Samsung’s flagship TVs are always contenders for top honors in terms of picture quality and features each year. While their remarkable OLED TV garnered the lion’s share of the spotlight at this year’s CES, the company’s latest premier LED and plasma are still nothing to scoff at.
The UNES8000 3D (shown above) is the new king of their LED line and features an “ultra-slim” 0.2-inch bezel along with a new metallic U-shape stand that makes the set as much of a living room design statement as a favorite Eames piece. Accompanying their highly-lauded Smart TV application platform is the company’s Kinect-like “Smart Interaction” technology, which uses a built-in camera and two unidirectional array microphones to empower couch surfers with voice, motion, and facial recognition control, in addition to using a typical remote.
We’ve got more details and images of both sets after the break.
In the demonstrations we saw on the floor, addressing the TV by a user-designated name allowed viewers to adjust volume, surf channels, open applications, and even navigate the web browser through simple voice commands or hand gestures. Control preferences and settings could be saved on a per person basis and toggled via face recognition. Things didn’t always behave perfectly, and certain functions were definitely slow, but Samsung did emphasize that the version we saw was still a prototype, and that bugs were being addressed. If they do work out the kinks, those features alone will be living room game changers.
The only real disappointment with the set that we could find was Samsung’s decision to stick with a tweaked version of edge-lit dimming, dubbed “micro-dimming ultimate,” instead of the so-called “full array” LED backlighting found on competing high-end LEDs from Sharp, LG, and Sony. Usually the latter technology allows for more dimming-zones, which correlates with better picture quality, since the TV can reflect a greater level of color and motion variation across the screen. Samsung does say their micro-dimming ultimate technology creates more dimming zones compared to other edge-lit technologies, but how it fairs in competitive picture quality comparisons is still up in the air.
The PNE8000 top-of-the-line plasma lacks the sleeker body style of its LED compatriot, opting instead to retain a slight variation of the 2011 body style in a new titan black metal color. It’s still quite sleek as plasmas go, though, and features the same bevy of Smart TV and Smart Interaction capabilities mentioned above. Best of all, Samsung says the plasma produces up to 10% darker blacks than the highly regarded PND8000 last year.
Last, but certainly not least, both sets boast a new “Smart Evolution” system that’s designed to future-proof the company’s higher end displays. While both models will ship with dual-core processors, the set’s system-on-chip technology is designed to be swapped out via a simple slot-in procedure to keep the TV on the cutting-edge in terms of internal hardware, without replacing the entire display.
If history is any indication, we expect both models to go on sale later this summer or early this fall, for a price somewhere between $2,000-$3,000. That’s not chump change range, but given Samsung’s growing prestige in the display space and their slew of bleeding-edge specs, both should be contenders for the title of Best TV in 2012, at least for those who don’t own oil fields to Qatar.
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