January 5th was Press Day, and for the most part it was dominated by big press conferences by the biggest players in consumer technology. While we could hit everything, we did get a chance to check out both Samsung's and Sony's events. And there's just no other way to say this: Sony gets CES. It put on a fantastic show, while Samsung's presentation basically came down to various Samsung executives patting each other on the back for all their great work. But the differences in the two presentations went beyond just style - it's clear that Samsung and Sony are really very different companies at very different points in their development, as we'll explain...

Samsung

AddWash

Samsung dominates so many product categories that it's almost hard to find a weakness, but its tremendous breadth may in fact be its greatest weakness. Right after announcing the world's first 4K UHD Blu-Ray player (we'll get to that in a moment!), a Samsung executive came on stage to announce Samsung's newest innovation: the ability to add your dirty underwear to a load of laundry after you've already started the wash. Samsung's brilliant PR folks have creatively named this feature "AddWash," and you could literally hear attendees laughing when this product was announced (and quite a number walked out at this point too). Seriously, Samsung, this looks like it could be a spoof on a late night comedy show!

But even dirty laundry can't sully what we think Samsung's most important tech contribution is this year: 4K UltraHD Blu-Ray: The Samsung UBD-K8500, shown here, is now available for pre-order at $400, and will ship in March. While that's about three months later than promised in early 2015, it's better late than never, and it's not absurdly expensive. The fact is that just about every other electronics company out there has abandoned physical media in the run up to 4K content, due in part to how darn long it took to bring the content to market. We don't think streaming is the answer (yet), and apparently neither does Samsung. The problem, of course, is still content, and while Samsung's exec was excited to announce that 100 major films will be available on UltraHD Blu-Ray by year's end, something tells us consumers aren't exactly going to be blown away by that possibility.

Samsung 4K Player

Sony 4K HDR

One thing that we noted during this talk was that Samsung really didn't have much to say in terms of technological innovation of HDTVs. Instead it led with the fact that it has over 50% of the 4K HDTV market. That's pretty impressive of course, and it's partly a result of Samsung's prior work on what it calls "SUHD" TVs. These basically have deeper colors, and Samsung's going a step further with marketing-speak this year by adding a new label: "UltraHD Premium", which apparently denotes 10-bit "Quantum Dot" sets in Samsung's world, although other manufacturers can adopt it if they too use 10-bit technology and HDMI 2.0a. UltraHD Premium goes beyond just higher dynamic range by providing an expanded color gamut and higher brightness levels. 

LG Super

Confused yet? Well, hold on tight, because things are going to get bumpier. As far as we can tell, Sony's calling its similar technology "4K HDR", while LG, which isn't a part of the UltraHD Premium consortium, is calling it "Super UHD TV." We're not big fans of marketing labels that attempt to differentiate products that aren't fundamentally all that different, as this just confuses consumers, but alas, the acronym war just isn't going to go away in the tech world any time soon...

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