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Has Samsung run out of ideas for the smart home?

Samsung Flip
Flipping hell: the Samsung Flip whiteboard was among the few new products of note

Never have so many queued for so long for so little. Samsung’s press conference at CES 2018 was a busted flush, a “vision” for the future of smart homes that was basically an hour-long wrap up of stuff that other people are already doing today.

Your Samsung Smart TV of 2018 will come with a “Universal Guide” providing a personalised menu of shows – or Netflix, as we’ve called it since 2012.

Samsung’s ailing voice assistant, Bixby, will be bundled into everything from washing machines, to fridges to the telly, failing to understand your every utterance and horribly mispronouncing even basic words, such as “two” – which it twice pronounced as “ter” in a toe-curling stage demo. Give me Alexa or Google Assistant any day.

What’s more, by 2020, Samsung’s HS Kim told us all of the company’s home devices won’t merely be connected, they will be “intelligent”. The PR stooges in the room attempted to generate a round of applause for this announcement. Those of us not being paid by Samsung just sat there and wondered if we could claim the hour we just spent queuing for this guff back on expenses.

Smarter TV set-up

There were one or two minor glimmers of innovation. The so-called “Effortless Login” for TVs will now suck up login details for services such as Spotify and Netflix by Bluetooth connection from your smartphone, instead of laboriously having to enter logins and passwords via a remote control.

And thanks to deeper SmartThings integration, you’ll be able to answer your front door from the telly when the pizza guy arrives. But this was a press conference desperately short on toppings… A revamped Notebook 9 laptop (which won’t be sold in Europe) and a massive Surface Hub-like whiteboard (the Samsung Flip) were the only real product announcements, and neither of those will butter many crumpets.

Samsung’s big product launches – new smartphones, watches etc – will come later in the year at its own event, when the company isn’t competing over the din of CES. Which leaves me wondering why Samsung goes to the expense and effort or even being at CES at all…

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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