On Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show, South Korean smartphone and TV maker Samsung pushed to strengthen its grip on the TV market with a slew of announcements.
The TV maker is making a play to become not just an electronics vendor but an entertainment provider, too. It’s pushing its Milk streaming services onto its smart TVs, officially rolling out Milk VR—its new VR video service for users of its Gear VR virtual reality headset—and advancing other smart TV initiatives.
Streaming Milk Music and Milk Video media will pipe directly to living rooms through a new Samsung Smart TV app, coming this spring. To extend Milk Music even further, streaming tunes will also go online through a Web player sometime within the next couple of months.
Samsung also announced that Milk VR, an exclusive virtual-reality video service for the Galaxy Note 4 and Gear VR, launches today, offering 360-degree videos. The company promises the service, which opens with 30 new titles, will feature new content five days a week. Featured channels will pipe music, sports, action clips and lifestyle media directly to those eyeballs.
Samsung has Milk VR deals with brands, entertainment companies, and networks including Mountain Dew, the National Basketball Association, Red Bull, and Skybound Entertainment, among others, who are contributing immersive videos for VR users.
The latest entries pop up in in the “Fresh” category first, and the most popular items appear in the “Trending” category, so users can find what’s new and popular inside the app. Videos will come in both streaming and download options, matching the flexibility of what Amazon and Google Play offer. (Notably, Netflix doesn’t offer downloads, while Apple’s iTunes doesn’t offer a subscription streaming service for videos.)
“Samsung is dedicated to delivering impassioned, connected experiences through content and services across devices, including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs,” said John Pleasants, a Samsung executive, in a statement. “We are excited to bring the music and video experience to even more platforms … and offer customers a glimpse at what’s possible in the brand new realm of immersive mobile video and virtual reality.”
Super-Sized TV Tech
Of course, leave it to Samsung—a company that loves to experiment—to supersize television display technology. The company showed off an 82-inch curved television based on something called “S” UHD.
The company claims SUHD is a big step up from regular old Ultra HD (also known as 4K TV).
“[It’s] 2.5 times brighter than conventional TVs “with deeper blacks, 64 times the color expression of conventional TVs and twice the color adjustment points for the most accurate displays,” said Joe Stinziano, another Samsung executive. “It offers superb detail.”
The presentation didn’t offer much on what, technically, defines SUHD, but I’ll ask Samsung for more details as CES gets underway.
Samsung also announced the Samsung UHD Alliance, to help interested content makers and other partners optimize for Samsung’s Ultra HD technology. According to Samsung’s Stinziano, his company’s living room screens produce incredibly “rich colors, better than OLED”—a statement that can only be a direct slap at competitor LG and its rival OLED TV display technology.
As promised, Samsung also revealed that all of its new smart TVs in 2015 and beyond, including the new SUHD TVs, will be based on Samsung’s Tizen, the open platform the tech maker has been actively pursuing in televisions, wearables like the Gear S and, it hopes, eventually smartphones.
Photos by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite