Tuesday, 10 January 2012 17:23

It's time to talk to the telly, says Samsung


Samsung's CES announcements include a raft of new products heading for Australia this year. Heading the list are TVs with voice and motion control plus face recognition, somewhat reminiscent of Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360, but there's a lot more in the company's latest home entertainment ranges.

Following all the rumours about Apple preparing a voice-controlled TV, it seems Samsung has beaten it to the punch. The Korean manufacturer is using CES to announce a range of new and updated products, including TVs with 'Smart Interaction' technology that incorporates motion control, voice control and face recognition.

Details are sparse at this stage, but it appears that Smart Interaction is intended to augment rather than replace the remote control. It initially allows spoken commands to turn the TV on or off, activate selected apps or search for content in the web browser. There's no indication that you can tell the TV to change channel or input, or adjust the volume setting.

Similarly, motion control is apparently limited to web browsing. Certain wireless keyboards and mice can also be used with the new TVs.

Other new features include multitasking for apps (so there's no need to quit one before running another), AllShare Play (for playing content from other compatible devices such as Samsung smartphones, tablets, computers and cameras), a parent-controlled Kids interface (is this where face recognition comes in?), an interactive fitness program, photo management, and memo and reminder sharing with other Samsung devices.

A particularly interesting part of Samsung's plans is that its 2012 (and presumably later) TVs will be upgradable each year to add new features.

Samsung's local announcement did not specify exactly which of its new TVs will include the Smart Interaction features, but new models include Super OLED, LED and plasma screens.

Page 2: Blu-ray, home theatre and audio


The company also announced a 7.1 channel Blu-ray 3D home theatre system that combines digital amplifiers and vacuum tubes (valves), a wireless 3D Blu-ray home theatre system with an iPod/iPhone dock, and a surround sound bar with wireless subwoofer.

On the subject of Blu-ray, Samsung has a pair of new Blu-ray players, one "only slightly larger than a Blu-ray disc", the other including 3D capability and dual HDMI inputs to allow the connection of two additional devices to a single port on the TV.

The players include Wi-Fi connectivity, DLNA support, a web browser, the ability to 'register' physical DVDs so the content can be accessed on other Samsung devices via the Flixter app within the Smart Hub feature, and access to a range of apps.

Samsung's app lineup includes BigPond Movies, ABC iView, BBC and AFL/NRL game analysers. More video-on-demand and TV catch-up services (eg, Yahoo Plus 7) will be added during the year.

On the audio side, there's a pair of audio docks (one using valves) with USB connectivity and MP3, WMA and WAV support, plus AllShare compatibility. One model also includes Bluetooth connectivity.

Prices will be announced closer to the release of each product.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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