Samsung's new and supposedly snazzy Smart TV, the UNES8000, promises to use voice and face recognition to let you control your TV without any remotes. You know, the future of TV interfaces, according to a lot of companies lately.
Sadly, it's not any good right now. Think of it as the awkward, pimple-faced younger brother of the Kinect.
Samsung said the TV we saw was only a prototype -- so this isn't a final judgment -- but the experience, which is supposed to simplify TV controls, felt clunky. The UI was cheesy, commands were awkward, and it was dead-man slowww. This type of technology, which is supposed to be futuristic, actually felt like it was from the early aughts. In a world where Kinect and Siri exist, showcasing this as Samsung's premier product of CES feels completely bizarre.
I'm not against being able to command my TV to do things. Sometimes it's easier to flip the TV on with a "Turn On" and "Watch ESPN" or "Earl Grey, hot" without ever reaching for my remote. That's cool to me. Natural. Makes sense. However! It's not like that with the Samsung Smart TVs. You're using a command, "Hi TV", that sounds kind of kiddish to say and is used both to bring up the menu screen and shut off the menu screen. What kind of aloha-based logic is that?
Also, the Samsung TVs took what felt like years off my life trying to process my commands. I was reminded more than once that I had to space out my voice commands or the TV would get confused. With a capable dual core processor beefing these TVs, it's disappointing to see how much the software weighs it down. Because if I'm going to talk to my TV, I at least want to feel like it's listening.