Once again, design focuses prominently in this year's Samsung TV offerings, as highlighted by an unusual "Transparent and Opaque Color" (TOC) approach that the company is launching in step-up flat-panel models to help set them apart on retail shelves.
Jonas Tanenbaum, Samsung visual displays product group flat-panel products marketing VP, said Samsung will continue its popular rounded-curve, glossy black or white cabinetry in lower end lines, but will introduce the major new look in higher-end 650, 750 and higher models series of LCD TVs and plasma sets.
In first-half flat-panel TV offerings, Samsung will introduce four new model series of LCD TVs and three new plasma series.
Samsung has changed its model numbering nomenclature this year to keep numbers and feature packs close to consistent across most of the company's video display product lines.
The company's new 650, 750 and higher model series will incorporate the TOC design that resulted from a new manufacturing process to produce the unique look, described as "adding a little color" to the bezel.
He said the TOC look was the result of a "massive undertaking" that used focus group studies and influences from the fashion and automotive design industries.
The design includes a new invisible speaker system that places speakers in the set in such a way that they take up no visible real estate on the bezel of the TV, Tanenbaum said.
The 650 series and higher models will also introduce a new PC-like graphic user interface system, using a wheeled remote, to command all user functions in a method similar to a wheeled computer mouse.
Samsung will continue some of its more popular designs from past lines as well. The 550 Series will continue the high-gloss-black bezel with curved edge style that the company has referred to unofficially as the "Bordeaux" look.
In picture performance for both LCD and plasma, Samsung is expanding its mix of 1080p sets, including the introduction of its first Full HD 1080p 32- and 37-inch LCD screen sizes, which will ship in the first quarter. In plasma, the company's mix features six 1080p and four 720p SKUs. The LCD mix includes 10 to 12 720p and 18 1080p models.
In the first half of 2008, Samsung will offer eight 120Hz frame rate enabled 1080p LCD TVs, with more planned for later in the year. The company will also improve its Super Clear panel technology with a new Ultra Clear system that offers lower reflectivity while improving contrast and black levels.
In plasma models, the company is adding the next generation of its FilterBright anti-glare technology and a new video signal processing algorithm, called Ace Technology. The latter is said to dramatically reduce the contour effect that produces some common plasma picture artifacts.
Select models will also introduce several unique features described as breakthroughs in the areas of multi-use networking and user convenience. Some models will be equipped with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) networking capability.
Sets starting in the 750 Series will have Internet connectivity with an RSS feature, which will deliver free customized Internet information to TVs on a variety of topics including: stocks, sports, weather, etc.
Select models will also include flash memory enabling users to store limited amounts (1GB) of Internet delivered content including movie clips and music.
The 750 Series will also include a Digital Content Management (DCM) function that uses pre-loaded special interest content including games for children, recipes, exercise routines, etc.
Plasma models in the 720p 450 Series, which ships in March, will add 3-D capability, Tanenbaum said. An optional 3-D kit, consisting of an emitter and a pair of glasses to view 3-D from specially produced content will be available for use with the sets.