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This is interesting: Samsung is adding what amounts to a kind of Slingbox to all of its new smart TVs, allowing consumers to watch a show on TV, and then continue to watch it on their mobile device, even if the TV is turned off. The new feature, which will at launch only work with current-generation Samsung handsets, transcodes any signal — be it cable programming, online streams or even broadcast TV received with an antenna — and relays it within the home network to mobile devices.
This kind of device-shifting isn’t new — Slingboxes have been offering this for years, and cable boxes increasingly also offer in-home streaming — but it’s interesting to see it added to a TV set, and it speaks to the increasing role mobile devices play when it comes to entertainment in the living room.
It’s worth noting that [company]Samsung[/company]’s take on the Slingbox doesn’t quite compare to the features offered by a dedicated place-shifting device. Consumers won’t be able to change channels from the mobile device, and streams can only be watched within the home. Any programming mirrored from the TV to the mobile is sent via Wi-Fi Direct, which also means that you can only watch it on one mobile device at a time. But it’s still a neat feature, and I could see people use it to take their living room programming with them to the kitchen, or any other room with a TV in it.
Samsung showed off the new mirroring capability at a press preview event at CES in Las Vegas Sunday evening, where it also showed mirroring content from the phone to the TV, as well as an interesting new feature that someone decided to name “Briefing on TV:” When users set a wake-up alarm on their phone, it automatically turns on the TV as well, displaying the time, weather and a user’s Google Calendar. It’s a little bit like Samsung’s take on Chromecast’s Backdrop functionality, with an added alarm functionality. Content mirroring as well as Briefing on TV are all based on new multiscreen technology that uses Bluetooth Low Energy for device discovery.
Samsung also used the preview event to give press a first look at its new Tizen-based smart TVs, which looked suspiciously similar to the webOS-based TV sets LG first showed off at CES last year. Tizen-based TVs use a horizontal navigation bar as well as a pointer-based remote control, both elements also used by LG. However, Samsung has thrown in a bit of neat eye-candy: Its programming guide and other translucent overlays are shaded based on the background. If you watch an underwater scene, they automatically use a blue color palette. Switch to a show about deserts, and the menus share red.
Samsung didn’t actually give press an opportunity to explore its Tizen TVs firsthand, or even open up different apps on the platform — we were promised to be shown more when the show officially starts on Tuesday. However, a spokesperson said that the new Tizen TVs will feature more than 700 apps.