From TV tech to smart homes, Samsung’s Scott Cohen takes our questions

Each year at CES, a few surprise products and companies steal the show, rising from the crowd as TCL did last year. Samsung is not one of those companies. Samsung is perhaps the biggest player of all at CES, and each year the tech giant — currently the sixth most valuable brand in the world, according to Samsung North America President/CEO Tim Baxter  —  brings some crazy stuff to bear in Las Vegas.

Digital Trends’ resident A/V expert Caleb Denison, one of our senior editors, attended Samsung’s First Look event preceding CES and interviewed Samsung bigwig Dave Das, who dished on the event’s big reveals. On Tuesday, Denison sat down with Scott Cohen — Samsung’s National Training Manager and a 13-year CES veteran — at the Digital Trends booth, where Cohen talked about Samsung’s 2018 CES and its plans for the future.

Micro LED: The next big thing?

As you might have heard (and/or seen), Samsung unveiled a massive 146-inch television that utilizes a never-before-seen type of display known as Micro LED, which differs from LG’s OLED and even from Samsung’s own proprietary QLED panel tech. “It’s a modular design, so the TV is actually made up of smaller screens that mesh in a seamless way,” said Cohen, who promised that some form of Micro LED displays will be on sale in 2018. To learn more about the technology behind Micro LED, check out our deep dive.

Bixby, the gateway

Samsung’s digital assistant, Bixby, which was launched along with the Galaxy S8 in 2017, is making its way into lots of Samsung products, including the Family Hub refrigerator and even new Samsung televisions. “What Bixby will be able to do far supersedes anything we’ve seen yet,” said Cohen, echoing Samsung’s press conference from Monday. “Most people think of digital assistants as turning the music or lights on in your home, but for Samsung, putting [Bixby inside a TV] is a gateway to other appliances via our SmartThings platform.”

From your TV, Bixby will be able to preheat your oven, provide notifications on laundry, show you what’s in the fridge, and more — if you’ve bought compatible appliances, of course. According to Cohen, Bixby can also take on more challenging tasks — like identifying the coat a character is wearing in a film and showing you where to buy it.

Smart(er)Things

Samsung is planning on condensing all its smart home apps — this includes Samsung Connect, SmartHome, and Smart View, among others — into one SmartThings app, which will act as your home’s central control panel. Even supported third-party products will be controllable via SmartThings. 

Smooth setup

Cohen said Samsung is looking to revamp what he calls the new TV experience. “For the average customer, the first hour after unboxing [a new] TV is a very stressful time. And if they don’t get [the setup process] right, it can really ruin the experience.” Some people even send back brand-new televisions because the setup process is so overwhelming!

When first plugged into power, Samsung TVs will now automatically scan for anyone using the SmartThings app, and use the app to automatically sign onto your Wi-Fi network and even log in to your various streaming app accounts. They’ll even automatically detect and label inputs, automatically activate game mode based on detected metadata, and preprogram the remote to work with different products (including Blu-ray players, game consoles, and more). Want to watch HDR content? The TV will recognize that, and switch into HDR mode — no button presses necessary.

New tech reigns supreme

If you’re wondering why Samsung has been a little more covert than usual about its 2018 QLED TV lineup, Cohen says it’s because the company wanted to familiarize consumers with the technologies first — Bixby, SmartThings, micro LED, etc. — before forcing a bunch of TVs down their throats. We’re expecting some big news later this year, though, so stay tuned.

Why 8K? TV trends

Samsung knows that most people are just getting used to huge, new 4K televisions. So why push 8K? Well, because people want bigger screens, and at a certain point, even 4K begins to look grainy and pixelated. “People in America generally sit 8 to 12 feet away [from their screens],” says Cohen, “Sixty-five [inches] may have been the sweet spot in years past, but now that number is closer to 75 or 82. People aren’t moving their couches back, and we need them to not see the pixels. 8K is important.”

Cohen also touched on firmware updates for connected, or smart, televisions, which will improve upscaling technology over time, making your display actually look better as it ages.

For more CES coverage, head over to our official landing page.

Computing

Nvidia’s smart paintbrush tool turns simple doodles into works of art

Nvidia has announced a new deep-learning-enhanced drawing app that can turn your doodles and sketches into highly realistic images. With Nvidia's GauGAN, simple sketches can be automatically embellished with more vivid details.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Home Theater

The best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Mobile

How to use Samsung's Bixby assistant for all of your smartphone tasks

Samsung Bixby is a powerful tool, but not the most intuitive one we've encountered. Here's how to set up and use every feature of Samsung's digital assistant, as well as what to expect in the future.
Home Theater

Need to get rid of an unused Netflix profile? Just follow these simple steps

Need to delete an unwanted profile from your Netflix account? It's easy to do, no matter what kind of equipment you've got. Check out our handy how-to guide for step-by-step instructions.
Home Theater

You can now watch four PlayStation Vue streams at once on a single Apple TV

PlayStation Vue subscribers can now watch March Madness in style via Apple TV, which can now stream up for four separate games to your TV at once, making it easy to catch all the on-court action.
Deals

Amazon drops price of 65-inch Sony 4K Smart TV by $300 for March Madness

You can get a fantastic 65-inch Sony LED TV for $300 off right now, in what's best described as the perfect TV deal to lead you and your living room into this year's March Madness tournament.
Home Theater

Apple's Airpods 2 could be released as early as this week

Apple may release new AirPods in the first half of 2019. A wireless charging case, health sensors, water resistance, and better Siri integration are some of the improvements rumored to be part of the new package.
Home Theater

Smart speakers are about to get an IQ bump thanks to new Qualcomm chips

Qualcomm announced a new chipset that is designed to make the next generation of smart speakers sound, listen, and connect better than ever before, and it could soon be in your living room.
Home Theater

What year is this? Apple might drop a new iPod tomorrow

After two days of surprise hardware releases that have brought us new iPads and iMacs, rumor has it that we may see an update of Apple's iPod as soon as tomorrow, sparking a mixture of nostalgia and curiosity.
Home Theater

Dish TV customers can access up to 13 NCAA March Madness games in 4K

If you're a basketball fan looking to get your fix of NCAA Championship action in 4K, Dish TV will be airing up to 13 of the tournament games in the ultra high-def format, starting on Tuesday.
Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 teaser proclaims it's almost feeding time in Hawkins

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.
Movies & TV

Disney completes its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox

Now that Walt Disney Company has closed its $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox's movie and television assets, what does this future hold for franchises like X-Men, the Fantastic Four, The Simpsons, and the rest?
Home Theater

What’s new on Netflix and what movies and shows are leaving in April 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Netflix for April 2019 and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on your bingeing, and also ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.