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Samsung's 2014 TV range: curved is the word

The company's smart TV lineup for 2014 has a focus on curved screens across both the 4K UHD and standard LED ranges

Following on from its showing at CES 2014 in January, Samsung has launched its 2014 range of TVs in Australia, with a strong focus on curved screens.

(Credit: Samsung)

In fact, there will be five curved TVs available this year, three in Ultra HD and two in 1080p. Sizes will range from 55-inch to 78-inch for the UHD, and 48-inch to 65-inch for 1080p.

Speaking with CNET Australia, Samsung Australia Director of AV Brad Wright said that the curved screens "created a more natural and more immersive experience".

The curvature is being described as 4200R in Samsung's marketing material. This means that the curve of the TV is the same as that of a circle with 4200mm radius. This is roughly the same as the Samsung Curved OLED TV, which was based on a radius of 13.7 feet (4176mm) according to the spec sheet.

We've said before that we're dubious about what effect a curved screen really has on the viewing experience, and our biggest concern is still viewing angles when a larger group is watching the screen. That, however, is based on short term testing of the two 55-inch curved OLED TVs that were available last year. With screen sizes up to 78-inches for the Samsung range, we'll reserve judgement until we have them in the testing studio.

In terms of pricing, Samsung has undercut some of the industry speculation in the larger sizes. The 78-inch curved UHD HU9000 had been estimated to come with a AU$20,000 plus price tag, but was announced with an RRP of AU$16,999. This sharply dropped to AU$6999 for the 65-inch model and continues heading down from there. The full price list is available below.

With nearly every TV manufacturer pushing 4K Ultra HD screens, Samsung's additional commitment to this format isn't surprising. While lower pricing will definitely encourage some consumers, there's still a lack of native 4K content available.

In Australia at least, this isn't likely to change any time soon. While Netflix is experimenting with 4K streaming in the US, Internet speeds in Australia mean we're going be looking for a physical media solution. The Blu-ray Disc Association has confirmed that it's working on a 4K Blu-ray disc, but development only began in January this year.

The other option for 4K content is dedicated movie players — either a HTPC like Sony is offering, or a hard drive with 4K movies on it, from Samsung. Neither of these are particularly palatable, nor are they available locally, although Wright did say that Samsung bringing the drive to Australia was within the realms of possibility.

Until either of these options arrives, many manufacturers have been left hyping their upscaling functionality and Samsung is no exception.

"Upscaling is obviously important and our upscaling engines are amazing," says Wright. "We've got quad core plus processors in this range — twice as powerful as last year — and they do an amazing job of upscaling the inputs up to Ultra HD resolution."

Wright also highlighted another reason for consumers to consider a UHD TV this year: future-proofing.

"We know from consumer research that Australians buy a big screen TV for the next five years. So, if you're buying a TV in 2014, you could potentially have that TV in your living room at the end of the decade."

With the UHD One Connect box — the current version of the Evolution Kit — Samsung owners can upgrade their TVs for new formats as they arise. Currently, the Samsung range supports HEVC, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 and MHL 3.0.

"The One Connect Box is an important part of the picture," noted Wright. "The content may not be there today, but we'll be bringing out new One Connect Boxes each year that we will keep up to date with new formats as they develop."

The other factor for Australians to consider is the imminent arrival of HbbTV, in the form of FreeviewPlus. We asked Samsung Australia if the 2014 range would support the HbbTV 1.5 format that FreeviewPlus will use and, if not, whether an upgrade would be available via the One Connect Box, but we haven't received a response at the time of writing.

Samsung is also bringing its multi-room audio solution formally into Australia, although it appears to be dropping the 'Shape' nomenclature from the product, opting for the somewhat prosaic M7 and M5.

We'll have hands on previews and full reviews of the Samsung curved range as products become available.

Samsung Series 9 Curved UHD (HU9000) Range:

  • 78-inch is RRP AU$16,999, available June 2014

  • 65-inch is RRP AU$6999, available in April 2014

  • 55-inch is RRP $4999, available in April 2014

Samsung Series 8 UHD LED (HU8500) Range:

  • 65-inch is RRP AU$5699, available in May 2014

  • 55-inch is RRP AU$3999, available in May 2014

  • 48-inch is RRP $2999, available in May 2014

Samsung Series 8 Curved HD LED (H8000) Range:

  • 65inch is RRP AU$5699, available in April 2014

  • 55-inch is RRP AU$3799, available in April 2014

Other home entertainment products being launched:

  • Samsung Series 7 Home Theatre System: RRP AU$1099, available in May 2014

  • Samsung Wireless Audio Multiroom M7 speaker: RRP AU$499, available in May 2014

  • Samsung Wireless Audio Multiroom M5 speaker: RRP AU$399, available in May 2014

  • Samsung Series 7 Soundbar: RRP AU$899, available in May 2014