‘The BMW of TVs’: Samsung UHD TV coming mid-year with new Smarts

By Claire Reilly

As Samsung gears up to launch its new TV and AV line-up in the coming months, the company has confirmed the product launch timing of its newest “ultra premium” Ultra High Definition Television, with Samsung Australia's director of audio visual, Brad Wright, confirming a target of “late June, early July”.

Speaking to Current.com.au at last week’s Samsung Regional Forum in Jakarta, Wright said that, although pricing was not yet confirmed, the company would be rolling out a “bespoke” launch program to reflect the high-end nature of the 85-inch flat panel.

“The actual consumer experience for the UHD is going to be something completely different to what the Australian market’s seen,” he said. “It will be a bespoke program, almost like buying a BMW. You’ll buy the product, we’ll make it to order for you, it’ll be shipped out, we’ll deliver it, install it, set it up, configure it for your home, talk you through the content.

“It will be one of the most expensive televisions on the marketplace, so it’s not going to be in all locations, and as a result of that, we’ll be able to really able to tailor the experience to each individual that purchases it. There’s going to be a lot of wow factor. The TV market is moving so rapidly that when you bring new products to market, you need that wow factor.”

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Samsung is also set to launch a new range of high-end LED panels that will be the company’s “flagship” products, under UHDTV and OLED.

One of the distinguishing elements of the Series 8 LED line-up is the new Smart Hub user interface, which offers features such as a new OnTV feature.

“People are used to the five major networks, and now they’re multi-broadcasting with things like 7Mate, Go, ABC for Kids, IPTV on Foxtel, Bigpond movies and all that kind of content,” said Wright.

“When you start getting all this content and all these new channels, it’s actually really hard for people to find what they want to watch. OnTV, from a free-to-air point of view, helps to filter out a lot of stuff that people aren’t interested in. It focuses you in on things you want to watch.

“So if my TV understands that on a Wednesday night I watch My Kitchen Rules or MasterChef, I get home and zone out and the TV says, ‘This is coming up for you’. It just makes it a lot easier to access all that stuff that people want.”

Also new to the Smart TV UI is a feature known as Natural Language. Developed specifically for Australia, in association with linguists at Sydney’s Macquarie University, Natural Language recognises the unique Australian dialect and lexicon and is able to interact with users in a realistic way.

“I’m a little bit biased, but the Natural Language project is something that I love. We partnered up with Macquarie University and it’s the first time the Australian market is going to see a TV product that has been hand-engineered for the Australian marketplace.

“We have built a database of language and utterances to understand the way Australians speak, and the TV will understand them and speak back a response in Australian language.”

For those that want access to the new Smart Hub features on their 2012 Samsung LED TV, the brand will also release an Evolution Kit to update the higher-end TV models from last year’s range.

Set to retail for $299, the Evolution Kit slots into the back of select 2012 TVs and features a quad-core processor to boost image quality and speed. It will also be bundled with a new remote control that can be used for voice interaction and features a touch pad for swiping between channels, scrolling through content and even writing in the number of a channel. For consumers that are looking for good features but don't want a full upgrade, the Evolution Kit makes a good up-sell for retailers.

According to Wright, Samsung’s Evolution Kits not only update last year’s TVs, but also provide technology to future-proof this year’s product.

“You can put the evolution kit in the back of the TV and get that extra processing power and the new interface and all the new smarts,” he said. “I actually don’t know what the 2014 range is going to bring to the market, but I’m safe in the knowledge that if it’s something that something that’s really compelling, Samsung will provide me with a way to get into that.”

The Samsung 85-inch Ultra High Definition TV on display in Jakarta last week.

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