Samsung has begun rolling out an expanded lineup of 16 SUHD-technology 4K Ultra HD TVs with a mix of flat and curved screens, all meeting or exceeding the minimum performance criteria established by the Ultra HD Alliance (UHDA).
Samsung this year will offer a wider selection of alliance-certified TVs than any other TV supplier, said senior VP Dave Das during a Tuesday launch event in New York City. Ultra HD TVs bearing the alliance’s Ultra HD Premium logo meet minimum 4K performance standards for resolution, color gamut, high dynamic range, and other metrics.
The SUHD lineup includes a previously unannounced KS9800 flagship series with higher performance levels than the company’s other 2016 SUHD TVs. The three curved KS9800 models boost brightness levels to more than 1,200 nits compared to the other models’ 1,000 nits, and the flagships add full-array multi-zone local-LED dimming to enhance contrast compared to the other models’ edge-lit local dimming, said Brandt Varner, senior director of product marketing for visual displays.
In other announcements, the company said:
*demand for its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player has exceeded expectations and outstripped supply; and
*it will offer two soundbars equipped with Dolby Atmos this summer, having discussed only one model at CES 2016.
In updating the status of 4K Blu-ray sales, Varner said the company is ramping up production so that it can meet demand in six to eight weeks. Das said the company was “overwhelmed” by the response and called the 4K Blu-ray player launch “one of the strongest products introduced” by Samsung.
Samsung is the only company that offers a 4K Blu-ray player, although Panasonic and P&F’s Philips brand also plan to offer one this year.
The 4K Blu-ray player and Samsung’s 2016 SUHD line, except for the new KS9800 flagship series, were unveiled at 2016 CES.
The SUHD TV lineup consists of the following:
KS9800 curved SUHD TV series: A 65-inch model at $4,499 and an 88-inch model at $19,999 will be available in early June. A 78-inch model will be available in early May at $9,999.
KS9500 curved SUHD TVs: A 55-inch model at $2,499 and a 65-inch model at $3,699 are available and will be followed in early June by a 78-inch model at $7,999. They are the world’s first bezel-less curved SUHD TVs, the company said.
KS9000 flat SUHD TVs: A 55-inch model at $2,299 and a 65-inch model at $3,499 are available, followed in early June by a 75-inch model at $6,499.
KS8500 curved SUHD TVs: A 55-inch model at $1,999 and a 65-inch model at $2,999 are available, followed in May by a 49-inch model at $1,699.
KS8000 flat SUHD TVs: A 55-inch model at $1,799 and a 65-inch model at $2,799 are available, followed in May by a 49-inch model at $1,499 and a 60-inch model at $2,299. They’re promoted as “virtually bezel-less.”
The lineup expands the company’s curved-SUHD selection.
All SUHD models feature color-gamut-expanding 10-bit quantum-dot displays.
The SUHD TVs, as well as the 7 series of UHD TVs, also come with an Extend dongle to turn the TVs into home-automation hubs to control lights, door locks, and other home systems.
Set-top box integration: All of the SUHD TVs, and all other 2016 Samsung smart TVs (including smart FullHD TVs), feature deep developer-level integration with set-top boxes from Comcast, Time Warner,and Dish, with DirecTV set-top box integration coming in June.
With the integration, the TVs automatically recognize the HDMI-connected set-top boxes, enabling a TV’s remote to control all set-top box functions, including DVR functions.
The technology also automatically recognizes Xbox and PlayStation game consoles and Roku devices, placing their logos and the logos of the cable and satellite providers on a menu running across the bottom of the TV display.
This Smart Hub menu lets consumers switch quickly from one source to another without, for example, having to hit the source button and click through a menu of sources to switch from live TV to a game console, Varner explained. Users can click through sources while live TV is playing, he added.
In other enhancements to the SUHD TVs, the company added the GameFly game-streaming app to the TVs, joining the PlayStation Now streaming-game service made available toward the end of last year on 2015 Samsung smart TVs. The services also appear in the company’s other 2016 smart TVs.
HDR plans: The SUHD TVs and the company’s 4K LCD UHD TVs feature HDR 10 HDR technology, and the company has no plans to add Dolby Vision HDR because all 4K Blu-ray discs are using HDR 10, Varner said. Most OTT 4K HDR streaming content will be available in HDR10, he added. The TVs aren’t upgradable to add Dolby Vision.
Samsung’s $1,499 Dolby Atmos-equipped HW-K950 soundbar (pictured) comes with included wireless surround speakers to deliver 5.1.4-channel sound, while the $899 HW-K850 will deliver 5.1.2-channel sound with optional wireless surround speakers.
Atmos soundbars: In audio, the company will offer its first Atmos-equipped soundbars, the $1,499 HW-K950 and $899 HW-K850, in the summer.
Both feature HDMI 2.0a copy protection to pass through 4K HDR video to a TV. The company said it’s not sure whether the soundbars can be upgraded via firmware to add DTS:X surround. Both also feature HDCP 2.2 4K copy protection.
The top model is 2.1-inches-tall and delivers a 5.1.4-channel soundfield in conjunction with included wireless surround speakers. The bar itself incorporates front-firing left, center and right channels, while two top-firing speakers deliver two height channels. Two included 2.4GHz wireless surround speakers deliver the left and right surround channels and, via top-mounted drivers, two more height channels. A wireless subwoofer is included.
The HW-K850 incorporates left-, center- and right-channel drivers as well as two height speakers, but wireless surround speakers are optional. Any pair of the company’s wireless multiroom-audio speakers can be used as wireless surround speakers to deliver a 5.1.2 soundfield. A wireless sub is included.
Both soundbars are equipped with the company’s wireless multiroom-audio technology.
The bars are among 12 new flat and curved soundbars. Two come with wireless surround speakers in the box, and four are compatible with optional wireless surround speakers. The bars without Dolby Atmos feature HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2
At CES, Samsung, Gibson Innovations’ Philips brand, and Creative Technology unveiled some of the industry’s first Atmos-equipped soundbars, joining a currently available Yamaha soundbar with Atmos and DTS:X.