The new Samsung Series 7 LCD TVs are truly in a league of their own. Like most Korean designed televisions, they are absolute darlings in aesthetics and pack an eye-catching Crystal Design. But it's the new-found network connectivity that sets this range apart from other panels in the market. This capability enables the "connected" entertainment hub to sport new tricks such as live news feeds and on-the-fly multimedia streaming.
If you have an appetite for exquisite design or need something flashy to impress your buddies and associates with, Samsung's Series 6 and 7 flat panels' unique Crystal Design may be exactly what you need. The sensuous combination of a thin glossy bezel and inconspicuous red-tint borders — inspired by Italian glass blowers, apparently — make the LA46A750 a stunner. To maintain a picturesque front, its designers have again taken the invisible speaker approach, except that this is now lined along the bottom and firing downward — a rather strange proposition especially for directional sounds like vocals and highs.
It is equally astonishing what a simple wired network port can bring to the table. While we have been hearing about Net connectivity such as the AQUOS Net at the recent CES 2008 in January, the Series 7 LCD's InfoLink is probably a first outside of Japan. New on the plate are live news feeds, on-the-fly stock updates and weather focus, with Samsung in talks with Yahoo to provide local content. That's putting aside an enhanced WiseLink Pro function which doubles as a multimedia streamer. The latest Pro-DLNA incarnation streams music, photos and videos from remote PCs and media servers, conveniently transforming the set into a self-contained entertainment hub.
With on-board flash memory and an inbuilt high-speed USB port, Samsung is also offering preloaded content for the TV through its Content Library function. The material currently includes photo slideshows, cooking recipes, fitness tips, games and children-centric edutainment selections. According to its spokesperson, initial offerings will have an "international" flavour, though talks are in progress to beef up local content, too. Likewise for the download element of the system through its Web site and with new content played back through USB storage. Rounding up its connectivity options are four HDMI 1.3 ports, the highest in quantity so far.
Like a needle in a technological hay stack, we're struggling to single out any faults with the well-rounded LA46A750. However, a stronger set of key specs would have given the series an edge over its lower-end Series 6 counterpart. The latter offers near identical features sans the networking capability. In fact, if the hot rose-red hues haven't melted your heart, there's always the Series 5 models with a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast and 178-degree viewing angle, at a much cheaper price, too.
After a slow start this year, the big boys are back at full steam and it's definitely "show time" for Samsung with the ground-breaking LA46A750 trump card under its belt. Would it prompt Sharp to react with its own Net-ready AQUOS for Australia? We certainly hope so. But until we receive a heads up from them, the Series 7 is the one and only Internet-savvy flat panel on the horizon. As to whether it's a worthy feature in our maturing consumer electronics market, only time will tell. The Series 7 LCD range is expected to be released in Australia in August/September 2008 with pricing to be announced.