EPG Quality & PVR Features
Many LG TVs offer a choice of recording options and you can just hook up an external hard disk drive to utilise these functions and access even more features. This facility allows you to use a host of convenient features such as Timer Recording, Direct TV Recording and Pause Live TV. All of these functions have been integrated as conveniently as possible with dedicated buttons on the remote control. This means that by adding a HDD via USB you can turn your LG TV into a PVR, providing you with the opportunity to record programmes and play them back later. We found this feature to be quite useful and the interface is effective, however there is only one tuner which means you can’t record one programme whilst watching another, so it is limited.
Applications - Hardware
LG's Smart Share is designed to be a multimedia hub for your home and thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and DLNA networking technologies, LG TVs are able to communicate with compatible devices – so you can wirelessly stream multimedia stored on a compatible computer, tablet, smartphone or HDD recorder to your TV. When you select input on the remote the resulting interface is very well laid out ,informative and does include a window showing your current input. Through the LG's Smart Share platform you can have full and easy access to your photos, videos, music and more – no matter where they are stored. When compatible devices are connected via DLNA, you have access to entertainment stored in different rooms around the house, directly on your TV.
Media Playback Quality
The majority of LG TVs provide extensive media playback capabilities, either through Smart Share or via connected devices. The support of audio files is fairly comprehensive and includes AC3, EAC3, HAAC, AAC, MPEG, MP3, PCM and DTS. Thanks to these features, media streaming is relatively easy to achieve and you’re not limited to files on a PC as an LG TV will happily communicate with a Mac, smartphones and tablets.
We tested a number of different LG models, playing back videos, listening to music and looking at photos and we found the performance to be excellent. The Smart Share platform was effective, comprehensive and robust and we found the interface to be attractive and easy to navigate. It was also very responsive and could be easily controlled, either through the normal remote or LG's remote app.
We downloaded the latest remote app (both iOS and Android versions) and found the interface to be both effective and attractive in terms of design. Navigation was easy, the app was responsive and the connection with the LG TV was robust. Using the remote app, you could control all the main features of the TV, as well as access the home page, the 3D features, the inputs and all the apps. There was also a touch pad, a mini Home page and pages of apps and premium content.
If you have a favourite app you can make it quicker to access by adding it to My Apps, which will see it included in a bar at the bottom of the Home page and you can also access them directly by hitting the My App button on either remote. To add to the usability, the Home page can be customised to your own preferences in appearance, organisation and layout. In addition if you own a LM860 or LM960, then the inclusion of dual core processing has significantly increased the speed and response of the platform.
LG, along with a number of other manufacturers have realised that one of the reasons 3D hasn't been as popular as they'd hoped is the general lack of content. To address this, LG have upgraded their previous 3D Zone app to 3D World which now occupies an entire card on the Home page. At present there are around 70 things to watch encompassing entertainment, sports, documentary, kids and lifestyle and it’s free! The only problem is that it is somewhat dependent on your broadband speeds but there is certainly some interesting content available that allow the Cinema 3D TVs to show off their 3D capabilities.
There is also a very useful search feature that allows you to look for content provided by LG's Smart TV platform. Whatever the content is, TV programmes, movies, videos or apps, this search feature will look through all the connected devices and services for you. It also makes recommendations and shows the most searched for items. It's this kind of centralised, connected platform that makes LG's Smart TV system so effective and such a pleasure to use.
Video on Demand
As well as the fantastic 3D support, there’s also most of the usual 2D video on demand services such as BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Lovefilm and Netflix. In addition you get Knowhow Movies, Ace Trax, Live Sport, Museum, Blink Box, Euronews, Red Bull, iConcerts, Accu Weather, Cine Trailer, Daily Motion, Viewster and vTuner. The quality was generally very good, although to a certain extent this is going to depend on how fast your broadband connection is.
As you would expect in this age of social networking, the LG Social Centre platform offers all the main forms of communication with apps for Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Picasa. So if you’re one of those people who can’t bear to be cut off from their social network, the apps allow for their message streams to be read down one side whilst you’re actually watching TV. This could be very handy for watching live sporting events, where you can chat with friends at the same time.
Thanks to the favourites feature you can create a series of sites that are easily accessible from the home page, which will mean that as time goes by the Browser will become easier to use. The built-in search engine also worked well and it’s definitely a step up from our previous experiences with browsers built into TVs. We had no problems playing embedded videos and overall we found the whole experience to be relatively painless, especially if you use the remote app.
LG Smart TV System 2012 Review
LG's use of a centralised Home page makes perfect sense, with everything being accessible from a single and customisable location. We found navigating the Home page was intuitive and the system was very quick and responsive. All the content is highly accessible and is clearly presented using a ‘card’ style format for the different categories – Premium, 3D World, LG Smart World and Smart Share. LG have succeeded in the difficult task of providing a wealth of content whilst still keeping the overall interface clean and easy to navigate. There’s most of the usual video on demand services, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and a host of other apps and features including loads of free 3D content. In fact, LG's Smart platform currently boats over 1,300 apps although we've not counted.
There are a number of methods available to navigate through all this content, including a highly effective Magic Motion remote and a downloadable remote app. We downloaded the latest remote app (both iOS and Android versions) and found the interface to be both robust and extremely effective. The majority of LG TVs come with built-in WiFi and DLNA compliance but many also include WiFi Direct (WiDi) which allows it to connect directly to similar devices without going through your router. Thanks to these features, media streaming is extremely easy to achieve and the support of audio files is very comprehensive and you are also not limited to files on a PC as the system will happily communicate with a Mac, smartphones and tablets. In fact we found the LG connectivity and media support to be amongst the best we have experienced, with the LG system happily playing anything we threw at it.
LG's current smart platform is the state-of-the-art when it comes to its centralised and customisable interface, offering a marvellous choice of apps, features, streaming content and connectivity. Anyone who doubts the value of Smart TV clearly hasn't tried LG's offering because the future has most definitely arrived - Reference Status.
Ease of Use
Media Playback Quality
Applications - Software
Applications - Hardware
Voice and Motion Controls
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