Samsung Electronics America this spring will light up Fox and Univision video apps on its Smart TVs, as it also begins shipping its 2013 line of Internet-enabled sets with a revamped interface that includes -- for the first time -- content recommendations.
The Fox Now “TV Everywhere” app provides access to new episodes of shows the day after they air, available to customers of participating pay TV partners. Currently, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom Communications and Verizon FiOS are the three providers that offer access to the Fox Now app for iOS devices.
Univision’s UVideos offers select programming, including full novela episodes and behind-the-scenes clips, breaking news and sports updates. In addition, Samsung will be offering a Spotify app for subscribers of the premium streaming music service.
Other video apps for Samsung Smart TVs include those from Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon, BBC News, HBO Go and MLB.tv.
Samsung’s line of 2013 TVs will begin shipping this month in the U.S., beginning with the LED 8000-series and the Plasma 8500-series.
One of the key changes: a redesigned Samsung Smart Hub that offers five dynamic menu panels, designed to ease navigation among different types of content. One of the panels is for "social" content, providing access to content from friends and family, videos from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other services.
The new Smart Hub also includes S-Recommendation, a feature that analyzes viewing habits over a period of six months to “learn” a user’s preferences to recommend similar content. The recommendations are provided from a variety of sources, including broadcast TV and streaming services.
“Although consumers can now access a plethora of content from myriad sources, finding and choosing their favorite content has become even harder,” said Joe Stinziano, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics America, in announcing the product lineup. “Our 2013 Smart TVs make it easy for you to spend less time searching for shows and movies, and more time discovering and watching the content you love.”
The 2013 TVs also include an enhanced Smart Interaction feature that recognizes natural-language spoken commands, including full phrases, as well as more hand movements (like swiping to change screens).
In May, Samsung will begin selling the $299.99 Smart Evolution Kit, which gives owners of certain 2012 TV models the ability to update their models to get some of the latest features. The kit fits into a slot on the back of 2012 Samsung 7500 and 8000 Series LED TVs, as well as Samsung Series 7000 and 8000 Plasma TVs.
Among this year’s models, the F8000 series is Samsung’s 2013 flagship LED Smart TV, which it touts as having the “most vibrant and richest colors with the highest contrasts and the brightest picture quality” of any Samsung LED TV to date. The F8000 will be available this year with screen sizes ranging from 46 to 75 inches at varying price points.
Samsung’s F8500 Plasma TV, meanwhile, provides “deeper blacks and brighter picture quality than previously seen on plasma TVs,” and the same brightness and eight times the black levels as standard LED TVs. The F8000 will be available this year in several size classes ranging from 51 to 64 inches at varying price points.
Also Wednesday, Samsung announced the 85-inch S9 Ultra HD TV. Priced at a cool $40,000, the TV includes a proprietary technology that upconverts HD and full-HD to what Samsung claims is “UHD-level picture quality.”