CES 2014 - First Look at the LG webOS Smart TV platform

Is LG's new web-based operating system a game changer?

by Steve Withers Jan 8, 2014 at 5:53 AM

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    CES 2014 - First Look at the LG webOS Smart TV platform
    The manufacturers have been pushing Smart TV for a few years but despite some interesting developments, the platforms have always felt like an ancillary function of the TV.
    This might be about to change as LG launch their webOS Smart TV platform which has been designed from the ground up to deliver a fully integrated system that is an integral part of the TV. The underlying technology was purchased from Hewlett Packard in March of last year and LG have wasted no time in using it to reinvent the Smart TV. Their timing couldn’t be better because according to LG, 90% of the people who bought one of their Smart TVs has activated the Internet features.
    LG bought the technology behind weOS from Hewlet Packard last year.

    However one of the biggest hurdles for people using a Smart TV platform is the complexity of the features and often unintuitive nature of the interface. LG’s new operating system offers an intuitive user interface for an experience that is both seamless and refreshingly uncomplicated, based on years of experience collected by the webOS team. Furthermore, the new platform makes it extremely easy for developers to create applications and enhances the compatibility of LG’s Smart TVs with other devices.

    The new webOS platform will be available across all of LG’s mid-range and premium Smart TVs in 2014 but unfortunately won’t be backwards compatible with older Smart TVs. LG’s revised Smart TV experience makes content searching and viewing, connecting with other devices, and even the initial setup process incredibly easy. Whilst the bottom up approach and dual-core processing ensure the system is slick and responsive. LG have also updated their excellent Magic Remote, making the navigation and interaction with the system even easier.
    LG's updated Magic Remote makes navigation and interaction even easier.

    The new Launcher, a left-to-right scrollable menu that runs along the lower portion of the screen makes it possible to switch between broadcast TV, smart TV content and media stored on external devices without having to return to the Home screen. It allows the viewer to simultaneously watch a show, play a game or browse the internet while searching or downloading other content. What’s more, Live Menu, which can be opened while viewing the TV, keeps the search, recommendation and channel options within easy reach.

    The fact that you can move from one app to another without having to exit the first app is very impressive and we found the entire system to be highly intuitive to use. We also liked the fact that any connected device such as a Blu-ray player or games console is identified as such and is essentially treated as another app, making it very simple to move from content to content. The design and layout is very attractive, whilst the recommendation feature is a welcome addition.
    LG’s webOS Smart platform feels like an integral part of the TV.
    We have reviewed a lot of Smart TVs over the last few years but LG’s implementation of their webOS platform is the first time it has felt like an integral part of the TV. This isn’t just a series of Smart features that have been bolted on and have to be accessed separately, instead LG’s Smart platform is the TV and everything you do feeds from that. Whilst picture quality will always remain of primary importance, we were genuinely impressed by LG’s webOS Smart TV system and feel that it’s a genuine gamer changer that can influence how all Smart platforms are implemented in the future.

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