iTV? Not in the cards yet, but to hold you over until Apple releases its TV, Samsung has a few ideas about how to re-invent the television. On Samsung’s new Smart TVs, you control your system with gesture, voice, keyboards and good old-fashioned buttons. And, unlike Apple’s mystery device, they’re on sale this month.

Samsung first showed off its Smart TV technology in January at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but you’ll be forgiven for missing it among the hundreds of daily product unveilings. We got some hands-on time with Samsung’s Smart TVs and can say they definitely open up a lot of potential. Whether people will respond to them is another matter.

On all of Samsung’s 2012 Smart TVs, you can control them in any of four ways:

  1. Voice, which will inevitably be compared to Siri, the voice assistant on the iPhone 4S. While Samsung’s solution is more limited since it’s tailored to operate the Smart TV interface, Samsung reps say there’s potential to go beyond that. The TVs are all equipped with microphones, and so is the remote (in case it’s noisy).
  2. Gesture: Here’s where Samsung borrows heavily from Microsoft Kinect, although some details (like closing your fingers to “select”) are different.
  3. Keyboard: This is optional, but useful for when you need to do some serious data input, like logging in to your YouTube account. There’s also an onscreen keyboard if you don’t have it.
  4. Remote Control: Yep, it’s not gone — there’s still a remote for Samsung’s Smart TVs, although it doesn’t look like your typical button-filled slab. Samsung’s austere remote (which you can check out in the gallery) is equipped with a touchpad as well as “hard” buttons.

So does it work? Somewhat. Voice control was the clear winner in my brief hands on with the TV’s mic understanding me about 75% of the time when I projected well, and the remote’s mic doing even better. Gesture control was by far the most awkward, as I constantly was missing icons, holding them too long or performing gestures when I didn’t intend to. It takes practice, certainly, though swiping will always be more accurate and intuitive than “selecting.”

Surprisingly, using the remote control itself was awkward, too. The touchpad isn’t very intuitive, and when you want to type in a number (like a channel), it calls up an onscreen pad. I don’t know why Samsung thought that was a better experience than a number pad on the remote. As for the keyboard, it’s a keyboard. Only a few people will tolerate it in the living room, but for those who do, it’ll be indispensable.

SEE ALSO: Will Apple’s TV Have a Super-Smart Touchscreen Remote? [VIDEO]
The Smart TVs come with a few bonuses. First is the infrared blaster, which simplifies controlling other gear with your Samsung remote. Samsung’s also made an effort to “future-proof” the TV, equipping it with a port on the back where users can plug in what’s called an Evolution Kit for hardware upgrades. And the TV design simply rocks.

Samsung’s Smart TVs will be in stores within the next two weeks, priced between $1,200 and $5,100 for sizes ranging from 40 to 65 inches.

What do you think of Samsung’s bid to re-invent the remote control? Remarkable innovation or doomed to fail? Sound off in the comments.

 

Samsung Smart Touch Remote

 




 

The new remote control on Samsung’s Smart TVs eschews the typical number buttons for a touchpad and microphone for voice control.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: itv, kinect, remote controls, samsung, siri, Smart TV

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1. Sync by 50 Wireless Headphones

Crispy and thump-filled music fills your head with these wireless cans from SMS Audio, a new company started by rapper 50 Cent.

They sound fat, punchy, crunchy and delicious, coming to you wirelessly and losslessly for a steep $399.95, but hey, big sounds don’t come with small price tags.

It’s a cinch to pair up the phones with their wireless dongle, which plugs into any music-playing device with a standard audio jack. Then it’s time to dance with this Kleer wireless tech, delivering audio with super-clean clarity. Good luck trying to stay still with this rousing ruckus going on.

See my bonus gallery after item #10 for more pics and value judgements of Sync by 50.

[via SMS Audio]

Click here to view this gallery.

CES 2012 is taking over the tech world for the next few days, but that doesn’t mean we’ll stop looking ahead into the future.

This week, we’ve chosen some of the most groundbreaking products to be rolled out in Vegas, and then sprinkled in a healthy dollop of futuristic fare to keep all of you forward-looking technology titans satisfied.

So get ready to click through some of the finest tech the world had to offer this week, and don’t miss our special bonus gallery pics we took as we tested some shiny new wireless headphones. All that and more, in the latest edition of Top 10 Tech This Week.

SEE MORE: Previous editions of Top 10 Tech This Week

More About: CES, CES 2012, samsung, Soundfreq, Top 10 Tech, Toshiba, trending

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1. China’s 310mph Train

China is testing a 310mph super train that’s so streamlined and lightweight, it can reach extremely high speeds on normal steel train tracks. It’s a refinement of an existing design, making it even more likely that this train will be carrying real passengers before too long.

[via DVICE]

Click here to view this gallery.

Even though the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day seems like it might be bereft of technological excitement, those of us at Top 10 Tech This Week discovered that is not the case.

Much to our surprise, we found more techno-coolness than ever this week, with gadgetry ranging from a brand-new bullet train to twin spacecraft orbiting the moon, a zippy new smartphone, and even a bit of quirky strangeness.

Strap yourselves in once again, space cadets, because it’s time for liftoff.

SEE MORE: Previous editions of Top 10 Tech This Week

More About: honda, iphone, samsung, steve jobs, Top 10 Tech, trending

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Samsung hopes it can entice developers to create apps that can connect televisions, phones, tablets and laptops. For the second year in a row, Samsung is hosting what it calls the Free the TV Challenge.

The challenge tasks app developers to create applications and solutions using the Samsung TV App SDK. Last year, the focus was on getting third-party app content for the company’s line of Smart TV and Blu-ray players. This year, the company wants developers to focus on creating “converged apps”: Ones that will offer interaction between a Samsung Smart TV and at least one other screen, like a phone or tablet.

Samsung is asking developers to look into three categories:

  • Controller Apps – Ones that let a phone, tablet or PC control an app running on a TV.
  • Companion Apps – Think second screen apps, with a focus on synchronized, supplemented content.
  • Interactive Apps — Apps that let the user use a device as a secondary display. That means you could start using an app on one device and pick up where you left off on another gadget.

The winning developer will get $100,000, plus a 65″ LED TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The winning app will also be featured in the “Recommended” section of the Samsung Apps store for two months. Second and third place winners will receive $75,000 and $50,000 respectively, plus a 55″ TV and a Galaxy Tab 10.1. The contest is open until November 29, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. Judging will take place between December 2 and December 16, 2011. The winners will be announced on January 13, 2012, and Samsung’s website has a complete list of rules and eligibility requirements.

MOVL, the startup that won first place in the 2010 Free the TV Challenge, is making its MOVL Connect Platform available to developers free of charge during the contest period.

It makes sense that Samsung is asking developers to innovate and build cross-device applications. Connected devices are more common than not, and we access content in increasingly fluid ways. That said, we do wonder how much utility developers will be able to provide within the context of the Samsung TV SDK. And we hope devs will be able to incorporate technologies such as DLNA, which are supported by devices other than just Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players, when building their apps.

The only real problem we see in the burgeoning connected app space is the high level of fragmentation. Almost every TV vendor has its own platform, and those platforms are often incompatible with one another. So developers have to build apps for multiple TV makers, not to mention set-top boxes like the Boxee Box, Roku and Google TV. We would really like to see TV makers align on some sort of base platform for connected applications.

What do you think of companies sponsoring developer contests to enhance their product ecosystems? Let us know in the comments.

More About: connected devices, connected tv, samsung, second screen, second screen apps





Potential owners of Google/Samsung Nexus S smartphone now have another (albeit purely aesthetic) reason to choose that device over Apple’s iPhone 4: It will probably be available in white color.

We say probably because all we have now are a couple of images of the white version of the device, showing that Samsung has once again opted for a black front and a white back combination instead of making the Nexus S uniformly white.

Still, if you’re adamant about having a powerful, white, touchscreen smartphone, the Nexus S might be your best bet, as the white iPhone 4 has been as elusive as the Yeti and, last we heard, it won’t hit the stores before spring 2011. There’s no word on when the white Nexus S might appear in stores, but we’re hoping it’ll be sooner than that.

[BestBoyZ via Engadget]

More About: android, Google, Nexus S, samsung, smartphone, trending, White