By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Samsung gave its 2009 TV lineup a formal send-off here last week, announcing prices and ship dates on its extensive flat-panel TV assortment, which originally made its debut at International CES.
The highlight of the line was Samsung's new edge-lit LED LCD TVs, which allow panel depth of just more than an inch and improved color and contrast performance, but new plasma breakthroughs from the company will give retailers and consumers an even more difficult choice than in the past.
Although the company previously disclosed its plans to drop the rear-projection TV category, it showed it had no intention of doing the same with plasma, despite recent successes of LCD TVs.
This year Samsung is offering the Series 8 and 6 plasma lines, which both deliver increased energy efficiency, deeper black levels and new cabinet designs, through the use of new phosphor and gas formulations.
The Series 8 860 models, which ship in June, include the 50-inch ($2,399 suggested retail) and 58-inch ($3,499) screen sizes.
The Series 8 850 models, which ship in May, include the 50-inch ($2,299) and 58-inch ($3,399) screen sizes, and the Series 6 650 models, which also ship in May, including the 50-inch ($1,799) and 58-inch ($2,899) screen sizes.
The Series 8 plasma models offer a just more than 1-inch-thick slim cabinet design, 1080p resolution and chrome-like, translucent bezel accents that bring out the thin-panel look.
The Series 6 models feature Samsung's traditional rose/black Touch of Color (ToC) bezel style, with curved edges, a crystal neck and clear, reinforced glass stand for a “barely there” appearance, Samsung said.
For picture performance, the Series 6 models feature Ultra FilterBright anti-glare technology, while Series 8 sets employ the new Ultra FilterBright Plus system. Samsung said the newer technology produces deeper black levels and “some of the highest dynamic contrast ratios ever.”
The technology is based on black-coated color-enhancement film to minimize glare and maximize contrast from ambient lighting, reducing the luminance in black levels by up to 50 percent over previous Samsung models.
Both series also feature Cinema-Smooth technology for playback of 24 fps content, while Samsung's Wide Color Enhancer 3 system maps HD signals to the panel's native color space.
For additional content options, the 8 and 6 series plasma sets include Samsung's Medi@2.0 suite, including an Internet@TV content service developed with Yahoo! to access Web-delivered content from Yahoo! (Flickr, News, Weather and Finance), and others including USA Today.
The widgets-based interface and scrollbar run along the bottom of the screen to simplify browsing for Internet content of interest to the viewer.
The Medi@2.0 suite also includes wired and wireless DLNA compatibility to access photos, music and videos from a networked PC directly on the television.
The sets meet the latest EnergyStar guidelines and reduce the use of toxic materials.
In LCD TV, the company is splitting its lineup between models that use conventional CCFL backlighting and those that use more environmentally friendly and performance-enhancing LED technology.
In CCFL, models in Samsung's Series 7 750 line, which ship in May, offer 1080p resolution and 240Hz refresh rates in the 40-inch ($1,999), 46-inch ($2,399) and 52-inch ($2,899) screen sizes.
Series 6 650 models include, the 19-inch ($349), 22-inch ($469), 32-inch ($1,199), 37-inch ($1,299), 40-inch ($1,699), 46-inch ($2,099) and 55-inch ($2,999) screen sizes. All ship in April.
The Series 7 750 HDTVs deliver an advanced 240Hz refresh rate, a 2ms response time for motion clarity and high dynamic contrast ratios.
Both the new Series 7 750 line and Series 6 650 models 32 inches and larger include built-in networking and connectivity capabilities.
Series 7 LCDs include Samsung's improved Ultra Clear Panel polarizer that reflects room light to produce deeper black tones and bolder colors, for a 150,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Samsung's exclusive Wide Color Enhancer 3 technology maps source colors to the panel's color space for more vibrant, natural images, the company said.
The Series 7 LCDs also include the aforementioned Medi@2.0 suite of connectivity options and services, and include the ToC design style.
New Series 6 650 models 32 inches and larger include Auto Motion Plus 120Hz frame-interpolation technology, and a 4ms response time to reduce motion-sequence blurring. They also add the Medi@2.0 networking suite, Ultra Clear Panel and Wide Color Enhancer 3 systems.
Series 6 models also offer ToC styling to mimic the detail of a blown wineglass, Samsung said.
Highlighting its 2009 TV offerings are Samsung's expanded LED LCD TV model series, which this year includes the 8000, 7000 and 6000 lines.
All use edge-mounted LEDs as their primary light source (thicker full-array LED models are due later in the year) to boost image performance, brightness and contrast ratios and reduce power consumption compared with CCFL models. They also allow for ultra-thin cabinet depths.
The 8000 series models will ship in May and include the 46-inch ($3,299) and 55-inch ($3,999) screen sizes.
The 7000 Series will ship in March and include the 40-inch ($2,499) 46-inch ($2,999) and 55-inch ($3,799) screen sizes.
The 6000 Series models shipping now include the 32-inch screen size ($1,599), while the 40-inch ($2,299), 46-inch ($2,799) and 55-inch ($3,599) models ship in June.
All three series use both LEDs and Samsung's Wide Color Enhancer Pro circuitry to produce more vivid, natural colors than CCFL systems, the company said. Also featured is an Ultra Clear Panel allowing more light to pass through the screen while reducing reflections from ambient light, for a brighter and more detailed picture.
To combat the motion-blurring problem common in some LCD sets, Samsung uses Auto Motion Plus frame-interpolation technology and fast refresh rates. The 8000 Series uses 240Hz refresh rates, while both the 7000 and 6000 Series feature 120Hz refresh rates.
Built-in networking options in the series include the Medi@2.0 suite in both 8000 and 7000 Series models.
The 6000 Series includes access to Samsung's InfoLink RSS Service introduced in early lines, delivering news, sports, weather and stock information. Also included are two USB 2.0 inputs to connect with various source devices.
The edge-lit LED design, combined with an ultra-slim wall-mount, enables the TVs to appear almost flat when mounted on walls. The optional wall-mount solution reduces the gap between the TV and the wall to 0.6 inches.
The LED models all use ToC dual-injection molding to coat a translucent, colored surface to achieve a crystalline appearance. For 2009, the ToC bezel begins as a deep piano-black fading into distinct chrome, and finishes as a clear prism (8000 Series) or light ruby highlights (7000 and 6000 Series) along the outer edges.
See p. 1 for an overview of Samsung's TV strategy and p. 12 for details of the company's advertising plans for the LED line. Visit www.TWICE.com to read about Samsung's new Blu-ray HTiBs.
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