Hands-on with Samsung 2012 flagship TVs and accessories (photos)

Samsung has revealed details behind its 2012 range of flagship televisions, including voice control and peripherals.

Ty Pendlebury
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Samsung's flagship LCD and plasma

Samsung has unveiled its redesigned Smart TV platform, which, on the flagship PNE8000 plasma and UNES8000 and UNES7500 LCDs, includes the new Smart Interaction voice/gesture control system.

The physical design of the ES8000 TV has also received an upgrade with the introduction of a U-shaped stand. Note also the small bump at the top of the bezel, you'll need that later.

The Smart Hub interactive TV interface, available on numerous models, has had a small tweak from last year with a less cluttered look, though the prominent tiles in the middle--including the new Family Story social app--probably won't get as much use as the smaller Netflix tile. The only area of the screen you can customize, to leap to oft-used apps for example, is the bottom section. This year you can move or change any of the shortcuts therein.

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Samsung's 60-inch E8000 plasma

The E8000 plasma now features an all-black design with a black quadropus stand. The bezel is thicker on the plasma than the LCD but that allowed the designers to seamlessly integrate a camera and microphone.
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The E8000 is still relatively slim for a plasma.
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Remote control

The flagship remote features a touch pad and built-in mic for voice control.
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Instead of featuring dedicated playback buttons, the touch pad features a four-color icon that brings up an onscreen display.
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Shortcuts II

Pressing the four-color icon brings up regularly used functions such as Play and Red Green Yellow Blue.
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There's a convenient a History function that remembers your last 10 over-the-air channels and apps.
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QWERTY keyboard

Last year, Samsung's premium TVs featured a flippable QWERTY remote, but this has been nixed for 2012. Instead, Samsung will sell a full-size keyboard with integrated touch pad, similar to the Logitech Revue keyboard (price TBD, but we're expecting about $99).
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Touch pad

The touch pad works the same as the one on the remote.
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Thumb button

Last year's TVs were great, but the controls were hard to use. Now, instead of a series of seemingly arbitrary buttons, the new TVs feature a four-way thumbpad, which also functions as a power button.
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Smart Interaction

On the ES8000 this little hump houses microphone(s) and a video camera, which are used for voice and gesture commands, aka Smart Interaction.
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Voice control

Say "Hi, TV," and a series of contextual voice commands appear. During our demonstration with a preproduction unit, it sometimes failed to recognize commands--even in a silent room.
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Voice and gesture commands

Want to know which controls work with gestures and/or voice? Here's Samsung's full list. Note that "May" indicates the time frame, not the likelihood.
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Selecting an item in gesture control mode involves "grabbing" it as opposed to the Xbox Kinect's "hover" method.
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3D glasses

Samsung includes at least two pairs of 3D glasses with every 3D TV this year, and high-end models will get four. Update Samsung will offer additional pairs for the low price of $19 each.
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3D glasses, continued

The glasses do work with your existing glasses, though.
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Samsung's vanilla remote now features a Smart Hub icon.
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Samsung evolution kit

The evolution kit is Samsung's attempt to introduce upgradability to its high-end Smart TVs. If your 2013 app requires a quad-core CPU, for example, you can upgrade your TV's hardware (and software) for an as-yet-unknown price.

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