If you could step into the future of television, what would you find? That’s the question Samsung is posing to us, and their answer is the new ES8000 Smart TV. It certainly is the most techno-packed TV I have ever seen but are all the bells and whistles worth the ‘Smart TV’ tag and the premium pricing? Let’s find out!
For a 55-in TV, the ES8000 is one good looker, with an extremely sleek profile and a thin aluminium bezel. The massive panel is glossy in finish, which gives you great blacks and punchy images, but also saddles you with annoying reflections. Connectivity options are comprehensive, yet with only 3 HDMI inputs, I quickly ran out of high-def input options. Wi-Fi is built-in, as is the integrated wired Internet LAN port.
Using the TV straight out of the box, picture quality is very bright and high on contrast, though some of you might want to try out the various picture modes to find one more suited to your tastes. The TV’s image processing engine handles tasks such as upscaling and 2D-to-3D really well, and while I’m not a big fan of 3D, this TV checks off the boxes on that front as well.
It’s really the ‘Smart’ TV features then, and how they perform, that will decide the fate of this TV. With the ES8000, you get the Smart Hub, a central access point for all of the TV features as well as Internet services (Skype, web browser etc.) and downloadable Samsung apps. The latter include tons of the regular Facebook and Twitter apps, along with some exclusive apps that let you share content within the family or track your fitness.
With all these smart features came a challenge — how do you use them via a traditional remote? You could use the built-in voice commands, a library of recognised words, to do things like change the channel, volume or the source, or even control a few Samsung apps. While the feature works fine from a technical standpoint, it’s really not that practical to use and I often found the remote to be a faster alternative. The same holds for the gesture control, which is far too dependent on the ambient light and how quickly your patience runs out. Once the novelty wears off, I’m willing to bet that you’ll rarely use the voice and gesture controls. A window into the future they may well be but there’s a lot of refinement needed before I’ll be ditching that remote control.
Speaking of which, the touchpad-equipped remote control, which Samsung includes alongside the regular remote, is the real find of the day. It works well in conjunction with the Smart Hub and lets you navigate through the apps in a really intuitive fashion — it really looks as if it was designed with a smart TV in mind. That, and the promised Smart Evolution kit — the potential to upgrade your TV internals and prevent obsolescence by the time next year’s models come out, are the real reasons I’d want to bet on this TV.
• Rating: 8/10
• Price: Rs 2.73 lakh
For your ears only
Call me jaded, but Bluetooth headsets rarely excite me, what with most following a safe one-ear design. Which is why I took notice of the Plantronics BackBeat Go — it’s a sleek, black Bluetooth headset that sports two in-ear plugs that neatly disguise a microUSB charging point, along with volume keys and answer/ hang-up controls all integrated into a flat, tangle-free cord that rests nicely on the back of your neck. It can play stereo music and streams phone calls to your ears via Bluetooth profiles and offers a battery life between 2.5 and 4 hours. What I liked about this was the slick design and the rather inventive charging point, and the fact that they fit really well in the ears and block off a lot of outside noise while they’re at it. Sadly, the sound output is tinny and flat, which suits voice conversations really well, but lets you down while listening to music.
Rating: 7/10 lPrice: Rs 4,990