As is typical for CES, Samsung’s press conference comes later in the day than LG and Panasonic. With LG impressing us, and Panasonic greatly disappointing us, we were eager to see how Samsung’s television announcements would leave us feeling.
Samsung wasted little time getting to the television segment of their press conference. One of the first things announced was that their new flagship TVs were “bezelless.” Then we saw the televisions…and their bezels. It was even more disappointing considering LG’s new OLED TV has what looks to be an even smaller bezel, despite LG not making a big deal about it. Samsung chalked up strike number two when they enthusiastically proclaimed that their new televisions are curved. That was one fad of last year’s show that we were hoping would die a quick death.
It wasn’t all bad news on the TV front though. Samsung’s new televisions have upgraded software that aims to make using a smart TV much easier. When you plug in a device via HDMI, like a cable box or game console, the TV automatically detects exactly what the device is. Then the television’s remote can supposedly control those devices directly. If Samsung’s claim truly lives up to the promise, it would mean no longer needing to switch between remotes or purchasing an expensive universal remote.
The new software also aims to make it easier to switch between inputs and faster to access the content you desire from over-the-top services like Amazon Video and Netflix. The TV displays a row of tiles across the bottom of the screen for each service, including your cable box. When you move to a service like Amazon Video, it immediately displays another row of tiles showing the newest items available. You could easily imagine it displaying the last few shows you’ve watched on Netflix too. If the content you want to watch does, actually show up right away it would mean no longer waiting for slow apps to load, just to have to struggle to find what you’re looking for.
In terms of technical specs, Samsung announced that their new Ultra HD TVs have 10-bit panels, and that they (like LG and Panasonic) have received the Ultra HD Premium certification from the UHD Alliance. Unfortunately, they didn’t announce which High Dynamic Range specifications they would support, but given that their current TVs support HDR 10, it’s safe to assume they’ll at least continue to support that. We’ll have to wait to see if they also bring support for Dolby Vision.
Televisions weren’t all Samsung had to talk about with regards to Ultra HD though. They also announced a new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player. The new player is the UBD-K8500/ZA. It will be shipping in March, and you can actually pre-order it right now for $399.99. That’s apparently $100 of the normal price.
Like all of the televisions announced today, we’ll be getting up close and personal with them later in the week. Check back here, at the DMZ, for our impressions.