Samsung Debuts TV Innovations at CES 2023

In November 2022, Insight Media got a confidential briefing in Korea on their TV plans for 2023. This is our report which we can now publish to coincide with CES 2023.  Note that some details may change with CES news. The 2023 TV line shows some nice improvements in picture quality, audio, and features along with a doubling-down on 8K.

Samsung always justifies their development efforts based on consumer research, which they began our meeting with. They find consumers are a bit overwhelmed by the many devices they use and must manage. Their answer is to try the make the TV a hub for the consumer enabling a more personalized and complete home experience. This means more integration of smart features, gaming, NFTs, health, multi-screen viewing, and social connectedness.

Samsung’s SmartThings app seeks to integrate these and other features. For example, new for 2023 TVs is support for the Matter protocol which is an IP-based home automation standard. Viewing of your home automation network can now be visualized in a 2D or rendered 3D representation on the TV as well. There is support for auto registration of devices on the home network and enhancements to their Knox security technology for better protections.

Gaming is emerging is a very important TV use case, so Samsung keeps adding features and improving the experience. Latency for 4K/120 Hz gaming is now down to 5.8ms with support for FreeSync Pro and HGIG. Their Game Bar info can now be displayed on a second screen and they have added a new aiming feature that will aid first-person shooting games.

Access to content through your TV is also a trend Samsung is expanding on. New 8K content will now be available to 8K TV owners thanks to a partnership with Savage Stock. There are now 28 8K game titles and new NVIDIA and AMD GPUs can support native 8K game play at decent frame rates with multiple features enabled. More 8K content is expected to become available later in the year as well. Owning NFT content is becoming a thing, so Samsung has partnered with Nifty to offer a gateway to three prominent providers for consumers to own artwork. 8K versions will also be available for display on the TV.

Product Line up

For 2023, Samsung has organized their TVs into four technology-based categories. The Apex line consists of their microLED direct-view TVs. As the company has promised for several years, new models will be launched in 2023 – hopefully, actually making it to market this time.  Sales in 2022 focused mainly on showrooms and VIP customers, but 2023 will see a shift in marketing efforts to the custom install channel. Planned screen sizes include the already launched 126” along with a 114”, 101”, 89” and 76”.

We saw a demo of the 114” microLED TV that uses a series of 12.7” panels with microLEDs that offer 2000nits of luminance on a 0.5mm pitch. Each microLED is 20×50 microns and is placed on a glass-based TFT backplane (probably LTPS).

The Flagship line are the NeoQLED 8K TVs. Samsung plans to continue to develop the 8K ecosystem in collaboration with the 8K Association with a strong focus on developing more 8K content. Three series of models will be offered as the QN900, QN800 and QN700 ranges. These TVs will use12K miniLEDs in the backlight with control of 1300 zones (up from 700 in 2022 models). That will mean less blooming, of course.

Their Backbone series of NeoQLED 4K TVs will “offer the pinnacle of 4K picture and sound performance e.” Series will include the QN85, QN90 and QN95 ranges.

The company’s QD-OLED TVs are the fourth category that offer a “different experience.” Samsung seems to still be struggling with how to position these TVs in their lineup – even wondering if they should be called QD-OLED or just OLED TVs. Two series will be offered: the S95 and S90 with screen sizes expanding for the current 55” and 65” to add a 77” model.

Overall, these QD-OLED TVs are expected to be 20% brighter than 2022 models or allow a 20% power reduction for the same brightness as 2022 models. The color gamut remains the same at 90% of BT.2020.

Picture Quality Upgrades

Samsung always adds some new picture quality elements in their TVs each year. Their “Real Depth Enhancer” is designed to detect the area of focus of any scene and then enhance the contrast and colors to add more dimensionality to that element. Human faces are an obvious area for this feature which can also slightly blur the background to enhance the foreground.

Their AI engine also gets an upgrade from a 20-node neural network to 64-node. This will now be applied to converting SDR content to HDR.  The Neo QLED processor gets a refresh as well to provide more colors and higher brightness.

In audio, their Object Tracking Sound (OBS) and Q-Symphony get upgrades in TVs and in soundbars. 8K TVs have all the upgrades including some remastering of sound. This means that the genre of the content is first detected (gaming, sports, drama, etc.) and the sound adjusted to suit this genre.

Services Strategy

Samsung plans to have a focus on content discover in 2023 with a three-part strategy. The fist is their content hub which they see as a portal to “limitless content.” New for 2023 is a source/setting bar that integrates many sources into a single control panel and enable more personalization. Elements of this include TV Plus, an add-based free content service for Samsung TV owners that now features 1700 channels worldwide with 230 in the U.S. The Game Hub will add more cloud gaming options in 2023 along with the ability to use a game console controller to control the TV. That is a kind of a cool feature so you don’t have to find the TV remote when engaged in a console game. Starting in mid-February 2023, Samsung will exclusively stream some 4K games from their game cloud, which is now available in 97 countries.

Monitor Strategy

The key phases for Samsung’s monitor group in 2023 are “Strength, Smart and Mainstream.” It looks like there will be two series: a premium and mainstream series. The premium segment will offer new 32:9 miniLED and QD-OLED monitors. The miniLED version is thought to be 57” 8Kx2K and will offer 240 Hz refresh, 1 ms GtG latency, a matte screen finish plus FreeSync and VESA HDR1000 certifications. It is the first Smasung monitor to support a DislayPort 2.1 interface . The Odessey Neo G9 will ship in May for around $2,500.

The new QD-OLED monitor will be a 49” 8Kx2K 32:9 device with 240 Hz refresh rate, 1800R curvature and VESA HDR400 certification. It has AMD FreeSync Premium and will sell for around $2,199.

There are also plans to launch a “smart monitor” sometime in 2023 for personal use which is basically a “light PC.” It is an IoT hub with lifestyle features like healthcare and telemedicine, plus a DeX interface to connect a smartphone. There will even be versions that rotate to portrait mode to mimic the phone interface.

Lifestyle Strategy

Key words here: taste, habit, passion, aspiration, and social responsibility. Taste refers to personal style preferences like the Frame TV, which will now be available with third-party frame choices, including metal frames. This also includes the design-focused Serif style TVs and the rotating Sero TV lines. But Samsung includes their Terrace TVs, designed for outdoor viewing, plus their two projector lines: Premier and Freestyle. These latter have enjoyed 2X growth every year since launch.

For 2023, the Frame, Serif, and Sero TV all again get the matte screen that particularly enhances the visual quality of artwork on the Frame TV (3M sold since launch in 2017). Artwork is available on a subscription basis for $4.99/month and include 2,000 items now, expanding to 2,500 in 2023, including new styles and genres. The Frame TV will be available from 32” to 85” and comes with a wall and floor stand. For the Sero line, Samsung plans to add more portrait-oriented content and beef up the audio to a 60W 4.1 channel solution. Its auto-rotate feature will also be an optional add-on for other TVs in 2023.

Terrace TVs launched in 2019 and Samsung remains the only major TV brand offering such a product. They claim to hold a 60% market share for such TVs in the Custom Install channel. Both sun and shade versions of these TVs are offered with up to 2000 nits peak luminance and a IP55 environmental rating. No new products or features were revealed at this time for 2023.

The Premier projector line is claimed to hold a 40% market share in the ultra-short throw segment. New for 2023 will be an 8K resolution Premier projector based on a DLP chip set from Texas Instruments. This will not feature a native 8K imager, but rather, a 4K imager and a 4X pixel shifting mechanism to project 8K pixels on the screen. This can be very effective. A 150” version should launch in the second half of 2023 and will include auto-focus, auto-keystone correction and leveling, plus Atmos audio support.

Freestyle mini-projectors seem to be gaining use in OBGYN and dentists’ offices, Samsung said. The 2023 version will get a new engine design that will include SmartTV features, a Gaming HUB, faster set-up options and a new blending capability to allow 2 Freestyle projectors to be used to create 32:9 image. Also coming as new accessories, skins, batteries, and stands via partnerships with a range of providers.

Other Innovations

We also had a chance to learn a little about several other technologies that are either in development or will be integrated into products in the near term. One is a new TV remote with a solar cell that can use the room lights to recharge. An RF energy harvesting version may be ready in 2023 as well. Some new circuitry can be used to reduce TV standby power use from 0.3W to 0.003 W.

Samsung is also developing a technology for the visually impaired. For folks with low-vision, they can change the picture on the TV to highly accentuate the edges in the image, which are more easily interpreted. The colors and contrast are also adjusted.

For the hard of hearing, they have AI technology that moves the location of the closed captions so it never overlays a logo, main character, or area of the screen where the text would be hard to see.

On the health front Samsung has a new add-on camera that includes an IR sensor that can use facial scanning to detect blood movement and get vital signs to support telemedicine applications.

“My Personal Screen” is a feature that allows the user to auto log into their Samsung account by simply getting close to the TV.

A watch party app that allows participants to chat and voice text while watching content in various locations is being trialed in Korea now but should reach the U.S. in 2023.

A LightSync feature will allow the TV to connect with three background lights and the room lights to coordinate these lights with the content playing on the TV. This is similar to the Ambilight feature that Philips’ TVs use, but without a separate control box – it is built into the TV.

SmartCalibration (formerly EzCal) is a way to calibrate your TV or projector using your Samsung or Apple phone. This allows ordinary consumers to do a very decent job in calibration avoiding a costly calibrator to do it for them, or the purchase of expensive calibration equipment. Remarkably, the camera in Samsung or Apple phone is very accurate enabling them to do this calibration. Basic and Pro modes can do either 2-point or 20-point gray scale calibration. The Basic mode is offered on Q60 and above TVs while the Pro mode is offered on Q90 and above models. It is also offered on FreeStyle projectors and can be used to color correct an image if projected on a non-white wall or screen.

Finally, Samsung notes that while gaming is very popular, development of HDR gaming is still in its early stages. For example, the HDR Interest Group (HGIG) includes companies like Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Panasonic, LG and Ubisoft, but it advocates for guidelines and best practices – not certifications. Samsung’s new TV follow these guidelines, we believe.

Samsung TVs and gaming monitors also support games authored in HDR10 and HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision. There are around 300 games that support HDR10, but less for HDR10+. Samsung says HDR10+ gaming offers a better solution than Dolby Vision as the latter offers only 3-point control of the grayscale tone mapping (S) curve while HDR10+ offers a 10-point control, not limited to an S curve. Samsung also supports three levels of Nvidia’s GSync and AMD’s FreeSync technology for variable frame rate control on various TV and monitor series.

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