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CES: Samsung fires back at LG with bezel-free 8K TV

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Shortly after LG announced it was first to meet a new 8K standard, Samsung went a step further with a unit that devotes 99 % of its surface to display.

Samsung Electronics has revealed it will unveil a bezel-free QLED 8K TV at CES 2020, the world’s largest electronics exhibition, in Las Vegas this week.
It made the announcement on its website, in Korean, two days ahead of a press event where it was expected to unveil its latest innovations.

“The 2020 QLED 8K is an advanced AI technology that delivers a whole new level of 8K experience through product-wide innovations, ranging from picture quality to sound to smart features,” ran the announcement. “In addition, the Infinity design, which eliminates the screen bezel, sets a new standard for TV screens.”

The TV set is equipped with an AI quantum processor that combines machine learning and deep learning to enhances the upscaling function, which converts the image quality to 8K regardless of the image quality of the original image.

Samsung said: “The new AI quantum processor runs on a neural network model and generates its own algorithm from the trained database, enabling optimal upscaling of any image.

“The 2020 QLED 8K features a new ‘Adaptive Picture’  feature that provides optimised brightness and contrast in any viewing environment. Consumers don’t have to deliberately turn off the curtains or turn off the lights, even in strong sunlight, because the TV recognises the environment and automatically adjusts the screen brightness.”

Samsung says the unit also has an AI ScaleNet technology that reduces original data loss during video streaming. The technology will be applied to the Amazon PrimeVideo app in collaboration with Amazon.

“We will expand the market by delivering it,” said Choo Jong-seok, vice president of Samsung Electronics’ video display business division. “2020 QLED 8K has Samsung’s willingness to innovate to provide more advanced screen experiences to consumers.”

The 2020 QLED 8K TV will also be able to stream video using YouTube’s 8K AV1 codec.

One of the biggest features claimed for the 2020 QLED 8K is its ability to deliver rich sound.

“OTS+ (Object Tracking Sound Plus) is a technology that recognises moving objects in the video and moves the sound along the speakers mounted on the TV. This technology enables 5.1-channel surround sound on a TV alone, allowing you to immerse yourself in the scene when there is dynamic movement on the screen, such as a fast-moving scene.

“Samsung will also introduce a new ‘Q-Symphony’ feature that will find the best sound by using both the TV and the soundbar’s speakers. This feature has won CES’s Best Innovation Award, and delivers 9.1.4 channels of high-quality sound that is richer throughout the home.

“In addition, the AVA (Active Voice Amplifier) feature allows the TV to recognise ambient noise and adjust the volume of the video speaker’s voice. With this feature, consumers don’t have to worry about missing drama lines even when the surroundings are noisy.”

The biggest talking point of the 2020 QLED 8K, however, is the “infinity design” that eliminates the screen bezel, meaning it utilises up to 99% of the screen, “providing outstanding immersion and elegant design”.

In addition, says Samsung, “the 15mm ultra-slim design and a completely flat back surface set the bar for luxury screens with Infinity design”.

Even the user interface has been redesigned, with a Universal Guide that helps consumers find content. It recommends streaming content in various apps at a glance, making it is easier to choose content. “TV Plus”, which Samsung Smart TV users can watch for free, will provide more than 120 global channels in various fields, like news and movies.

A multi-view feature allows consumers to multitask while watching TV, so that they can watch two pieces of contents at the same time, from ‘Side by Side’ to ‘Picture-in-Picture’.

A new “Tap View” feature allows users to Mirror the screen by touching a smartphone to the TV. A Digital Butler function allows the TV to recognise and control devices connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, as well as older devices not connected to the Internet.

Voice recognition services have been expanded. Samsung Bixby is optimised for TV function control and content experience, while Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant add cross-platform functionality.

The Samsung Health app can be used on Samsung Smart TVs. Users can manage existing workouts from smartphones on the TV, which also offers dedicated fitness content.

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Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC

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International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

Region2018
Shipments
2018 Market
Share
2023
Shipments*
2023 Market
Share*
2018-2023
CAGR*
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%
Total175.8100.0%332.9100.0%13.6%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s

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Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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