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Samsung Ups The Ultra HD TV Ante

LAS VEGAS – Samsung is placing a huge focus on Ultra HD TV at the 2014 International CES, more than tripling the number of SKUs from 2013 and adding new screen sizes, while stressing specialized contributions to overall picture quality, future-proofing and feature performance.

The company will also continue to keep its edge in developing unique styling designs, said Dave Das, Samsung Electronics America home entertainment marketing VP.

“To us, UHD is more than just four times the pixel resolution of FullHD,” he said.

New to Ultra HD this year will be 10 LED LCD TV SKUs in three model series and an increased range of screen sizes, from 50 to 110 inches.

Each Ultra HD series is differentiated by design style with the top-of-the-line U9000 series offering curved screens, joined by a series of conventionally styled flat screens, and a pair of Samsung floor-standing very-large-screen easel-style Ultra HD LCD sets, like the 85-inch S9 model introduced in 2013.

As for 720p and FullHD LED LCD TVs, Samsung will offer nine model series in screen sizes ranging from 19 to 75 inches, including new 48- and 28-inch glass cuts.

Samsung also continues to offer plasma TV in 2014, offering added value at both the entry and high ends of the assortment. The line will include an entry non-smart HD line in 43 and 51 inches; an entry non-smart FullHD series in 51, 60 and 64 inches; and a new flagship H7000 series in 51, 60 and 64 inches that keeps the award-winning picture quality of 2013’s F8500 series while scaling back the Quad Core processor, built-in camera and voice-recognition features to hit more aggressive price points.

As for Ultra HD picture-quality improvements, Samsung has focused on detail, up-scaling, color and contrast performance; adding new gamut-mapping algorithms for truer-to-life colors; object-based contrast enhancement that adjusts contrast by picking out the subject of the frame from both the background and foreground; and source-signal-analyzing Quadmatic Upscaling technology.

In 2014, Samsung will continue to offer a One Connect box solution to help customers future-proof their products. This year’s sets, and the One Connect box for prior Ultra HD models, add HDMI 2.0, HEVC H.265 and HDCP 2.2 support, but still to come will be new Ultra HD broadcast and Blu-ray specs that are at least a year away and must be accounted for, Das pointed out.

In 2014, Samsung updates its Quad Core processors from a year ago to Quad Core Plus processing that adds such benefits as Instant-On picture viewing and Last-Viewed-Page default cue up in web browsing and other apps.

New smart-TV functionality also adds a new MultiLink function that splits the screen to view a live TV program on the left side of the screen while the right side auto-populates with content relevant to the program being watched. Viewers can override the metadata delivery with voice commands for different searches.

Continuing this year is the five-panel-user interface from 2013, but this year two panels – the photos/videos/ music panel and the social-media panel – will be combined into one multimedia panel as a new panel is added for gaming.

For games, Samsung has partnered with several well-known game producers to develop about 20 familiar video game titles offering what Das called “mid-weight gaming” performance – more powerful than typical smartphone app-based games but not quite as powerful as new dedicated console or PC-based game titles.

Das explained that all of the processing for the game play is performed locally on the TV’s Quad Core Plus processor. Games can be controlled by the TV remote, an app on a smartphone or tablet or any OCI-standard third-party game controller.

As for design, Samsung is taking the curved-screen concept it introduced in its OLED TV last year and applying it to its 2014 flagship U9000-series Ultra HD LCD TV series, including the 55-, 65- and 78- inch screen sizes.

Das said the style creates both a more immersive viewing experience and a more unique aesthetic appearance.

Other Ultra HD LED LCD TV models will be offered in flat screens, including the 50-, 55-, 60- (tentatively), 65- and 75-inch screen sizes.

Samsung will also continue to offer its easel-frame-style Ultra HD LCD TV series with new models in the 85- and 110-inch screen sizes.

All of the new Ultra HD TV series will launch at the end of April at prices to be announced.

As for native Ultra HD video content, Das said that Samsung is working with several programming partners to deliver content to purchasers of Samsung Ultra HD sets in 2014, but could offer no details as this went to press.

To better facilitate second-screen interoperation, Samsung smart TVs in 2014 will output a PIN code that can be entered into a second-screen device to simplify and speed up inter-device handshakes and setup.

Samsung sets will also continue to include RVU Alliance capability, enabling connections with DirecTV Genie whole-home DVRs without the need for an extra thin-client box, Das said.