Samsung brought some of the CES-magic to Sydney last night for the launch of its 2013 TV lineup. Here's what you can expect from the gadget giant this year, and how much you'll be paying.
The F8000 is Samsung's 2013 flagship LED TV.
It has an outrageously thin bezel at just 5mm-thick and it's built on the principle of a 360-degree design. Samsung wants to make this thing look great from the front and the back, sitting on top of a "wave-inspired" silver stand. Samsung do love their nature designs.
It's the first TV samsung has made to support the new HEVC high-compression codec. The new 8-series flagship is also three-times faster than the old model thanks to a new quad-core processor.
Samsung is also introducing new panel sizes into the 8-series line-up, with 55-, 60-, 65-, and even 75-inch models now available.
If you're still dead-set on getting a plasma in your life, however, Samsung has the F8500 offering eight-times the contrast of its LED models thanks to a new Deep Black Algorithm and what Samsung is calling Real Black Pro II. The F8500 is a unibody TV, carved out of a single piece of aluminium and comes in 60- and 65-inch models.
Samsung S9 — 84-Inch UHD
The S9 is Samsung's 84-inch 4K/UHD aspirational flagship that we saw at CES back in January.
More than a dozen people have already registered interest in this bad boy, and have had deposits down since CES. The price?
That $40,000 isn’t just the price for a panel, you get a bunch of stuff along with that as well as far as after-sales service are concerned.
There’s a whole mess of content available in the new Samsung Smart Hub and owners get a dedicated help-line number for after-sales service. That after-sales service only comes after what Samsung are calling “white-glove service" from specialists who come into your home, install, set-up, configure and train you to use your new UHD baby.
Samsung’s Evolution Kit which updates the TV to the latest hardware, firmware and software year-on-year will also be free for five years after the purchase date so you’re never without the latest on your TV.
Customers also get invites to exclusive events and offers from Samsung.
The 84-inch S9 UHD TV hits stores in early June.
The frame cleverly conceals a 2.2 channel sound system complete with 10 speakers, but if you're spending that much on a TV, it's a fair bet you'll be getting a decent sound system to go with it. Thankfully, Samsung's new home theatre system is out, and it's something you might actually want to pay attention to.
Samsung 7.1 Channel Home Theatre System
Samsung is trying to replicate the features of high-end audio systems with its new HT-F9750W flagship, by beefing up the sound while keeping the price relatively affordable.
The 7.1-channel flagship is a system boasting a 1330-watt output. It packs in a vacuum-tube pre-amplifier and a Gallium Nitride hybrid power amplifier that mixes analogue and digital power to boost that sound quality up to the levels of the higher-end systems. The speaker materials also pack ceramic materials in a cone design to maximuse sound.
The Blu-ray player in the flagship system also supports apps and multi-tasking so you can enjoy all the content Samsung is pushing to its TVs.
The flagship 7.1-channel system will be available in May for $1499 (RRP).
Samsung has always led the way in putting great content on its smart TVs, and this year's line-up sees the gadget giant double down on three key areas: movies, TV shows and sports.
New Smart TVs running the 2013 Smart Hub software will support apps from the likes of Quickflix, ABC, SBS, Channel 10 and Yahoo 7 for catch up purposes, and Samsung will leverage these content partnerships to actually bring exclusive content to Samsung customers.
Foxtel has also continued its partnership with Samsung, and the two have pledged to bring Foxtel Go to Samsung Smart TVs from June. Samsung's new Smart Blu-ray players will also come with Foxtel Go installed.
The strength on the new Smart TV platform comes from a bunch of live sports content, something that has been in a deficit unless you had a Foxtel subscription. Samsung is adding apps like Fox Sports, Livesports TV, ESPN 3 and a whole mess of apps from all the sporting codes in the world.
Thanks to these partnerships, Samsung claims to have 90 per cent of the world's sports available to 2013 Smart TV customers. That's a big claim.
Livesports TV is the big get in this content bonanza. That costs around $60 per month and gives you a whole mess of sporting content. Because of the cost, however, Samsung won't rule out doing promotions with Livesports TV subscriptions in future, so stay tuned to see what freebies you can get your hands on.
All of this content is arranged in the new Smart Hub window, which arranges your content on individual panels to decrease clutter and make finding your content easier.
New Smart Hub
Smart Hub is arranged in four panels:
• Apps • Social • Photos, Videos and Music • On TV
All of these tabs are pretty self-explanatory, but what's worth noting is that the Photos, Videos and Music tab will now let you import your content from cloud-based services — such as Dropbox, Sugarsync or Skydrive — and registered devices — like laptops or tablets.
On June 3, Samsung will add a new tab to the Smart Hub called TV and Movies. It will feature on-demand shows and films from a variety of partners, with the first to include Quickflix. Not bad consider its new deal with HBO.
S-Recommendation was first shown-off at CES, but finally it's rolling out for people to take advantage of.
S-Recommendation is a feature that learns what you watch, browse and download to build a profile of your watching habits, likes and dislikes. That profile is then used by the Smart TV to recommend content based on what you enjoy.
The content recommendation engine is just one part of Samsung's smart content recommendation play, however. The other part is Natural Language integration.
Built in tandem with boffins from Macquarie University — leaders in speech-to-text research — Natural Language means you can talk to your TV in an Australian accent, using Australian phrases like "footy", "what's on telly", etc, and have it understand and respond to you in an Australian accent.
Samsung sat one man and one woman in a room for a series of months and got them to remove tens of thousands of phrases in an Aussie accent so that you can feel like your TV understands you.
To talk to your TV, all you do is speak into the new remote — complete with trackpad in the centre and a sleek new design — and your TV will take orders from you.
You can also interact with your TV just by using the trackpad. Draw the number of the channel you want to watch on the trackpad with your finger, for example, and the TV will jump to that channel.
None of Samsung's 2013 Smart TVs will be built on Android. When asked about Android, here's what Samsung had to say in regards to its TVs:
At the moment, there's no need to have an Android platform on our TVs, but that's not to say it won't happen ever.
The Evolution Kit will finally go on sale this year after 12 months worth of teasing its existence.
The Evolution Kit is a little black aluminium box that Samsung Smart TV owners can buy and clip onto the back of their old Smart TVs to upgrade them. This year's Evolution Kit, for example, includes an upgrade to a quad-core processor and includes the new software for S-Recommendations and S Home, and bundles in the sexy new silver touchpad remote so you don't miss out on voice control or Recommendation buttons.
Interestingly, when Samsung first aired the cost of the Evolution Kit last year, it said the price would only be $149. The Evolution Kit now costs $299. Either way, it's still cheaper than buying an entirely new panel to get the features of a new television.
The only thing the Evolution Kit can't change is the camera on your smart TV. New TVs are packing five-megapixel front-facing cameras, whereas the older models are stuck with VGA shooters.
Full Price List
• Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 75" (F8000) — RRP $9,999, available in July • Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 65" (UAF8000) — RRP $5,999 available in June • Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 60" (UAF8000) — RRP $4,999 available in June • Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 55" (UAF8000) — RRP $4,199 available in April • Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 60" (UA607100) — RRP $3,999 available in June • Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 55" (UA55F7100) — RRP $3,299 available in May • Samsung Series 7 LED TV 46" (UA467100) — RRP $2,399 available in May • Samsung Series 6 LED TV 75" (UA75F6400) — RRP $6,999 available in June • Samsung Series 6 LED TV 65" (UA65F6400) — RRP $3,999 available in June • Samsung Series 6 LED 60" (UA60F6400) — RRP $2,999 available in May • Samsung Series 6 LED 55" (UA55F6400) — RRP $2,349 available in April • Samsung Series 8 Plasma 64" (PS64F8500) — RRP $4,299 available in April • Samsung Series 8 Plasma 60" (PS60F8500) — RRP $3,399 available in April • The Samsung HT-F9750W will be available from retail stores in May for an RRP of $1,499