Television viewing just got huge–and ‘timeless’
Samsung introduces its biggest ultra-high definition screen yet—85 inches!—and the good news is, upgrading won’t be a costly problemBy Alex Y. Vergara
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Home entertainment didn’t just get bigger, smarter, clearer and more intuitive at Samsung Electronics’ regional forum held in Jakarta, Indonesia; it also became “timeless.”
Samsung, led by Gregory Lee, president and CEO of Samsung Asia, used the four-day event at Hotel Mulia Senayan two weeks ago to reaffirm its global dominance by introducing the brand’s latest line of smart phones, tablets, PCs, Wi-Fi and SIM-ready cameras, and smart appliances, including an 85-inch ultra-high definition (UHD) TV dubbed as the 85S9.
Samsung has effectively turned into reality what futurists and fiction writers of yesteryears could only dream of. Majority of these products, including high-definition TVs equipped with Samsung’s new and improved motion and voice-activated controls (a technology the Korean global company claims to have pioneered in), will be available in the Philippines starting April.
Samsung also upped the ante with the smaller but equally talked-about OLED 3D Multiview TV. Apart from giving sharp 3D images (depending on content or broadcast), the breakthrough product, as its name implies, allows up to two users, thanks to individual 3D glasses, to view two different shows simultaneously from a single monitor.
Just imagine two people sitting alongside each other on the sofa, transfixed on the same TV screen, but reacting differently.
So as not to preempt the products’ official launches, Samsung’s Manila office requested us not to reveal the products’ suggested retail prices. But to give you an idea, the 85S9 reportedly sold for $40,000 per unit when it was launched in Korea recently.
To give both regional journalists and dealers a better, more interactive experience, Samsung turned the hotel’s grand ballroom into an exhibition hall. An equally huge space composed of several adjoining ballrooms was used earlier on opening day as a venue for Samsung officials to introduce to journalists new products belonging to various categories.
First of its kind
Apart from its size, reportedly the first of its kind on the market, the 85S9 stood out for its clarity and clean, floating design inspired by a huge, slightly tilted painting mounted on a giant easel. The black frame dubbed as the “gallery design” also houses the unit’s camera and built-in 2.2-channel speakers.
Aside from its unprecedented size, the 85S9 seamlessly fuses form with function with its minimalist design. Its “One Connect” feature eliminates cable clutter by allowing only one cable to connect to the TV for a “clean back” look.
Advances in images go hand in hand with sound, as Samsung also used the occasion to launch its “flagship” 7.1 home-theater system. According to a press release, the system features a 1,330-watt sound system for unmatched sound quality and exceptional viewing experience.
Powered by Samsung’s Gallium Nitride and vacuum tube amplifiers, the system has been designed to create a “pure, natural” sound.”
“Relentless pursuit of new innovation is the key principle of our business and what is enabling consumers to discover a world of possibilities with technology,” said Lee. “Asia is a dynamic region, and consumers today are looking for technology that will enrich and empower them.”
As the undisputed leader in home entertainment, convergence and digital technology, no one knows how fast technology changes better than Samsung. Thanks to its so-called Evolution Kit, the brand’s smart TVs manufactured as recent as last year (particularly Series 7500 and 8000) are now readily upgradable.
Consumers won’t be left with high investments rendered prematurely obsolete by technology. By simply attaching a small black box also known as the Evolution Kit at the back of a Samsung unit, users can have access to the brand’s latest smart TV offerings and features.
Samsung will introduce a new Evolution Kit every year, supposedly containing new features and improvements in TV technology. “Timeless” viewing pleasure has, thus, been extended indefinitely.
And, at around $350 per kit, the yearly add-on allows consumers to make the most out of their investment and experience the upgrades without wreaking havoc on their savings.
“The US has yet to come up with a standard as far as HD TV is concerned,” said Jan Roman, Samsung’s product manager for HD TVs in the Philippines. “Since the Evolution Kit allows your Samsung HD TV bought as recent as 2012 to be readily upgradable, you would continue to enjoy the best of HD TV, if and when they finally settle on a standard, without having to buy a new one.”
Samsung also took the opportunity to promote its newly redesigned Smart Hub. Now becoming a standard feature in a growing number of its high-end TVs, Smart Hub intelligently organizes a viewer’s content into clear, intuitive panels grouped under Apps, Photos, Videos, Music and Social.
After pioneering motion and voice controls to navigate the TV in 2012, Samsung enhanced these erstwhile futuristic features. Users can use their hands to select content as well as rotate images, zoom in and zoom out.
Voice controls have also been enhanced, as demonstrated in the brand’s 2013 smart TV models. With its improved “language recognition rates,” a typical Samsung smart TV can now understand 300 commands.
According to a press release, this same voice interaction technology is capable of understanding full sentences and “natural” language. What’s more, the feature will be available not only in English, but also in Korean, Bahasa, Thai, French, Spanish and other major languages.
“Since many Filipinos can speak and understand English, Samsung won’t offer the feature in Tagalog,” said Roman.
Paired with another feature dubbed as S-Recommendation, viewers can ask the smart TV for suggestions on movie or TV shows to watch. Users can also request films that feature specific actors and actresses and genres.
And since the buzzword in every Samsung event is convergence, the so-called “advanced user experience” has been expanded to include smartphones and tablets. This is made possible because of Samsung’s supposed leadership in connectivity.
Apart from using their mobile devices as remote control, viewers can simultaneously enjoy two different pieces of content from a TV or Blu-ray player on a second screen. And talk about portability! Samsung has also made it possible for them to mirror their smart TV’s content on a tablet, and take the device with them around the house.
Samsung achieved record sales amounting to $187 billion globally in 2012. Southeast Asia, Oceania and Taiwan remain among its key markets, where the Seoul-based company achieved 63-percent revenue growth last year. It leads competitors in terms of sales in almost all product categories in the region.
“The whole point of convergence is coming into play,” said Lee. “That’s the kind of trend you’re seeing. We’re also excited to see various local contents now available in all of our devices. 2013 is proving to be a very exciting year for us.”