By Kyle Davi
BU News Service
LAS VEGAS —It’s always tough beginning a press conference by apologizing, but that’s exactly what Samsung did at their CES 2017 debut.
“As you know, this year was a challenging year for Samsung,” said Tim Baxter, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics America. “Some of you were directly impacted, and many of you certainly saw the media coverage, especially about the Note 7.”
Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, had the infamous reputation of randomly catching on fire. In turn, the company recalled all of the smartphones and began an inquiry into the issue.
Baxter said the results of the investigation would be available “soon” but revealed nothing definitive on the matter.
Instead, Samsung quickly moved the focus of the conference onto their new home products and laptops.
Three new smart home products were announced, including a QLED television, washer and dryer system, and fridge.
What is QLED? Samsung claims it’s the better version of the OLED screens that have dominated the television market over the past few years. QLED televisions are backlit while OLED televisions have crystals that self-emit light. Samsung claims that no matter where you place their new TVs, you will still get stunning visuals.
Peak brightness has almost doubled in most cases in these new QLED models compared to Samsung’s 2016 televisions. Color reproduction is another area that has improved, with Samsung claiming “100 percent color volume.” The company says this means all colors can be expressed accurately at any brightness level.
A new connection cable is also available with these devices. The transparent cable runs from the television to a separate breakout box that contains the connection ports in hopes of cleaning up the look of your home theater.
Despite the distraction of new televisions, Samsung couldn’t get away from its mistakes.
A new four-in-one washer-and-dryer system called the FlexWash & FlexDry was introduced. This announcement comes amid another Samsung recall of 2.8 million washing machines due to issues with the top of the machine dangerously popping off while in use.
The new FlexWash includes a top loading section, which consumers might consider when looking at this product. However, the main compartment of the washing machine is a five cubic feet, side-loading section. An additional auxiliary 1 cubic foot top loading section allows you to do two different loads of laundry at once, which Samsung says saves time.
This dryer follows the same principal as the washing machine, with two different compartments to accommodate two loads in one batch.
And of course, both machines are connected to the Samsung Smart Home app for ease of use.
Continuing on the trend of connected devices, Samsung’s smart fridge and Family Hub received an update to 2.0 software. The new update included new apps and voice control, and ten fridges are now compatible with the 21.5-inch Family Hub touch screen display. Compared to the original Family Hub, which was clunky and almost useless, Samsung claims version 2.0 has a more responsive user experience. Users will still have to use Samsung’s own voice recognition software instead of interfaces like Amazon’s Alexa.
Samsung announced the new Chromebook Pro and Plus, which both feature a foldable design so they can be used like a traditional laptop and a tablet. They include a stylus for handwriting on the touch screen.
And just like apps are being added to your smart fridge, they are also being added to your Chromebook through the Google Play store. You can now get most of your favorite Android applications onto your Chromebook, and even run multiple apps at the same time.
The company also announced a more traditional laptop alongside the new Chromebooks called the Samsung Notebook 9. Samsung did not disappoint in their rival to Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup: The device claims 15 hours of battery life, plus adaptive fast charging to fully charge the laptop in two hours. The Notebook 9 also made the jump to USB-C ports like Apple’s MacBook Pro, but does include two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port.
But the biggest laptop announcement from Samsung was their new gaming PC called the Notebook Odyssey. Samsung and gaming haven’t traditional gone hand-in-hand, but the Notebook Odyssey is looking to change that. Designed to be an entry-level gaming laptop, the device boasts some impressive specs in both a 15-inch and 17-inch version. Samsung claims both models will launch with a 7th Generation Core i7 processor.
Though information on the graphics card for the 17-inch model isn’t available, the 15-inch model will have a GTX 1050. These graphics aren’t designed for hardcore gamers, instead focusing on entry-level consumers by pairing the graphics card with a full HD, anti-glare coated screen. Samsung claims the Odyssey will be able to game for 8 hours, which is average for laptops in this category. However, that’s exactly what Samsung’s entry into the gaming laptop business is: average.
The most eye-catching aspect of the Odyssey is on the bottom of the laptop with what Samsung calls “dragon scale.” This new airflow system is designed to keep the laptop cooler under usage with a design called HexaFlow.
From an innovator in the tech world, nothing on the Notebook Odyssey really stands out. Samsung clearly went for affordability rather than high-end specs; the 15-inch model costs only $1,199.
The 15-inch Notebook Odyssey will launch this February, while information on the 17-inch model hasn’t been released yet.