Samsung Philippines set me up to an overnight stay at the Maxim’s Hotel last Monday to be the first one to get a closer look and enjoy their latest Smart LED TV. This 55-inch Samsung ES8000 is just one of three models of flagship LED TVs the Korean has put out for 2012.
First thing you will definitely notice with the design of the ES8000 is the use of a closed, U-shaped stand that supports the panel instead of the previous four-pronged spread from last year.
At first, I thought this design might be prone to wobbling (or a see-saw effect) but turns out the stand is pretty solid and well-grounded to the surface.
This series comes with three new impressive features we’ve not yet seen on any TV. I mentioned about them last week when Samsung did the launch at the NBC Tent. This time, I got to experience the features more intimately.
The first one is the Voice and Motion Control. As the name implies, you can actually operate the Smart TV with the use of a built-in microphone on the TV (as well as another one on the remote) or set the TV’s integrated HD camera to monitor and take commands from hand signals.
The operative word — “Hi, TV!”. A contextual menu will appear from the bottom giving you options for whatever available commands you can tell it to do. The voice command is pretty neat as it offers you a faster and direct access to functions of the TV.
There are two remote controls that came with the package — the traditional one with dozens of confusing buttons and another simpler one which features a trackpad. This allows you to navigate some functions of the Smart TV like using a mouse on a screen. It also recognizes a few gestures like scrolling up and down a list of channels.
The Motion Control is powered by an integrated camera perched on top of the TV. You can calibrate it so it will detect your hand movements. A cursor or hand icon will appear once you are ready to control using hand gestures. Think of it as an “air mouse” — move you hand around and the cursor will follow and clasp your palms to indicate a selection.
The Samsung Smart Hub is now way smarter because Samsung has provided the TV with a dual-core processor. This means you can download an app while surfing the web or even watching a TV show via PIP.
With the dual-core chip, web browsing is also more efficient since it can now do multi-tab loading of websites. Samsung claims there are over 1,500 apps available to download from Smart Hub.
Speaking of the integrated camera, aside from doing video calls via Skype, you can actually use it to take pictures or record HD videos. There’s also a Mirror feature that opens a small window (ala Picture-in-Picture) that projects everything the camera sees (might useful for ladies and gents who don’t have mirror at home and wants to fix themselves while watching the news, haha!).
Once you plug a flash drive or an external HDD via the USB port at the back, you can also save the photos and videos that you recorded. (I won’t say what type of scandals will come out of this feature).
There’s also Face Recognition if you want the TV to immediately set the command profile to your own personal settings. That means each member of the family can have a different TV settings and app available to them when they log in via Face Recognition.
Future-proofing your Samsung Smart TV with the Evolution Kit. At the back of the display, there’s a panel on the right corner where you can plug in an upgrade kit in the future.
First time I heard about it from a Samsung Product Manager and I immediately asked them if the message they wanted to convey was that people would never have to buy a new TV ever again with this Evolution Kit.
This mean future updates to the Smart TV may be added to the model just by attaching the upgrade kit at the back. It will include both software and hardware upgrades so perhaps the dual-core TV can become quad-core in the future. You don’t need to buy a new TV unless of course you want a much bigger screen.
The Samsung ES8000 LED TV will be available in 46″, 55″ and 60″ models and will sell for around Php169k, Php239k and Php279k, respectively (or thereabouts).
The package includes 4 3D-glasses, two remote control units, and a wireless receiver (that black, cylindrical device in the photo above) for those who use a cable box attached to their TV.