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Samsung unveils 55-inch OLED TV, gesture control camera at CES 2012

A few weeks ago, Samsung released a video indicating it would be introducing the next big thing in television. We just finished sitting through Samsung’s press conference where almost half of the event’s allotted time was spent on discussing the company’s advancements in TV So, did Samsung make good on its promise?Weeeelllll…sort of. Let’s start with what’s new in hardware.

We expected Samsung would bring an OLED TV to the show, and it has. Samsung’s 55-inch “Super OLED” TV looked pretty impressive from 75 yards away and the company promised it would be available sometime this year, though they didn’t get any more specific than that. Samsung made much of the fact that it makes 90% of the world’s OLED panels and that it is in a strong position to be the OLED market leader. We’ll see. Samsung still needs people to want to buy in to OLED and we’ve yet to see any digits relating to price.

Samsung also introduced its new flagship TV, the ES8000. It’s got the same tiny bezel and ultra-thin dimensions as the D8000 we reviewed last year, but the company has made some notable changes. First, gone is the ugly spider-like stand we disliked so much. In its place is a new U-shaped stand that much better fits the TVs design concept. The new ES8000 also features a Samsung-made dual-core chipset for faster operation and multi-tasking capability. Finally, a new motion and voice sensing camera has been added for Kinnect-like gesture and voice control. While the concept is fun and exciting, the camera idea is not a Samsung exclusive. LG is doing the same and, word is, plenty of Ultrabooks will sport this technology in the near future as well.

And so it is that it was not in hardware that Samsung came through on its promise to drop the next big thing in TV. The company has, however, given us a glimpse at where the company is going with the content and connectivity of its TV products and, in this regard, Samsung does show us it has made some impressive progress.

Multi-screen applications seem to be at the core of Samsungs strategy. It’s something that we expect to see announced from Apple soon, but here Samsung has showed us first. Now, a movie can be watched on  TV while bonus content is displayed on a Samsung tablet or mobile device. A game can be played on the TV with the tablet or phone is used as a control pad or game play can span between the two devices’ screens.

Connectivity among devices without wires is another big part of Samsung’s plan for total domination in the world’s TV market. Gone is the synch cable. With Wifi adapters built into many of Samsung’s cameras and camcorders, content can now be shared among devices instantly.

Cloud storage also plays a role. Samsung is making it possible for users to immediately make photos, videos and music available across all approved devices. Now Grandma and Grandpa can see pictures of the kids right on their TV without having to open an email or download attachments.

Finally, Samsung claims it is working hard to bring lots more content to the table. By running contests for app developers and forging alliances with TV studios, the company is doing what it can to enrich the content that is available for its TVs. That’s certainly one way to go about it.

While much of this device integration and cloud storage stuff may sound familiar vis a vis Apple, what makes Samsung’s efforts different is that it makes a far more diverse set of devices and appliances. Samsung is tying washers, dryers and refrigerators, air conditioners and who knows what else into its empire of connected technology. It may take a while for it to reach its nexus, but the handwriting on the wall suggests Samsung is well on its way.

So, did Samsung deliver the next big thing in TV? You decide, and be sure to comment and let us know what you think. 

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