Samsung TVs tap Bixby for voice, SmartThings for home control

The company improves its already excellent Smart TV system with an app for easy setup and smart home control, as well as the Bixby voice assistant.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
2 min read
Samsung 2018 Smart TV
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While pretty much every TV maker is working with Amazon or Google (or both) to add voice capabilities, Samsung is sticking it out alone with Bixby.

Samsung's digital assistant, already available on its phones

, will appear on its 2018 TVs too. The company promised as much earlier in the month, but confirmed new details on Sunday at its CES TV unveiling.

Pushing a button on the remote will summon Bixby and allow interactions similar to other assistants, such as searching for TV shows and movies, asking for a weather report, turning on the lights, playing a song from Spotify, showing photos from the cloud and even doing trivia. 

Meanwhile rival LG and Sony TVs use Google Assistant for voice capabilities (and can also work with Alexa). Vizio TVs work with Google Home , and Element and Westinghouse sell Amazon Fire TV Edition sets that have Alexa built-in. Compared to those systems, Bixby is a relative newcomer, with fewer compatible devices and capabilities.

Samsung adds Bixby voice to 2018 Smart TVs

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Beyond voice, Samsung is putting a few other new strings to its 2018 Smart TV:

  • SmartThings App: A big-screen app lets the TV serve as the hub to control SmartThings smart home devices, from lights to thermostats to security cameras (SmartThings is owned by Samsung). You can receive notifications on the TV, for example, when a load of laundry is done. Samsung says the app can automatically find and connect to devices on the same network, and there's no external dongle required for control.
  • Simplified setup with a phone: Samsung says the painful process of setup is made easier with the help of the SmartThing app. The TV can grab Wi-Fi credentials from your phone and also allow you to enter login info for apps, as opposed to using an onscreen keyboard. Similar features are found on Android TVs and streaming devices, and they do make setup a lot easier.
  • Universal Guide: A revamped program guide consolidates shows from streaming and cable sources in one place, and makes recommendations for new shows based on what you watch. Samsung says the guide can also read the contents of a DVR, and works with all major  DVRs  including TiVo, Verizon Fios, DirecTV, Time Warner and others. You can also receive alerts on your phone when your favorite teams play.
  • Xbox integration: Samsung is also expanding its partnership with Xbox to include new features that work between the TVs and consoles. When you connect an Xbox the TV can automatically recognize it and engage game mode, reducing input lag among other benefits.
Watch this: Samsung debuts Bixby voice on 2018 Smart TVs

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