Samsung event highlights new UltraHD TV

Celebrities help plug Samsung's latest 85-inch TV, which has four times the pixel resolution of standard HDTVs

Samsung showed off some of its 2013 home entertainment products at an event in New York City Wednesday, with celebrities demonstrating some of the company's latest TVs and interface features.

The 85-inch UltraHD TV, called UHD S9, which was first shown at the International CES in Las Vegas in January, was among the products in the spotlight.

The TV displays images at four times the pixel resolution of standard high-definition TVs available now. The UHD S9 TV will be available for order in the U.S. at the end of this month and is priced at US$39,999.

The UHD S9 shows images at a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, which is the newest resolution being adopted by TV makers to succeed the standard HD resolution of 1920 x 1080. The new standard is intermittently referred to as UltraHD or 4K, and Sony, Panasonic and LG have also announced UltraHD TV sets.

The UHD S9 has a feature called Smart Interaction in which speech and gestures can be used to control the TV. Samsung also has redesigned the remote control with a touchpad to recognize gestures. The TV features a quad-core processor.

Samsung has also redesigned its Smart Hub TV interface to provide access to social networking, more applications and a larger variety of video streaming options. The interface also lets users run applications on their TVs, as well as find and select shows and movies from broadcast networks and the Internet. It also has a feature called S-Recommendation that learns viewing habits and makes recommendations based on the time of day. For example, if children regularly watch cartoons in the afternoon, the S-Recommendation will suggest similar programs they might like.

"I'm looking to watch new cartoons with my daughter," said Eli Manning, quarterback of the New York Giants, and one of the celebrities at the event.

Model Kate Upton demonstrated how users can bookmark their favorite programs, much like bookmarking favorite Web pages in a browser. Smart Hub also offers the ability to make a playlist of favorite programs.

The interface bunches options into five hubs: program guides, video-on-demand, TV applications, social networking and personal content.

The UHD S9 and other TVs shown as part of the 2013 Smart TV lineup also allow content sharing between devices. A feature called Smart View can stream programs from TVs to tablets or smartphones. Samsung tablets and smartphones have a feature called AllShare through which content can be shared and they also have IR blasters so that they function as remote controls for TV sets.

Samsung is making an active effort to unite broadcast and Internet content on its TVs, smartphones and tablets. Mobile apps such as TV Discovery and Peel can find broadcast or online programs and make recommendations to users about what they might like to watch.

The company aims to make TV upgrades easier with a new product called the Smart Evolution Kit, said Joe Stinziano, executive vice president at Samsung. Plugged into the back of certain Samsung TVs, the kit lets users download the latest Smart Hub software interface and hardware upgrades to speed Internet browsing and applications. The product features CPU, memory and graphics processor upgrades. The kit will be available in May for $299.

F8000 and F7500 high-definition LED TVs will also come with the latest Smart Hub interface and quad-core processors, and they will be compatible with the Smart Evolution Kit.

Also displayed at the event was the UltraHD BD-F7500 Blu-ray player, which will support the Smart Hub interface and upconvert high-definition movies into the UltraHD format. The Wi-Fi Blu-ray player also has the S-Recommendation feature and is equipped with a dual-core processor.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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