LAS VEGAS - Samsung's announcement of its latest line-up of smart TVs for 2016 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is noteworthy, because its emphasis is not on display prowess, but on the fact that Samsung intends to use the TV to drive the Internet of Things.
These TVs will act as the hub from which owners can control other networked devices in their homes - from lights and video cameras to thermostats.
They will also come with features that allow several smartphone users to share content simultaneously onto one TV, and even offer video game streaming services, without the need for a separate game console.
Here are some of the highlighted features for Samsung's 2016 SUHD TVs:
Controller for connected homes
Here, the TV is displaying the video feed from a home video camera connected to the same network. If someone rings the doorbell, switching the channel will display the video feed from the camera at the door and homeowners can see who is at the door, without leaving the couch.
Smart lights can also be connected to the TV, so once a movie starts playing on screen, the TV can "tell" the lights to dim to a pre-set luminance, without the user having to touch the light switch.
Access to content offerings via different serviceshttps://youtu.be/qFi24yTHyg8
In this video, a user is cycling through the different TV content services available, but instead of simply highlighting a service, the TV is able to display the different types of content from each streaming app. So if Netflix is selected, a second menu shows the different programmes available on Netflix. If YouTube is picked, a selection of popular YouTube videos are presented on the TV. The TV is also able to connect to TV listings and display them on screen.
Play video games without the console
Samsung's Tizen operating system does not have a huge game library, but who needs that when Samsung is partnering with Sony to stream video games using Sony's PlayStation Now video game service. This subscription service allows users to stream any game from the service's rich library, without needing the use of Sony's PlayStation game console.
The bad news is that this service is only for the US market for now, and will not be launched in Asia. The catch is that Samsung's smart TVs are running on Samsung's own Tizen operating system; we had previously been able to switch the TV's location option from Singapore to the United States. This allows local Samsung 2015 TV owners to access US content on Singapore TV sets. While there is no guarantee that PlayStation Now can be accessed this way, it is definitely something we would want to try out when the TVs are launched here later this year.
Multiple Media Sharing
It is possible to share content from your phone to the TV, but Samsung is now looking at allowing multiple users to share content onto one TV. In a demo, Samsung allowed songs from four different phones to be shared onto one TV. You can see the four users listed on the top right-hand corner of the TV, while the songs listed on the left side of the TV are colour-coded, to show which phone each song originates from. All the users connected to the TV can vote on the songs they prefer, and the TV can then play back the songs based on their popularity among the group. In another demo, a Samsung executive controlled the tracks and volume of the TV using his Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch.