Ahead of CES, Samsung reveals an upgrade kit for its smart TVs

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Samsung has introduced a hardware upgrade kit for its smart TVs released in 2012, just a week before it is expected to unveil a new smart TV at the International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.

Consumers can attach the device, which looks like an external PC hard drive, to a slot on their smart TV. It upgrades the CPU, GPU and memory capacity to that of the newest TV, the specifics of which will be revealed at the show starting next Tuesday in Las Vegas.

The kit includes new software to improve the voice, gesture and facial recognition of the TV, which reviewers have criticized as unreliable and awkward.

Samsung’s Smart Hub software, which combines web surfing, social media and third-party apps, will get a makeover too. Samsung has stripped the clunky Internet options down to five panels including a live TV service, video-on-demand, Internet and apps.

Samsung’s latest smart TVs released in 2012 include a 75-inch LED model in its 9000 series.

Rival South Korean TV maker LG Electronics rolled out a smart TV with an OLED (Organic LED) display on Wednesday, ahead of the trade show.

LG Display and Samsung Display, both sister companies of South Korea’s two largest TV and mobile device makers, have been rushing for dominance of the smart TV market and they are currently locked in patent infringement lawsuits in a Korean court.

Just last week, LG Display filed for a sales ban of the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 alleging that Samsung Display infringed its patents in OLED screens for smartphones and tablets. Earlier in the month, Samsung Display had sued the LG affiliate for violation of the liquid crystal display patents.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee predicted the globally ongoing patent rivalry will get more intense in 2013 in addition to a competition in product quality, technology innovation and talent recruitment.

“We need to fast track the trends and look further into new businesses. The market is big and opportunities are wide open,” Lee said in his annual New Year’s message to employees, distributed via email.

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