Hot on the heels of CES2016, Samsung showcased their line-up of UHD and SUHD televisions slated for launch in India at the Samsung Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Betting on the 4K format for a couple of years now, Samsung officials claim that the growth is "rapid" in the adoption rate and thus, 2016 is when they consolidate their position as the leader in the high-resolution TV market. The new range will have a mix of cutting-edge tech in the form of Quantum dot display, world's first bezel-less curved design, new Smart TV UI and Samsung's own Tizen OS holding it all together. Tizen, by the way is going to be Samsung's OS of choice for all their TVs, smart watches and other home appliances in the future and this should help the brand create its own ecosystem of products that speak to each other via the IoT (Internet of Things) protocol without any hiccups.
The standard UHD range will continue selling in either flatscreen or curved screen options under the Series 6 and 7 monikers whereas the more premium Series 8 and 9 models will be available only as a curved option for now. Samsung clearly believes in the curved format and rightly so because on large screen sizes and with the new models increased viewing angle, it really does make for a more immersive viewing experience.
Supersized for a new experience
One of the key features of the finalized 4K standard is the High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode and the 2016 line-up of Samsung SUHDs support this standard from the go. The 10-bit Quantum dot display uses a more advanced light engine than regular LEDs to create better contrast, brightness and colour, all the parameters that make you want to buy a new TV in the first place!
The flagship KS9000 will be available in a screen size of 78in and looks like a work of art from any angle since it's designed with a clean albeit curvy backside. It's 1000 nit brightness rating means that it will be higher than any competition and the 10-bit panel ensures a colour depth that has to be seen to be believed. During the demo, I could find myself getting lost in mundane shots of city lights and bridges but the level of detail is so high, you can't help but appreciate the beauty of objects when seen through a 4K camera!
Built on the Tizen OS, Samsung has been able to add considerable practical features to this new range of TVs. The new Smart Hub can now show another layer of information right above the app icon on the screen without having to actually open the app. So, for example, you can now browse through your Netflix list without having to stop what you're watching! No need to go back to the main screen and we couldn't have loved it more.
The new remote control is also much simpler with fewer buttons, resembling that of the previous generation Apple TV. But this one has more smarts built in and can also double up as a universal remote for your set-top box, DVD player and many more devices.
The more powerful processing inside also allows for console-less gaming and currently about 30 games are available through the Samsung App Store for free but a revenue model for in-app purchases is being contemplated, so make the most of it while you can freeloaders. The graphics were a bit blunt-edged when compared to a PS4 but for something that is being generated from the TV itself, it is truly impressive and comparable to PS2 standards. You will need a game pad controller to make the most of it, mind you.
The Smart View app now allows a Wi-Fi Direct connection between your devices with local storage and the TV so you can stream even a 4K movie right off your laptop to the SUHD TV. Supporting both iOS and Android and Windows too, it has become a truly formidable alternative to lugging around USB drives to transfer movies or music from one device to another.
What about 4K content though?
We knew you would try to play smart with us. Samsung also showcases their first 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player at the Forum and this one too is scheduled for an India launch sometime in May 2016, shortly after the new SUHD range is launched. With Amazon (US) already taking pre-orders on Ultra HD Blu-ray titles, this is a great move by Samsung to finally end the drought of 4K content available to existing and new 4K panel owners.
The price of the UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player should be in the region of ₹25,000. It will also upscale standard Blu-rays and DVDs to 4K resolution but we wouldn't really count on that to blow you away. Do us a favor and pony up for the real discs.
Get your hands dirty and pockets empty
All the new UHD and SUHD models from the 2016 range are schedule to hit Indian stores by April end and while the flagship 78in KS9000 curved SUHD model will be around ₹10 lacs, the smaller screen sizes will hover around the ₹3,50,000 - ₹6,00,000 mark and will ensure that you have the latest standards in 4K home video. If you're saving up to buy a new TV, wait until you get your eyes on one of these.
I couldn't wait to spend more time with them and I'm pretty sure, you'l find them hard to resist too. With Netflix India giving the option of 4K streaming and the imminent arrival of Ultra HD Blu-rays, the time is right to shift from Full HD to the next frontier in home-entertainment!