Last week we had the privilege of attending a Q&A with GB Rower and Bronze medallist Alex Partridge (best known now as the chap who had his medal fleeced in a London club). Hosted by Samsung, he told us of his epic journey towards the 2012 summer games, his rigorous training regimes, his overwhelming emotions regarding the British support and volunteers as well as his personal and professional relationship with technology.

Samsung Smart TV & Alex Partridge

It was interesting to hear about what was going on behind the scenes at the Olympics, such as Mo Farah running around at the closing ceremony getting everyone to sign his GB flag, an excellent investment. Yet it was more intriguing to learn about the impact technology has had on sport, and rowing in particular. Sure, sportsmen now all listen to their mp3 players to psych up for the competitions, they communicate via facebook and twitter, but its intriguing as to how it has actually affected the sport and preparations themselves.

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Alex Partridge had been training for well in excess of a decade, and so the technological updates brought to the table certainly didn’t go unnoticed. In the past, it was likely that you could row and train and monitor by eye, but now sensors can measure performance in the gym, help fix injuries faster, but the biggest difference has been the video. He mentioned recording HD videos of training on his SIII, which enabled himself and his coaches to review his technique over every race and make comments on even the most minor of details which would seem innocuous at first, yet could improve performance by a winning margin. Previously lugging huge camera equipment meant videos were hard to take and review, were restricted to certain locations and rather costly – and rowing isn’t exactly the most overly funded sport. Its also worth noting that without these leaps forward with technology, correctly measuring the finishing order would be much harder and perhaps Alex and the rest of the men’s eight wouldn’t have walked away with even the Bronze without it!

Held in the cinema room of the elegant Beluga Hotel in Knightsbridge, Alex was flanked by two televisual behemoths – Samsung ES9000s. I don’t want to take anything away from Alex, whose physical presence was no doubt centre stage, but these beautiful big TVs drew my attention for the majority of the evening, and here is why:

  • LED, 75″ screen, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 3D display as well as 3D sound and converter
  • A ridiculously well furnished Smart TV suite
  • 49.7kg with stand, and a near invisible D2 bezel type
  • Smart interaction of both gesture and voice
  • A rose gold metallic finish to top it off

These are simply the most basic statistics, and what you can see when you first set eyes or interact with the TV. Of course, if you delve deeper there are more stats then I’d care to mention. The picture quality was stunning, and as we filtered in to the cinema room, the demonstration sequence on the display was mesmerising. The quality and richness of the colours was staggering, and its Clear Motion Rate functionality allowed the fast moving images to look seamless. Of course, at an imposing 75″ the vastness of the set also contributed to its dominating presence, and yet in spite of its size, it seemed delicate. The ultra-thin rose gold tinted bezel, a feature often overlooked, allows the screen to almost ‘float’, as Samsung VP Robert King put it. But this isn’t just a TV set for watching, its innards are even more important.

‘Smart TV’ used to mean ‘connected to the internet’ – the most misleading of titles for something of little significance. Smart TVs lack the framework for the delivery of suitable programmed content, specifically by third parties exploring the device and OS’s specific potential. The Samsung ES9000 is the closest I feel we’ve come to an actual ‘smart’ TV. The system, and all of its receptive components, will respond to your voice commands, the hand gestures and also even recognise your face. It can recommend what you may like to watch at any given time, and also gives you access to over 1,400 apps. Whilst there is the typical Netflix, radio, iPlayer and whatnot, there’s also Samsung specific content for kids, some novel 3D apps and also a fitness app to let you do your yoga in the living room.

One thing that I think makes this set stand head and shoulders above the madding crowd is its attempt to become ‘future-proof’. Sure, displays and interactive elements leap forwards each year, so perhaps the physical elements of the set won’t get better with time, however you can upgrade the software and firmware to ensure it isn’t left behind. When Samsung updates its Smart TV offerings, download an update to USB and plug it in to bring your TV in-line with the rest. There is also the ability to add hardware, and coming in 2013 is an upgrade to the processing unit within the TV – it can become more powerful without having to replace the whole darned expensive thing! So whilst its not quite a new TV each year, its certainly going to give you a new viewing experience on a regular basis.

This doesn’t come cheap, but quality never does in the world of technology. If you are balking at the price (currently from £7000 and up!), remember that with Samsung’s product support and the ingenuity of keeping up-to-date via add-ons and software upgrades, this is actually a sound purchase of a set that will last far longer than you may initially anticipate. Actually, its hardly a purchase, more of an investment in your television and home-viewing future.

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