At Samsung’s (virtual) press conference presentation yesterday, the company announced new products and initiatives that reflect their commitment to innovation. Televisions that are more immersive than ever were on display, as were innovations that can make entertainment more accessible to more people. Here’s a look at some of what they shared.
Samsung began the press event focused on their move toward sustainability. It was an interesting choice to start there, and it reflects their commitment to taking steps to be more environmentally responsible. Samsung’s tag line, “Think Clean, and Go Green,” reflects some significant changes to how they do business. As they pointed out, as televisions have gotten bigger, so has the wasteful packaging in which they ship. Having gotten a 70” television for our house and a 50” model for my mother last month, I saw first-hand how much waste there can be. The boxes and styrofoam in our garage made clear the need for companies to rethink their approach. But Samsung isn’t content with simply encouraging recycling. Instead, they have embarked on an approach they are referring to as “upcycling.” They explain:
Sustainable Packaging Design: Building on valuable consumer feedback, Samsung is expanding its award-winning ‘Eco-packaging’ design to all 2021 Lifestyle TVs and most of the 2021 Neo QLED line. This sustainable solution can upcycle up to 200,000 tons of corrugated boxes each year. By minimizing text and graphic imagery on the Eco-packaging, the oil-based ink from color printing that’s traditionally used on TV boxes is eliminated, helping to further reduce waste.
As part of that approach, some of their products now ship in specially designed boxes that can be turned into useful household items once the television is unpacked. Some of the projects they are offering include turning old boxes into “houses” for cats, coffee tables, or even a child’s playhouse. It is an interesting approach, but I’m not convinced it will do much to ultimately keep those same boxes out of landfills. Still, I applaud Samsung looking for new ways to protect the environment.
Solar Cell Remote Control: In 2021, Samsung TVs will come with a solar-powered remote control that can be recharged by indoor light, outdoor light or USB—a first-of-its-kind innovation for the brand. This will help prevent waste from a projected 99 million AAA batteries over seven years. To construct the remote, Samsung innovated a manufacturing process that upcycles plastics from recyclable bottles –including 24% recycled content.
But boxes weren’t the only way Samsung is moving in a more eco-friendly direction. They turned their attention to the remotes that ship with their televisions and realized that the batteries powering them all end up in landfills. That’s especially concerning since the average life of television is seven years. In other words, if remote batteries last six months, one television can account for 24 batteries being thrown out and left to leach chemicals into the ground. Their solution? A new remote that is not only made from recycled plastic but also has solar cells that can be recharged while sitting on a coffee table. This one change will keep almost 100 million batteries out of landfills in the next seven years by their estimate. That’s pretty impressive, and I hope we see this same approach take off!
Samsung then shifted gears but still wasn’t ready to talk about their new offerings. Instead, they focused on new technologies that increase accessibility for people with vision or hearing loss. These new accessibility features include ways to enhance the viewing experience for those of us who are color blind, color inversion for those whose sight is challenged, and audio descriptions that help people with limited sight navigate their television. In addition, they are offering a remote that helps people with vision impairment learn where buttons are; they now make it possible to enlarge the window when a sign language translator is on-screen, and they have made it possible to move the location of closed captions for better, and clearer viewing. All of this adds up to Samsung using the technological know-how to improve the lives of their consumers. Best of all, Samsungs’ Caption Moving, Sign Language Zoom, and Multi-Output Audio are just three steps they are announcing as they continue to explore new ways that AI can help make great entertainment accessible to all.
Of course, Samsung also announced some fantastic new products. The biggest news is the new Neo QLED display technology that can be found in their new flagship 8K (QN900A) and 4K (QN90A) television models. These new televisions are made possible by a new light source they are calling Quantum Mini LED. Quantum Mini LEDs work in tandem with Samsung’s Quantum Matrix Technology and Neo Quantum Processor to take immersive viewing to a new level.
The Quantum Mini LED is tiny. At just 1/40 the height of a conventional LED, it allows televisions to be thinner than ever. But that is only part of the story. As the company explains,
Instead of using a lens to disperse light, and a package to fix the LED in place, the Quantum Mini LED has incredibly thin micro layers filled with many more LEDs. Quantum Matrix Technology enables ultra-fine and precise control of the densely packed LEDs, preventing blooming—and allowing viewers to enjoy content as its meant to be seen. Neo QLED increases the luminance scale to 12-bit with 4096 steps; this helps make dark areas darker and bright areas brighter, resulting in a more precise and immersive HDR experience. And Neo QLED benefits from Samsung’s proprietary, powerful Neo Quantum Processor with enhanced upscaling capabilities. By using up to 16 different neural network models, each trained in AI upscaling and deep learning technology, the Neo Quantum Processor can optimize picture quality to 4K and 8K picture output regardless of the input quality.
In other words, when paired with other recent innovations, this new LED technology delivers an image that is crisper, cleaner, and more realistic than ever.
But there’s more. The new LEDs’ small size clears the way for the 2021 Neo QLED 8K’s new Infinity One Design. A near bezel-less screen makes the television sleeker than ever and makes it possible to become even more immersed in the viewing experience. No longer are you staring at a box with a thick black frame. Instead, all you see is the picture on the screen. It’s gorgeous.
The 2021 Neo QLED 8K also includes Object Tracking Sound (OTS) Pro, which allows the sound to correspond with what is happening in various parts of the screen. For example, an explosion in the lower right corner of the display will sound like it is coming from the lower corner. Then there is Samsung’s SpaceFit Sound. This analyzes the physical environment in which the television is placed and adjusts the audio output Sao it is optimized for that environment.
And there’s more:
Neo QLED 8K’s attachable Slim One Connect box—an all-new cable management system that can be attached to the TV’s back—allows for an easier install and cleaner aesthetic.
In all, the new 2021 Neo QLED 8K promises to deliver a viewing experience like no other.
There were other products announced by Samsung. Among them were enhancements to the company’s 2021 Lifestyle TV line of television. For example, The Frame, first released in 2017 and has sold over one million units, is now significantly thinner than previous versions, which give it the depth of a traditional picture frame. The Frame will now have new attachable bezel options that are available in five colors and two styles—Modern and Beveled. In addition, The Frame has an all-new Art Store that lets consumers choose from 1,400+ curated pieces of art.
That’s just a small taste of what Samsung is bringing to market. And while we wish we were in Las Vegas for CES to see these in person, they all look great even from a distance.