This week Samsung held a press event at New York City’s Guggenheim art museum to showcase the company’s 2014 line of televisions. Most of the new TVs are UltraHD (4K) and most of those are curved.
The curved architecture of the Guggenheim was an appropriate match for Samsung’s curved UHD TVs. The company even brought out an interior design professional, James Zemeitis from Sotheby’s, to espouse the design value and legacy of curves.
Curves are a big deal for Samsung (as well as LG) this year. Samsung said its own consumer research revealed that for potential buyers, curved is the “preferred form” and that they’re even willing to pay up to $600 more for a curved TV. Four of the company’s new TV lines for 2014 are curved, and three of those lines are UHD resolution (including the big 105-inch Cinematic model).
Big is another big theme. Samsung’s Joe Stinziano predicted 50 percent growth in TVs 60-inches and above.
Some of the reasons offered for the curve include better viewing angle and a more immersive viewing experience. Whether those reasons pan out with the public and reviewers when these models are released in April is something we’ll have to wait and see.
Aside from curves, the UHD 4K resolution was the other part of the story for Samsung’s new TVs. The company has 5 UHD TV lines now, and the price of entry into the UHD world starts at $2,500 (for a 50-inch HU8550 non-curved UHD TV).
The company’s flagship UHD TV (not counting the 105-inch model) is the HU9000. This curved edge-lit LED UHD TV comes in 55-, 65- and 78-inch models from $3,999 to $7,999. The two smaller models come out this month while the 78-inch version will be available in May. It includes an improved UHD upscaler, depth enhancer and local dimming and a Clear Motion feature which improves motion resolution without creating the video effect that some viewers object to. This model, as well as the HU8700, S9, HU8550 can all be updated with Samsung’s UHD Evolution kit that ensures future changes can be added to the television.
A UHD video pack, which is a 1 TB hard drive that connects to the rear of the TV, will be available pre-loaded with five UHD movies: G.I. Joe Retaliation, World War Z, Night at the Museum, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Counselor and three documentaries.
Samsung noted that the major momentum for UHD content will be via streaming. It has partnerships with Amazon, Netflix, MGO Comcast, DirecTV, 20th Century Fox and Paramount to deliver UHD content to Samsung TVs.
No mention was made of plasma TVs, OLED or the flexible TV shown at CES.
Samsung also showed additions to its Shape line of multiroom wireless speakers. In addition to the models launched last year, Samsung has added the M5 amplified speaker ($299), a soundbar/sub combo (HW-H750 and two home theater in a box systems with Blu-ray players (the 7.1 HT-7730W and 5.1 HT-H6500W). Both of the home systems include wireless rear speakers. A Link Mate box ($349) allows users to connect their existing stereo to the Shape wireless system. It supports 192/24 audio playback.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.