make gestures with your hands or call our commands using your voice and having the TV respond.
In essence, it’s similar to what the Xbox Kinect is doing, except built specifically for Samsung’s new Smart TVs.
And for those still asking about 3D, it remains present in many models, but is not a key focus for Samsung, which says “3D doesn’t drive consumer consumption”.
Most of these new TVs will arrive this month, including Samsung’s Series 8 Smart LED TVs from $4,599, Series 7 Smart LED TVs from $2,999, and Series 8 Smart Plasma TVs from $2,899.
Interestingly, that wasn’t the end of it, with the company showing off technology announced at CES as “Smart Evolution” kit. This concept allows customers to update their television annually with new Samsung features for the next five years, for a cost of $149 each year. It’s a cheaper upgrade than buying a new TV, and saves on landfill.