4K TV: Samsung to grow Caribbean presence

Published in the Business Guardian for September 26, 2013

JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics introduces the company’s new mobile technology devices at Berlin’s Tempodrom. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.
JK Shin, CEO and President of IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics introduces the company’s new mobile technology devices at Berlin’s Tempodrom. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

Here in Trinidad and Tobago, we know Samsung as a manufacturer of televisions and more recently as a major player in the smartphone market.

The company isn’t fooling around with the brand awareness that its line of Android powered mobile phones and tablets has won it and is ramping up its like of offerings in other fields as well.

In Berlin earlier this month, the company held two launches, the first for its latest entrants in the mobile communications market, a refreshed Galaxy Tab 10.4, a new, slightly larger Galaxy Note and a daring new smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear (read more about that device here). Style was the hallmark of the new mobile products.

The Gear is a spiffy looking device sporting a very solid looking aluminium chassis. The new Note 3 and Tab sport a soft textured back cover that ships in ten colours with stitching running along its outer border.

The style imperative for the new devices doesn’t stop with this new emphasis on the feel of pleather, Moschino and Nicholas Kirkwood were announced as designers for new accessories for the devices. Software innovations for the tablet and mobile phone include Air Command, which pops up a wheel of actions and options around the spot where the stylus firmly presses on the screen and stylus driven features that expand what’s possible in a digital screen interface.

Draw a circle around content on the screen of the device and it’s captured to a new scrapbook application. If it’s a webpage, a link to the original source is saved within the new document. Draw a box and a user chosen selection of software appears ready for launching. Software opened this way fills the box you’ve drawn. A calculator launched as an example resized to fill the drawn box shape.

Samsung’s enterprise focused Knox security system for its Android based devices is now available commercially for anyone to use. Knox apps are hardened against hackers and malware and add a deeper layer of protection for business data and sensitive personal information.

The new tablet and phone ship with a big software bundle that includes Autodesk’s Sketchbook Pro, Evernote and Dropbox. Among the ambassadors who will tout the new Note 3 are Lionel Messi and Baz Luhrman.

Today, that launch roadshow comes to Trinidad and Tobago with the local launch of the Galaxy Gear and Note 3, but make no mistake, Samsung has deeper plans for local consumers. In response to e-mailed questions, the company noted that it “has retained its No. 1 position in the global TV market for eight consecutive years by pioneering an innovation each year, including cutting-edge displays, 3D and Smart TVs.”

Those innovations didn’t stop at this year’s launch event in Berlin and the second launch event, convened in an island of completion among the hanging wires and unfinished booths at the IFA Consumer Electronics show, Samsung had carved out a room and expansive set to launch household goods with an edge.

Samsung has been playing in this space since launching its first refrigerators and washing machines in 1974 and now employs 60,000 people in research and development, some of whom work in five elite lifestyle research labs that are committed to designing the future of home appliances.

In a series of introductions that included a robotic looking Motion Sync Vacuum Cleaner and the muted Bauhaus sensibility of the Food Showcase FS9000 Refrigerator the standout product was the new curved OLED televisions that add a gentle wrap to the large 55 and 65 inch displays.

Those startling curved televisions would have been a strong cap to an event that brought award winning chefs to the table in a new initiative called Club des Chefs, which will bring these professionals into kitchens to demostrate new cooking techniques. 

Then Samsung unveiled its new UHD televisions, displays capable of wrangling a 4K video signal and pumping out to displays that are available in a choice of sizes, from 85 inch to 110 inches on the diagonal. There are, unfortunately, currently no commonly available 4K signals or feeds, unless you happen to be editing a feature film in digital format.

An Intelsat representative announced that it would partner with Samsung to do the first Ultra High Definition 4k video transmission in Europe. The company had already done a successful test in North America in June. Until such transmissions become commonplace, even video from a BluRay source will have to be upsampled by the televisions (Samsung calls the technology its Quadmatic Picture Engine) to fill the capacity of its new UHD screens, which start at US$40,000 for the 85 inch model.

With no such limitations, Samsung cheerfully filled these monster displays with 4k images of wildlife on the prowl, lush nature landscapes and closeups of flowers that were staggering in their crispness and colour fidelity. So when does this consumer conscious country get to sample all these tempting wares?

Responding to such questions, Samsung offered the following statement. “In an effort to expand and broaden its offerings in the Caribbean, Samsung currently has blueprints to open 31 retail locations throughout the region over the next year.” “Aruba shall be the first store location to open, followed by locations in Saint Martin and Dominican Republic soon after.”

“In Samsung´s new Brand Shops, the consumer may experience, first hand, the most exclusive in all Samsung product categories, as well as the advice of a professional sales team.” Questioned about the company’s specific plans for its presence in this country, Samsung responded that they are “planning to expand our business in Trinidad & Tobago and, in order to do that, we are training and hiring more personnel.”

“We are also including products from all of our divisions to our offer in the country.” Samsung fans should look out for the introduction of Samsung Experience Shops, which have previously been installed as small booths in local malls for the company’s then new mobile phones and tablets. The company promises “first class service from our professional sales team, especially trained on these products” and will open a Samsung Experience shop in Trinidad and Tobago soon.