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Samsung's 2013 Smart TVs: everything you need to know

Campbell Simpson | April 19, 2013
Samsung’s 2013 TV lineup is big on interaction and content

The Series 8+ plasma TV.
The Series 8+ plasma TV.

Plasma TVs are not dead yet, although the company has drastically down-sized their production in recent years. There are two ranges of plasma TVs for Samsung in 2013 - the Series 8+, with 64- and 60-inch models ($4,299 and $3,999), and the Series 5+, with 64- and 51-inch variants.

The release of Samsung's new Smart TVs will be staggered, with models being released between now and July - generally cheaper models will be released first, with larger sizes and more premium models hitting store shelves towards the middle of the year. The top-of-the-line, $9,999 75-inch Series 8 (F8000) will be available in July.

Samsung 2013 Smart TVs: Interaction

Just like last year, Samsung is heavily pushing the interactive side of its Smart TVs. The company's killer feature this year is natural language - available on its higher-end Smart TVs like the S9, Series 8, and Series 6, the service has two aspects. The first is natural language recognition, with users being able to issue the TV commands in loosely-defined phrases, rather than set sentences with keywords as last year's models required.

Samsung's voice command bar at the top of the screen.
Samsung's voice command bar at the top of the screen.

This speech-to-text feature lets users change volume, channels, navigate through menus, and ask the TV questions to which it will synthesise a response. Samsung says the TVs will be able to understand "almost anything" that is it asked.For all the Smart Interaction voice control, you'll need to have a TV that's compatible with the new Samsung Smart Touch Remote - it's got a microphone inside.

Once a command has been issued, the TV will respond in kind - its text-to-speech function draws from the same library of natural language, with each TV storing thousands of pre-recorded sentences and delivering one or more, or a combination of several, as the situation demands. The system was developed locally in collaboration with Macquarie University, with half a million dollars of R&D funding from Samsung.

Samsung's motion-sensing cameras on top of premium TVs also get an upgrade - they've changed from super-low-res VGA cameras to not-so-low-res 5-megapixel units. This is enough for them to successfully distinguish each of a user's hands, making two-handed gestures like rotating and zooming possible, in the same way that multi-touch on a touchscreen works. Face detection is another big part of the camera's role, logging users into their personalised home screens in the same way as Panasonic's 2013 TVs.

Samsung 2013 Smart TVs: Content

TVs aren't any good if they don't have anything screening on them, and Samsung's got that message loud and clear. There's two big draw-cards for the 2013 range of Samsung TVs - the first is a revamped and revitalised Smart Hub interface that's smart enough to know what you want to watch, and the second is a content deal that should be a big value-add for sports fans.

 

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