Samsung used its CES 2019-eve press conference Monday to reveal a core strategy positioned on three key pillars that will range across product lines and categories, bringing AI-voice control of various brands and flavors to more devices, including televisions.

The company also revealed plans for its 2019 TV lineup that will comprise, more 8K QLED LED-LCD televisions in a range of sizes and 4K MicroLED televisions sold as customizable modular tiles that can be fitted together to make 4K TVs as small as 75 inches or as large as 219 inches. The company is also showing improved 4K QLED LED-LCD TVs with full-array back lighting, new Quantum Lighting technology for pictures that are both deeply dark and highly bright, have ultra-wide viewing angles and employ more powerful processors to boost picture quality and power AI voice-control systems.

The company’s over-arching strategic pillars this year include taking a leadership position in emerging 5G technology by supplying end-to-end solutions from chips to networking platforms and devices. Samsung Executive VP Dr. David Steel, said the company sees 5G as “the oxygen that is going to help all of its connected smart intelligent devices for the year ahead.”

To start, much of the focus on 5G will come from telecom-related technologies, Steel pointed out, and will not be as large a factor in the AV consumer electronics categories, however, it is expected to become part of solutions for home entertainment products, just as Samsung’s second strategical pillar – Internet of Things (IoT) – has done this year.

Steele said IoT has been talked about in detail for the past few years but is now “enabling a concept at the heart of Samsung’s connected ecosystem and will be central to most of our products at CES, especially pertaining to Samsung SmartThings home automation.”

This is strongly related to the third strategic pillar — Artificial Intelligent (AI) – which Samsung has been evolving through the roll out of its Bixby voice-controlled AI technology. This started as a tool for Samsung smartphones two years ago, but it has since grown into “a platform” for bringing AI voice control to many of the company’s connected devices this year, he said.

In addition, many 2019 Samsung connected products, including its smart TVs, will integrate support for other AI platforms, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as well, to give customers more flexibility and choice.

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In televisions for 2019, the company is stepping up the game in its core 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD lines, including quantum dot color enhancement (QLED) in more series and models, extending up to a new broader range of Q900FN 8K models, which will build on last year’s 85-inch model, adding additional smaller and larger screen sizes, including a 98-inch 8K QLED model.

Samsung Says OK To 8K

Samsung executives said they think now is the right time for the launch of 8K and Samsung is leading the market with the introduction of the right products. Among other things, 8K televisions will offer pictures with “incredible detail for more immersion and more depth than ever before,” the company said.

Despite the absence of native 8K content, Samsung is equipping its televisions with AI-powered picture processing technology that uses hundreds of thousands of sample images on a remote server to compare, upscale and adjust image quality of sub-8K content to the best possible look for the scene.

This year, Samsung will offer a line of multiple 8K QLED screen sizes, expanding beyond the long 85-inch 85Q900 introduced at the end of 2018 to also include the 65-, 75-, 82- and 98-inch screen sizes.

Two Tracks To Big Screens

8K and QLED models are part of a two-track strategy for “super-big screen sizes” in the year ahead. The second track involves MicroLED self-emissive LED modular displays with up to 4K screen resolution.

As reported yesterday, the company is also evolving its MicroLED (aka “The Wall” and “The Window”) technology with a more adaptable modular adoption concept, and bringing televisions of all types in bigger screen sizes, 75-inches or bigger. Samsung showed a 75-inch 4K MicroLED TV and a 219-inch 4K version called “The Window” for advanced home theaters and commercial applications.

Many of the company’s displays for 2019 also have been upgraded with more powerful Quantum Processors driving the aforementioned AI platforms to improve picture and sound quality. This also will bring greater and more flexible voice-powered control of the television, more advanced content searches and compatibility with a wide range of smart home appliances. For the first time, Samsung is also opening up its televisions to control by third-party voice-control AI platforms from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

In addition, Samsung’s smart TV platform this year adds support for Apple AirPlay 2 and will include an app that will let Samsung TV viewers watch movies and TV programs on the TV, listen to songs form their iTunes libraries and even purchase content using the TV.

Scott Cohen, Samsung training manager, said the company performed extensive research this year into how its customers were using its products and other products in their homes. He said the company discovered some of the leading things being watched on TV today from key demographic segments are streaming videos channeled through Samsung’s OTT partners and video games. As a subset of that, binge-watching is becoming a more prevalent trend.

Millennials (18-38 year olds) are driving the shift, Cohen pointed out. “Seventy-six percent are willing to spend their money on the latest gadget. Many believe that technology will make their lives better in numerous ways. It’s more than just picture quality and features, and we need to look into that.”

When it comes to big screen vs. mobile, many aren’t willing to trade off the big-screen experience when it comes to watching movies and events, Samsung said.

“But when it comes to news, comedies, etc. they don’t mind watching that on smaller devices. So we know that the TV screen is the display of choice for a lot of the immersive things that people are watching,” Cohen said. “Millennials want lifestyle products. The way it looks in the home is important to them. They want bigger screens, they want more content they want creativity, they want more control. So, we had to address that.”

Samsung’s 2019 4K Ultra HD televisions, particularly the QLED versions, will also continue to support the HDR10+ format, which is beginning to see the slow expansion of supporting titles both in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and streaming platforms, Samsung.

New mainstream 4K QLED TV this year will include the Q90, Q80, Q70 and Q60 model series. Samsung is making greater used of full-array LED backlighting with local dimming for improved contrast performance, including deeper black levels with greater fine shadow detail.

The 4K Ultra HD Q90 series will offer new ultra wide viewing angle technology that preserves the color and contrast image from almost any seat in the room.

In addition, Samsung is adding new sound bar series with Q60, Q70, Q80 (contains 13 total speakers) and Q90 (contains 17 speakers) model numbers to denote design and cosmetic styling to match the 2019 QLED TVs with the same numbers in their model numbers.

Sound bars in these series will include Harman Kardon co-branding to indicate technology collaboration with the audio-fidelity company, which is now part of the Samsung family.

Three of the four new “QLED” sound bar series will add support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround sound, some with up-firing height speakers placed on top. The Q90 includes wireless rear channel speakers, and the others will be able to add the wireless rear channel speakers as an option.


By Greg Tarr


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