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Samsung LED HDTVs Merge Power and Supreme Beauty (and you thought your wallet was safe)

Samsung LED HDTV 8000 Series

As I sat in Samsung’s press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A senior executive was speaking on a stage over 100 feet away from me. The room was packed with hundreds of people. Like lemmings, all we press and analyst types had stood in line for 45 minutes for this honor. It felt a little like a James Bond film. You know the one. It is the usual plot-line where the villain introduces his new menacing weapon and plan for world dominion. The lights dim. The curtains part. The trade show models wheel it out, facing backwards. And then, at the crescendo of the exec’s presentation, Samsung’s latest big-screen LED HDTV is introduced to the world. Audible gasps.

You might think I am exaggerating a bit but remember I am the skeptical one. I was not the first one to buy an HDTV (or one of the poor jokers who bought an HD-ready TV at an exorbitant price, only to find cheaper and slimmer models later that actually had tuners inside). I waited until enough people sang the praises of HD. And then only after I had seen for myself. But like many of you, I would now rather watch a mediocre show in HD quality than a good show in SD quality. Many folks are saying that now. And there must be something to it judging by the way the cable companies, Verizon FiOS, and satellite television companies use HD channel quantities in their advertising wars.

So I was sitting there quite stunned. Even from 100 feet away, the picture quality was amazing. In fact, the resolution of Samsung’s LED HDTV up on stage was clearer and brighter than the widescreen monitor right near me that was broadcasting the Samsung exec up on stage. And that’s when it occurred to me— better hold off on my next HDTV purchase until this thing is on the market. Just when you thought your wallet was safe because you had waited to upgrade from 720p sets to affordable 1080p ones, these new LED-based sets are going to drive a whole new adoption curve.

Samsung claims LED HDTVs will usher in a new era for flat-panel televisions and I think they are right. Because they use LEDs as their primary light source rather than traditional Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL), these new HDTVs offer higher contrast ratios, more compact designs, and “greener” energy use since they consume around 40% less power. They also produce darker blacks, super bright whites, and more vivid colors. In fact, if they had put a frame around it and an outdoor scene, I might have thought I was looking through a window (OK, now I am exaggerating a little).

Samsung’s new 8000, 7000 and 6000 series of HDTVs build upon its earlier generation LED models. They include other innovations such as Samsung’s Auto Motion Plus frame interpolation technology which helps to capture and smooth fast-moving action scenes (action movies and sports for example) with a refresh rate of up to 240Hz—four times the rate of other TVs.

Samsung LED HDTV Ultra-Thin

Like our other Trender Award finalist, Samsung is also committed to providing an Internet-connected experience in 2009. In what it calls the “Internet@TV Content Service”, some Samsung models will be providing snippets of Internet content enabled by WiFi, Wireless DLNA, or wired Ethernet. Yahoo!’s TV Widget technology will enable quick access to Flickr, YouTube, and other web sites. The widgets-based interface and scrollbar will run along the bottom of the screen for easy browsing of the latest programs and content. It will also contain the InfoLink RSS service to display news, sports, weather and stock quotes. Also like other manufacturers, Samsung will include all the USB ports and display technology necessary to view photos and videos from connected devices like camcorders or plug-in portable USB drives. As I have mentioned before, there are plusses and minuses to this connected-TV strategy. On the plus side, the TV Widget line-up of applications can grow over time as new ones are introduced. This really marks a new era for TVs, which used to have to be completely replaced to get new features. On the down-side however, some folks might be frustrated by the limits of an Internet experience which only serves small slices of content. Others may find this intrusion of interactivity into the living room a bit annoying. But at the end of the day, who really cares? Like me in Vegas, you will probably be too entranced by the crystal-clear picture of Samsung’s new LED HDTVs to notice that scroll-bar at the bottom of the screen. Internet? What’s that?

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