Samsung prices 2014 TVs at the high end, adds curved offerings
Today Samsung unveiled a new series of high-end curved 4K TVs beyond its previous CES announcements in January, and provided official pricing in advance of its 2014 sets' imminent availability.
They ain't cheap.
Samsung's 4K models start at $2,499 for a 50-inch size. Compare that to Vizio, for example, which is charging $999 for its cheapest 4K 50-incher. On paper, the Vizio even has a picture quality advantage over the Samsung, offering full-array local dimming compared to Samsung's edge-lit variety.
Then there's the company's newfangled curved TVs. The entry price there is $1,999 for a 48-inch 1080p model, or four grand for the 55-inch 4K flagship. Samsung also announced today a brand-new series of curved 4K TVs, the UNHU8700. Its pricing wasn't announced today, but it will likely fall somewhere between those two.
Of course, pricing will fall steadily, or maybe precipitously, from its high point now throughout the year. To give you some clue, the 1080p UN55F8000 from last year is down 22 percent and the 4K UN65F9000 has fallen a massive 47 percent. Splitting the difference between those two semirandom samples, you might expect some of these high-end TVs to be available for a 35 percent discount from the prices listed below, if you wait until the ends of their lifespans sometime in 2015. Even so, I don't expect any 2014 Samsung 4K TV to ever match that Vizio's price.
4K/UHD LED LCD TVs
- 105-inch curved 4K TV This crazy, 21:9 monstrosity occupies a class by itself, somewhere near a McLaren. It becomes available in the second half of the year. No pricing was announced, but I predict a tick under six figures.
- UN110S9: 110-inch flat 4K TV Crazy monstrosity in a class by itself, you say? The flat version is this behemoth, and now it actually has an official price: $150,000. Judging from all of the awesome fake Amazon user reviews of the $40,000 version, this TV should be comedy gold.
- UNHU9000 series: Curved 4K The most expensive TV in Samsung's main lineup is curved, with 4K resolution, real (albeit edge-lit) local dimming and plenty of doodads -- including the One Connect upgrade box and quad-split-screen action.
Pricing/sizes: $3,999 (55-inch); $4,999 (65-inch); $7,999 (78-inch)
First availability: March (78-inch due "later in the year")
- UNHU8700 series: Curved 4K (new) The one new TV series announced today, the 8700 is Samsung's second series with a curved screen and 4K resolution. A Samsung rep told us it's basically a curved version of the 8550 series in terms of features.
Pricing/sizes: 55 and 65 inches (prices TBD)
First availability: late spring
- UNHU8550 series: Flat 4K Want your Samsung 4K TV nonbent? The HU8550 delivers, offering a wider range of screen sizes and most of the features -- including legit local dimming -- as its curvier siblings. It seems like the closest direct successor to the excellent F9000 from last year.
Pricing/sizes: $2,499 (50-inch); $2,999 (55-inch); $3,499 (60-inch); $3,999 (65-inch); $5,999 (75-inch)
First availability: March (55- and 65-inch) and May (other sizes)
1080p/Full HD LED LCD TVs
- UNH8000 series: Curved 1080p With the same real local dimming found on the 4K models, the successor to our favorite LED TV of 2013 is almost the same as last year. Except it's curved.
Pricing/sizes: $1,999 (48-inch); $2,499 (55-inch); $3,399 (65-inch)
First availability: spring (May for 48-inch)
- UNH7150 series: Flat 1080p, Cheapest with split-screen The UNH7150 lacks that sweet dimming, so don't expect the kind of picture quality found on step-up models. Samsung hopes the new split-screen mode, allowing you to watch YouTube or view a Web page at the same time as you watch TV, will help convince you to step up over its 6 series.
Pricing/sizes: $1,899 (55-inch); $2,199 (60-inch); $2,699 (65-inch); $3,999 (75-inch)
First availability: spring
Other Samsung TV odds-n-ends
Samsung didn't mention any new plasmas beyond the PN64H5000. Unfortunately, the mythical H7000 series mentioned at CES has not materialized, and may never. Our inquiries to Samsung on this issue have so far gone unanswered, but we'll keep asking.
And remember that bendable TV (above)? Last we heard, Samsung said it would actually ship it this year. We've asked for an update, including pricing and availability, but don't expect an answer.
UHD content pack, new remote, Evolution Kits and a camera
Samsung also priced the UHD Video Pack (model CY-SUC105H), which is essentially a hard drive preloaded with 4K content. It will be available in April for $299 and works only with Samsung 4K TVs. It includes the Fox movies "Night at the Museum," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," and "The Counselor." The device will also include Paramount's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and "World War Z," as well as three documentaries and short clips.
Needless to say, three hundred bucks for 8 movies is ridiculous, but I guess with the price of Samsung's 4K TVs, it's a drop in the bucket. Samsung will offer another pack later in the year.
Today Samsung also revealed an expanded 4K content partnership with 20th Century Fox.
The company also talked up its improved, faster Smart TV system, which we're eager to test for ourselves. We liked the improved remote control in the brief time we had to handle it.
A few accessories were detailed as well. The first is the 2014 version of the Evolution Kit, model SEK-2000 (May, $249), which will upgrade 2012 and 2013 kit-compatible Samsung TVs to 2014 levels of Smart TV-ness. Judging from my review of the 2013 version, it won't have any impact on picture quality.
Samsung will also ship a UHD Evolution Kit, model SEK-2500V (Late Spring, $399) that only works with the 4K 2013 UNF9000 series and the S9. It's a replacement One Connect box (below) that offers the same kinds of Smart improvements as well as the promised connectivity upgrade to HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0 compliance. It will also offer H.265/HEVC decoding, enabling the F9000 tostream 4K sources like Netflix.
Finally you may have noticed Samsung's de-emphasis on including a built-in camera with gesture control (a.k.a. Smart Interaction) in its expensive TVs. Instead those functions will be available in an optional accessory, the relatively cheap VG-STC4000 (April, $99) add-on camera/speakerphone, pictured to the right. In addition to "Single Hand Motion Control" and "Face and Finger Recognition" (ha!) it offers 1080p Skype video, a slick hinged design, and is said to work with most Samsung Smart TVs.
Updated 3-21-2014 with additional products and details.