Samsung released their 2013 Australian Smart TV lineup on Wednesday night to a big collection of journos, retail representatives and Samsung employees and I was lucky to be among them.
Here’s what you can expect this year from the Korean tech giant.
This years flagship television is the F8000, coming in 55, 60, 65 and 75 inches with a 1080p LED screen throughout, offering the most vibrant and richest colours of any Samsung LED TV to-date. It features Samsung’s Micro Dimming Ultimate technology to provide great contrasts, deep blacks and great brightness.
Design wise, it has a bezel of just under 6mm and a ‘wave inspired’ arc stand. It also looks quite nice from the back which Samsung ingeniously calls ‘360 design’.
The device features a quad-core processor, which really shows when you’re navigating through menus and is the first Samsung TV to support the new high-compression video codec, HEVC. That part could be really handy, as hopefully HEVC is the way video encoding for online streaming and downloading will go as it gives great quality over lower bandwidth.
Available in 60″ or 65″, the Samsung F8500 is their flagship plasma model which offers eight times the blacks and the same brightness as Samsung’s previous LED TV’s due to Samsung’s new proprietary Deep Black Algorithm. It also features HEVC support just like Samsung’s flagship LED TV.
It’s a beautiful design, carved from a single piece of metal with a dark ‘titan metal’ colour.
The Big Daddy: Samsung S9 UHD
If you had a spare $40,000 what would you do? Personally, I’d buy myself a Toyota 86. If that’s not what’s up your ally then you can feel free to spend your $40,000 on this Samsung S9 UHD TV. Yes, $40,000.
The S9 is an 85″ Ultra High Definition (4K) that will be built to order for those willing to fork the cash. It features a very impressive upscaler that can upscale anything from 720p up to 4K. A video we watched was shot in 1080p and up-scaled to 4K and it was VERY impressive. It has 2.2 channel surround sound with 10 speakers built into the unit too, although, if you had the cash to buy this I doubt you’d be using it without an equally fancy surround sound system.
That $40k price tag includes more than just an enormous fancy TV, it also includes an impressive amount of after-sales service. You get a whole lot of content from the Samsung Hub, a specialised Samsung help line and 5 years worth of free Evolution Kit upgrades to make sure you will always have the latest hardware, firmware and software.
If you’re wondering what sound system you might need to accompany your new 85″ $40,000 TV, well you’re in luck as Samsung has a new flagship home theater system. It has a 1,330-watt sound system that Samsung says is comparable to that of a movie theater.
It’s all powered by a vacuum tube pre-amp and a Gallium Nitride power amplifier. The Gallium Nitride amp is actually pretty cool, it’s a hybrid analogue/digital power amp that sounds quite close to some higher end analogue amps.
The blu-ray component also includes Samsung’s latest Smart Hub which you can use to essentially turn any TV into a Samsung Smart TV if you wanted.
The Upgrade: Samsung Smart Evolution Kit
The Evolution Kit is Samsung’s way to upgrade your TV to the latest and greatest hardware (bar the screen) and software, with a release each year which attaches to your current model that includes an upgraded processor, GPU, Smart Hub and picture display software. The upgrade isn’t free, but it will be a hell-of-a-lot cheaper than a whole new TV every year. Samsung says that each Smart TV will receive 4 yearly Evolution Kits after its release.
The Software: Smart Hub
The Smart Hub interface is one of the best I’ve seen on a TV, it doesn’t feel all clunky and slow, but feels modern and moves around like you’re using a high end smartphone. This is a great thing. I know many people (myself included) that haven’t yet bought into Smart TV’s after coming away from the display models at shops disappointed by the user interface and software. This latest offering from Samsung will hopefully change all that.
Samsung says the interface draws influence from how consumers use their mobile devices, and boy is that evident. The interface organises content on five dynamic titles, including smart TV program guides, video-on-demand, apps, social and personal content.
Most of the tabs are pretty self explanatory, but one cool thing is that there is now cloud integration, allowing you to import your pictures, videos and music from services like Drop box and SkyDrive.
Content wise, Samsung has continued its partnership with Foxtel to bring Foxtel GO to Samsung’s line of Smart TV’s, as well as to their Android Phones(!). You will also get the likes of Quickflix, ABC, SBS, Channel 10 and Yahoo 7 for catch up purposes.
There’s a big, big emphasis on sport with Samsung claiming to have 90% of the worlds sport covered. This is done through ESPN, Fox Sports and their big gun in LiveSports TV which will cost around $60 a month. Since that is quite costly, Samsung hasn’t ruled out doing promotions for the service, so watch out for that.
Samsung was particularly proud about its S-Recommendation with Natural Language feature which essentially learnt what you watched and recommends shows based on that. It also featured a voice interaction built with Macquarie University that actually talks back to you with an Aussie voice, it also allows you to talk to it with colloquial Australian terms like ‘telly’ etc.
The full model list and pricing is below.
Pricing and Availability
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 75” (F8000) – RRP $9,999, available in July
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 65” (UAF8000) – RRP $5,999 available in June
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 60” (UAF8000) – RRP $4,999 available in June
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 55” (UAF8000) – RRP $4,199 available in April
Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 60” (UA607100) – RRP $3,999 available in June
Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 55” (UA55F7100) – RRP $3,299 available in May
Samsung Series 7 LED TV 46” (UA467100) – RRP $2,399 available in May
Samsung Series 6 LED TV 75” (UA75F6400) – RRP $6,999 available in June
Samsung Series 6 LED TV 65” (UA65F6400) – RRP $3,999 available in June
Samsung Series 6 LED 60” (UA60F6400) – RRP $2,999 available in May
Samsung Series 6 LED 55” (UA55F6400) – RRP $2,349 available in April
Samsung Series 8 Plasma 64” (PS64F8500) – RRP $4,299 available in April
Samsung Series 8 Plasma 60” (PS60F8500) – RRP $3,399 available in April
The Samsung HT-F9750W will be available from retail stores in May for an RRP of $1,499