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Samsung releases $50K ultra high definition TV for NZ

85-inch set features four times the picture quality of an HD telly.

Thu, 18 Jul 2013

UPDATE / July 18: Samsung has released its 85-inch ultra high definition (UHD) television onto the NZ market - for a cool $50,000.

The new UHD standard - backed by all the major TV makers - offers four times the picture resolution of a high definition (HD) telly.

In a preview (below) NBR found Samsung's UHD set offers stunning pictures, and looks stunning in itself with its custom frame.

The downside: there's slim-to-none UHD content at the moment bar demo reels, and footage or stills you shoot yourself on a compatible camera. 

That will change over the next few years as programme makers and broadcasters steel themselves for their next major upgrade. Sky TV CEO John Fellet, for example, has said his company's next major decoder upgrade willl feature UHD support.

The LED 8000 series previewed below was also launched in NZ last night.

Samsung previews DIY TV upgrade, giant Ultra High Definition set

ABOVE: Samsung demos the 85S9, its 85-inch Ultra High Definition TV.

ABOVE: A quadcore brain transplant: The Evolution Kit demo'd.

Feb 28: Samsung has used its South East Asia Forum in Indonesia to preview several new products, and detail a push into the business market (more on which in next week's NBR).

Here's a taster, and a couple of products and trends that immediately caught my eye.

The products should become avialable over the next few months, with pricing TBA.

Click to zoom

Samsung's 85-inch 85S9 is one of the first "4K" or "ultra high definition" (UHD) TVs on the market (LG already has one in NZ, priced at $25,000). UHD offers four times the resolution quality of high definition.

No, there aren't any TV shows being shot in UHD, or broadcasters supporting the technology yet. But the 85S9 can upssale HD content, as pictured above (although NBR fears standard definition digital may not look so flash). And broadcasters have started to keep an eye on the technology, which Sky TV boss John Fellet recently said UHD would be supported by his company's next decoder.

UHD video looks simply stunning on the 85S9, and with most major manufacturers supporting the technology, it seems set to play a big part in TV's future. Right now, it falls more in the "I've got to have the most toys" bracket, or as the ultimate living room accessory.

A quadcore telly
Then there's the F8000 LED TV, which will be available in sizes up to 75-inches.

The F8000 has an ultra-thin quarter-inch bezel, but it's perhaps most notable for being the first television to feature a quadcore processor.

Fans of PCs, smartphones and tablets will know about the arms race that's seen top-of-the-line mobile gadgets evolve from single to dual then quadcore processors as consumers demand ever more hardware horsepower.

Now, with the latest TVs are supporting more and more apps, such as Skype, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and hundreds of others. In the case of the latest models in Samsung's Smart TV series, they're also the first to feature TVNZ's OnDemand app.

The proliferation of apps has led to a few grizzles (across all TV makers) that switching between services can be slow at sluggish at times.

Putting quadcore processing power under the bonnet addresses that.

The F8000 shold see NZ release by mid-year.

On a sidenote, 3D-support is pretty standard in any high-end television these days.

But of the 79 TVs set up at Samsung's event, only one was setup to demo 3D. I'm a 3D skeptic (my partner, like many people, finds it uncomfortable to watch, and what the heck do you do if you have four pairs of glasses but the neighbour's kids drop in to watch a movie too? It's just not practical). Conversely, once they see its potential, almost everyone is interested in internet-connected TV and apps in their living room - so Samsung's emphasis on Smart TV and content hub features is quite sensible.

Of course, not everyone wants to buy a whole new telly to pep up their apps experience.

Here's where things get intriguing. Above I'm holding the Evolution Kit - a black box that can be used to upgrade a recent model Samsung Smart TV, giving it quadcore processing power, more memory and the latest software.

Installation is as simple as clipping into a slot on the back of your Smart TV.

Since the Evolution Kit was first previewed at CES in January, bloggers have thrown around prices ranging from $US200 to a bracing $US500, but we'll have to wait and see how it shakes out for the commercial release.

I love the general concept, and hope others follow suit. It's certainly something that will give people heart who are otherwise worried about buying the latest TV, only to see its technology get quickly overtaken.

An Evolution Kit clipped into place.

I also had a quick play with the Galaxy Note 8, which will see worldwide release in a couple of months.

With its 8-inch display, pundits have seen the Note 8 aimed squarely at Apple's iPad Mini (see a tech-spec head-to-head here).

But the Note 8 also has the S Pen stylus, and a well-designed dedicated e-reader mode that delivers an experience mimicking the easy-on-the-eye e-ink.

If it turns out to be keenly priced, this ultralight (338g) tablet could also prove stiff competition for Amazon's Kindle.

Check back early next week for more.

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Samsung releases $50K ultra high definition TV for NZ