Samsung to Offer 8K Streaming Access to Prime Video’s Pending ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ Series

Samsung has entered into a collaboration with Prime Video that offers viewers the opportunity to stream exclusive 8K content from the upcoming (Sept. 2) Amazon Studios’ original series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” on select Samsung TV screens.

On Aug. 25, Samsung hosted a sneak peek screening event featuring 25 minutes of content from the series’ first two episodes on its three-story LED video wall at Samsung 837 — its flagship experience center. Starting this week, dynamic creative from the series will debut on Samsung’s LED digital screens overlooking New York City’s Times Square, London’s Piccadilly Circus and Milan’s Piazza del Duomo.

Samsung will be the first to offer series content in 8K resolution through a custom sneak peek with exclusive scenes. Viewers will have the opportunity to experience the series in extended depth and detail on Samsung Neo QLED 8K TVs and “The Wall” 8K Micro LED displays.

“When considering how to immerse our global fans in the world of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power,’ Samsung’s exceptional technology and screens felt like a natural fit,” Andrew Bennett, VP of Global Device Partnerships at Prime Video, said in a statement.

Samsung’s Neo QLED 8K series TV’s claim to deliver the most immersive home entertainment experience. The TVs feature a Neural Quantum Processor 8K, Dolby Atmos and Object Tracking Sound — a proprietary Samsung technology.

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Samsung Video Game Hub Now Available on 2022 Smart TVs

Samsung Electronics July 1 announced that its branded Samsung Gaming Hub is now rolling out to all 2022 Samsung smart TVs. Announced during CES 2022 in Las Vegas, the Samsung Gaming Hub is an all-in-one game streaming platform where players can discover and play games from partners, including Xbox, NVIDIA GeForce Now, Google Stadia, Utomik, and, coming soon, Amazon Luna.

The platform aims to bring more convenient access to all things gaming within Samsung TVs, including the 2022 Neo QLED 8K, Neo QLED 4K, QLEDs and 2022 Smart Monitor Series.

The move underscores the ongoing shift from packaged media to digital gaming driven by subscription-based services.

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“With expanding partnerships across leading game streaming services and expert curated recommendations, players will be able to easily browse and discover games from the widest selection available, regardless of platform,” Won-Jin Lee, president and head of the service business team at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

Powered by its Tizen operating system, Samsung Gaming Hub allows players to access online games, in addition to their gaming consoles and PC, all in one place. Players can use their favorite accessories, such as Bluetooth headsets and controllers with the Samsung Gaming Hub without the need to purchase new hardware. Additionally, users will be able to access curated recommendations based on the latest and most popular games.

The Samsung Gaming Hub also integrates music and streaming services such as Twitch, YouTube and Spotify. Players can get the latest gaming news, watch tutorials, play music and podcasts and view video game trailers.

‘Antiques Roadshow’ U.K. Channel Available on Samsung TV Plus in U.S.

A BBC “Antiques Roadshow” U.K. channel is now available in the United States on Samsung TV Plus, Samsung’s free, ad-supported streaming service, available on Samsung Smart TVs.

The series, in its 44th season, follows host Fiona Bruce and her team of antiquarian experts as they tour the United Kingdom’s most sumptuous and unusual locations to uncover artifacts, search for hidden treasures, and reveal the remarkable stories of unique and incredible items.

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The “Antiques Roadshow” U.K. channel, preloaded and accessible from the home screen, joins more than 200 premium channels already available on Samsung TV Plus across the United States on millions of Samsung Smart TVs and galaxy devices and on the Web.

Parks: 27% of U.S. Broadband Subs Use Samsung Smart TV to Stream Video Content

New Parks Associates consumer research finds that in Q3 2021, 27% of U.S. broadband subscribers reported using the Samsung Tizen Smart TV as their primary device for consuming video content.

“The smart-TV will cement its status as the default streaming platform in the households,” Eric Sorensen, senior contributing analyst, said in a statement.

Sorensen said he expects to see more content partnerships and service acquisitions among providers and manufacturers in 2022. He contends content creators will leverage their ability to reach audiences directly, while service and content providers will adapt their business models to anticipate higher levels of churn than in previous years.

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Acquisitions and consolidations are becoming key options for streaming firms to compete in the face of limited material and the constant demand for more new content. Parks notes that the average churn rate for SVODs increased to 45% in 2021, a 5.5% jump from 2020. Consumers hold on to the services they use the most and jump among the others, paying for a program or season and then canceling when they are finished. The number of subscriptions may rise and fall over time, indicating that churn rates will continue to be elevated.

Parks also suggests streaming media providers will face increasing competition from digital and social content producers in 2022. Popular online content creators are circumventing established distribution models and building their streaming applications from the ground up. For instance, KevOnStage Studios, created by comedian Kevin Fredericks, whose stage name is KevOnStage, is very successful with his YouTube channel.

“Streaming apps provide new revenue opportunities, especially with the chance to retain content ownership rights,” Sorensen said. “Digital content creators can monetize content and build audiences collected from social networking and video sharing platforms to their streaming applications and websites.”

The OTT Video Market Tracker, an annual service from Parks Associates, features monthly updates on trends and market activities in the OTT video space, including comprehensive tracking of existing and emerging players and quarterly subscriber estimates.

Parks recently released its annual Top 10 domestic subscription OTT video services, with Disney+ replacing Hulu among the top three.

  1. Netflix
  2. Prime Video
  3. Disney+
  4. Hulu
  5. HBO Max
  6. ESPN+
  7. Paramount+
  8. Apple TV+
  9. Starz
  10. Showtime

CES 2022 Gets Underway With Revamped Floor Plan and Masked Attendees

LAS VEGAS — CES 2022 got underway the morning of Jan. 5 with a smaller floor plan, social distancing measures implemented by several large exhibitors, and a surprisingly large crowd of attendees, all of them masked.

And while the show has been shifting away from its legacy consumer electronics and toward innovation in such fields as mobility, digital health and space tech, CE manufacturers at CES 2022 continue to have the biggest booths and most elaborate displays.

LG Electronics commanded the marquee position in the Central Hall, but is using its space this year for a vast corkboard platform with little stations where visitors can get presentations on their iPhones, including a history of the CE giant’s signature OLED Experience exhibits, which in the past have seen screens arranged in waterfall, tunnel and canyon settings. Several visitors, however, reported that the virtual experiences either didn’t work or were too complicated, since they involved downloading and installing an app.

The LG Electronics booth at CES 2022

The Panasonic booth devoted half its space to a socially distant seating area, as did the Sony booth, where the focus this year is on two electric-vehicle prototypes the company hopes to build as it ventures into the automotive sector. Sony says it plans on establishing a car unit to enter the EV market. One of the vehicles the company is displaying at CES is a seven-set sport-utility vehicle with all-wheel drive.

Somewhat inexplicably, Sony also has a big display for the PlayStation 5, even though the device is still in short supply at retail.

Sony’s PS5 display in its booth at CES 2022

Several other big CE exhibitors, including TCL and Hisense, set up booths virtually identical to the ones they fielded in the pre-COVID days. 

The one commonality among CE exhibitors: Touting the advantages of their favored backlight technologies, OLED, QLED, and Mini-LED, the latter being the newest and hottest trend in TV displays.

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All are variations of LED, an acronym for light-emitting diode. LEDs are the tiny elements of a TV screen that light up in order to produce an image on an LED TV. LED technology became commonplace more than a decade ago after improvements in the technology spearheaded by Samsung.

OLED stands for organic LED, with each pixel made of a material that glows when it receives electricity. The electroluminescent materials used in OLED screens are organic compounds of carbon and other ingredients. OLED is emissive, with the pixels emitting their own light.

QLED is a Samsung technology introduced in 2015. The Q stands for “Quantum Dot.” It’s essentially a variation of LED and is transmissive, relying on an LED backlight.

The newest backlight technology is Mini-LED, similar to QLED, just with even smaller backlights. Mini-LED is a bridge between the older QLED technology and the newer OLED tech, with the same deep blacks that OLED promises.

Samsung has updated the Neo QLED technology that it bowed at last year’s virtual CES to improve the picture quality, but the Korean CE giant also is showing off its new line of Micro LED displays, which boast 25-million LED arrays and come in 89-inch, 101-inch, and 110-inch models.

Sony has QD-OLED, which combines OLED and quantum dot technologies for what it purports is the best of both worlds.

Meanwhile, Hisense and TCL both boast some Mini-LED models.

CES 2022 touched down in Las Vegas as the show’s producer, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), projects the consumer technology industry will generate more than $505 billion in retail sales revenue, a record high that’s up nearly 3% from 2021. The CTA attributes much of the gain to growing demand for smartphones, automotive tech, health devices and streaming services will help propel much of the projected revenue.

Despite a rash of last-minute cancellations due to the surge of the Omicron COVID variant, CES 2022 has more than 2,300 exhibitors, including more than 800 startups. Once again, the focus is not on legacy consumer electronics but, rather, on “the latest transformative technologies, including vehicle technology, artificial intelligence, digital health and smart home tech, as well as new categories: NFTs, food tech and space tech,” CTA said in a Jan. 5 press release.
 
The CES exhibit floor will be open through Jan. 7, a shorter run due to COVID concerns.

CES Diary, Day 3: Opening Day, at Last!

Ever since I arrived in Las Vegas on Monday, I’ve been curious as to how CES 2022 would turn out. The COVID curse led to calls for cancellations, but the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which produces the annual show, vowed to press ahead, albeit with strict health protocols. 

I walked to the show from my $32 room at the Sahara, an easy mile-long stroll along Paradise Road. Nearing the venue, everything seemed business as usual. A fast walker, I passed by at least a dozen other show-goers, easily identified by their badges (around their necks) and dark sport coats. I also saw a caravan of taxis heading toward the show. And just before I got to Convention Center Drive, I saw that the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott was charging $30 for “event parking” just as they always do.

Approaching the entrance, the crowd seemed a little light, but not by much. I went through security and entered the concourse. On one side were bins of show dailies; on the other, a rack with free masks and stickers: green, yellow and red. Over the three bins — one for each color — was a sign that read, “Please use a sticker to show others how you prefer to engage.” Green stickers implied “I’m okay with handshakes”; yellow stickers, “I’m okay with elbow and fist bumps”; and red stickers, “No touching. I’m happy just to wave hello.”

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I chose red — not so much because of COVID but because I’ve long felt that handshakes were an antiquated form of greeting (show me your hand so I know you’re not carrying a weapon!), while fist and elbow bumps are just silly. I also grabbed a couple of extra masks, since the one I was wearing smelled a bit like the chorizo chilaquiles I had just had for breakfast at the Sahara.

Entering the Central Hall, I at first thought LG Electronics, whose exhibit was front and center, hadn’t yet set anything up. There before me was a vast corkboard floor, sprinkled with little stations with QVC codes. I soon realized that LG was attempting to bridge the physical and virtual worlds by offering visitors a series of virtual presentations right there on the physical show floor, from a press conference to CES Innovation Award wins to a history of the company’s signature, and immersive, OLED Experiences at past CES shows, including the 2017 tunnel, the 2018 canyon, the 2019 waterfall and the 2020 wave.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me, neither figuratively (come on, corkboards?) nor literally (who’s got time to download an app and then follow a bunch of instructions to get video footage from earlier shows — isn’t that what YouTube is for?).

The rest of the show floor demonstrated CTA’s commitment to health protocols, such as wider aisles, some of them with one-way arrows, and social distancing. The arrows were disregarded by most attendees; social distancing was hit or miss. Some of the biggest exhibitors, including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung, set aside a good-sized chunk of their exhibit space for open areas with wide-apart seating. Others, including Hisense and TCL, had no discernible changes to their booths from prior years.

The big buzz on the home entertainment front was Mini-LED TVs, which everyone seemed to have. I also noticed quite a few CE companies were targeting specific groups with their TVs, including Hisense and TCL, both of which showed off TVs specifically geared toward gamers.

Early in the morning, our editor in chief, Stephanie Prange, challenged me to find a single 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.

Fail.

 

CES 2022 Opens as Scaled-Down, Shorter Event

LAS VEGAS — CES 2022 officially opens on Jan. 5 with a smaller footprint and a shorter run, three days instead of the usual four.

The culprit: The surge in COVID-19 cases, which the week before Christmas saw 42 exhibitors opt for a virtual rather than a physical presence, including such heavyweights as Amazon, AT&T, Google, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Meta (Facebook) and T-Mobile. 

Speaking on the eve of the show on the Fox Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown,” CTA CEO and president Gary Shapiro provided an update on the exhibitor count, which after a record high of 4,400 in January 2020 was expected to fall by more than half, prompting the closure of the South Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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“I’m pleased to share with you now the new number, which is actually an expanded number,” Shapiro said. “A few weeks ago we were saying 1,700, now we’re over 2,300 exhibitors. They keep signing up; we’ve had lots in November and lots in December. And why is that? Because this is one place a lot of companies rely on each year to get their message out and they really didn’t have that in 2021. You know, there’s been a huge amount of investment in startups lately.”

Shapiro said he and his team decided to proceed with the physical show because “companies rely on it. Last night we had our CES Unveiled, [with] hundreds of startups out there and other companies. And I was overwhelmed by the number of people just thanking me. Saying, look — with tears in their eyes — we wait for this all year. Please go forward.

“Plus we heard from the countries that are sending people and companies for the first time from Eastern Europe, from Asia. Korea has a record number of startups coming, France has a huge number, Netherlands has a record, Italy has a record. All over the world, they’re coming, converging on Las Vegas in a reasonably safe way to see what they could do for the year because that’s what innovation is about.

“Now, this show will be a little messy, we know that. But innovation is messy.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the show’s increasing focus on technology and innovation instead of its legacy consumer electronics. This shift was affirmed in November 2015 when organizers changed their name to the Consumer Technology Association from the Consumer Electronics Association. 

During the CTA’s 2022 Tech Trends to Watch presentation, one of two media-only events held prior to the show’s opening, CTA VP of research Steve Koenig said the big trends to watch, and the focus of this year’s CES, are transportation (from electric vehicles to micro-mobility); space tech; sustainable technology; and digital health.

Similarly, among the new products on display at CES Unveiled, the annual media preview held right after the tech trends presentation on Jan. 3, were a smart mirror from Baracoda Daily Health that includes personal health data and makeup tutorials; the Megane X virtual reality, from Panasonic subsidiary Shiftall, for metaverse experiences; the VTOL Platform drone from VETAL, with 4G and 5G capability; and a home urine test kit from Vivoo that provides users with personalized nutrition and lifestyle advice.

Speaking on the Fox Business Network, Shapiro noted, “We’re seeing lots of new things and new categories created almost overnight. … In space, we’ve seen some tremendous developments. We’ll see a space plane — it’s a big part of the show — as well as food technology. The metaverse is, obviously, huge.

“There’s over 100 health-related technology exhibitors. And we have the automobile areas — one of the biggest footprints we’ve ever had. Smart homes, robotics, you name it.”

In addition to the two Jan. 3 media-only events, the first CES 2022 keynote was delivered by top Samsung executive Jong-Hee Han, vice chairman, CEO and head of Samsung Electronics’ DX (Device eXperience) Division.

Held under the theme, “Together for Tomorrow,” the keynote showcased sustainability efforts and demonstrated customized and connected experiences Samsung says can enrich people’s lives.

Last week, CTA announced the show will close one day early, “as an additional safety measure to the current  health protocols that have been put in place for CES.”

Those protocols include requiring all attendees to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), and to provide proof of their vaccination status prior to picking up their badges. 

In addition, masks are required at all indoor CES events, including the show floor, and on shuttle buses. The CTA has “safety ambassadors” stationed throughout the exhibit floor, handing out masks to those who may need one.

In addition, the CTA is encouraging all attendees to take a COVID test prior to arriving in Las Vegas. The CTA is distributing complimentary Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test kits, provided by Abbott, to each attendee upon retrieving their badge. The CTA also will provide testing for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while at a CES venue, and will distribute free RT-PCR tests for attendees who are traveling back to their international destination and who require a test to travel. 

Samsung’s CES 2022 Keynote Speaker Exhorts Industry to Move Toward Sustainable Innovation

LAS VEGAS — CES 2022 keynote speaker J.H. Han of Samsung Electronics encouraged the technology industry to make innovative products “in harmony with our planet to create a more sustainable world.” After a montage of COVID-19 images, he noted that in “challenging times” the world has always found a way forward.

Speaking in-person Jan. 4 at the show in Las Vegas, the vice chairman, CEO and head of the DX (device experience) division outlined several steps Samsung has taken to move toward sustainability.

Last year, the company’s Carbon Trust-certified memory chips helped reduce carbon emissions by nearly 700,000 tons, he said, and Samsung’s visual display business plans to use 30 times more recycled plastics than it did in 2021, as well as expand its use of recycled materials to include all mobile products and home appliances over the next three years.

“Last year all of our TV boxes included recyclable materials,” Han noted.

In 2022, the company will be expanding the use of recycled material to include interior packaging as well, he said, incorporating it into Styrofoam, box holders and plastic bags. The company also announced the global expansion of its Eco-Packaging program, which transforms cardboard boxes into cat houses, side tables, and other furniture items, to include packaging for home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens and air purifiers.

Saving energy and reducing the use of batteries is also a goal of the company, which introduced enhancements to its SolarCell Remote, which eliminates battery waste with a built-in solar panel that can be charged both day and night. The enhanced SolarCell Remote gets electricity from radio frequencies in devices such as Wi-Fi routers.

“It will be included in more Samsung products — like new Samsung TVs and home appliances — with the goal of eliminating more than 200 million batteries from landfills,” Han said. “When you line them up, it is the distance from right here, Las Vegas, to Korea.”

Samsung plans to make SolarCell Remote technology open source so that other companies can utilize it.

By 2025, Samsung plans to make all of its TVs and phone chargers operate on near-zero standby power, so that the products will consume almost no energy when not being used.

Through collaboration with Patagonia, Samsung is working on washing machines that sift microplastics from fabrics, such as fleece that the clothing company makes. Microplastics wash into the ocean and harm the environment.

“This is a serious problem, and not one we can solve on our own,” Vincent Stanley, director of philosophy at Patagonia, said in a video presentation.

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As far as new gadgets, Samsung introduced The Freestyle,” a lightweight and portable projector that offers a “cinema-quality experience no matter where you are,” according to Georgina Vhas Tordoff, of the company’s Future Generation Lab. It features AI-enabled sound, built-in streaming apps and Smart TV accessibility features. The Freestyle can be set up virtually anywhere, weighs less than two pounds, toggles 180 degrees, offers 360 degree sound and projects up to 100 inches, she said.

The company also highlighted its new “Samsung Gaming Hub,” which offers an all-in-one platform for discovering and playing cloud and console games and is set to launch on the company’s 2022 Smart TVs and monitors, as well as its new “Odyssey Ark,” a 55-inch, flexible and curved gaming screen.

The company also announced innovations for the connected home with the Samsung Home Hub, integrating devices in the home, which will be built into 2022 TVs, Smart Monitors and Family Hub refrigerators.

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Samsung used the opening keynote presentation to announce its role as a founding member of the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA), which brings together various smart home appliance manufacturers, including Trane Technologies, GE, Electrolux and American Standard, to make connected devices from different manufacturers compatible and safe.

“As a global coalition of smart home appliance manufacturers, HCA members share a belief that connected ecosystems and digital technology will allow us to further develop product experiences that are elegant, hyper-personalized, and truly smart for our consumers,” said Katherine Shin, VP of customer experience at Trane Technologies. “The HCA invites any global manufacturers with a similar vision for efficiency, interoperability and innovation to come and build with us.”

The goals of the group are interoperability (to offer consumers more choices among brands), safety and data security, and increased energy efficiency.

Samsung Launching Video Game Streaming Platform on Smart-TVs

Samsung is getting into the video game business. The venerable South Korean consumer electronics giant is hoping to replicate recent successes in the ad-supported video streaming market with the development of the cloud-based Samsung Gaming Hub.

Through partnerships with third-party video game streaming platforms such as NVIDIA GeForce Now, Stadia and Utomik, the Gaming Hub will offer owners of select 2022 Samsung Smart TVs access to games later this year.

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“We know that gaming continues to increase in popularity for our customers and we have bridged the gap between our Smart TV leadership and advanced gaming software to create an easier way for people to enjoy the games,” Won-Jin Lee, corporate president at Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

Doki Tops, founder/CEO of Utomik, said partnering with Samsung will help jumpstart the company’s cloud-based gaming —the next major market in the gaming industry.

“It starts Utomik’s journey into hybrid gaming, allowing gamers to play games on any device and transition seamlessly to other devices, using both our smart download technology or cloud gaming technology depending on device and context,” Tops said.

Samsung’s Jong-Hee Han to Deliver Pre-Show Keynote at CES

Jong-Hee (JH) Han, president of the visual display business at Samsung Electronics, will deliver the pre-show keynote address at CES 2022 in Las Vegas, the Consumer Technology Association announced.

Han’s keynote address will take place Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom.

The keynote will present the company’s vision for an “Age of Togetherness,” meaning that technology needs to exist together with people and for the planet, according to the CTA. The keynote will be a call to action to mitigate climate change, and the company will show how everyone can do their part in building a sustainable planet. It will also present how customized and connected experiences will enrich people’s lives.

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“Since early 2020, people have changed how they live, work and play,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “Technology is solving people’s problems and connecting us to each other. More, innovation has accelerated. Samsung is an incredibly innovative company and we look forward to hearing Mr. Han’s vision of a greener world reimagined through technology.”

Prior to his current role at Samsung, Han served a four-year term as the division’s head of R&D. Since joining Samsung in 1988, he has been involved in the development of a wide range of products, including Micro LED, QLED, Lifestyle TVs, Smart Signage, Cinema LED and gaming monitors.

Han joins previously announced keynoters, including GM’s Mary Barra; T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert; Abbott’s Robert Ford; Rethink Impact’s Jenny Abramson; Softbank Opportunity Fund’s Stacy Brown-Philpot; and Material Impact’s Carmichael Roberts.