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10 Jan 2012

A "smart" internet-connected television that has the ability to have its hardware upgraded every year has been unveiled by Samsung.

The device has a slot which allows new kit to be added to boost processing performance and add new features.

The innovation may help reassure shoppers concerned about their screen becoming outdated.

The move is aimed at helping the South Korean tech giant retain its lead as the world's best-selling TV maker.

Samsung's president of consumer electronics, Boo-keun Yoon, unveiled the firm's flagship LED television at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas noting that his firm currently sells two televisions every two seconds.

In addition to its "smart evolution capability" Samsung has also added gesture, voice and face recognition features to the ES8000 model.
Familiar faces

A built-in camera allows users to browse the internet with a wave of their hand and to change channel by speaking in one of the more than 20 languages that the set can "understand".

A facial recognition facility also allows the set to recognise users, pulling up the relevant selection of their favourite apps.

The device is the latest in a run of so-called Smart TVs launched by the firm since 2008.

Samsung is on course to hit a milestone of 20 million global TV app downloads before the end of January, said its president of consumer electronics America Tim Baxter.

New apps announced at the trade show included Rovio's Angry Birds video game.

Samsung also announced its users would be given free access to a new Angry Birds on-demand animated television channel, marking the latest evolution of the hit title.
Smart TV surge

Connected televisions with built-in processors are tipped as one of the hottest trends at this years CES.

Event organiser, the US Consumer Electronics Association, has said it expects that about half of all shipped TVs would have internet capabilities in 2012.

By contrast it said the figure was 12% of all units shipped in 2010.

While Samsung pursues its own software solution, its rival LG has announced a television with built-in Google TV facilities for the US market.

The firm's chief technology officer, Scott Ahn, only briefly mentioned the move at his firm's CES press conference saying that the step "will form the basis of a strong future working relationship" with the US search giant.

LG also promised voice-recognition via a new remote control.
Left unconnected

Meanwhile, Sony continues to hedge its bets.

Its new HX850 LED TV shares the same connected features as its predecessor including access to the Sony Entertainment Network and its Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited streaming services.

However, the firm also unveiled two new devices powered by the revised Google TV - a media streamer and a Blu-ray player.

Panasonic and Haier are among several other companies also showing off new connected TV facilities at CES.

Although sales of internet capable TVs are on the rise, analysts said the trend can be explained by the fact that the facility is offered on most of the biggest and highest quality sets.

"It's been the year of connected TV ever since 2008," said James McQuivery, television industry analyst at Forrester.

"Every year you see these at CES. However, the manufacturers have struggled with the fact that around half of all people who buy connected TVs never put them on the internet.

"So the challenge going forward is getting people to use the new functionality."


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