Samsung’s new series of Smart TVs, has the future arrived?

We first saw the line up of Samsung’s new TVs at CES but Samsung has now launched their new range of TVs in Australia. First, the new the new...

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We first saw the line up of Samsung’s new TVs at CES but Samsung has now launched their new range of TVs in Australia. First, the new the new line up looks great, no longer does a massive 64” TV over power your living room. The ultra thin bezel and slim design will blend in your living room, letting the picture make the statement. No longer is Samsung using CCFL backlights, the new line up of LCDs uses only LED backlighting technology, plasma fans will be happy to know plasma panels aren’t dead yet. Later in the year OLED technology will power TVs on our store shelves.

The ES8000, ES7500 and ES6800 series will feature dual core processors to improve Smart interface performance and compute the calculations required in Samsung’s micro dimming feature, which provides deeper blacks.

The EH budget series responds to problem of cheap, lesser quality panels entering the market over the past year. The EH series doesn’t suffer in picture quality using LED backlights but instead are built thicker to save production costs and doesn’t have all the smart capabilities of the more expensive panels. You may wan to consider getting a Samsung Blu-Ray player, which has all the same Smart functionality of the higher models.

Pricing and Availability
The EH series starts with the 26” version at $479, while the largest 60” model will cost around $2399. The details of the 2012 Series 7 and 8 ES Models are listed below.
Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 46” (ES7500) – RRP $2,999, available in April 2012
Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 55” (ES7500) – RRP $3,999, available in April 2012
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 55” (ES8000) – RRP $4,599, available in April 2012
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 60” (ES8000) – RRP $5,399, available in June 2012
Samsung Series 8 Smart Plasma TV 60” (E8000) – RRP $2,899 available in April 2012
Samsung Series 8 Smart Plasma TV 64” (E8000) – RRP $3,899 available in April 2012

For the Smart TVs Samsung is offering an upgrade options without replacing the TV, because technology is changing so rapidly Samsung will offer an upgrade module for $149 every year for five years. This hardware upgrade will plug into a port in the back of the TV, similar to upgrading the HDD in your Xbox. Samsung will release a new device every year and your TV will be supported for five years.

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Some of the biggest hype surrounding Smart TVs is the ability to control and interact with voice and hand gestures, in a quick demo these technologies worked as advertised. Right now Samsung do not see these input methods as replacing the tradition remote instead releasing a new premium remote, the Smart Touch Remote instead of your usual button filled remote the majority of the remote is a touch pad which Samsung says should be familiar to 99% of us the remote also has a built in microphone so you don’t have to yell at your TV in a noisy environment. Until these technologies are tested and the real world we it’s hard to tell how useful they will be.

Last year 3D was all the hype every new TV coming had to be 3D a year later this year 3D. Most of Samsung’s new line up is 3D ready, Samsung say they are the best in the business offering 3D in full HD but it’s not something pushing innovation in the field it’s just a required feature.

Samsung UA60D8000

Panel technology aside lets look at Samsung’s 2012 Smart TV offerings. We’ve become accustom to our gadgets being multi-purpose, today we can browse the web, play games, listen to music and watch movies on our smartphones. The TV is no exception, we enthusiasts have been connecting computers to our TVs in an effort to achieve a truly connected TV for years. Unfortunately experiences like Boxee or XBMC falls short or garnering main stream adoption, unsurprising when the experience is usually difficult, clunky and expensive. For a few years now, manufactures have come to market with different approaches to tackling an IP-connected experience and Samsung is no acceptation.

Samsung’s new line up tries again with a newly redesigned Smart Hub. If you’re not familiar with Smart Hub it’s the home screen or as the name suggests, hub, when you turn on your TV. From there you can watch free to air, use Skype, Facebook or view a range of IPTV option which we’ll get into now.

The most exciting addition to Smart Hub is Foxtel integration, the offering sounds similar to what is currently available on the Xbox with the options of a startup package, entertainment package, sports package and movies and later in the year will see the addition of video on demand services. Other options include the Bigpond app which has on-demand movie rentals, Bigpond music and also seven Bigpond IPTV channels which includes sports, news and entertainment, similar to what we already see on the Telstra T-box, Foxtel and Bigpond will also be unmetered to Bigpond internet users. Quickflix offers an app which will offer movie and TV subscriptions or pay per view options. Samsung is also offering eight free IPTV channels for the upcoming Olympics.

A few other options from regular movies and TV shows is children entertainment or “Edutainment”. Samsung offer a for kids range of entertainment options including video and interactive games. Skype has a feature rich app which can uses the built in Camera for facial recognition and log you in. There is also a fitness app which has videos you can work out to, an extra mat can track your weight and BMI and store your progress and using the built in camera you can see your while you work out to make sure your technique is correct.

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Allshare was by far the most impressive feature that is available in the new line of Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-Ray players. AllShare allows you to stream almost any content from any DLNA supported device without touching the remote, you can use a Samsung mobile device like the Galaxy S2 or Note and either stream content from the device or find another DLNA supported device like PlayStation or computer, select the content and stream it to the TV.

The absolute simplicity of the system was reinforced when a guy asked if he could use his phone right now, within a minute a video of his daughter he recorded using his Galaxy was playing on the 60” panel, the longest of which was entering the WIFI password. Another great feature is the ability to stream content like a movie playing from a Blu-Ray player to a mobile device, a great use case is for example your watching a sports game or watching a movie and you maybe need to for example cook dinner, you can take your Galaxy Tab to the kitchen and continue viewing. Samsung will be offering an online service which will offer 5GB of online storage for pictures and movies.

From all this we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel for completely connected houses with all our devices interconnected and working with each other. Right now these panels are focused on entertainment in living room but taking a step back these are just panels with rich content abilities that can be adjusted for use in any part of the house. But for now the ability to choose such a large range of  the question arises, how long does traditional broadcast TV have and how will they monetise the future?

More information @ Samsung Australia

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