Samsung Goes 3D

If I tried to list all the new Samsung HDTVs launched at the show I'd go blind, so with deference to those who say I already am, and in the interests of my being still able to review a few of them later this year, I'll hit the highlights. With a full, new lineup of HDTVs (LED sidelit LCDs, conventional CCFL—fluorescent—backlit LCDs, and plasmas), new BD players with faster claimed booting and loading times, and three complete BD audio systems, Samsung is ready for the 2010 retail wars.

All of Samsung's LED backlit LCD sets this year use LED side lighting with overall dimming. Samsung's backlit LED sets with local dimming have been discontinued, though if you have your heart set on one you can still find the current models in stores.

The top-of- the-line LED 9000 sets are all 240Hz, with screens that are literally pencil-thin. They come equipped with wireless DLNA (DLNA devices connect and communicate with each other over a home network) and Internet links from selected content providers. There's a color touchscreen remote, which can not only perform its designated task but also wirelessly display a video source, on its own screen, separate from the one currently on the TV! The LED 8000 and 7000 series have most of the same features, but without the ambidextrous remote. The LED 9000, LED 8000, and LED 7000 lines are fully 3D capable, as are the new C7000 and C8000 plasmas. Samsung's 3D implementation uses the full HD, sequential frame data that is defined in the new Blu-ray 3D standard, together with shutter (not polarized) 3D glasses driven via IR. Expect both 3D players and sets sometime in late 2010. You'll need both a 3D BD player and a new 3D HDTV, plus those funky glasses (some of which will come with the sets), to bring 3D home. Today's dedicated Blu-ray players cannot be upgraded for 3D.

In fact, 3D was such a major player at the Samsung event that they brought out the big guns, in person, from DreamWorks Animation (CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg) and Technicolor (Chairman and CEO Frederic Rose) to give Samsung a copy of the first 3D Blu-ray disc: Monsters vs Aliens. Of course it was just a test pressing; you can't buy it yet, and in any event you'll need that new 3D Blu-ray player and 3D set to play it. Both from Samsung, of course (or so they hope!). Samsung 3D sets will also be designed to convert standard 2D programming to 3D, if desired. Or so it's claimed. Call skeptical until I see it.

There will be four new Samsung BD players. The most interesting is the C6900, the only one that will offer full HD 3D. The non-3D C7500 and C6500 do share several other features with the C6900, however, including wireless LAN capability, Internet TV, and a (claimed) 15-second boot time and 15-second loading time. A C5500 non-3D BD player, which will also offer Internet TV, is Wi-Fi ready (presumably with an optional external wireless dongle) and, it's claimed, is as fast in operation as the models above. Incidentally, the Samsung LCD sets with LED lighting can be identified by the four digits in their model numbers; the LCD sets with three digits have CCFL backlighting. Samsung will also offer three new BD Home Theater systems, with a BD player (non-3D), AV receiver, and speakers. All offer Internet TV, new amplifiers with features that greatly reduce power consumption, and a room calibration system.