Samsung continues to work on getting ultra-big TVs and ultra HD (UHD) 4K to the commercial market, with the launch of 98-inch and 110-inch sets that blow away the 85-inch monster that it unveiled at CES last January. It also showed off curved TV sets, and the prototype of a 4K OLED TV—a rare bird in the wild, for certain. And, it announced a 4K distribution partnership with Eutelsat.
The Korean giant made the bonanza of TV announcements at IFA, but didn’t reveal pricing for the larger sizes. But the 85-inch version goes for $40,000, so presumably the two larger displays will command a bit more than that.
Samsung did, however, announce European pricing for its commercially available 55-inch and 65-inch UHDs, which are just now coming to market—they will go for $5,270 and $7,900.
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It also took the wraps off of the first curved TV with UHD resolution. The curvature is said to enhance the higher screen resolution so that the pictures look more realistic.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the future is not flat," said Michael Zoeller, Samsung's European marketing director for TV and audiovisual products, during the launch event. "Its curve makes the perceived size of the image larger," and the OLED technology means "there is life in every pixel."
Samsung showed 55- and 65-inch sizes, but it didn’t announce availability or price points for the LCD TVs.
On the OLED front, Samsung showed off a 55-inch curved OLED TV with regular HD resolution of 1080p. It costs $9,000 in the U.S.
The real blockbuster is the UHD OLED prototype. UHD quadruples the number of pixels typical with the HD format, to 4,096 x 2,160—hence the “4K” designation. Unfortunately, with typical displays, viewers need to be very close to the set to tell the difference from regular HD—which has made it difficult to justify the purchase when prices range into the tens of thousands of dollars. OLED uses a higher-contrast color palette than the industry-standard LCD panels, with deeper blacks that really make the 4K resolution more visible from farther away. There have been very few UHD OLED movements, however, because the technology is difficult to implement.
The prototype "demonstrates our technology leadership," Zoeller said.
Of course, 4K TV sets require 4K content—something that’s been lacking in the market, and has been, as a result, a big obstacle to adoption. Like its rival Sony, Samsung is working on that too.
It announced a partnership with Eutelsat Communications, which will tield a consumer-ready Ultra HD satellite broadcast. The two will demonstrate the service on a Samsung UHD TV at IFA starting on Friday.
The Ultra HD broadcasts will be delivered using the EUTELSAT 10A satellite that hosts Europe's first dedicated Ultra HD channel. Samsung will display the immersive images on the first future-proof UHD TV with integrated Ultra HD reception and decoding capability.
"UHD is the future of TV, and the technology is now commercially viable with regards to affordability of products and processing power,” Zoeller said. “With this world-first UHD channel broadcasting direct to a consumer TV via satellite, Samsung is once again reinforcing its technical leadership in UHD displays. UHD broadcasting standards are expected to be finalized soon and our products are future-proof thanks to the Evolution Kit that supports current and future transmission standards."
Edited by Alisen Downey