One thing I really like about Samsung is that it always pushes the boundaries. Sometimes that results in flops, but in general, it's been a great driver of bringing laboratory wizardry into the mainstream. And Samsung is doing a lot of technology pushing with TVs.
In the LCD and plasma world, Samsung is continuing its SUV strategy of building 'em bigger, bigger, bigger. Take the new LN-S8281D -- an LCD television with an absurd 82-inch diagonal measurement. (That's nearly seven feet!) Samsung can create such a monstrosity because it owns one of the biggest LCD glassmaking operations in the world. Is this a real product, or just a stunt? Well, both the availability date and the price are listed as "TBD," although Samsung says it will come out sometime in 2006. When it does, it will likely be crazy expensive. But in 3 years, who knows, maybe lots of people will have somewhat affordable LCD TVs of gigantic proportions (though perhaps not quite 82 inches). Really, this is a job for a projector, not a flat panel. But flat-panels look far more impressive in newspaper photos.
If you can't wait for the LCD, Samsung pledges to have by February a plasma TV of a not-too-shabby 80-inch diagonal. (No price announced yet.) They say this will be the largest "consumer" TV -- in contrast to an even-bigger "just for show" plasma they displayed at last year's CES. One legitimately cool thing about this TV is that it supports the highest HD resolution: 1920 by 1080 pixels (or about two megapixels, if you will). Called "1080p" by those in the know, this resolution is the hot new item in TVs.
Samsung (along with all the other major TV makers) is rolling out a bunch of 1080p models -- some of them in sizes that actually make sense. For example, Samsung will start selling in June a 46-inch 1080p LCD model for $10,000 (will probably be half that price in a year).
Even bigger, and a lot cheaper, is a new 1080p rear-projection model, the HL-S5679W, a 71-inch model that will sell for $4,999. But especially cool about this TV is the use of a virtually brand-new projection technology. Instead of a mercury arc lamp bulb (as found in almost all projectors), this TV uses light-emitting diodes. LEDs produce fantastic color, but until now they haven’t been bright enough (at a reasonable price) to power a projector. So I'm a little skeptical. Rear-projection TVs already have brightness problems (they only put out enough light to look good if viewed from head-on. They are useless if viewed from the side.)
The really cool thing about LEDs is that they can produce better color. Traditional projectors pass white light through color filters to produce so-so shades of the red, green, and blue primary colors. Filters also, of course, absorb a lot of light that never makes it to the screen. LEDs actually glow in the colors red, green, and blue - and potentially far richer versions than you get from filters. So this TV has the potential to produce fantastic color. We'll see.