The Return of Premiumisation - LG Home Entertainment Showcase 2013
LG launched their new Home Entertainment line-up and AVForums was there to take a look
Despite becoming one of the dominant home entertainment players over the past decade, LG are not the kind of company to rest on its laurels.In the last two years, the Korean manufacturer has been following a well publicised process of ‘premiumisation’ - which might not be a real word but is certainly a very real strategy. The idea behind ‘premiumisation’ is to produce higher-end products aimed squarely at the more discerning consumer, the kind of people in fact that read AVForums. That’s not to say that LG hasn’t previously courted the enthusiast - quite the opposite in fact - and the company has always understood the importance of early adopters when launching new technology. However after dominating the budget and mid-range market, LG are now looking to conquer the higher-end, whilst still looking to deliver cutting-edge technology at sensible prices.
As part of this new charm offensive, LG held a Home Entertainment Showcase this week at their offices in London’s Soho Square. This event was a chance for the company to launch some of its latest products to a select group of journalists, which is fairly standard, but they also opened the event up to AVForums members, which shows the forward-thinking nature of LG. Andy Beckett (Vism) accepted LG’s kind invitation and made the journey to central to see for himself, so no doubt he’ll add his own comments in this thread. LG certainly made everyone feel welcome and the decor in their recently revamped atrium was very ‘Moroccan chic’, giving the impression of a high-end technology bazaar. Whilst not all the products on show were completely new, as you walked around the displays there was no doubt that LG is currently at the leading edge when it comes to home entertainment technology.
We started at a section dedicated to LG’s Dual Play feature which, whilst not exactly new, remains a clever extension of the basic technology behind passive 3D. Other manufacturers, such as Philips, have followed suit with similar features but LG’s remains ingenious in its simplicity. Instead of having two different polarised lenses in the glasses, as you would with 3D, the Dual Play glasses use the same polarised lens for each eye. As a result, by applying the processing developed for top-and-bottom 3D to two-player gaming, the LG TV can show one player view to each player simultaneously. The polarised glasses block out the other player’s view entirely and the result is a far more enjoyable and effective two-player gaming experience. Whilst 3D may not have been a success and was conspicuous by its absence at the event, it would certainly appear that LG’s passive 3D has achieved greater mass market acceptance. As an extension of that, the Dual Player feature retains all the same benefits with simple glasses that are cheap and don’t require batteries or recharging.
Next up was a look at LG’s new Smart TV platform for 2013, which was certainly one of the highlights of the show and it was easy to see why it has been receiving so many plaudits, including an AVForums Reference Status badge. In fact after spending some time with the new Magic Motion remote, we understood why Mark was raving about it in his review, which you can read here. The Magic Motion remote is both responsive and precise, resulting in a genuinely pleasing interactive experience. The platform itself is well laid out, intuitive to navigate and has a huge selection of video-on-demand services, social networks and apps. We may have been critical in the past but Smart TV is really starting to grow on us.
It was easy to see why LG's Smart TV platform had received so many plaudits - including an AVForums Reference Status badge.
Less of a feature in its own right and more of an extension of LG’s already impressive Smart TV platform, was the display of the ‘Tag On’ capabilities. This uses Near Field Communication (NFC) to make sharing content between your mobile device and your TV as simple as possible. You simply “tag” your smarphone to your TV by holding your mobile to the NFC sticker, which immediately allows mutual content sharing and mirroring. It really couldn’t be any simpler. If that wasn’t enough, LG also supports Miracast which allows easy connection between TVs, smartphones and tablets; as well as 2nd Display which allows you to watch TV programmes or Blu-rays on your smartphone or tablet. Once you throw in Wireless Direct (WiDi) and MHL (Mobile HD Link), you realise that LG TVs have every conceivable method of communicating with a mobile device covered.
Speaking of LG’s new TV line-up, the models on display certainly caught the eye with their ultra-slim chassis, bezel-less frame and attractive stands. The pictures looked good too and although a brightly lit environment is never the best place to make an informed judgement, you can read our review of LG’s new LA790W here. Taking pride of place at the far end of the display area was LG’s huge 84” LM960V Ultra High Definition television and, again, whilst this isn’t actually new, it does remind us that 4K is already here and emphasises that LG has been at the forefront of the resolution revolution. LG were showing native 4K content and everyone that saw it was amazed by the level of detail; for those that are interested, you can find a full in-depth review of the LM960V here. Of course the LM960V isn’t cheap, although LG did mention that price had now dropped to below £20,000, but with 55” and 65” UHD TVs lined up for later this year, we can expect far more affordable 4K options very soon. Sadly OLED was again conspicuous by its absence but hopefully LG will be able to sort out their production issues and get it to market soon.
Whilst LG has dominated the video part of AV recently, by their own admission they have made less inroads into the audio side. This year there is a concerted effort on the part of the Korean manufacturer to offer more dedicated audio options and some of these were also on display. In the main display area LG had their new NB4530A Soundbar and Wireless subwoofer that looked very sleek and elegant, perfectly matching the beautiful design of LG’s latest line-up of TVs. The NB4530A is a 310 watts 2.1-channel system with wireless synch sound and a soundbar that is designed to compliment a 47” TV perfectly.
In a separate room upstairs, LG also had their new BH9430PW 9.1-channel Blu-ray Home Cinema System available for demo. We reviewed last year’s 9.1-channel system and were very impressed, so we’re looking forward to checking out the 2013 version. The BH9430PW certainly has an impressive feature set that includes a total of 1460 watts of power with wireless rear, built-in Blu-ray player, Smart TV, Miracast, NFC, Ultra HD upscaling and built-in WiFi. The whole system looked very attractive and the speakers themselves use Aramid fibre (Kevlar) speaker cones with their tell-tale yellow colour.
In terms of pure audio products, LG had their new wireless speaker line-up which includes a number of different models. The first is the ND8630 that offers dual docking, AirPlay and 80 watts of power, all wrapped up in a white chassis with mood lighting - that can be turned off. There will also be the ND8530, which is essentially the same but doesn’t include AirPlay and is slightly cheaper. LG also have the smaller ND5630 which again offers dual docking, AirPlay, 40 watts of power and a similar white chassis (no mood lighting though). Again there is a slightly cheaper option - the ND5530 - which doesn’t include AirPlay. Finally LG had their new CM2630 DAB which is a two-channel stereo system with built-in CD player, DAB radio (as the model number might suggest), Bluetooth and 160 watts of power. The CM2630 DAB has a mirrored finish and also uses Aramid fibre speaker cones, resulting in a very attractive looking system that also sounded rather good when we listened to some of the music on our iPhone through it.
LG have made their intentions clear and their new line-up certainly backs up their words with a strong range of products. Whether their policy of “Premiumisation” will succeed remains to be seen but with Smart TV, 4K and (hopefully) OLED, there’s no doubt that LG will be leading the way in terms of technological developments. A premium line-up indeed.
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