SAMSUNG'S GROUNDBREAKING 2012 MODELS PUSH THE ENVELOPE OF VIDEO DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY
-Samsung has released the pricing on its line of new 2012 LCD and plasma TVs, many of which boast an enhanced Smart TV suite of apps and services and some new ways to control the TV, as well as 3D. In addition, many step-up models will also get a performance boost thanks to new dual-core processors that allow the TV to multitask: For example, you can toggle back and forth between a movie and an app that can run simultaneously. And the entire line of Internet-capable sets now get built-in Wi-Fi and full Web browsers. -As reported during CES, a key new TV feature called Smart Interaction lets you interact with the TV in a variety of ways, including gestures and voice control. For example, you can control onscreen navigation or scroll through Web pages with a wave of your hand, and items can be selected by making a grabbing gesture with your hand. Samsung’s gesture control is built into the TV itself rather than the remote, but both the TV and the remote control will have built-in microphones for voice control. -Some sets will also have a built-in camera and face-recognition technology, so the TV will be able to recognize up to five different users and provide each with their own customized screen along with their respective services and apps. (The camera can also be used to make Skype phone calls.) -Samsung has developed a software developers kit (SDK) that to enable developers to create specialized apps and games that take advantage of the gesture, voice, and face-recognition technologies. Step-up TVs will come with a new touchpad remote control, though the company isn't offering the dual-sided remote with a QWERTY keyboard on one side it had last year. Instead, a wireless Bluetooth keyboard with a track pad will be sold as a $99 option. The TVs will come with an IR blaster in the box to allow control of other home-theater gear using the TV remote. -Also new this year are some proprietary programs, offered under the umbrella heading of Signature Services. The apps will include Family Story, a closed, cloud-based service for sharing photos and family memories; Fitness, programs that let you monitor training and sync to a wireless scale; and Kids, a suite of kid-friendly edutainment. Step-up models also get AllShare Play, which lets you access content from any compatible device—and thanks to cloud-based storage, you can do this even when you're not in your home. -Samsung provided some additional information about an upgrade feature called Smart Evolution that will become available in 2013. Starting this year, TVs will have a proprietary slot for Smart Evolution modules that can add features or boost performance, so owners will be able to update their sets to the latest technology. Samsung didn't discuss pricing, but it did say that 2012 models can be updated through 2016. -Samsung's flagship ES8000 series LCD sets have an ultra-slim bezel, and sit atop a unique-looking U-shape stand. This set also gets Micro Dimming Ultimate contrast-enhancement technology, while the ES7500 line gets Micro Dimming Pro. Models in the ES6600 and ES7100 series get Micro Dimming. -Samsung says that half of its 2012 sets will include 3D, and all 3D sets will come with at least two sets of 3D glasses; the flagship ES8000 LCD TVs and E8000 plasmas will come with four sets. Additional 3D glasses will now be available for only $20 per set. -The company also has a new EH series of LCD TVs that use "direct-lit" LED backlights, which cost less than traditional edge LED backlights while providing getter energy efficiency than CCFL backlights. The EH-series sets are available in screen sizes ranging from 26 to 65 inches. Here's the complete 2012 TV lineup, with sizes, estimated selling prices, and release dates. LCD TVs (with LED backlights) ES8000 Series 75 inches Price TBD June 65 inches $5,100 June 60 inches $4,400 March 55 inches $3,750 March 46 inches $3,000 March ES7500 Series 60 inches $4,000 March 55 inches $3,380 March 50 inches $2,930 March 46 inches $2,600 March ES7100 Series 60 inches $3,800 NA 55 inches $3,150 May 46 inches $2,400 May ES6600 Series 60 inches $3,380 NA 55 inches $2,720 March 46 inches $1,930 March ES6500 Series 65 inches $3,900 NA 60 inches $3,180 March 55 inches $2,520 March 50 inches $2,080 May 46 inches $1,730 March 40 inches $1,500 March 32 inches $1,000 NA ES6100 series ES6100 60 $2,900 April ES6100 55 $2,200 March ES6100 50 $1,730 June ES6100 46 $1,400 March ES6100 40 $1,200 March EH6000 Series 65 inches $2,650 NA 60 inches $2,100 Now 55 inches $1,550 Now 50 inches $1,250 June 46 inches $1,080 Now 40 inches $850 Now EH5300 Series 50 inches $1,200 June 46 inches $1,020 March 40 inches $800 March 32 inches $580 March EH5000 Series 50 inches $1,150 June 46 inches $980 Now 40 inches $750 Now 37 inches $650 Now 32 inches $550 Now EH4000 Series 32 inches $420 Now 26 inches $330 Now Plasma TVs PN8000 Series 64 inch $3,950 March 60 inch $3,080 March 51 inch $2,200 March PNE7000 Series 64 inch $3,400 March 60 inch $2,530 March 51 inch $1,650 March PNE6500 Series 60 inch $2,200 March 51 inch $1,520 March PNE550 Series 64 inch $2,530 March 60 inch $1,920 March 51 inch $1,200 March PNE530 Series 60 inch $1,650 March 51 inch $1,000 March There is also a PNE490-series model, a 51-inch set that is selling for $800, plus two E450-series plasmas: a 51-inch set for $720 and a 43-inch set for $550.
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