The final day of 2012 brings the final of four pre-CES announcements from LG regarding its 2013 product line-up. We already know what to expect from LG in terms of Blu-ray players, sound bars, TV projectors, and Google TVs, but now the company has taken the wraps off of its entire 2013 TV line-up. As predicted, the announcement involves a lot of acronyms, a host of Smart TV and media sharing features, and not a whole lot of changes in physical appearance (it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?). Let’s dig in to see what LG did to stay on top of the TV space for the coming year.
All LED, all the time
As of this year, all LG TVs will be LED TVs. LG has abandoned compact florescent (CCFL) bulbs in favor of LEDs for its backlighting technology. This means that, across the board, LG’s TVs will be a little bit thinner, brighter and more efficient in 2013. It also means that some of the performance challenges that come along with LED backlighting will probably be pretty noticeable in most of its entry-level models.
For the past few years, TV manufacturers have struggled to make sharing media from computers, Smartphones, and tablets a simple and straightforward process. Unfortunately, consumer response thus far has been lukewarm, at best. But it appears that LG may have cracked the sharing code.
TV models featuring LG’s SmartShare feature will now offer three avenues for sharing videos, music, and photos from smart devices, including WiDi, Miracast, and NFC (near field communications). WiDi (Intel Wireless Display) allows wireless transmission of up to 1080p video and 5.1 digital audio from compatible devices. Miracast, which is often billed as the chief alternative to Apple’s Airplay technology, is similarly capable of the same video and audio quality as WiDi and is now part of the WiDi standard. NFC will allow quick and simple pairing of devices with LG’s televisions by allowing users to connect by simply placing compatible devices near an NFC sticker on the TV.
LG has enhanced its Nintendo Wii-like Magic Motion remote interface to make controlling other devices (such as a Blu-ray player or cable/satellite box) easier. Like previous versions of the motion-controlled remote, users will be able to point-and-click their way through TV channels, menus, and settings, or use the remote’s voice-command feature to power up the TV or change channels.
But this year, LG has significantly enhanced it’s voice-recognition software and functionality to recognize natural speech patterns, meaning it should be a lot easier to use than it was this past year. LG has also developed a more powerful search engine which will allow users to search for movie and tv content across all available video on demand providers such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and Amazon Instant. For instance, searching for “Total Recall” should pull up a screen displaying both the original and modern version of the movie with pricing information from all available services. We’ll learn more when we get to play with the feature next week at CES 2013.
Smarter and faster
One of our chief complaints with most Smart TV platforms has been speed. The lag between commands and actions can be frustrating, and the amount of time it takes to load an app has lagged well behind most other Smart devices. LG has attempted to address this issue by revving up the processing power of the computing chips inside. According to the company, many of its Smart TV models now have CPUs that are 120 percent faster than previous models with GPUs (graphic processing units) that are up to 300 percent faster. This kind of processing improvement could make the difference for those waffling between using a set-top box and a Smart TV.
Thinner and lighter … sort of
LG’s “Cinema Screen” design has already produced bezels that are nearly invisible from typical viewing distances. Now the company is claiming its bezel sizes have been “significantly reduced to provide a greater sense of immersion and streamlined style.” That’s tough to imagine, considering last year’s Cinema Screen bezels measured in at just 5mm, and LG provides no measurements in its press announcements. Any smaller, and there will be no bezel at all. We’ll have to wait until CES 2013 to see just how “significant’ the bezel reduction is. More notable is that the Cinema Screen design will be available in five models and 11 screen sizes.
Plasma: Still kicking
Though OLED stands to dethrone plasma as the TV technology with the best picture quality, LG isn’t giving up on plasma just yet. 2013 will see three plasma TV lines from LG available in three sizes ranging from 42 to 60-inches. Ah, and speaking of OLED…
Deja Vu: OLED and 4K/ Ultra HD return to CES
Last year at CES 2012, LG’s big attention grabbers were its 55-inch OLED and 84-inch 4K/Ultra HD TV. This year, LG expects its big attention grabbers will be its 55-inch OLED and 84-inch 4K/Ultra HD TV. Are we missing something? Probably not, unless LG announces it is actually going to start shipping those OLED TVs in some sort of respectable quantity within the next few months.