Samsung has launched its 2012 series of TVs, each containing a "Smart Evolution Kit", allowing the TV to be upgraded.
The range was initially announced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
While Samsung was still light on the Evolution Kit details, it is essentially a system on a chip, allowing you to upgrade your TV to the latest hardware. In theory, this extra capability will bring new applications, enhanced user experience and potentially better image-processing technology. The TV will, of course, be limited by the capability of its original panel and backlight, but Samsung is betting on a portion of its audience being willing to spend AU$149 to get new features, instead of buying an entirely new TV.
TVs will be supported five years from release with upgrade kits, with a new upgrade kit planned yearly.
Upgrading isn't the only thing on the agenda; content is a big part of Samsung's smart TV strategy. The 2012 line-up features tighter integration with Telstra's BigPond Movies and TV services, along with Foxtel access via an app, operating in a similar manner to the Foxtel app on the Xbox 360. Samsung Music Hub, Quickflix, Wiggle Time TV and Plus 7 have also been added to the stable, while a Wii Fit-like app is also bundled, taking advantage of the TV's built-in camera. Users who purchase a Series 7 or 8 TV in July will receive eight Olympics channels for free to watch during the event.
Samsung will supply free installation and set-up with all of its smart TVs sold in 2012.
The new smart TVs are taking a multi-input approach, offering face recognition, voice control, gesture navigation and a remote with touch pad-style navigation. You can either talk to the TV directly, or, if you're a shy, retiring type, you can mumble something into the remote. Philip Newton, Samsung's director of Audio Visual, was quick to assure that the TVs will understand Australian accents.
Known pricing and availability:
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 60-inch (ES8000): RRP AU$5399, June
Samsung Series 8 Smart LED TV 55-inch (ES8000): RRP AU$4599, April
Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 55-inch (ES7500): RRP AU$3999, April
Samsung Series 7 Smart LED TV 46-inch (ES7500): RRP AU$2999, April
Samsung Series 8 Smart Plasma TV 64-inch (E8000): RRP AU$3899, April
Samsung Series 8 Smart Plasma TV 60-inch (E8000): RRP AU$2899, April