2017 will not bring any major changes. Instead, Samsung will polish the existing UI, add a new remote, introduce a new mobile app, integrate ‘Stream Link’, and offer new apps. FlatpanelsHD saw the new features in action at CES.
Samsung 2017 Smart TV
Manufacturers have touted ‘Smart TVs’ for several years. It has been a strong trend powered by a desire to watch video content via streaming and apps. In 2017, most manufacturers will try to build upon what they already have instead of launching new platforms.
This year marks the third year for Tizen as a TV operating system but Samsung us not calling it Tizen 3.0. The company will double-down on its bottom menu that now treats broadcast and streaming services as equals. In the example above you have DirecTV next to streaming apps. Some apps have the ability to recommend relevant content in the top bar – just like in 2016.
Samsung will introduce new metal remote control for the ”QLED” LCD TVs. The most frequently used buttons are elevated a little to make them easier to navigate without looking. Our first impression was that it feels good in the hand.
The remote will be supplemented by an updated version of the ‘Smart View’ app for mobile phones. The app allows you to navigate to Netflix, find the TV series that you want to watch, and push it wirelessly to the TV – like Google Chromecast and Apple Airplay but not as comprehensive a platform.
The app – and TV – can also be set up to display notifications when for example a football match kicks off. Additionally, Samsung has enabled the app to control the general features of the TV. It is the same careless – and honestly mindboggling – implementation as in previous years. Samsung has simply moved the physical buttons to the touch screen without further concern.
The remote and app can also control devices that are connected via HDMI. The TV should automatically recognize external devices via a link system that was introduced last year, says Samsung. The company told us at CES 2017 that it has expanded, and will continue to expand, the database of supported devices. The concept has been dubbed ‘One Remote’.
One Connect box
The three Q9, Q8 and Q7 models will all feature an external ‘One Connect’ box for connecting external devices via HDMI and other interfaces.
The box connects to the TV via a single cable. Additionally, the TV needs a power cable. The flagship Q9 will come with an ultra-thin fiber cable to connect the ‘One Connect’.
Despite Samsung reusing the ‘One Connect’ name, the company will no longer offer customers the option to upgrade the box from year to year. There will be no new Evolution Kit in 2017. That will surely disappoint many existing customers who bought a Samsung TV based on the Evolution Kit promise. Samsung USA has already acknowledged that it broke its promise and issued a full refund to a customer who bought a TV in 2013.
Sports, Music & TVPlus apps
At CES 2017, Samsung also introduced three new apps: Sports, Music and TVPlus. The concept here is to aggregate sports from across various services in one unified user interface - same with music and TV shows.
The sports app will be available in the US. The Music app will be available “starting in France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the U.S”.
TVPlus is a service that gives you access to a catalog of movies and TV shows. Samsung will partner with FandangoNow, Rakuten, and Funke – video streaming services – to bring the service to the US and select countries in Europe.
The TVPlus app will be available in the US and expand to Europe in “April 2017”.
Customers globally who buy the 2017 models will also get the ’Steam Link’ feature. You may already be familiar with the Steam game platform on PC. With Steam Link you can play your PC games on the TV screen as long as your PC is turned on by connected a bluetooth game controller. More information is available here.
That was a general overview of the new features on Samsung’s Tizen Smart TVs in 2017. The features will not be made available on previous models. Nevertheless, it is nice to see Samsung iterating instead of introducing a new “revolution” each year. The current Tizen UI is intuitive and it appears that the company will focus down the simplicity path instead of cluttering up the UI with extra features as it has done in the past.