With so many things against it, then, why did we describe the gesture control system as an ‘honourable’ failure? Because we can at least appreciate its potential. For there’s no doubt that using your hand to navigate around screens with lots of links - especially Web pages - is more ‘natural’ and less time-consuming than using a traditional remote.
So we guess we’re not necessarily completely writing off the idea of gesture control; rather we’re just saying that it needs much more refinement before it might become something we could see ourselves using routinely.
It’s worth adding here that the camera built into the UE55ES8000 for tracking hand movements plays a further key part in Samsung’s alternative control systems for its latest flagship TV. For it introduces facial recognition to a Samsung TV for the first time, which can be used for automatic switching between different user profiles for, say, the Fitness section of the Smart TV system.
The final control innovation Samsung has introduced with the UE55ES8000 is the touchpad remote. This unusual-looking handheld device ships alongside a more ‘normal’ remote, with its key difference being that it only carries a handful of buttons, with most of its ‘active’ space being taken up by a touch-sensitive tracker pad. You can thus navigate around Web pages or Smart TV menus screens just by sliding your finger around on the pad and selecting options by pressing the pad in.
This remote also, cleverly, includes a mic for use with the TV’s Voice control system. This means you don’t have to raise your voice as much as you do with the audio receiver in the TV.
After a few minutes of getting used to it, this trackpad remote really starts to impress. The sensitivity to your finger movement seems well judged and accurately connected to the onscreen cursor movement - once you realise that there’s no point in trying to sweep your fingers across it too quickly. And the combination of the touch pad and the voice recognition system starts to make surfing the Web or exploring the TV’s features and options much easier than just using the standard remote control.
Our only significant complaint about the touch pad remote is that quite often when you try to press the pad in to ‘select’ an option, your finger accidentally moves slightly across the pad and thus moves away from the item you’re trying to select. Maybe a separate ‘select’ button would have been a better idea.
The more Smart TVs develop, the more obvious it is that they need to be joined with innovative new control methods. So it’s great to see Samsung’s first TV of 2012 taking the bull by the horns and integrating no less than three cool new control systems. Especially as two of them, at least, really do work surprisingly well.