Smart TV features have established a foothold in the television space and consumers today expect their TVs to have some form of internet connectivity. Samsung’s Smart Hub has been one of the better implementations to-date and the latest iteration in the new TVs further improves its standing.
First up, there is an entire re-design of the interface and layout. Gone is the busy screen which was previously cluttered with multiple options. The new organization includes three major tabs which are Social, Apps and Photos, Videos & Music. The titles and the content under them are quite self-explanatory. The wealth of applications available to users is immense, however it must be said that our region still lags behind in terms of VOD and on-demand content services.
Also changed is the way users can interact with the Smart Hub. The F8000 comes with a new smart remote. With a wide touch-pad, it was the primary mode we employed to navigate the Smart Hub. The smart remote also includes a microphone that can be used to issues commands. Samsung’s voice recognition algorithms must be commended. Users can almost "talk' to their F8000 TV in natural speech and it will recognize keywords to perform the desired actions. For example asking the F8000 to "Search for songs by PSY" will reveal tracks by the Korean artist. At the same time you can change the channel, adjust volume and much more with just voice commands. Compare this with LG’s voice control, which can only be used for content searches and does not accept native TV control commands, and you have to give props to Samsung.
The F8000 also comes with a camera that can be manually retracted. Besides being used for applications like Skype, the camera also enables gesture controls. With the flick of a wrist users can toggle between panes on the Smart Hub menu. Two-handed gestures to zoom in on pictures and rotate images are also possible.
The Smart Hub experience on the whole is also speedier and snappier than the older versions largely thanks to the new quad-core processor that Samsung has fitted the F8000 with. Also interesting to note is the fact that the F8000 is Evolution Kit compatible. This means future versions of the Smart Hub can be purchased in the form of Evolution Kits and installed into the user’s existing F8000 TV model. This way the user can enjoy the latest Smart Hub without having to upgrade their entire TV set.