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CES 2016: Samsung Goes All The Way With 4K, Smart Home Technology

Samsung expanded its selection of 4K SUHD and 4K UHD TVs, turned its smart SUHD TVs into home-automation hubs, and launched its first 4K Blu-ray player at CES.

The company also announced that its SUHD TVs, all with color-gamut-expanding quantum-dot displays, will comply with the 4K performance minimums revealed Monday by the Ultra HD Alliance. All feature 10-bit displays, peak brightness levels extended to 1,000 nits, and up to 1 billion colors.

Five SUHD TV series with screens sizes of 49 to 88 inches will include the flagship KS9500 SUHD TV, which will be the world’s first bezel-less curved TV, said executive VP Joe Stinziano.

The company is also hosting technology demos at its booth of a 170-inch SUHD TV and an 8K curved SUHD TV.

The 4K Blu-ray player will be available in March and will be able to play more than 100 4K Blu-ray discs expected to be available in 2016.

Home automation: The company also said it is turning all of its 2016 smart SUHD TVs into home-automation hubs, enabling consumers to control and monitor smart home systems via the TV screen with the inclusion of a free Smart Things Extend USB dongle. More than 200 home devices are compatible with the Smart Things technology.

The company partnered with home-automation supplier Smart Things, which it bought in 2014, to add home-automation technology to the TVs.

Other Samsung smart TVs will integrate with SmartThings home-automation systems, enabling consumers to control certain TV features through the SmartThings’ smartphone app and incorporate the TV into their smart-home routines.

In other developments, Samsung said it is:

–launching its first soundbar that delivers Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound via upward-firing drivers in the bar and in companion wireless surround speakers;

–launching is first bezel-less 4K TVs, which will appear in 8- and 9-series SUHD TVs and will include the industry’s first bezel-less curved TV, the KS9500;

–expanding its selection of curved SUHD and curved UHD TVs; and

–adding multiple new features to its smart TVs, including an expanded selection of games that appeal to more serious gamers and the ability to display options for selecting linear TV, smart-app streaming content, and external devices in a single menu.

The company will continue to offer high dynamic range (HDR) on all 4K TVs in 2016 and will continue to use the Open HDR standard.

Appliances: In appliances, the company unveiled its first three front-load washers with an Add Wash feature, which lets users pause washing so they can put extra items in through a small front door without water spilling out.

Samsung’s first Family Hub refrigerator also debuted with connected-home technology and embedded 21.5-inch touchscreen. From the touchscreen, users can control home-automation systems, access streaming services, view messages and calendar items sent from a smartphone, display pictures, and place grocery orders with Shop Rite and Fresh Direct for home delivery.

The Family Hub refrigerator also features built-in interior cameras that take interior pictures every time a door is opened and closed, enabling shoppers to check the refrigerator’s content remotely from a smartphone while at the grocery store.

The refrigerator and front-load washers will be available in the spring.

Mobile devices: In mobile, the company added rose-gold and platinum finishes for its Gear S2 Classic smart watch, said Samsung Pay would be available to the S2 and S2 Classic later this year, and said it plans to make the smartwatches compatible with Apple smartphones later this year.

The company also launched a Windows 10-based TabPro S tablet with included full-size detachable keyboard and 12-inch display. It’s positioned as the thinnest (at 6.3mm) and lightest (at 1.53 pounds) two-in-one tablet on the market

SUHD, UHD details: Samsung is expanding its SUHD selection to about 14 from 10 and raising brightness levels by at least 20 percent via brighter blue LEDs and the use of “the purest” nanocrystals, which will let through more light.

The new SUHD models also use a variety of technologies to brighten their displays to about 1,000 nits, improve contrast, and deliver deep blacks without loss of detail, the company said. The new SUHD TVs also feature less reflective screens to improve viewing comfort, and they’ll deliver four times sharper detail, 1.5 times more accurate color, and 1.2 times more brightness and contrast ratio compared with their predecessors.

The company is also expanding its selection of UHD TVs, which numbered 26 in 2015.

All SUHD and UHD TVs will be HDR-compatible like last year and will continue to use Open HDR technology. All of the TVs will also feature HDMI 2.0a inputs to accept HDR video from 4K Blu-ray players and other outboard HDR sources. In 2015, the company launched firmware updates to add 2.0a capability to the HDMI inputs of all of its 2015 SUHD and UHD TVs. 

Here’s what’s coming in audio:

Wireless multiroom audio: The company continues to offer its quartet of Radiant wireless multiroom-audio speakers and launched four new soundbars that will, like their predecessors, become part of Samsung’s wireless multiroom-audio network.

The company is also expanding the selection of streaming services accessible by the products to 13 with the addition of SiriusXM and Tidal.

In addition, all multiroom-audio products will become part of Samsung’s home-automation network controlled by SUHD TVs.

Soundbars: Delivering surround sound is the focus of most of Samsung’s nine new soundbars, four of which are curved and one of which features Dolby Atmos object-based surround decoding.

Samsung is delivering surround sound in select models in three ways. Three models incorporate wireless multiroom-audio technology and can be paired with two wireless Radiant speakers for use as surround speakers. Four new soundbars can be used with a wireless-speaker kit consisting of a pair of passive speakers wired to a two-channel amplifier/2.4GHz-wireless receiver in the back of the room.

The third way is with the Dolby Atmos-equipped HW-K950 soundbar and companion wireless surrounds.

Also with the launch,  the number of soundbars with the company’s wireless multiroom-audio technology goes to five from four, and all soundbars but two carryover models feature HDMI inputs and outputs. The K950 will step up to HDMI 2.0a and will be the top-end bar. It also incorporates wireless multiroom-audio technology.

Smart TV strategy: To make it easier to sort through all available content and connected devices, the first menu screen on the company’s smart TVs will display options for live and over-the-top content programs in a single menu.

The company is also expanding the selection of game apps and adding mid-core games to supplement the selection of casual streaming gamers. The company envisions dealers selling game controllers as accessories to its smart TVs.