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Bigger, Better, Interactive: The Future of Hotel TVs

publication date: Jul 16, 2012
author/source: Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY


Jul 02, 12 | 12:03 am

By Barbara De Lollis

BALTIMORE - Are you often disappointed in your hotel TV experience? Maybe the TV in your room was made in the ancient year of 2002, for instance, and is smaller and less sophisticated than what you have at home.

The Samsung booth at HITEC, the world's largest hotel tech show.
Photo credit: Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY


Bigger, Better, Interactive: The Future of Hotel TVs


Well, hang on there for a bit longer. Things are looking up, based on a visit to the Samsung booth at HITEC, the world's largest hotel tech show that's wrapping up at the Convention Center today.

I checked in with Jonas Tanenbaum, Samsung Electronics America's hospitality vice president, to get a glimpse into the future in hotel-TV land - and it looks pretty good. Some highlights:

  • Better picture quality: The latest generation of hotel TVs squeeze in more pixels and have a higher contrast ratio between the brightest brights and darkest parts of the picture. Into numbers? The most impressive TV I saw had a ratio of 5 million to one.
  • Bigger TVs: For now, it's mostly the higher-end hotels that are shifting to larger-screen TVs. A high-end hotel, for instance, may replace its six-year-old 36-inch TVs with a 55-inch TV, he says.
  • Hotel menu: We all know how frustrating it can be to click, click and click again to try to find out which channel shows CNN, ESPN or HBO. Well now, the Samsung TVs are making it easier by showing an interactive channel guide, just like you might have at home via your cable or dish provider.
  • Transfer to iPad: There's a new, nifty app out that works with Samsung TVs that lets guests transfer the TV content onto their own iPad. So, say you're lying in bed with your partner and your partner tells you to turn off the TV (sound familiar?). Well, using this app you can simply transfer your TV show to your iPad and listen with headphones — letting your partner catch some ZZZs.
  • Room service: There's some growth in hotels interested in using TVs for hotel information so they don't have to spend money on publishing - and (possibly) updating - the old-fashioned hotel-room directories. Of course, companies such as Intelity are specializing in bringing the same type of information to the guest via iPads so we'll have to watch to see which vehicle becomes more popular.
  • Interactive: Samsung is incorporating apps into its TVs so that it's easy for guests to log onto their Twitter account, Facebook page and other social networks. No need to use the flimsy, cheap keyboards; you can use the remote or, better yet, your own mobile device if the hotel has chosen that option.

"It's about customer expectations," he says. "An HD picture, thin form and interactive program guide are very basic."

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