New York -
formally unveiled at a press reception here Tuesday its 2012 TV lineup, but despite all of the advanced new technologies, a lineup of new midline "direct-lit" LED LCD TVs may have the biggest impact on TV unit sales in the year ahead.
The new direct-lit LED TVs are part of Samsung's "EH" model
assortment, in screen sizes from 26 to 65 inches across four model series, all
designed to give consumers a cost-effective alternative to less energy
efficient Cold Cathode Fluorescent (CCFL) based LCD TVs on mainstream selling
Dave Das, Samsung TV product marketing VP, said the new direct-lit EH LED TVs will serve as a stepping stone between a narrowed assortment of entry CCFL models and higher performing "Slim Line" LED LCD TVs that use an edge-lighting approach that affords thinner panel depths and further improvements to picture performance.
All of the EH models will offer better power efficiency than their CCFL counter parts, as well as improved brightness and contrast, while offering roughly the same panel depth as those entry units.
Meanwhile, Samsung once again demonstrated the unusual speech/gesture/face recognition control system, called Smart Interaction, that is included in the ES8000 and ES7500 LED/LCD TV series, as well as the PNE8000 plasma series. The system is controlled by new dual-core processors included in each set.
Smart Interaction will enable users to control simple set functions by speaking, moving their hands, or showing themselves to the system's built-in cameras to activate a Facebook page (for example).
A feature called Smart Evolution offers a CPU and memory module in a set-back box, which will allow purchasers to upgrade their sets to the latest features as they are developed through 2016. The pricing on the box was not disclosed.
The flagship LED line also features an ultra-slim "One Design" bezel, first introduced by Samsung in 2011, along with a new matching U-shape stand that makes the TV look almost weightless. The ES8000 will also be available in the 46-, 55- and 60-inch screen sizes with a 65-inch model coming later in the year (seeing pricing and availability below).
Samsung will include Micro Dimming technology in a variety of levels this year, starting in the ES6600 Slim-LED models and up. The step-up ES7500 has Micro Dimming Pro technology that is said to add color and detail enhancements to the image using video processing, while a Micro Dimming Ultimate feature in ES8000 series models will analyze the picture to optimize the LED backlight and video signal in real time.
As for 3D, Samsung said the feature is included in more than half of all 2012 models, and many ship with two pairs of active shutter glasses, with higher-end models shipping with four pairs. Glasses will also sell separately at prices starting at $20.
The EH sets will be offered in the EH4000 series, with 26- and 32-inch models; the EH5000 series, with 32-, 37-, 40-, 46- and 50-inch models; the EH5300 series with 40- and 46-inch models and possibly a 50-inch model coming later in the year; and the EH6000 series featuring 40-, 46-, 50-, 55-, 60- and 65-inch models.
The EH5300 series and higher models include built-in Wi-Fi linking to the Samsung Smart Hub to easily access a wide range of apps or browse the web; it also supports Skype and Samsung DLNA-enabled AllShare technology.
The EH5300 offers a narrow bezel design, 1080p resolution.
All of the EH models use a so-called full array LED mounting system, where LEDs are positioned all the way across the LCD panel back plane. This has traditionally been positioned by Samsung and others as a superior form LED technology. But Das said to reduce the price, the new sets use fewer LEDs than earlier full-array models (the company is not disclosing exactly how many LEDs or how many sectors of LEDs are employed).
Samsung said it has improved the technology on its edge-lit LED LCD TVs so much that those models now outperform most full array LED approaches, while delivering superior panel depth dimensions.
In plasma, Samsung is offering 16 models across seven series.
All plasma models will have Samsung's proprietary Real Black Filter, previously only available in premium models, to deliver improved black levels and color contrast. The higher-end E6500, E7000 and E8000 models will incorporate new Real Black Pro technology that boosts black levels further.
The lineup includes the flagship Samsung plasma E8000, which features a new black bezel design with enhanced display technologies.
New features in select step-up models in the line include: dual-core CPUs for quick app launching; integrated camera and noise-cancelling microphones in high-end models for voice/gesture/face operation; Smart Evolution set-back box technology that will allow top-end models to be upgraded to newly advanced features as they are developed; AllShare Play DLNA capability with connectivity to cloud storage for access inside and outside the home; a new Smart Touch remote and Smart Wireless keyboard for more advanced input control.