When Samsung unveiled its latest range of curved LED TVs in January, the devices seemed distant and inaccessible. Now they’re about to arrive in South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
There’s a new word in high-definition TV, but it’s not one you’ll find in a dictionary. That’s because Samsung just invented SUHD to describe its new line-up of curved TVs. Many instinctively assumed it stood for Super UHD which, in turn, is a standard term for Ultra High-Definition TV.
Not so, says Samsung: it’s a composite initial for “sensational picture, seamless interaction and stylish design”. The intentional showiness of the term worked well in the world capital of showiness, Las Vegas, when it was launched there during the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in January. It may not be as convincing in the more mundane surrounds of retail electronics outlets.
However, an event in Turkey last week was a useful halfway mark both in hype and in the technology’s journey to South Africa.
The Samsung Africa Forum, strangely held in the seaside city of Antalya in the heart of Turkey’s winter, hosted the official launch of SUHD TVs into the African market. Three series – the JS9500, JS9000 and JS8000 ⎯ range from 48-inch to 88-inch curved screens. The smallest unit, with around a R13 000 price tag, is expected to make a major impact. A 55-inch unit will come in at R17 000 – about where standard LED TVs were just three or four years ago.
“The curved shape draws you into the picture and gives you a more immersive experience because you’re almost surrounded by the screen, particularly in larger screen sizes,” said Matthew Thackrah, deputy managing director of Samsung Africa, speaking at the event.
However, from a distance of, say, across a room, the surround impact is lost. So it could easily be argued that the curve is more about aesthetic appeal than viewing experience. Thackrah didn’t entirely disagree.
“Over the last ten years design has been a hugely important aspect of purchasing any appliance, because the home is becoming more open plan,” he said. “Whether a TV or a refrigerator, design is now one of the major influencing factors.”
Particularly at the higher end of the market, with its lower price sensitivity, the devices are expected to be a hit. Last year, said Thackrah. 20 per cent of Samsung’s “premium sets” sold in South Africa were curved. That’s expected to rise to a third of its premium sales this year.
Ironically, it’s not the stand-out feature – the curve – that truly defines the new sets, but rather their display technology and image processing.
According to the product description: “The SUHD TV’s nano-crystal transmits different colours of light depending on their size to produce the highest color purity and light efficiency available today. This technology produces a wide range of more accurate colours, providing viewers with 64 times more colour expression than conventional TVs.”
That’s when SUHD enters the picture. Not only is it intended to enhance the picture, but is also claimed to be more eco-friendly than conventional displays:
“The intelligent SUHD re-mastering engine optimises all content to match the colour and brightness reproduction of the SUHD TV. It automatically analyses the brightness of images to minimise additional power consumption, while also producing ultimate contrast levels, showcasing images with much darker blacks and an elevated level of brightness that’s more than 2.5 times brighter than conventional TVs.”
Thackrah pointed out, however, that it was not a reinvention of TV display technology.
“We’re launching not so much a different technology, as improving certain aspects of the technology through better colour rendition and faster response rates compared to competing products. That’s why we made the choice of the SUHD label: we had to differentiate ourselves from the rest.”
5 things you should ask about buying a new TV
With so many technological advancements that cater to various needs, and endless options on the market, buying a new TV for your home can be pretty daunting. JACQUES BENTLEY, Southern African Sales Manager at Skyworth, offers a few tips when buying a new TV.
Given the role a TV occupies in the home – providing entertainment, relaxation and a window to the world for the whole family – it’s not a purchasing decision to be made lightly. Not to mention the fact that you’re likely to spend a rather large sum of hard-earned dough in the process. Fear not – we’re here to help you decide. Here are five important things to think about before you swipe that plastic to ensure your new TV will bring nothing but joy into your home (ok, and maybe a couple of disagreements on what to watch).
- Size matters
If you’re a fan of action-packed movies or nail-biting sporting events, you already know how important the size of the screen is. Consider the space into which your new TV will fit, and take measurements of the wall area or cabinet it’s going to sit on to make sure that you’re being practical about its size. How many people will be watching the TV at the same time? Now opt for the largest screen size that will fit comfortably in your lounge (and your budget). Generally, anything between 55 and 65 inches is a great all-round pick according to price, performance and how close most families sit to the TV.
- Is it digital-ready?
South Africa’s digital migration is upon us and by June 2019, you’ll either need a digital-ready TV that can transmit digital signals or a Set-Top Box to decode digital signals for your old, box-style analogue TV set. The benefits of investing in a digital TV include crystal-clear image quality, excellent sound and a wider range of channels. Ask the sales assistant to show you their range of digital ready TVs when making your selection.
- Does it have a 4K screen resolution?
Resolution refers to the sharpness of the TV picture, usually in terms of horizontal lines of pixels. Ultra HD/ 4K sets have four times more pixels than current Full HD screens. That’s as many as 2 160 horizontal lines, or 3 840 x 2 160 pixels. The result? Super-sharp, detailed and lifelike images, even on large screen sizes. For this reason, a 4K resolution is becoming increasingly popular because it’s a much better choice if you want to future-proof your investment – Skyworth’s G6 model was created with this in mind; it’s basically an Android TV made for the future.
- What will you be using your TV for?
Apart from the obvious activity of chilling out to watch your favourite shows, what else do you want to be able to do with your TV? Will your kids be using it to play games? Will you be streaming shows on it? All of these preferences will impact the specific features that will attract you to buy a certain model over another one, so it’s wise to do your research, either online or in store, before you say ‘yes’ to the device. Also, look out for at least four HDMI ports at the back of the set as these tend to get used up very quickly, especially if you are using accessories like a sound bar.
- Does it include cutting-edge technology?
From Google Voice Assist, allowing you to speak to your TV, to rich connectivity via Bluetooth, selecting a TV that has advanced capabilities makes for a smarter TV and one you aren’t likely to need to replace in a few years’ time. With Android System 6.0, an easily updatable operating system, the G6 TV is your best bet when it comes to constantly upgrading your TV without forking out money every time.
Kia makes car audio personal
KIA Motors has revealed its Separated Sound Zone (SSZ) technology that allows each passenger of a vehicle to experience an audio stream tailored to their individual needs.
SSZ technology creates and controls the acoustic fields of the car, allowing the driver and each passenger to hear isolated sounds. The many speakers installed in the vehicle feature technology that uses scientific principles to reduce or increase audio levels of sound waves. This negates the overlap of sounds being heard in each seat, creating the same effect as current noise cancellation systems, but without the need for headphones.
“Customers in the autonomous navigation era will demand increasingly customisable entertainment options within their vehicles, which includes technological innovations such as the Separated Sound System.” says Kang-duck Ih, Research Fellow at KIA’s NVH Research Lab. “I hope by providing drivers and passengers with tailored, independent audio spaces, they will experience a more comfortable and entertaining transportation environment.”
People’s musical tastes vary, so some passengers choose to use headphones during a journey to isolate their audio stream, but this also creates an unnecessary social barrier when interacting with other passengers. When travelling in a vehicle equipped with next-generation SSZ technology, each passenger can connect their smartphone via Bluetooth and listen to their own music without interference from, or interfering with other passenger’s audio streams.
When the SSZ is utilised, hands-free phone calls can also be isolated to individual passengers, ensuring privacy when having important phone conversations on the move.
Furthermore, this ground-breaking technology can eliminate unnecessary sounds for the passenger, but provide them for the driver. Navigation sounds, or various alerts, allow the driver to focus on controlling the vehicle, while the SSZ system isolates these sounds, maintaining a quiet area for the other passengers. This has a particularly strong application for drivers with a sleeping child in the vehicle.
SSZ technology has been in development since 2014, and the completed mass production system is expected to be ready for installation in vehicles within one to two years.
For a video of Separated Sound Zone technology, please visit https://youtu.be/lokXL8qyu1c.