Avi Greengart is the Research Director for Consumer Devices at Current Analysis (Mobile Phones, Connected Devices, and Digital Home). He also regularly writes for Slashgear, sporadically blogs at Home Theater View and Tweets far too often as @greengartAvi's expertise lies in understanding consumer electronics marketing, consumer behavior, and technology adoption patterns: where new technologies meet the mass market. 

 

 


Avi Greengart is an expert on the convergence of technology and entertainment: video, audio, computing, and wireless, how these are coming together, and what's likely to survive long enough to make a difference in your life.

Column #37 (7/26/02)

Samsung’s Summer Product Lineup

Samsung rented a room in midtown Manhattan this week to introduce a whole slew of new gizmos.  They showed several new HDTV set top boxes with extensive connectivity options, announced their entry into the HTIB (Home Theater In a Box) and portable DVD markets with unique values, and displayed their latest DVD, camcorder, and portable audio products.

Samsung’s Top Set Top Boxes

In the set top box market, Samsung has every variation covered.  Just want DirecTV?  Try the bare bones SIR-70 (MSRP $99) or step up to the SIR-S75 (MSRP $199) with component video and Dolby Digital outs.

Want to add over-the-air HDTV to your HDTV-ready set?  The SIR-T151 can output the usual 1080i, 480p, and 480i display modes, along with 720p (perfect for devices based on 1280x720p DLP chips, including several front projectors and Samsung’s own upcoming rear projection televisions), selectable output configurations (15 pin D-Sub or Y, Pb, Pr component), full aspect ratio control – all for an MSRP of just $499. 

Samsung SIR-T165 Set Top Box with both Firewire and DVI


For those willing to spend a little more, the SIR-T165 adds DVI for compatible projectors and monitors, and Firewire (IEEE1394) for connection to DVHS decks.  The T165 should be available in August at an MSRP of $799.

Want a little of everything?  The SIR-TS160 combines a DirecTV receiver with an analog NTSC (standard TV) tuner and an HDTV (ATSC) tuner for over-the-air HDTV.   Perfect for plasma displays that lack internal tuners of any kind, it also includes DVI with HDCP, selectable output formats, and component video inputs and video switching capabilities to serve displays with a single high definition input.  To make sense of it all, the 7-day Advanced Program Guide™ combines listings from both satellite and over-the-air programming.  The SIR-TS160 is scheduled to ship this month for an MSRP of $699.

Samsung Tries To Fit Home Theater In A Box

At the high end of the HTIB market, Samsung introduced the HT-SK6 ($1199 MSRP, $999 MAP), which includes Klipsch Quintet speakers and powered sub, integrated DVD with progressive output, nice styling, decent amplifier power, and video inputs/switching capabilities for additional progressive sources.

Most of the expected bells and whistles are included (3-2 pulldown processing for the progressive output, Dolby Digital, DTS, and Dolby Pro-Logic II processing, MP3 playback, 30 AM/FM presets), and the combo sounded quite good – with the expected crisp high end that horn-loaded speakers are known for – and decent bass.

This is a very nice system for the masses, and an excellent bedroom system for the enthusiast.  Note that the component and speakers are in a matching gunmetal/silvery finish; speakers in white (or other wall colors) are not available.  You’ll be able to find these units at specialty chains (Tweeter, Good Guys, etc.).

Klipsch Quintet Speaker System (Samsung HT-SK6 integrated receiver/DVD player not shown)

At the very low end of the HTIB market (only $399 MSRP, $349 MAP), Samsung brings us the HT-DM150.  It’s got the same nice styling, integrated progressive scan DVD, and audio/video processing features, only this time with lower amplifier specifications and a set of house brand speakers. 

When I audition well-integrated home theater speaker systems, even miniature, impossibly inexpensive ones, I’m often surprised by how good they sound.  Not this time.  The center channel sound was boxy and colored, the bass from the passive sub was not all that powerful or well integrated.  Still, for under $400, you simply won’t find anything else on the market with this feature set or style, and I expect them to fly off the shelves of the mass market retailers who will be stocking them.

DVD, DVD Everywhere

Let’s get the cool gadget out of the way first: the DVDL100 portable DVD player has the largest screen on the market (10” widescreen TFT-LCD), decent battery life, and an impressively slim form factor.

Like the other Samsung DVD players on display, it plays MP3 CDs and memory sticks – and includes a genuinely useable interface for dealing with the audio and/or video files.  The DVDL100 also comes with progressive scan processing and an impossibly small infrared remote control, so you could theoretically use it at home as well as on the road.  But let’s face it: portable players have always been expensive indulgences, and at $999 this is no exception.

Samsung also showed it’s DVD-P721M (MSRP $249), a single-disc home player with the same progressive scan and memory stick capabilities, and the DVD-V2500 (MSRP $349) which adds a built-in HiFi VCR.

Samsung DVDL100

Memory Stick Invasion

Memory sticks also showed up in a pair of Mini DV (Digital Video) camcorders, the SC-D590 and SC-D86.  Quoting the press release, “Samsung’s SC-D590 is the smallest upright Mini DV available in the world, at a teeny-tiny 1.60” (W), 3.74” (H) and 3.70” (D).” 
I played with it.  It’s really small.  The SC-D86 is a more conventional horizontal chassis, but isn’t exactly huge, either.

Both units include 680,000 pixel CCDs, 10x optical zoom, Nite Pix for shooting in low light, image stabilizer modes, and both Firewire and USB connectivity for transferring your work to a PC for editing.

The SC-D590 (MSRP $1,199) and SC-D86 (MSRP $699) are currently available.

SC-D590 - Actual Size?

Everything Else

Surprisingly, given the explosion of Memory Stick slots, the Hi8 analog camcorders and portable digital audio products Samsung displayed didn’t have them. 

The SC-L700 (MSRP $299) offers playback options in NTSC or PAL, and the SC-L770 (MSRP $399) adds USB connectivity (relatively rare for an analog camcorder).  They are otherwise unremarkable. 

If you think the SC-D590 Mini DV camcorder is small, you need to see Samsung’s latest solid-state portable digital audio player, the YP-30SH.  It’s about the size of a pack of matches, and should be a good gift for joggers.  Samsung also offers several CD-based portable MP3 players, but currently has no firm plans for hard drive-based units.

-avi

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