With ever-thinner screens and 3D technology failing to excite consumers much, TV maker Samsung has come up with a new gimmick to shift sets – turn them into hubs for smartphones and tablets.
Outwardly, the company’s Series 7 Samsung Smart Station and HDTV Monitor are high-definition LED (a kind of LCD) TV sets, which come in 24 inch and 27 inch screen sizes, the HDTV model featuring an unusual offset stand design.
The smaller-than-usual screen sizes (most TVs are now 32 inches and above) betrays the products’ origins as computer monitors with added computing features, which start with the HDTV’s use of Intel’s WiDi, a wireless technology for streaming video direct to a TV without the confining need for an HDMI lead.
Both sets also add two USB 3.0 ports in addition to the conventional HDMI and VGA, but it is the Smart Station’s docking features that perhaps point to a new direction for the TV industry.
This can link using the emerging Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) standard to any compliant Android smartphone or tablet, streaming content from them to the TV. MHL currently covers some Samsung and HTC products but Sony and Nokia are also members of the industry consortium.
Samsung has also included a remote control feature that allows smartphones to be controlled using a mouse and keyboard, switching between that and wireless control of a laptop equipped with a special WiFi dongle.
“The PC market has been slowly evolving as users move away from desktops in favour of the convenience of laptops, tablets and even smartphones,” said Samsung’s vice president of marketing, Todd Bouman.
“By doing this, users are limited to comparatively small screens, touchpads, limited keyboards and multiple peripheral connections. The new Series 7 Smart Station and Series 7 HDTV monitor solve these problems by providing users with an easy way to reduce desktop connection clutter and combine the convenience of a laptop or mobile device with the traditional advantages of a desktop PC, He said.
The TV making industry has had a thin time recently, with falling prices, flat demand, and little real enthusiasm for technologies such as 3D. New ideas are needed and quick with innovative screen technologies such as OLED likely not to be sufficient on their own.
Due for public demo at the annual CES Show next week, the Series 7 Smart Station will cost $549 (£350) with the Series 7 HDTV monitor starting at $599. The timing of UK availability and pricing has not been confirmed.