CES 2013 -- Samsung aims for fully connected life

Posted by Rhuaridh Marr
January 9, 2013 3:36 PM |

Samsung_S9000_Left_Angle.jpgSamsung aimed big at CES this year, with its emphasis on WiFi connectivity. Be it TVs, cameras, media players, home theater systems, even fridges, Samsung doesn't want to leave any electronic stone unturned in its quest to connect every part of your digital life.

As with other manufacturers, UltraHD 4K resolution was big in Samsung's presentation -- literally. Samsung presented its 85-inch S9 model, which features Precision Black Pro technology and LED lighting to give deeper blacks, high contrast and dimming control for sharper images. Behind the screen, there's a quad-core processor to enable smooth video playback, quick multitasking, 3D processing and to power Samsung's Smart TV platform, as well as enable better image processing and sound fidelity. Aiding sound is a three-way 2.2-channel speaker system rated at 120 watts that aims to boost sound performance over other models -- something Sony also claimed with its magnetic fluid speakers. WiFi connectivity is on-board, as well as DLNA compliance to stream content from your smartphone or PC. Featuring a Timeless Gallery design that Samsung hopes will give the impression of the display floating in the frame, the S9 is an interesting beast. Its screen is magnificent, with virtually no bezel, but the frame supporting it, which also contains the speakers and camera, is nothing short of ghastly. In comparison to the elegant and minimalist stands Samsung attach to their other sets, that they went with something so avant garde is daring, certainly, and it helps the 85-inch TV stand out from its rivals, but in terms of practicality and visual cohesion, I'm not sure it's prospective owners will be so willing to experiment. Samsung also announced the largest UHD of any current manufacturer with a commercial version of the S9 -- complete with a 110-inch screen. There's no release date or pricing, but it won't hurt to start saving now.

For regular 1080p sets, Samsung has upgraded its high-end LED models for 2013, with a new F8000 model featuring Micro Dimming Ultimate technology that claims to provide better contrast, black levels and brighter 3D content. It features Samsung's Smart TV platform with WiFi connectivity, complete with gesture and voice recognition, and a quad-core processor -- which Samsung claim is a first for a Smart LED TV. It will be available in 46, 55, 65 and 75 inch variants.

A lesser F7000 model was also announced, which lacks a camera for gesture control and Skype calls, but retains the quad-core processor, and has Micro Dimming Pro technology as opposed to the F8000's Ultimate tech. It will be available in sizes ranging from 46 to 60 inches. Neither pricing nor a release date have been announced, but expect them in the first half of the year with pricing similar to current high-end HD TVs.

Samsung also announced updates for its Smart TV connected platform. Every 2013 high-end Smart TV will have access to a Smart Hub, with 5 dynamic panels: On TV for live content; Movies and TV Shows for content from apps such as Netflix; Photos, Videos & Music for, well, photos, videos and music loaded via USB or streamed from compatible devices; Social which will display content from social media as well as allow video calls via Skype on compatible sets, and Apps which will allow users to download further functionality for their TVs. A new voice recommendation system is also being implemented, to allow for searching of content simply by speaking at the TV -- it's unconfirmed if saying "Rubbish" will change channel to the Kardashians -- and the new Evolution Kit, which will allow 2012 Smart TV owners to upgrade their Smart TV platform without buying a new television.

For home theatre buffs, Samsung has a new, 7.1 channel home-theatre-in-a-box (HTIB), with old-school vacuum tubes and ultra-modern 4K upconversion. The HT-F9750, apart from having an incredibly snappy name, will utilize the vacuum tube pre-amps to provide a more natural sound, according to Samsung, paired as they are to a traditionally modern digital amplifier. The included 3D Blu-Ray player aids in 4K upconversion, and WiFi, Bluetooth and 2 HDMI ports are also on-board, as is DLNA compliance for content sharing and part of Samsung's Smart TV platform -- here represented by S-Recommendation, which, appropriately, recommends content to users. Pricing is unconfirmed, but release is scheduled for the first half of 2013.

In a world first, Samsung announced the NX300 compact, which features a 45mm f1.8 2D/3D lens -- the first single lens 3D system available. Capable of capturing stills and 1080p video in 3D, Samsung claims perfect 3D quality from the system, enabled by the NX's 20.3MP APS-CMOS sensor, ISO100-25600 range, Hybrid Auto-Focus, 1/6000s shutter speed and 8.6fps continuous shooting mode. Powered by a proprietary DRIMe IV imagine engine, Samsung claim huge increases in speed and image quality, with better colors and less noise in captured stills and videos. A tilting, 3.3-inch AMOLED screen acts as viewfinder, and Wi-Fi connectivity endears Smart Camera status -- something Samsung is pushing across its compact range, allowing the sharing of videos and photos with connected smartphones and tablets via a free Smart Camera App, which also allows connected devices to act as a viewfinder. Pricing and availability are still unannounced, but it will likely be in the upper-tier of compact camera pricing.

Samsung created a new category of emotion at this year's CES -- fridge envy. What can your fridge-freezer do? Samsung answers that with "Not enough," and has launched the T9000 LCD Refrigerator, complete with a 10-inch touchscreen, Android, and WiFi connectivity. Evernote comes preloaded for note-taking and organization, with Samsung claiming users will use it to scribble down items they need, which will sync to a shopping list on their smartphone or tablet for when they're trundling round Walmart. The display will also run calendar and weather applications, display photos and videos, but sadly can't connect to Google's Play store, so Angry Birds on your fridge is currently unavailable. (I know, we're heartbroken, too.) The $4,000 fridge will also keep groceries chilled and frozen, which is handy. Available in late spring for those who can't wait to tease friends for just having an ice machine in their fridge.

Foodwise: New blog. New program. Coming in January 2013.

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