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Hands-on review: CES 2014: Samsung 105-inch curved Ultra HD 4K TV


Hands-on review: CES 2014: Samsung 105-inch curved Ultra HD 4K TV

Samsung pulled sheets off its latest TVs at a pre-CES event in Vegas this week, and chief among them was a massive 105-inch curved Ultra HD display.

Samsung also unveiled a bendable TV that changes shape before your eyes at the same event, but somehow it didn’t completely steal the show – and that’s a testament to this gargantuan 105-inch unit.

But the most unusual thing about Samsung’s newest flagship TV is not its size alone, but the combination of that size with the curved shape and the oddly unsettling 21:9 aspect ratio.

Samsung 105-inch curved UHD 4K TV

At the event this TV’s strange and beautiful screen played a montage of urban and suburban fly-overs, and these images were not without a sense of vertigo.

Don’t get us wrong – the screen is so lovely it’s almost heartbreaking. And its unusual properties give it the exotic air that only truly new technology can have. And the possible viewing angles are phenomenal.

But doesn’t it seem a bit impractical?

Caution: wide load

The extra-wide display seems to have been designed with one thing in mind: multi-tasking.

"The 21 by 9 has the added benefit of being able to either show that original director’s cut 2.35 vs. 1 aspect ratio, or a traditional 16 by 9 with content on the side," Samsung Vice President of Home Entertainment and Marketing Dave Das told TechRadar.

He continued, "You can imagine you pull up contextually relevant web pages or videos or even another app on the same screen while you’re watching." For example, opening the TV’s browser while you’re watching a game might cause it to automatically pull up relevant player stats.

Samsung 105-inch curved UHD 4K TV

The Xbox One and Windows 8 have similar tricks, though Microsoft’s products don’t yet pull up relevant pages automatically.

Samsung also touted its upscaling system for playing older content at the higher resolution.

"Samsung’s upscaling is unique in that it’s a four-step process," Das explained. "We actually identify the source content, what’s coming in, with it’s SD, HD, full HD, Blu-ray – we identify that source content, apply a specific algorithm for the quality of that content, do noise reduction, and then do the upscale. That’s what sets Samsung upscaling apart, and as you mentioned it’s a really important part of the value chain."

Samsung wants to make sure early adopters have something to watch. Its UHD TVs will launch with a video platform, a hard drive with 4K content pre-loaded out of the box. And that theoretically applies to content tailored to the 21:9 ratio screen, Das said.

Samsung 105-inch curved UHD 4K TV

The company is also partnering with streaming video companies like M-Go, Amazon, and Netflix, and broadcasters like DirectTV and Comcast.

"We have a very robust content ecosystem, so consumers need not worry about content to watch on a Samsung UHD TV," Das said.

Fool us once…

Last year at CES 2013 Samsung showed off a 110-inch Ultra HD TV, though that one wasn’t curved. At the time Samsung said it would never actually go into production – but that turned out not to be the case.

News dropped in December that the 110-inch actually is in production. They’re taking orders, and it’s hitting the US market "as we speak," Das said.

But Samsung supposedly didn’t plan it like that, acting coy at CES only to drop it by surprise at the end of the year. And the same goes for the new 105-inch curved set, Das said. "[The 105-inch] an amazing statement here at the show with the potential to be launched later in the year," he explained.