A couple of weeks ago I was placed under house arrest at Maxim’s Hotel Resorts World to check out and play with Samsung’s latest Smart TV for 2012, the humongous 55-inch Samsung ES8000 LED TV.
The Samsung ES8000 LED TV continues with the success of their last year’s Smart TV model. It still has Smart Hub and the apps that go with it, 3D viewing, WiFi support, and now they also added voice control and hand gesture control to the mix, as well as a convenient upgrade path without having to buy a new TV.
The new Samsung Smart TV retains the almost borderless look of last year’s model with a narrow chrome frame surrounding it. It’s still slim as before but Samsung replaced the X-stand with one that looks like a helicopter’s feet. It’s very sturdy and spreads the weight of the big screen in two areas for a stable set up for years to come.
Motion control is detected by the built-in camera situated on top of the TV which you also use to video chat via Skype. Unlike other TV’s with gestures, you don’t need a remote or a wand to control this TV. Move your arms to control the mouse pointer and close your fist to click. It was fun at first but it can be tiring to keep your arms up to navigate the TV.
The camera is also used for facial recognition. You can create a profile with your face on it and attach it to your Smart Hub account and social network accounts such as Facebook and Twitter so you don’t have to input your username and password every time. An ingenious idea considering there’s typically more than one member in the household that will be using the TV.
The Samsung ES8000 also comes with two remote controls, a regular one and special one that has the basic controls and also doubles as a mic and touchpad, giving you another way to navigate and control the TV.
Although you can control the TV by voicing out your command in the room (keyword is “œHi TV”), I find it much more responsive to use the special remote especially when there’s ambient noise. I find this method better than motion control when changing channels, just say the channel number. If it’s too loud in the room, there’s still the basic TV buttons to rely on and since it communicates via WiFi, you don’t have to be in the line of sight of the TV to use it.
If you rely heavily on keyboard, there’s a Samsung Remote app for iOS and Android smartphone users. Aside from using your phone’s touchscreen to tap away on the onscreen keyboard, you can also use the app to change channels and other basic functions.
But what do you do if you have a separate remote for your cable channels? Samsung got you covered with this channel booster which is a wireless receiver connected to your cable box. With this device, you can still use Samsung’s remote even for cable TV.
The Samsung ES8000 is also capable of 1080p Full HD 3D viewing. They redesigned the Active 3D glasses to be lighter and more pleasing to the eye. It’s still powered though and communicates via Bluetooth so there’s the likelihood it will stop functioning and interrupt your 3D viewing experience. I personally like the old design more with the sides covered to prevent non-3D images from seeping in on your peripheral.
Nothing has changed with the picture quality compared to last year’s model. When your basic LED TV has 60Hz or 100Hz refresh rate, the Samsung ES8000 has a whopping 800MHz clear motion rate for smooth and fluid video quality. Even when watching non-HD videos, the TV projects that HD viewing feel having deep contrast and smooth quality.
Smart Hub is the main center to do “œsmart” things with your TV. Here you can visit websites, your social network accounts, watch online videos, and interact with a number of apps and games pre-installed with the TV. You can also download apps for free from Samsung through Smart Hub.
In terms of apps powered by Smart Hub, probably the most interesting addition is the Fitness app. Using motion gesture, you can stay fit by following the app, similar to how fitness games work with the Microsoft Kinect. There are also games for kids that use motion gestures to play.
One of the problems consumers encounter when buying high-end TVs is that every year a new and better model always turn up. The Samsung ES8000 has what they call an Evolution Kit which allows you to upgrade your TV’s specs and firmware without you having to replace the whole thing. Just buy the kit and plug it at the back of the TV to give it the latest software and hardware when available.
The Samsung ES8000 inherited the superb performance from its predecessor and added new features that make a true Smart TV of the future. Voice and motion control may not work as fluidly being the first iteration but given time, Samsung will further improve these functions and the Evolution Kit will make sure that your TV won’t get outdated.
The Samsung ES8000 LED TV will be available in 46″³, 55″³ and 60″³ and this 55-inch model we reviewed is priced at Php279,000. Basic package comes with 4 3D-glasses, the two remote control units, and the channel booster.