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.”
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.
Future of TV in 4 letters
Television technology has come a long way, transforming not just the way we consume our entertainment, but also the formats in which media is broadcasted or streamed. Today, TVs can do a lot more than just display our favourite shows, says DEAN DAFFUE, GTM manager at LG Electronics SA.
Today, consumers demand TVs that are not just slim, but so thin that they are like paintings on walls. TVs have become an element of décor that can seamlessly integrate into the design of a home, and render the clearest, sharpest images, with the deepest blacks and crispest whites without compromising on resolution. Home cinema is not just about the picture anymore. Consumers are eyeing TVs that would be able to learn usage patterns and automatically suggest entertainment based on individual preferences. The switch from LCD to LED transformed TV design, allowing for lighter, thinner and easily wall-mountable frames, housing even more sophisticated display tech. The picture quality also dramatically improved with new contrast ratios rendering more vivid colours, deeper blacks and crisper whites. But they were still more functional than aesthetic.
As larger segments of the population embraced internet connectivity and streaming content, the TV became smarter, integrating content-streaming apps for a more seamless viewing experience. As Internet Service Providers (ISPs) upgraded their infrastructures to accommodate the growth in streaming services, TV manufacturers also upgraded their TVs’ ability to tap into different types of content.
In the future, TVs with built in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be able to learn usage patterns and automatically switch modes based on user preference, and even take instructions from multiple users as TVs become increasingly connected to digital home assistant systems.
Six years on, and we see the evolution that continues to lead in the OLED TV market, LG is racking up awards and accolades for its innovative OLED TVs. This pioneering effort in the design and manufacturing of OLED TVs has culminated in complete dominance of the OLED market, leaving the pinnacle challenge of innovation in display technology, redefining the TV viewing experience, and its place in your home. Great efforts have been made on OLED technology being affordable and accessible, allowing more people to enjoy a better-quality television experience than before. No TV is a greater testament to this than last year’s award-winning LG SIGNATURE W7 – also known as wallpaper.
As South Africans are continuously looking for ‘an experience that amazes’, OLED TVs are considered by industry experts to offer the most advanced display technology. As each pixel on the display can be individually switched on and off, OLED offers enhanced picture quality without image degradation. This results in the highest quality image rendering with the purest blacks. With its myriad advantages, OLED panels have become the most desired display technology today and it has become a leading force in making this technology even more ubiquitous and accessible.
With support for both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, LG OLED TV is the first of its kind to offer a premium cinema experience in the comfort of your home. It also features Active HDR technology, which optimises HDR picture quality scene-by-scene, rendering brighter scenes and greater shadow detail for a life-like viewing experience.
Despite the market dominance, the development of newer, more innovative technologies does not stop. This year a staggering number of innovative display technologies were unveiled, such as future display technology like roll-able OLED screens and large format curved displays that will become the future of wall art.
AI is also set to make an appearance. There is a unique and personalised AI services built on the deep learning-based DeepThinQ technology, in cooperation with other AI service providers such as Google, giving AI TVs the ability to automatically adjust the settings to Game Mode, or Sports Mode based on whether a user is currently playing Xbox or watching a football match. Ultimately, AI TV will provide care and comfort to users’ mind and body by learning more about its users’ viewing habits.
What does this all mean for consumers? With continued innovation and development of display technologies, as well as advanced design, AI, premium audio integration and support for the latest resolutions, colour and High Dynamic Range (HDR) standards, the TV will no longer be a display, but a complete home viewing experience. This is what new ranges of OLED TVs will bring to fruition in the coming months, making it the ideal time to upgrade your TV to the ultimate home entertainment experience.