Samsung held an exclusive First Look event last night in the run up to this year’s International CES, during which a select group of journalist got a sneak peek at this year’s new lineup of TVs. Included in the bunch, of course, was the massive 21:9 aspect ratio, 105-inch curved UHD TV we told you about last week, along with a new 110-inch version of the company’s gargantuan S9-series Ultra HD TV, but perhaps of more interest to those of you in the market for a TV that costs less than your house were the three new U9000-series Ultra HD displays on exhibit.
The 55-, 65-, and 78-inch UHD TVs – the follow up to 2013’s F9000 Series – deviate from their forebears (but very much fall in line with Samsung’s overall theme for the year) by adopting a curved screen, but unlike Samsung’s curved displays from last year, these are all LED/LCDs. They all feature a new version of the One Connect box (see my review of the F9000 above for more on that), which features all of the latest connectivity this time around, including HEVC decoding, HDMI 2.0 and MHL 3.0 connectivity, and the new HDCP 2.2 copy protection scheme, which means that they’re all ready for whatever 4K sources might pop up anytime in the reasonable future. And, of course, since the One Connect can easily be replaced if new standards arise (or when Samsung makes further improvements in processing or its Smart Hub multimedia platform), all of the displays are practically future proof.
New Smart Hub enhancements making their debut this year include new multitasking features that allow you to search the web or browse YouTube more unobtrusively while you’re watching TV, along with a four-way split screen feature, which I could come in handy when you want to keep tabs on more than one sportsball game.
The new U9000 displays also boast an update quad core processor, which delivers twice the speed, which makes navigation and browsing a whole lot snappier.
My primary impression of the new U9000 displays is that the bezels are so thin the image seems to practically hover in the air, and although I’m still not entirely sold on the curved design across the board, there’s no denying that the displays are gorgeous.
Speaking of that curvature – and speaking of having mixed feelings about it – Samsung also had on display a transforming LED screen that doesn’t have a model number designation yet, so it’s probably best to think of it as a proof of concept. But what a neat concept it is. The display can switch back and forth between flat and curved. It’s spooky to watch, because it doesn’t look like a flexible display. In its flat configuration, it looks like a typical (albeit gorgeous) LED/LCD TV. Over the course of a few seconds, though, its edges bow in to form a pretty curvature, and then it flattens itself out again. Of course, you wouldn’t want your TV constantly swapping between curved and flat configurations; the demonstration was merely meant to show how quickly and seamlessly the TV could arch itself and flatten back out. Hopefully you can see the transition in the video below (which mainly focuses on the bottom of the display to give you a better sense of the speed of the process).
Again, this transforming display doesn’t have a model yet, and may not ever make it to market, but then again, we all said exactly the same thing about Samsung’s curved OLED TVs at last year’s show.