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January 18, 2019
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Samsung just announced a 98-inch 8K TV because why not

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TV makers love to use CES as a launch pad for TVs that they don’t actually expect a ton of people to buy. This year’s “eh, why not?” swing from Samsung: a 98-inch 8K QLED TV.

“Wait, is there even anything to watch in 8K yet?”

Nope, not really. Hell, even content natively shot in 4K still isn’t as common as anyone would like. There’s always upscaling (Samsung says they’ve built some pretty fancy, machine learning-based upscaling here), but if nearly everything you’re watching is upscaled anyway, you probably would have been better off waiting a few years and saving a small mountain of money. I’m all for being an early adopter, but maybe wait until there’s something to adopt.

Like the rest of Samsung’s 2019 lineup, this model should support Bixby (Samsung’s voice assistant) and will be controllable via both Alexa and Google Assistant.

Samsung has yet to disclose a price (we’ll update this post if they drop it somewhere), but their previously announced 85-inch 8K tv costs $15,000 so expect the price on this one to come in somewhere between “lots of money” and “all of the money.”

CES 2019 coverage - TechCrunch

News Source = techcrunch.com

Google apps are coming to Bixby

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Bixby took centerstage at today’s big Samsung CES presser. The company has been pushing to make its smart assistant a kind of connective tissue across devices, and the the fruits of that labor may finally be taking shape this year.

Third-party partners have been a long promised addition, and the company just announced a pretty big one.  Sure Google’s pushing its own assistant, but the company will also be bringing some of its top apps to Bixby. The list includes Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps and Google Play.

The news follows today’s earlier announcement that Samsung TVs will be compatible with Google Assistant by way of Google Home and other other smart speakers/screens. This move, meanwhile, should offer a bit more legitimacy to a smart assistant that stumbled out of the gate and ultimately had some trouble picking up speed.

Details about the timing and other implementation have yet to be announced. 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung updates Family Hub for connected fridges

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If your dream home involves a big screen on your fridge, then Family Hub is for you. Samsung has been developing some custom features to turn the fridge into a functional, shared display for all the family. And the company is announcing at CES an update to Family Hub with new features.

The interface has been completely redesigned from the ground up. Apps should be able to talk to each other better than before. And it’s not limited to the fridge anymore. You can start your oven from your fridge, control all your connected devices in your home and more.

With the family board, you can leave notes for other family members, view calendar information and see photos. Even if you’re not at home, you can use your Samsung phone to write down a note for your kid in case you’re going to be home a bit late.

And of course, Bixby is here. Samsung’s voice assistant lets you ask questions, find recipes and control your home.

Family Hub sounds like a neat feature, but the main issue is that you need to upgrade all your appliances to create a home that is completely compatible with the Samsung ecosystem. Also, do we really need yet another screen?

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung steps up its game with the new Notebook Odyssey

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Reviews of the Notebook Odyssey line have been…mixed. Hopefully the electronics giant can right the ship as it navigates the tricky waters of high-end gaming systems. At very least, the latest version of the line — unveiled tonight at CES in Vegas — certainly looks the part.

The 15.6 inch laptop features an aluminum design and a display attached with an innovative hinge connected only in the center to mimic a standalone monitor. The bezels have been shrunk down considerably as well, at 6.7 millimeters. The typewriter-style keyboard is backlit, as one would expect from their gaming laptop.

There are a few different performance pre-sets on-board here, too. Per Samsung,

Odyssey Mode allows users to save settings presets under different profiles for various types of games. Beast Mode lets users modulate the Samsung Notebook Odyssey’s performance depending on the software it is running, and the Black Equalizer helps users get a leg up on the competition by improving in-game lighting.

Inside you get an eighth-gen hexa-core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and either 256GB (SSD) to 1TB (HDD) of storage. Graphics-wise, you’re getting an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, featuring the new Turing GPU. There’s a fairly healthy selection of ports, as well, including USB-C, three full USB, HDMI and Ethernet.

The new Odyssey is due out at some point “early” this year. No word yet on pricing.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung’s Space Monitor is practical and minimal

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Samsung always has a huge presence at CES, but it isn’t the giant TVs and flashy next-generation gadgets that have my attention this year; it’s this simple, flexible monitor that looks like it would be right at home in any workspace. It’s called the Space Monitor, presumably because it gives you space, not because it’s meant for use in space. I don’t see why you couldn’t, though.

What the Space Monitor does is very simple: it clamps to your desk and sits straight up from the edge — up against the wall if there is one — and takes up about as little space as it’s possible for a display to.

When you want to bring something closer, or lower, or just need to adjust the angle or whatever, the neck of the monitor lets you bring it down all the way to the level of your desk and tilt it up or down as well (though not side to side). Cables go up through the stand so you won’t see them at all.

Combined with very thin bezels on the sides (there’s a thicker, but still very reasonable one on the bottom) this makes for quite a minimal presence, and it could allow someone (like me) to shrink their workspace in some dimension or other. I like my Dell Ultrasharps, but if I was putting together a new desk situation, I’d probably look very hard at these Samsungs.

Sure, you could do a wall mount, but this is much easier and you don’t have to fiddle around with tools or load calculations. Just clamp it on there.

There are two models, a 27-inch QHD (2560×1440) model and a 32-inch 4K one (3840×2160); the latter costs $500, so the former will probably be a bit less. They use VA panels, which hopefully will be about as good as IPS, though of course not quite so good as OLED (though for that tech you’d have to add another zero to the price).

Only downside: 60 Hz maximum refresh rate. That’s a possible dealbreaker for some. But the specs also list a 4 ms response time, without explaining further. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, but I asked Samsung to explain the discrepancy. The specs for the 27-inch display could also differ.

It feels nice to have a reason to visit the actual CES main halls this year. And of course, for the maximalists out there, I’ll also be sure to check out the mammoth new ultrawide:

News Source = techcrunch.com

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