Long queues of journalists and tech enthusiasts gathered to catch a glimpse of what Korean tech giant Samsung would bring to CES 2019. If the catchy beats and impressively laid out stage were an indicator of any kind, a big announcement was on the cards at the Samsung Media Days News Conference.
While some revelations were expected, others, including a shocking collaboration, took the audience by complete surprise. To kick things off, Samsung revealed possibly the worst-kept secret in the present tech world by announcing it would be the first manufacturer to offer 5G-enabled smartphones.
“5G will change how we work, how we live and how we play,” highlighted Samsung Electronics President and CEO H.S. Kim. He also revealed that the Korean firm would continue to work on its otherwise unsuccessful Bixby Voice Assistant.
“We are working closely with Google to bring Google Maps, Gmail, Google Play and YouTube to the Bixby platform,” he added. Kim also announced that 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Samsung and it was the year the company planned to take things to the 'next level'. This announcement served as a preamble for things to come at the news conference.
Next on stage was Samsung America General Manager and Senior Vice President for Consumer Electronics Product Marketing, Dave Das. The product he unveiled was what most people had gathered at the conference to feast their eyes on. Yes, the QLED 8K television was finally a reality.
After a colourful video montage featuring a guitar-heavy soundtrack, the covers were lifted off the next big thing in viewing technology. The screen on display was a mammoth 98 inches, confirming reports that it was possible to mass-produce 8K TVs in unprecedented sizes. Das clarified that the range would start at 65 inches, but it was clear Samsung was out to impress by showcasing the largest available size.
While LG and Sony were expected to also announce similar products in their later news conferences, Samsung had beaten them to the draw, and possibly to the market. “I’m happy to announce, starting today, select 2019 8K QLED will be available for preorder in the U.S.,” he boasted.
Next came the announcement that took most tech analysts by surprise. “Samsung customers in over 100 countries will be able to enjoy Apple iTunes movies and television shows, debuting only on Samsung’s smart TVs.” Having long been involved in legal battles over stealing each other’s technologies, Apple and Samsung were now joining hands.
Not only that, the new generation of Samsung televisions would also be compatible with Apple AirPlay II. “You can seamlessly play content from your iOS and MacOS directly to your Samsung smart TV,” Das declared. Although 8K content might not be currently available, he highlighted that this latest QLED television had the consumer covered. “We are leveraging the power of AI to upscale your current content to pristine 8K, regardless of the native resolution.”
After a short demonstration on how Bixby will help make Samsung smart TVs even smarter, the company showcased its connected home technologies. Samsung Electronics America Senior Vice President, John Harrington, said the Korean firm was bringing AI to the family home to make it more intelligent and intuitive.
For 2019, it introduced its latest technology called Family Board. It is touted as a “creative canvas with new ways to personalise messages, leave photos and notes or even share art and music”. The Family Board is a digital display which can be placed on household items like the refrigerator, and be used by any member of the family to post pictures or experiences straight to the appliance.
However, it was not the only player at CES making advances in the world of smarthomes, as it seemed to be a dominant feature across other companies at the event.
The conference was rounded off with the company’s new Notebook 9 'laptop-cum-tablets' which can be used with an S-Pen, a product which had served Samsung’s smartphones well. To finally conclude the event, the Bot Air, Bot Care and Bot Retail were revealed to the audience. The first robot could be used to purify the air, while the second intended to personalise retail experiences.
The third android was perhaps the most useful, in terms of wellness and healthcare, as it can read the vitals of consumers, determine sleep cycles and provide music therapy to combat stress. It also has the ability to detect unusual situations and alert emergency services to come to the rescue of the consumer.
The highlight of the event was clearly the 8K screen as it displayed the future of televisions, often considered to be the centrepiece of most homes. Being first to the market with the product, Samsung could possibly have a competitive edge over its rivals in this segment.
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