The 9000 series finally made an appearance at CES 2010, and it's gone through some big changes since we first profiled it way back in April 2009. Like every high-end model announced at CES, it's 1080p, 240Hz, local-dimming LED, WiFi-ready (Netflix streaming! Samsung app store!), and supports 3D with active shutter glasses. It's about as thick as a No. 2 pencil (0.3 inches) and like Toshiba's Cell TV, can upconvert 2D programming up into the third dimension.
They've also changed model number to C9000 to reflect the naming scheme for their other 2010 models.
The true pièce de résistance
is the full color touchscreen
remote. It communicates via WiFi and infrared, works as the middle man
to stream video from your PC to the TV, and -- here's the best part --
lets you watch TV in the palm of your hand while something else is
playing on the screen. Girlfriend watching a chicky movie while the
ballgame is on? Watch on the remote.
Awesome. This brushed-metal monster is just about the coolest thing we've heard of in the young new year. Check back frequently--we'll have the street date, price, and all the product info as soon as its released.
When this preview was written in April, the 9000 series was scheduled to hit the shelves in late summer/early autumn. That time came and went, and it looked like these TVs never surfaced.
It turns out that they did, but Samsung renamed them 8500 before they shipped. The 8500s don't include a wireless A/V media box, which we reported would come with the 9000 series (this detail was only a rumor, according to a Samsung representative). Other than that, the 8500s are exactly the same as what the 9000s would have been.
Without that box, the new models really aren't that much different than the 8000s, so Samsung decided to brand them within the 8 Series. The 8500s do have backlit-LEDs for localized dimming, where the 8000s use Edge LED backlighting, but it looks like they'll wait for something more groundbreaking to bust out the 9 Series tag.
Nothing is official and details are skimpy, but rumor has it that the 9 Series will drop late this year. We've been waiting this long, so what's another few months, right?
Original Article (4/24/09):
A few weeks back, we previewed Samsung's upcoming 6000, 7000, and 8000 series
high-definition televisions. Our conclusion was that the average consumer would be best served by a 7000-series television, as the 6000 series were not much less expensive but had a less appealing feature set, and the 8000 series had few extra features but a much higher price tag.
Now, it's time to take a look at some Samsung televisions that (despite not having prices yet) will almost certainly be more expensive than the 8000 series. Samsung's 9000 series is intended to displace the previous A950 series of LCD televisions, which garnered much praise among videophiles and connoisseurs of high-definition media. These are the highest of the high-end. While they may not be within the realm of possibility for budget-minded shoppers, these 9000-series televisions do have some notable features and innovations that a definitely worth gawking at.
Compared to the 6000/7000/8000 Models
Like the 6/7/8000-series Samsung televisions, the 9000 series is lit by an LED backlight, instead of a fluorescent backlight. This provides serious improvements in image quality and accuracy, while reducing the overall energy draw of the television. It's both eye-friendly and environmentally friendly, a nice twist in which technological progress corresponds with ecological responsibility.
There is a difference between the nature of the LED backlight between the 6/7/8000 models and the 9000 models. The 6/7/8000 models utilize "edge-lit" LEDs to light their displays. This means that LED lights are mounted around the edges of the panels, not directly behind them. The 9000 series features true LED backlight, with the LEDs mounted directly behind the screen. This allows for a greater versatility in how the 9000 models operate their backlighting, and to an interesting new feature called "localized dimming."
Localized LED Dimming
Flourescent backlights would illuminate the entirely of the screen all at once. Every part of the LCD display at the same brilliance, which made it difficult to differentiate between dark and light areas with accuracy. Hence the problematic contrast issues of LCDs compared to plasmas. With a true LED backlight, the TV is able to exert more control over its lighting, and adjust the brightness of specific areas of the screen independent of one another.
This means that in a scene with both dark and light areas, a 9000-series television can address each area on its own terms, juicing up the power for brighter spots and dimming it down for darker ones. This increases the vivacity of the image, and makes more a more pleasing high-definition experience.
Wireless A/V Media Box
In order to keep the 9000 series trim and slim like the 6/7/8000 models, yet avoid edge-lit backlighting, some changes had to be made. Samsung's innovative approach to this problem is a wireless audio/video media box that sits near the television. You plug your video sources into this box, and the box wirelessly communicates with the television, providing it with up to full 1080p content. It's a pretty remarkable leap forward for home entertainment, and it's likely that wireless video transmission will become a regular feature a few years down the road.
The Samsung 9000 series is made up of two models so far, the 46-inch UN46B9000 and the 55-inch UN55B9000. Prices are currently unavailable, and specifications are also somewhat scant beyond the major marquee features described above. Their release is anticipated sometime in late Summer, early Autumn, so more should be known about them very soon.
These are definitely not televisions for the everyday consumer; their cutting edge features will take a few years to filter down to more affordable models. Still, if you've got money to burn and absolutely must have a top-of-the-line TV, keep an eye on these sets.