2020 is set to be a big year for Samsung innovations. A year that will see the company chart a bold new future not just for technologies like AI, 5G and IoT, but everyday devices like gaming monitors as well. Since producing its very first gaming monitor less than four years ago, Samsung has soared to the top of the market with a portfolio of offerings that combine outstanding performance with immersive visuals.
Now, the company has announced that beginning this year, its Odyssey line of gaming laptops, PCs and VR devices is expanding to include gaming monitors, too. This will establish Odyssey as Samsung’s official product line for gaming gear. Visitors to Samsung’s CES 2020 booth can see firsthand how the company applied the futuristic design cues that the line is known for – and gamers love – to create the all-new Odyssey G7 and G9. Both the (27- or 32-inch) G7 and the (49-inch) G9 come packed with next-level specs including ultrawide, 1000R-curvature screens, a rapid 1ms response time, a 240Hz refresh rate for incredibly smooth FPS (first-person shooter) gameplay, G-Sync compatibility, and much more.
To learn more about the process behind the gaming monitors’ designs, Samsung Newsroom interviewed some of the designers who brought the monitors to life.
A New Chapter for the Odyssey
When discussing the process of refining the Odyssey G7 and G9’s designs, each member of the team, from Samsung’s Visual Display Business, stressed the importance of putting the needs and interests of gamers first. That, at its core, is what the Odyssey line is all about: equipping users with the tools they need to enjoy the best possible gaming experience.
However, as Visual Communication designer Adam Burgess noted, the launch of the Odyssey G7 and G9 not only demonstrates Samsung’s commitment to offering consumers game-changing gaming technologies, “It also creates an opportunity for us to thoughtfully communicate the philosophy of the Odyssey line in a way that feels authentic to our product offerings now and to come.”
That philosophy is realized in a pair of monitors created under design principles that can be summed up with the words “courageous,” “futuristic,” and “confident.” The devices’ simple designs set the tone for Odyssey monitors to follow, and are distinguished by their sharp contrast of black and white elements and use of eye-catching blue accenting. (It should be noted that the “Odyssey” name will also be applied to Samsung gaming monitors that are already on the market.)
“The word ‘Odyssey’ brings to mind the idea of navigation, of a journey,” said Burgess. “As Samsung’s official product line for gaming gear, Odyssey offers consumers next-level gaming experiences, powered by a combination of advanced gaming technologies and purposeful design. Together, these two attributes evoke the image of advancing toward the future.”
The Odyssey G7 and G9’s futuristic designs are products of the team’s careful observation of market trends. Odyssey G9 designer Juwon Cho explained the team’s approach.
“Our market research has shown that Samsung gaming monitors consistently earn good reviews,” said Cho. “However, we received feedback that some consumers would like to see genre-specific gaming elements incorporated into gaming monitor designs. To chart the best course for enhancing our offerings, we first examined some of the popular games and devices that gamers tend to prefer.” When the research showed that many gamers prefer futuristic concepts, the team adopted that term as a key design principle.
For gamers, one of the Odyssey G9’s most appealing – and futuristic – design elements may just be the Infinity Core Lighting on its back. As Cho explained, the key to its design boils down to the same factor that enables the monitor to transform users’ gaming sessions: immersion.
“When designing the lighting, we utilized light and mirrors to create the sensation that you’re being transported to another dimension when you look at it,” said Cho. “Of course, gaming on a 49-inch curved monitor with a 32:9 aspect ratio evokes that same immersive sensation, and that alone would be very enticing to many gamers. However, we wanted to create gaming monitors that offered more. That is to say, we wanted them to be monitors that users would be proud to show off.”
As design team member Ki-hong Kim explained, however, immersion wasn’t the only factor that guided the Odyssey G7’s lighting design. “Like all Samsung gaming monitors, the Odyssey G7 features what we like to call Arena Lighting on its back,” said Kim. “We differentiated the design by adding dynamic shapes and lighting to the monitor’s front bezel. It’s all part of creating a monitor that, just like futuristic armor and weapons from sci-fi games, projects a strong image as gaming gear.”
Convenience Is Key
Kim emphasized that the consumer is always key when it comes to product design, and because gamers are always interested in what the professionals are using, “We asked professional gamers to share their detailed opinions and preferences so we could incorporate them into the product.”
For example, many pro gamers consider a gaming monitor’s stand to be a very important design consideration. This is because often times, when gaming, they require a large space to move their mouse, and a wide monitor stand may get in their way. It’s also important that the monitor stand does not prevent them from placing their keyboard in a comfortable position. To address these inconveniences, the team carefully calibrated the angle of the Odyssey G7’s stand to enable users to comfortably position their keyboard and move their mouse freely. Users can also easily swivel, tilt and adjust the height of both the Odyssey G7 and G9 to accommodate their posture and eye level.
Continuing his breakdown of the Odyssey G7’s design, Kim described various ways that the team enhanced the gaming monitor to differentiate it from conventional offerings. The G7’s 1000R-curvature screen is a sharp departure from typical gaming monitors, which feature boxy rectangular frames. He also explained how the team optimized the accent lighting to enhance the gaming experience and make the monitor stand out.
“Some members of our team were concerned that incorporating lighting into the front of the display could disturb gameplay,” said Kim. “This led us to come up with a lighting design that directs light downward. The design received positive reviews from users, and with that aspect of the design sorted, we were able to continue developing the product.”
The Odyssey G9’s glossy white design is another departure from convention. After surveying customer opinions, the team elected to utilize the color because feedback indicated that white creates the strongest impression of a futuristic design. Feedback on the monitors themselves has been terrific thus far, as both have already garnered Innovation Awards at this year’s CES – the Odyssey G9 in the Computer Peripheral Device category, and the G7 in the Gaming category.
Getting the Most Out of Your Monitor
In addition to discussing the process of refining the Odyssey G7 and G9’s designs, the designers revealed how they would utilize the monitors to enhance their own gaming experiences.
“Often times, when I play games, I play in a dark environment so I can immerse myself in the game and concentrate better,” said Kim. “The lighting on the front and back of the G7 was designed with consideration for such environments, and helps make the gaming experience that much more immersive.”
Cho added that the Odyssey G9’s immersion-amplifying design has the power to transform how users experience their favorite games. “The G9’s 1000R curvature allows it to fill the user’s entire field of view,” said Cho. “When you play games that support the monitor’s 32:9 screen ratio, especially FPS, flight simulator and racing games, the level of immersion is such that you feel as if you are inside the game itself.”
The market for gaming monitors is estimated to grow from roughly 7.8 million units in 2019 to 12.2 million by 2023.1 Going forward, Samsung will continue to lead innovation in the market by offering gamers monitor designs that put their needs first.
“Even after a gaming monitor launches, the team will constantly seek out feedback and data to reflect in the designs of future products,” said Cho.
“Our goal,” added Kim, “is to anticipate trends in the rapidly evolving gaming market, and design products that lead those trends – rather than products that are simply different from what’s already out there.”
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A smartphone running the said OS already exists and will likely hit the market next year along with a number of new devices including PCs, tablets, smart wearables and other IoT products. In fact, the first smartwatch running HarmonyOS is expected to make a debut until the end of this year.
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Samsung, LG experiment with virtual demo rooms of the future amid IFA conference
Tech events so far this year have made something clear — it’s not tough for giants like Apple and Samsung to go all-virtual with their launches. But one aspect of a typical tech event doesn’t translate to a computer or phones screen: the demo room. Samsung thinks it’s found a possible solution.
The company on Wednesday hosted a virtual Life Unstoppable event that coincided with the IFA electronics show in Berlin. It wasn’t a typical press conference like the company’s two Unpacked events held over the past month. Instead, Samsung used Epic’s Unreal Engine for games to build a virtual, 3D tour experience — a sort of choose-your-own adventure digital demo — for the media and its partners.
“Would we have done it if COVID wasn’t around? I’m not sure,” Benjamin Braun, Samsung’s head of marketing for Europe, said in an interview. “That is a different way of presenting new products that no one’s done before.”
The novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 25 million people around the globe, has caused companies to rethink their product launches. GSMA canceled Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile show, a week before journalists arrived in Barcelona in late February. Instead of phone launches over the past several months, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and OnePlus all held digital events or introduced devices via press release.
IFA, taking place in Berlin from Sept. 3 to 5, is the only big tech conference with an in-person component this year. But only 5,000 people can attend, far below last year’s level of 200,000. While Samsung isn’t attending IFA, it’s still hosting events, like Life Unstoppable, that coincide with the shortened convention.
Samsung’s virtual house
Participants of Life Unstoppable will navigate around a digital house that contains about two dozen different Samsung devices, ranging from its $3,500 waterproof, outdoor Terrace TV to its updated Galaxy Z Fold 2 foldable phone. The visit revolves around a 45-minute guided tour, but participants are able to branch off on their own to look at the back ports of a TV or circle back to the kitchen to check out the appliances.
Samsung noted that “every detail,” from the home’s artwork to the furniture’s fabric, “was carefully selected following meticulous research into the type of guests that would be visiting Samsung House, resulting in a truly immersive home environment.”
There’s also an augmented reality component that lets people see what the new products, like TVs, will look like in their own homes. And Samsung noted that immersive 8D audio makes visitors feel like they’re really in the home
During Life Unstoppable, Samsung unveiled a host of new products, ranging from a smart video projector called The Premiere to its Wireless Charging Trio pad that can charge a phone, watch and earbuds at the same time. Samsung also introduced a new fitness band, the Galaxy Fit 2; a low-priced 5G smartphone, the Galaxy A42 5G; and the budget Galaxy Tab A7 tablet.
While Samsung determined Life Unstoppable was the best format for IFA, Braun said, it may go a different route with CES and other trade shows.
“We constantly need to force evolution, force innovation, not only in our products but also in the way we present ourselves,” Braun said. “At some point, once COVID is under control and we’re back to potentially physical [events], then we need to rethink them as well. How do we merge the two?”
LG’s ‘virtual exhibition’ and IFA’s ‘Xtended Space’
Samsung isn’t the only company trying to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation by creating a virtual experience for regular show attendees to enjoy in lieu of IFA this year.
On Tuesday, LG launched its IFA “virtual exhibition,” demonstrating its latest product lineups within a realistic rendering of its usual IFA home — the Berlin Messe’s Hall 18.
First impressions show this to be an improvement to the usual in-person experience. No longer must you spend upwards of 30 minutes attempting to navigate the labyrinthine convention center with its many entrances and exits to reach the LG booth, and gone are the hordes of people that usually delay your journey even further.
But as you click through the virtual exhibition, you start to remember why attending these shows in person was important in the first place.
The cinema screening room in which you are supposed to be able to enjoy the deep blacks of LG’s latest screen technology doesn’t have quite the same impact when you’re viewing it through your own laptop or phone screen. The same is true when testing the sound quality of LG’s speakers and headphones in its virtual audio booth.
It’s hard to say how cool and effective LG’s rollable TV is without being able to examine it from all angles. Maybe it would help if you could navigate the exhibition in VR, which would allow for a more immersive, less static experience. Samsung said its Life Unstoppable home could be viewed in VR, but it was mostly designed for PCs, phones or tablets.
While LG and Samsung are offering their own takes on the virtual trade show, the wider event is also going online this year via a digital platform it’s calling IFA Xtended Space.
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Through an online hub, virtual attendees will be able to join live streams of keynotes, press conferences, panel sessions, presentations and virtual exhibitor presentations and match-making opportunities that will allow them to establish new business contacts. New products will even be presented in 3D, although it remains to be seen how easy it is to form a proper first impression of new tech without being able to touch it or hold it in your hands.
IFA’s organizers acknowledge that this year’s show won’t replicate the experience most regular attendees are accustomed to, but they believe its digital platform will offer something novel to people — whether they’re using it to supplement their in-person visit to the show, or to attend remotely.
“A digital platform can hardly compensate for a true on-site experience,” IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker said Tuesday in a press release. “However, the IFA Xtended Space enables all those who are interested to know even more and those who cannot join the IFA 2020 Special Edition physically in Berlin to have a truly unique virtual experience.”
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