Well folks, the gloves are off, and we have ourselves an 8K showdown. That’s how it’s looking now that Samsung has just stepped on stage here at CES to announce that it’s following up its 85-inch 8K TV that went on sale last year with an even bigger model: An enormous 98-incher, which puts it firmly in projector screen-size territory.
With four times more resolution than 4K TVs, 8K TVs have gone from impressive prototype to mass-market reality in one year, and Samsung is offering these TVs in five sizes: 65, 75, 82, 85, and of course the behemoth 98-inch model. All of them feature Samsung’s QLED technology, and a new Quantum Processor 8K chip to manage all of the on-screen action.
They also feature the company’s proprietary A.I.-based technology that can recognize and upscale any content, regardless of the native resolution, to near 8K quality. Samsung says this will happen whether you’re watching a streaming service, set-top box, HDMI-connected source, USB, or even mobile screen mirroring.
Speaking of screen mirroring, Apple users — be they Mac or iOS — are going to go gaga for these new 2019 models, as they all pack AirPlay 2, letting you natively screen mirror or cast, from a compatible Apple device. But that’s not all. Apparently, Samsung and Apple have been spending a lot of time together lately — how else to explain the fact that later this year, a new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app will debut only on Samsung Smart TVs in more than 100 countries. This marks the first time the iTunes movie and TV functionality has appeared outside of Apple’s own devices, or a computer running iTunes software. It likely won’t be long before other manufacturers get in on the iTunes action, but for now, it’s a Samsung exclusive.
Finally, Samsung’s Bixby personal assistant, which will respond to voice commands on the new TVs, is getting some new skills. It leverages your subscription services, favorite content, and TV viewing habits to surface content that it thinks will interest you. An improved Universal Guide makes it easier to find shows visually.
If you bought a 2018 Samsung Smart TV and now have a queasy, deflated feeling, don’t despair. Samsung says it will be sending out a firmware update for these models that will enable both iTunes and AirPlay 2 features later this year.
As tends to be the case here at CES, there’s no word yet on what these wonderful 8K TVs will cost, or where you’ll be able to buy them, but we’ll update you as soon as we know.