Samsung announced their new top-of-the-line HDTVs today at CES 2012, and as usual, they raised the bar for glitz and glamour -- and added a few neat features as well.
No doubt the most dazzling announcement was their 55-inch "Super" OLED TV, due out in the second half of 2012. This TV looks like a pane of solid black glass balanced on a very light frame, and appeared to be far thinner, and used a much narrower bezel, than any of Samsung's LED HDTVs.
Samsung is calling this TV a "Super OLED" TV, not just an "OLED TV" like the 55-inch model LG announced earlier this morning, because unlike standard OLED technology their Super OLED sets don't use a color filter, which Samsung says produces deeper contrasts and finer levels of detail. Instead, each OLED pixel unit is comprised of self-emitting RGB sub-pixels laid directly on the display panel, each emitting its own light.
Meanwhile, Samsung's UNES8000 Smart LED TV will occupy the top of the heap for Samsung's LED lines, with incremental improvements to its local dimming features -- "Micro Dimming Ultimate" -- that promise to brighten the picture by 20% and reduce the halo effect often seen in edge-lit LED sets, the same 0.2-inch slim bezel from last year, and a modern-looking U-shaped stand that replaces the tripod-style stand they've used for the last few years.
Rather than focus on specs or proprietary image enhancement technology, however, the majority of Samsung's new TV announcements centered around making their HDTV's "smarter" in a few different ways. They've added Kinect-like gesture and voice control features to the high-end sets by way of a pair of cameras and a built-in HD webcam, so you can issue voice commands by saying "Hi TV" to activate the voice sensor and tell it to change to certain channels or turn the volume up or down, for example, and you can navigate through Samsung's TV apps menus to search for streaming videos or play games designed to work with gesture controls.
Samsung is also trying to make their TVs the focal point of your home media by adding cloud-syncing of photos and other media to your (probably Samsung) tablets and smartphones via their AllShare Play service, as well as offering fitness apps and educational apps that promise to tailor their content offerings to your preferences, help you keep on top of fitness goals, and so on -- though they didn't offer any demos during the conference to show how any particular apps worked. Also included in the roundup of new apps was (of course) Angry Birds, complete with an animated miniseries.
Perhaps the most intriguing "smart" announcement, however, was "Smart Evolution"--an upgrade program for Samsung HDTVs starting in 2012. Certain Samsung TVs from this year will include an upgrade slot that can accommodate specially-designed System-on-a-Chip cards that will enable your 2012 TV to keep current with the next few generations of Samsung TVs. As it is, the ES8000 and Super OLED TVs will ship with a dual-core processor that allows users to multitask with Samsung Apps, and the presentation teased a possible quad-core upgrade down the line.
Check back in later for more updates and hands-on impressions of Samsung's new 2012 lineup!
For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.