Samsung CES 2018 Liveblog


Samsung is one of the tentpoles that holds up CES. Every year the company has one of the largest offerings at the show and 2018 will not be different.

Samsung’s press conference is always a good time if you’re watching from afar. It’s a mess of people in person, with too many people jammed into a tiny conference hall. It’s too hot, it’s smelly and yet it’s still a lot of fun.

For this show expect the usual mix of top-tier computers, TVs and appliances with a scattering of voice assistances included throughout.

The Samsung CES 2018 liveblog starts at 2:00pm PST.

In summary: New SmartThings app that looks like iOS 10’s Home app, a couple of new PCs and fridges and TVs with Bixby. Happy CES everyone! I’ll be back on a few to do it all over again with Sony. 

It’s over! Thanks for reading!

And that’s all she wrote. 

Tim Baxter is back on stage giving us the ole wrap ’em up. 

Not a lot of details on that one yet. 

Driveline is an autonomous vehicle platform from the company. 

Samsung has signed an unknown European automative partner for the deal. 

The company is introduce the “industry’s first integrated 5G automative solution, laying the groundwork for autonomous vehicles.”

Bixby integration means you can set your thermostat from the dashboard. Integration with the company’s connected fridges, means you can check your grocery list. 

It’s called the Digital Cockpit, merging entertainment and enterprise apps into a single stream. 

Cat warning

Dinesh is talking about a new integrated platform for the car. 

Harman President and CEO Dinesh Paliwal is up next. 

Naturally, Bixby is a big part of that play, following on the heels of recent integration of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in the car.

(Verizon disclosure)

Now it’s time to talk connected car with Harman. 

Verizon picked Samsung to provide a 5G trial in Sacramento, says Tim. 

The company has streamed 8K video to a mobile device on a train going 60MPH.

Samsung’s been busy testing 5G in Asia. 

“Samsung is uniquely positioned to turn 5G’s potential into reality.”

5G isn’t quite as big a buzzword as smart assistant at CES this year, but it’s getting there. 

Okay, it’s time to talk 5G and the connected car, as Tim Baxter takes the stage again. 

The Flip is landing in the US and EU this month. No word on pricing. 

You can use the pen or your hands to write and erase on the board — all similar functionality as the competition. 

Here’s a cool thing the competition doesn’t have — there’s an NFC module on the bottom of the system for pairing with Samsung’s phones. 

It’s probably the bad stage lighting, but man, that thing is covered with fingerprints. 

It’s a collaborative digital whiteboard for creating content across the cloud. 

Here’s something new — the Samsung Flip — a digital whiteboard that looks a bit like recent products from Google and Microsoft.

The Pen version ships with a built-in S-Pen — the same stylus you get on the Galaxy Note. 

It’s a nice Windows 10 PC. I got to play with it a bit yesterday. The new alloy metal feels a little plasticky, but the system is thing and light, with a 360-degree display, meaning you can use it as a laptop or tablet. 

Alana’s talking up the already announced PCs now, starting with the top of the line — the Samsung Notebook 9 pen. 

The SmartThings app is coming to the Gear S3 and Gear S3 Sport, meaning that you can control connected home devices straight from your wrist like some badass billionaire super spy. 

Sounds like we’ve got some wearable news coming — there’s your first surprise. 

Some funky aspect ratios theorized for that micro LED business. I like the idea of a Tetromino shaped one.

Alanna Cotton, the VP of SEA is up now. 

It uses non organic materials and doesn’t require backlighting or color filter. The system is also modular, meaning to can customize things like size and features to your liking and budget. 

The company showed off its latest TV last night at a First Look event. The Wall is the world’s first micro LED TV, says Joe. 

Now Yoon is asking for his morning brief. Looks like Yoon’s got a college football game to play after this press conference full of hilarious jokes. 

Joe’s playing his morning brief through Bixby on the Fridge. Sounds like he’s had a busy day. CES, amirite? 

Time talk talk fridges, obvs. 

Like Fire TV, the system is compatible with connected door cameras, so you can see who’s at the door from the set. 

So Bixby works like Sir on the Apple TV or Alexa on the Fire TV — you talk into the remote. 

There’s a camera guy right in between me and Yoon so just imagine the image below but a little different. They’re touching the remote.

You start by connected the Android phone with the TV — the process looks pretty seamless. Once connected, you can use third party apps like Spotify, streaming music on the TV without loading another app. It will also be compatible with Facebook video and Hulu, with more apps coming soon. 

Yoon just dropped an s-bomb when talking WiFi passwords. 

Yoon’s walking Joe through the SmartThings app on the TV — weird that they didn’t discuss any of this prior to the big press conference. 

Yoon and Joe are totally talking off the cuff. This definitely wasn’t rigorously scripted. 

Yoon Lee, SVP of Samsung Electronics America is hitting the stage now. 

Bixby is also capable of recognizing different voices now, which is a nice feature for a family device like a fridge. 

Which would be great in my home, because all of my appliances are currently fighting with one another. 

Family Hub will feature the aforementioned SmartThings app, so you can control the washing machine from the fridge, I guess. 

Joe’s talking up Family Hub, the connect module on the front of the company’s connected fridges. It’s expanding the feature to 14 models this year. 

And, of course, Bixby is coming to the company’s smart TVs in the US this year. 

Universal Guide is a new hub for finding TV shows that ships with all 2018 Sammy TVs. 

Short but sweet, that. 

Time for another quick ad — this time for Smart TVs. 

Joe’s talking up TVs now, listing off the company’s various successes. 

He’s wearing a sweet plaid sports jacket, FYI. 

Joe Stinziano, the EVP of Samsung Electronics America is up next. 

There’s a weird push each year at CES to integrate voice assistants into everything — fridges, toasters, speakers, whatever. I honestly think I prefer voice assistants in their original form: standalone speakers (like Echo/Home/etc.) It’s much easier to replace a little $50 speaker when new hardware requirements pop up than it is to replace a fridge. 

Less complexity, more simplicity, sez Kim, before exiting the stage. 

Kim is talking openness, which was a big part of Viv’s promise. The platform offers an easier method for integrating the smart assistant into third-party apps. 

The acquisition occurred prior to Bixby’s launch, but too lated to really be integrated into the system. 

The company has acquired a number of AI companies recently, rolling them into its AI Center. Most notable is Viv, the latest creation from the folks behind Siri. 

Bixby is coming to more TVs and refrigerators. No surprise there. 

“We’re taking Bixby to the next level.”

At the moment, it’s one a couple of phones and a fridge, but at least Samsung got that whole no voice control thing worked out last year.

Kim is talking Bixby now. The smart assistant got off to a bit of a rocky start here in the States. 

Haman Ignite, Harmon’s connected car platform is being rolled into SmartThings, starting today.

All of this is part of the company’s newly aligned SmartThings ecosystem. 

The company recently announced the Smart Things Cloud, a developer platform for IoT experiences. 

The company is also introducing a “Smart IoT” module, which looks a bit like a remote control. 

The company is working with the Open Connectivity Foundation to “eliminate fragmentation,” according to Kim. 

That’s coming in Spring 2018. 

Samsung has a bunch of different connected platforms, only adding to that complexity. Now the company is introducing a SmartThings app. It sounds a lot like Apple’s Home app for iOS 10 — a sort of control panel for connected devices. 

Everyone wants to be that connective tissue. But does that mean only owning Samsung devices?

“The world of connected devices is fragmented and complex.” Tell me about it.

Time to talk about IOT partnerships. 

Time to talk Integrated IOT Strategy. Who had that on Samsung press conference Bingo?

“The time for the delivery of true IOT and AI is now.”

More than one billion Samsung connected devices are currently in use, says he. 

Kim is excited to be here at CES. Aren’t we all, Kim?

Up next is HS Kim, the President and Head of CE. 

The company is bringing Samsung Knox to products beyond the phone — to smart TVs, signage and appliances, so no one hacks that smart washing machine. 

The Smart Things platform is going to be connective tissue for its various lines. 

The company sells almost half a billion devices a year, globally. 

90-percent of the company’s devices are now IOT ready, according to Tim. 

Timbo’s talking IOT, starting with the company’s acquisition of Smart Things. 

This Friday, the company is going to start shipping its first washing machines built in the US.

The company has spent $17 billion on its Austin semi-conductor office. Let’s be honest, chips are where Samsung makes the real $$$

Baxter says Samsung invested in 29 companies last year (by way of Samsung Next, the company’s incubator) and acquired 4. 

Brief rundown of Samsung Pay, Smart Things and Samsung Next — this is all a big lead up to a conversation about the company’s recent push to develop its own ecosystem across devices. 

Last year, it spent $14 billion in R&D.

The company is expanding its Premium Care offering beyond just phones, onto its whole line of product. 

The Galaxy S8 is Consumer Reports top phone, sez Tim. 

I am the sixth most valuable Greg.

Samsung is the “sixth most valuable brand,” according to an uncited source. 

Samsung is the global leader in TV and fridges, according to Tim.

Brief mention of last year’s talk of “setbacks” — ie exploding devices. 

Tim Baxter, the President and CEO of Sammy North America is hitting opening things up and promising that they’ll “do it a little differently” this year.

The big overarching message here is ecosystem. Samsung’s big push is devices that work together, which seems like a big Bixby play to me. 

Let’s get all of the old stuff out of the way, shall we?

Quick ad at the top, for the Galaxy Note 9. 

“Do What You Can’t” is this year’s slogan. 

Here we go!

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Samsung CES 2018 press conference.”

We have visual on the Samsung

Hurray! I managed to get on the internet! For now. We’ll see.

T-minus three minutes, and the wait music is getting more rocking with each passing one. 

Ditto for wearables. The company introduced a whole bunch of those just before the holidays, and the company tends to save its watch announcement for IFA over the summer. 

As far as what not to expect, phones are at the top of the list. The Galaxy S9 is no doubt coming in the very near future, but Samsung likes to save its big mobile announcements for its own events. 

Appliances are generally a big piece of the puzzle as well. Given the company’s recent push around Bixby, you can expect to see its homegrown smart assistant on most if not all of this year’s line up. Fridges, washing machines, you name it. Samsung’s got a lot of ground to make up on the assistant, especially with Google making a huge push at today’s show. 

This is always a big show for Samsung on the TV front, as well, so expect to see a bunch of flat panels to be rolled out on the stage today. 

The big news so far is a pair of notebook refreshes — the Notebook 9 and Notebook 7 Spin, both pen enabled Windows 10 convertibles. 

By way of recapping, we’ve actually seen what will likely be a big chunk of Samsung’s announcements already. 

And we’re in! I’ll be handling the words, along with Greg K. Devin’s on the telephoto.