by Lance Whitney
Imagine using one remote instead of three or four to control your entire home TV system and other devices. That's the type of gadget Samsung has cooked up.
The South Korea-based electronics giant announced on Monday a new "smart control remote" designed to work on all of your TV-connected devices. Teamed with a Samsung Smart TV, the new remote will support not just the TV itself but also set-top boxes, streaming media players, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles connected to your home entertainment system.
That sort of consolidated control could bring some relief to consumers who've stocked up on electronic entertainment gear. It could also be a step forward for smart TVs, which offer access to apps, games, online programs and streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. That variety means the TV's interface is often confusing and clumsy to use. Through its new interface and remote, Samsung is attempting to offer a simpler way to control and tap into all the features of its smart TVs and more.
The company is also now more heavily competing with rival LG, which is demoing a new lineup of Smart TVs at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Central to LG's new lineup will be an updated version of its WebOS software, which promises to ease the process of jumping between broadcast TV channels and online programs.
Samsung's new remote and its new 2016 Smart TV lineup are built on its Tizen software. Like LG's WebOS, Tizen tries to provide a simpler, easier interface for people watching smart TVs, but Samsung also uses Tizen to power smartwatches and low-cost smartphones in emerging markets.
Samsung says its smart control can automatically recognize each connected device. The new Smart TV interface will also let users "switch seamlessly" among regular TV stations and Internet content as well as gaming consoles and Blu-ray players, according to Samsung. TV viewers will be able to search for content across multiple devices and add their favorite programs to the home screen.
"We wanted to offer consumers a new type of experience, integrating live TV with streaming services and other content sources," Chris Turkstra, vice president of Samsung's customer experience lab, said in a press release. "No longer will you need to keep track of several remotes to control individual devices. All you need is one Samsung Smart TV."
Samsung has scheduled a press conference for January 5 at CES where it's expected to unveil more details on its new Smart TV interface and remote.