Samsung had a tough 2016, both in Australia and around the world. Most of that came from its difficult and ongoing Galaxy Note7 recall, but it's also facing renewed competition within the TV market -- from LG's OLEDs and LCDs in particular -- and across all different kinds of tech. But Samsung is one of the world's largest gadget brands, and it's gearing up for a big year.
At the beginning of its massive product announcement at CES, Samsung addressed the Galaxy Note7 debacle head on, saying that it had been difficult but that it wouldn't slow down its product pipeline. "Very soon, we'll be sharing the root cause report on the Note7. But despite our setbacks, we won't stop innovating."
2016 marked 11 years of Samsung being the most popular TV brand worldwide. The new Q8 and Q9 'QLED' TVs use new nano-scale quantum dot tech for improved colour accuracy and contrast, as well as much wider useful viewing angles, and Samsung is making big claims about its screens lasting much longer without image degradation than the OLED panels they will be compared to.
As well as improving picture quality, Samsung is paying attention to other, less forward-facing aspects of its new high-end TVs to increase their attractiveness. The new Q8 and Q9 screens don't have any input/output ports on the body, for example -- instead, a 5-metre flat optical cable carries everything from power to HDMI and other inputs, so a breakout box can be hidden away closer to a power outlet or within a wall cavity when mounted.
A massive investment in the company's Audio Lab in California is paying dividends, too. More soundbars with Samsung's own in-house tuning are being released throughout 2017, and have subwoofers built into their rectangular bodies. Normally small subwoofers provide very poor lower frequency extension, but Samsung says they'll push as low as 35Hz and create impressively well-rounded sound. A mounting bracket compatible with modern TVs means no additional wall-mounting of the soundbar is needed.
Wireless speakers are big sellers, too, and a new aluminium-bodied H7 speaker takes clear inspiration from old-school transistor radios. A second-generation Ultra HD Blu-ray player improves on the original K8500, too, with integrated streaming of disc media to any smartphone on the same Wi-Fi network.
A new 31.5-inch WQHD 2560x1440pixel monitor with quantum dot tech -- the CH711 -- should pique the interest of PC gamers, too. It's a slightly curved panel with an 1800r curvature, but more important is its 125 per cent sRGB colour space coverage and 178 degree viewing angle. Other flat monitors with quantum dot tech should also make their way to Australia over the next few months.
And, yes, smart appliances are a thing still. Samsung is making another Family Hub refrigerator with a built-in touchscreen display, but this time it also has voice control and text-to-speech, as well as the existing app integration with grocery and supermarket shopping services. We do like the fact that it has cameras in the doors that you can check wherever you are to see what's inside, for what it's worth.
P.S big news, guys -- that Darth Vader robot vacuum is coming to Australia. Can't wait.