Samsung releases Internet-ready SmartTVs

By Alexander Villafania

TAGUIG CITY, METRO MANILA–Samsung Electronics Philippines has upped the ante in the Internet TV wars with the recent launch of several of its new audio-visual home entertainment systems.

Two of the flagship devices are the second-generation Smart TVs beefed up to include a number of technologies not present in the competitor’s lineup.

The two new TV models, the Smart TV ES7500 and the ES8000, are closer to being home computers than TVs by incorporating features such as hardware and software upgrades, essentially future-proofing the units.

Both models feature a slot for a proprietary card module for future upgrades, which could include additional processors and applications. They are also powered by dual-core processors.

Among the new technologies that the ES7500 and ES8000 Smart TV have added are face-recognition and voice commands that allow users to control the TV via preset commands.

While it is nothing new since many phones feature face and voice recognition applications, a third interactive technology has been added: a gesture capturing application using the TVs’ built-in cameras.

The gesture capture application, called Motion Control, is very similar to the Kinect motion controller that was developed by Microsoft for the Xbox 360.

Initial tests of Motion Control shows that it can only capture hand movement as well as a basic close and open gestures. Additional updates on the software can increase the number of identifiable gestures.

During the Philippine launch of the new Smart TV, Samsung business unit head for audio-visual division Ariel Arias said buyers of the new Smart TVs will also get free exclusive content, such as 3D movies and around 25,000 third-party applications.

Among the applications already available for Smart TVs are Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.

After holding two developer conferences in the Philippines, Arias said that Samsung will be pushing for more third-party application development to make the TVs more feature-rich.

Arias said in a separate interview that Samsung is already in talks with a major TV station and a telecommunications provider to make the Smart TV as part of a consumer service offering. This would also enable Smart TV users to maximize the Internet functions of their TVs as well as gain access to more exclusive content.

“We’ll come out with more information when we’ve finalized any deals,” Aria said.

Internet-ready TVs will become more accepted by the market especially by people who want to use their TVs for more than just entertainment, he said. By partnering with a telco infrastructure provider as well as a content-creating institution, they can improve the experience of users.

Meanwhile, there are no plans to charge Smart TV users for the exclusive content.

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