When we talk about revolutionizing television, we usually mean new approaches to content and connectivity, expecting the television's form factor to remain roughly the same. But if a new teaser is any indication, Samsung may turn that idea on its head … or perhaps on its side.
In a CES 2013 teaser image (pictured above), Samsung shows a glimpse of a TV that eschews common expectations about televisions. The minimalist set appears to be sitting in portrait mode. Some have speculated that it's also sporting a translucent display.
Something new?A portrait-mode television would be novel, but hardly practical. Most programming is shot in 16:9 widescreen format. Either Samsung's engineers have been drinking too much eggnog, or this teaser isn't what it seems.
What Samsung could be teasing is a set that rotates between landscape and portrait. Perhaps its base or wall mount is designed for easy (remote?) rotation between the two orientations. But why would you want a TV that sits in portrait mode?
One possibility is an AirPlay-like local streaming service. As you see in the above rendering, a mirrored Galaxy S III display would be right at home on the teased television. Apart from some letterboxing on the sides, it's a good fit for mirrored smartphone or tablet content.
This would potentially solve a problem with display mirroring. When using Apple's AirPlay mirroring, portrait content is tiny and crunched. Vertically-oriented games like Cut the Rope are dominated by huge black blocks on either side. A TV that easily rotates could be one answer.
Perhaps Samsung is ready to accelerate its push for the connected living room, and a rotating HDTV plays a part in that.
Translucent?At first glance, the teaser also appears to show a translucent display. But if you look closely, the TV's display doesn't match the background. The background appears to show a beach's water line, while the horizon on the TV's screen appears to be land.
If Samsung is playing with translucency, there is some precedent. Last year, the company demonstrated semi-transparent displays for use in refrigerators and virtual billboards.
Like a portrait-mode HDTV, though, there are few logical reasons to make a see-through television display unless it is designed to also serve as a window.