Are we living in the golden age of television? Just look at how low the prices of high-definition TVs go for nowadays, and compare them with three years ago. Realize how much hardware has improved over the years. Today, you can fetch a decent 32-inch LCD television for the same amount you’d be shelling out for a mid-tier smartphone — much less if you’re not brand picky.
Then there’s the Samsung ES8000 Smart LED TV, which is gunning for the “Summer Blockbuster of Televisions” title. It packs a dual-core processor, an integrated HD camera, motion and voice controls, face-recognition functionality, Web connectivity, app compatibility, and 3D playback in one ultra-slim package. It’s also Samsung’s first future-proof model, with its Evolution upgrade technology letting you add new features without having to replace the whole set.
Here’s a hardware rundown:
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Wide Color Enhancer Plus
- 800mHz motion rate
- Samsung Apps, Samsung Hub, Social TV, Web Browser available
- 3D content playback
- 2D-3D conversion
- AllShare Play, WiFi Direct available
- Built-in camera with face recognition
- Motion- and voice-control function
- Connectivity: 3 HDMI, 3 USB, 1 headphone, component in, composite in, PC in, digital audio out, DVI audio in, Ethernet, MHL, RF in
This is not your pedestrian Internet-enabled, 3D-compatible box. And obviously, it’s nowhere near cheap. The 55-inch model retails for P279,900.
So, price in mind, is the Samsung ES8000 a smart buy?
If the television competition were a beauty pageant, Samsung’s candidate would be a shoo-in finalist. Attractive is an understatement. It’s almost borderless, about as thin as your everyday laptop, and downright gorgeous from all profiles. As long as sits there, the Samsung ES8000 will be the focal point of your living room as its One Design aesthetic and silver, metallic trim warrant at least a few rounds in the discussion table.
An the back, the TV offers plenty of connectivity options. Staples such as USB, HDMI, PC, headphone, component, and composite ports are all accounted for here. An ethernet/LAN input stands out from the group, allowing you to set up a wired connection with your router.
Performance is what you’d expect from a top-of-the-line television. Subtle refinements in picture quality are visible across the board, but the bottom line remains the same: colors remain vivid and details are sharp. If you want to get the best out of this television, I highly suggest playing around with its picture settings and calibrating them to suit your viewing environment.
Unfortunately, I was not able to try out any Blu-ray 3D content on the Samsung ES8000 because the test unit did not come with a Blu-ray 3D player and sample discs.
Interestingly, 2D-to-3D conversion has been improved over previous models. It’s a lot more serviceable now, with depth being most noticeable in text-heavy materials.
The Samsung ES8000 makes quite a statement with its main attractions.
As mentioned earlier, you can operate it without pushing a button, thanks to Samsung’s voice and motion controls. On paper, Samsung’s Smart Interaction technology earns the ES8000 additional bragging rights, but in reality, it’s really more of a bane than a boon.
Issuing voice and gesture commands can be difficult, no matter how hard I try to be precise. Even after getting over its learning curve and wrapping my head around this unique navigation scheme, I reverted back to using either one of the ES8000’s remote-control units (one is traditional, and the other has trackpad-like interface).
The built-in camera perched on top of the television frame detects faces and stores user information. I was able to try this feature out, and it’s really an innovative approach to signing you into your personal accounts with relative ease.
The television relies on a dual-core processor to run the latest iteration of Samsung’s Smart Hub and a 1GB internal storage device to store your multimedia content and applications.
The Smart Hub is an overarching home window that launches the high-definition camera; applications like Skype, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter; and Samsung’s newest signature services — Kids, Fitness, and Family Story.
Considering the default browser supports multiple tabs and Samsung’s ecosystem is offering more than 1,500 applications to date, the set keeps you preoccupied with more than just cable TV surfing.
The Samsung ES8000 hosts an expansion slot that lets you keep it up-to-date without replacing the whole set, using the manufacturer’s Evolution Kit. Naturally, the technology makes a lot of sense, especially for a TV this expensive. However, until Samsung reveals more information on pricing and reasons to pay extra, it’s hard to get really excited about this idea.
With the AllShare Play function, you can stream and wirelessly share photos, videos, and music from nearby WiFi-compatible devices directly to the television. You can also use any of the three USB ports to share multimedia content via USB flash drives.
As you probably gathered, I am fairly smitten with the Samsung ES8000 Smart LED TV. The Koreans have put together a winning equation of style, performance, and features in a buzz-worthy package. It ranks among the best in the business, but it also tips the scales as quite the investment.
At P279,900, the 55-inch model is similarly priced to a used mid-size sedan, and deciding whether or not to commit to it (or a bigger and more expensive variant) won’t be a walk in the park.
Question marks on Samsung’s upgrade-module pricing and the improvements that come with it won’t make the decision any easier. And its finicky “voice and motion navigation” system only adds to its woes.
To be fair, reservations about the Evolution Kit will end after Samsung sheds more light to it, and the television’s interactive control scheme might see improvements with software updates.
To borrow the Korean giant’s tagline, now is the best time to buy a TV, and the Samsung ES8000 Smart LED TV is one tempting invitation. If you’re going straight for something that’s on top of the food chain with the highest silicon standards to boot — something that leans on more than cable TV frequencies and 3D playback to entertain you, you should tune in to what Samsung has to offer.