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Samsung unveils 2013 TVs, Evolution Kit with Kate Upton, Eli Manning

March 20, 2013|By Andrea Chang
  • Samsung says the user interface on its new smart TVs is simpler and more intuitive.
Samsung says the user interface on its new smart TVs is simpler and more intuitive. (Samsung )

Samsung held a toned-down launch event for its 2013 line of televisions -- probably a wise choice after last week's theater of the absurd, Broadway-themed launch for the Galaxy S 4 smartphone.

The South Korean electronics giant instead defaulted to the tried-and-true method of trotting out a stream of celebrities to help demo some of its latest products: supermodel Kate Upton, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and hip-hop star Flo Rida. 

All told, Samsung will launch 100 new televisions this year (that includes models that come in several sizes); more than half will be smart TV-enabled. In a nod to consumers' desire for bigger TVs, Samsung increased the number of TVs that are 60 inches and above by 50%. 

PHOTOS: Tech we want to see in 2013

The company's big push is less on the hardware specs of the new TVs themselves, but on touting its improved smart TV hub, which company executives say is more streamlined and less clunky. Viewers will be able to use voice recognition to turn their TV sets on, and can tell the TV to "find me a movie with Will Smith" or "find me a comedy at 8 p.m."

Over time, the TV will learn a user's viewing habits and will be able to make personalized recommendations, said Joe Stinziano, Samsung Electronics America's executive vice president. It's also easier to move between the smart hub's five panels -- which include apps, TV shows and movies -- and share content between devices.

"We're working harder than ever to push technology to the edge, and more importantly to give people what they want. And what they really want is simplicity," he told the crowd in New York. 

The world's No. 1 TV seller also showed off its Evolution Kit, which the company says solves the problem of when to buy a new TV. With the rapid pace of innovation and a slew of new TVs hitting the market every year, Stinziano noted that consumers often feel upset when they realize their TVs have quickly become outdated. 

The Evolution Kit, which goes on sale in May for $299, plugs into the back of a 2012 Samsung smart TV and instantly upgrades it with the company's latest features. 

"The TV you buy today will evolve into the TV of tomorrow," Stinziano said. "No other manufacturer can offer this." 

And finally, Samsung showed off its 85-inch ultra-high-definition luxury television, which it debuted at the International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas in January. The TV can be pre-ordered on Samsung's website by the end of the month for a whopping $40,000. 

"This is clearly a statement piece," Stinziano said in an interview with The Times this week. "And clearly, we understand this is not going to be for everyone. But our first entry into ultra-high-definition should be something that was just unbelievable and timeless."

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