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CES 2020: Samsung’s auto-dialogue boost is the coolest feature from its new TVs

This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.

CES is all about flashy, bombastic innovations. That seems to go double when it comes to TVs. The word “8K” ruled the show for the category this year, with plenty of models from Sony, LG, Samsung, and others regardless of the fact that you probably won’t be able to watch anything in native 8K until your kids graduate from college.

Samsung’s First Look press conference was among the flashiest of the show, filled with wild, aspirational TV tech that inspired wide-eyed gawking and frantic shutter snapping, from its 292-inch 8K monster, The Wall, to the new Sero TV, which essentially turns into a gigantic phone screen.

But one of the coolest innovations from the brand’s TV lineup was a much simpler concept: Active Voice Amplifier technology.

Embedded in Samsung’s impressive new bezel-less (and yes, 8K) Q950TS TV, Active Voice Amplifier seemed to get lost in the cornucopia of features for the company’s new flagship QLED. But that’s too bad, because it might just be the best new feature in the lineup.

In the demo for the feature, Samsung reps showed a quick snippet of a TV show with a dramatic conversation between two protagonists at a restaurant, then switched on a blender right when things seemed to get the most interesting.

Raise your hand if you haven’t encountered this problem in a busy household. Exactly.

Noise happens in every home, whether it be a vacuum, an AC window unit, kids screaming, etc. And Murphy’s Law being what it is, it always seems to happen right at the most important and poignant moments of your favorite shows and movies.

As soon as the blender began, well, blending, the TV amped up just the dialogue in the scene like magic, making it satisfyingly easy to hear what was going on — without blowing out our eardrums and with no need to reach for the remote.

The feature is a brilliant, “duh” moment from Samsung, and the kind of sound solution with which anyone can identify. Unfortunately, for now anyway, you’ll have to jump up to an aspirational television that costs more than most of us can afford, with resolution that few of us need to get it.

Still, here’s hoping Samsung does what all great companies do, trickling down the technology from its pie-in-the-sky, marquee products to its more affordable ones.

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