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Samsung Expands 4K Lineup, Turns TVs Into Automation Hubs

Samsung is expanding its selection of 4K SUHD and 4K UHD TVs and turning all smart TVs into home automation hubs.

It wasn’t certain at press time whether the SUHD TVs would meet the 4K performance criteria established by the Ultra HD Alliance.

Also at CES, the company is:
• launching its first 4K Blu-ray player;
• launching is first bezel-less 4K TVs, which will appear in 8 and 9 series SUHD TVs;
• expanding its selection of curved SUHD and curved UHD TVs;
• adding its first 1080p curved TVs while slightly trimming its 1080p TV selection; and
• adding multiple new features to its smart TVs, including a new UI and an expanded selection of games that include mid-core games, not just casual games.

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.

The company’s new SUHD TVs, like last year’s models, feature quantum-dot nano-crystal technology, which in the 2015 models delivered an expanded color gamut close to the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) P3 standard specified as the minimum required by the Ultra HD Alliance. The gamut of this year’s models wasn’t available at press time.

SUHD expansion: As part of its SUHD strategy, Samsung will expand its SUHD selection to about 14 from 10, and it will raise brightness levels by at least 20 percent via brighter blue LEDs and the use of “the purest” nanocrystals, which will let through more light, said Bill Lee, VP of TV product marketing.

The new SUHD models use a variety of technologies to brighten the 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 4x sharper detail, 1.5x more accurate color, and 1.2x more brightness and contrast ratio compared with their predecessors.

The company will also “dramatically” expand its selection of UHD TVs, which numbered 26 in 2015, Lee said.

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.

The selection of curved-screen models in the SUHD and UHD collections will expand. Curved screens deliver a uniform viewing distance across the screen, the company said.

Smart TV strategy: To make it easier to sort through all the 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 intent is to reduce the need to navigate through multiple screens to get to live and OTT content, Lee said. Consumers will also be able to move and remove smart apps on the first screen.

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

The TVs will also feature Extra Service, launched in 2015 to offer free one-touch access to information relevant to a sports program or other event appearing on the TV. Also new: Family Square, which lets users send photos displayed on their smart TV to another Samsung smart TV outside the house for viewing in real time.

Together Play will let users download a TV-displayed picture to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

Home automation: All new smart TVs will act as a home-automation hub in which the TV and TV remote can be used to view security-camera video, get intrusion alarms, lock and unlock doors, control lights, and control speakers and soundbars that incorporate Samsung’s wireless multiroom-audio technology.

It was unknown at press time whether the home-automation engine would be built into the TVs’ chassis or in a TV-connected dongle.