The Samsung press conference was arguably the most anticipated of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). And based on the initial response, the company did not disappoint, showcasing everything from a “smart TV” to a refrigerator that gives you more freezer space when you need it.
"The TV is almost human," Tim Baxter, president of Samsung America, told the capacity audience inside the Mandalay Bay ballroom on Monday. The F8000 LED is expected to become Samsung's signature mainstream television offering. "It demonstrates our commitment to bring back the wow," Baxter said.
Like a beefed -up version of the iPhone's Siri functionality, the F8000's S-Recommendation system can understand questions from viewers and offers responses to their inquiries. For example, Baxter asked the television, “Anything good on today?" and was greeted with a sampling of programming choices that evolve based on not only the type of programming he normally views but also the actual time he views it.
Similar to the Xbox's Kinect camera system, the F8000 also makes use of hand -gesture functionality; instead of using a remote control, users move their hands to change TV channels or record a movie.
"It's the most powerful, personal TV experience ever created," Baxter said."It will change the way you discover content." And speaking of personal, Samsung America Senior Vice President Joe Stinziano said the company would soon offer viewing glasses that will allow two users to view different channels, full-screen, from the same television at the same time. The high-resolution images will be transmitted directly into the lenses while the sound will be piped in through earbuds built -into the glasses. Analysts from CNET jokingly referred to the glasses as “hate vision" saying they were the "ultimate anti-social tool" for viewing audiences. In other words, they are almost certain to be a hit.
Stinziano went into further detail, explaining how the S-Recommendation works. When viewers turns their televisions on, they are greeted by five different panels, which include current shows and movies, upcoming titles, and access to different social media platforms.
Last summer, Samsung released similar technology for its Galaxy smartphones, but this is the first time a mass-market version of interactive voice technology has been produced for televisions.
Stinziano says Samsung has increased its focus on international content for its social media platforms, including Spanish- language content and similar options for European and Asian viewers.
"This is how we're changing the viewing experience,”," he said. "We expect multicultural content to be the fastest- growing social programming in 2013."
The S-Recommendation platform will also be available to consumers who already own a Samsung TV, via the company's "2013 Evolution Kit," which is essentially a tablet that plugs into the back of Samsung TVs, upgrading them to S-Recommendation functionality, or what Stinziano called "a brain transplant for your TV."
Of course, if you have more than $10,000 to invest in your new TV, Samsung also unveiled a 55-inch OLED TV and an 85-inch "Ultra HD" TV, which displays four times the number of pixels as in the current industry- leading LED screens.
Samsung unveiled some offerings for outside the living room, as well, including an oven that can cook two meals simultaneously and a refrigerator that can be programmed to convert fridge space to freezer space and back again.
The T9000 refrigerator comes with a built-in LCD screen and can be connected to a smartphone, which Samsung America Senior Vice President Michael Abary said could be used as a baby monitor for parents who want to keep an eye on their young children while preparing a meal.
And for those bold consumers who actually venture outside the home, Abary also showcased a new 3D lens, which will allow users to take camera stills and film their own movies in 3D. The lens is scheduled to be released in March and will reportedly cost about $500.
"A whole new photography experience awaits you," Abary said of the NX300 lens, which could provide an incentive to current 3D TV owners, many of whom love the technology behind home 3D but say there is a lack of content available for the cutting- edge systems.