“There’s nothing more emblematic of evolution than the eye,” proclaimed the introductory voiceover at the Samsung Spring into Color event on April 2 in New York. The company’s new line of ultra high definition (UHD) televisions—dubbed SUHD, the “S” denoting Samsung flagship status—certainly represents an evolution in the production of consumer flat-panels.
Bill Lee, Samsung’s VP of television product marketing, introducing the new SUHD TV. Also announced was the new Radiant 360 R7 omnidirectional speaker.
Viewed side by side next to the company’s previous line of UHD displays, the disparity in color and contrast is stark. Declared to have 64 times more colors than any other display made before, the older model TVs—which, when viewed in isolation still captivate the eye—look dull and washed out.
The event, which was appropriately held at the Rainbow Room, the upscale restaurant on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, featured several keynote speakers before the unveiling of the new line of SUHD TVs. Dave Das, senior vice president of Samsung U.S. Home Entertainment, began the address by highlighting Samsung’s dedication to innovation—like the $40 million it invests every day in research and development—that has enabled it to be the top selling brand of TVs in the U.S. for the last nine years. He also shared projections furnished by Display Search that estimate the sales of UHD units to grow from 1-plus million in 2014, to 4 million this year, to 9 million by 2016.
Next, Tom Bosket, assistant professor of graphic design, art, media, and technology at Parsons School of Design, provided insight into the enhanced color of the SUHD lineup. Discussing the way humans react physiologically to certain colors (the way vivid shades of red can raise the heart rate, for example) he posited that Samsung’s new line of TVs enable viewers to have a far more vivid interaction with content.
Hanno Basse, chairman of the UHD Alliance, took the podium next to talk about the developments in regulation for UHD content, before Bill Lee, Samsung’s vice president of television product marketing, took the stage to lift the veil from the new SUHD flagship model, which played a looping video of vibrantly colored foods being prepared.
Following the unveiling, different stations around the room highlighted aspects of the new line: the difference in color depth, the experience of the matching curved sound bar, and the integration of the TVs with other Samsung devices. In terms of comparing the visual advantage of SUHD over UHD, the presentation was a bit challenging. There was only one place where an older UHD model was playing the same video beside a new SUHD model, allowing attendees to really see the expanded contrast and color depth. There was a station dedicated to portraying this difference, albeit artificially. There, SUHD screens were divided vertically with a simulated image on the left displaying a “normal picture,” while the right side displayed the extremely bright and vivid colors made possible with the new technology. However, the comparison seemed unfair, with the simulated “normal” images appearing overly washed out and unsaturated.
In one corner of the room, an associate demoed the way the new TVs integrate with Samsung tablets and smartphones. One interesting feature allows users to wake up to an automatic on-screen briefing of things like the weather and their daily schedule. This seems like a nice novelty of device consolidation, especially since those who shell out for such an impressive screen will want to use it for as much as possible.
In a separate room, on a long table set in front of windows with semi-shaded views of the Empire State Building and World Trade Center to the south, the company showcased its latest offering of computer displays. These screens included the attention-grabbing super-wide, 21:9 aspect ratio SE790C. On the opposite side of the room, three of these displays were arranged in an insanely wide triptych configuration, with an interactive demo showing this setup’s potential for gaming platforms.
Also announced at the event was Samsung’s new home speaker, the Radiant 360 R7. Shaped like a football on a stand, the speaker delivers 360-degree, room-filling sound. Along with the new TVs, the speaker will be available for purchase later this month.
Overall, the SUHD line of TVs seems poised to present a new benchmark of high-end quality to which other manufacturers will strive. And while I’m still not buying into the novelty of the curved form factor, the power of the pixels in these displays is beyond what anyone could call a gimmick.