As expected Samsung did not announce a new phone today at Mobile World Congress, but instead teased a big announcement, presumably the Galaxy S4, coming on March 14th. It did however unveil a couple new products, including a new 8″ Galaxy tablet.
Another new product being showcased was their new HomeSync set-top box. Retailing for 299 Euros at launch, the box is touted as having three key features:
- “Home Cloud” – You can tap your Samsung mobile device running Android Jelly Bean or higher to a paired HomeSync box and it will automatically copy over all your photos and videos for big screen viewing. The device includes a 1TB internal drive.
- The Media Center – This functionality, which looks very much like the Google TV interface for selecting content, allows you to browse and buy video content for playback on your TV.
- Screen Mirroring
– Wirelessly mirror whatever you see on your device screen up to your compatible Samsung TV
In keeping with another major theme of the week, Samsung showcased a couple NFC technologies. One was a soda vending machine that accepted an NFC tap for payment, though it was unclear what the underlying clearing mechanism was and whether it is meant to compete with or complement technologies such as Google Wallet or Isis. They also showed off a product called TecTiles, which are programmable NFC stickers not unlike the ones we saw from Sony at CES 2012. After you set up the tags, you can tap them to launch a particular app on your phone or change phone settings.
There was also an in-development 2nd Screen app tentatively called S Catch. Like Shazam or IntoNow it listens for video content audio and matches the content accordingly. It is envisioned that this could evolve into an effective platform for ads.
From the “not sure why it is at a mobile event” category, they also showed off a blood testing kit where you bleed into a modified CD with plastic grooves on it leading to test strips. Then you put it into this machine that looks like a photo printer and it spins the CD around for 20 minutes and produces a result.