Tried and Tested: LG’s First FreeviewPlus TV Reviewed

FreeviewPlus has just launched in New Zealand and there are two ways to get it.  If you are on a budget you could buy a decoder for $159, but if you are after something a bit special, you could splash out on a hot new TV with the feature built in.

LG has produced one of the first TV’s on the market with built in FreeviewPlus and this one’s a goodie. The $2,000 49UF770V (catchy name!) not only has the special combination of Freeview with OnDemand built in, it also has an amazing Ultra High Definition screen with the ability to upscale content.  Get one and you may never leave the house again.

Here’s our hands on with this particular test model:

What has the TV got?  Well it’s a 4K Ultra High Definition TV with a fancy processor that ensures the screen has superior colour, contrast and clarity of image.

Okay, so one of the criticisms of Ultra HD TV’s is the lack of 4K content you can view on the screen. Well while you wait for that to happen you can still enjoy content, whether it’s streamed or pumped in from a BluRay because the LG processor upscales the source content to create clearer more striking images. It does this without making them look superficial.

Of course, being a smart TV it needs an operating system, and this one has webOS 2.0. This gives the user fast access to many of the special features in the TV and access to popular apps such as YouTube.

Despite the smarts and the quality of the image, we were more concerned with what it was like to use FreeviewPlus on the TV, so once the unit was assembled (with a fairly complex stand arrangement) we cracked into the review.

Luckily, we are in area that can access Freeview HD (87% of the country can do this) which is a prerequisite for using the service.

To access FreeviewPlus you also have to have a UHF aerial and a broadband connection. You can get the internet to your TV via wifi, ethernet or through a broadband over powerline adapter (sold separately).

There’s one trap for new players; I’m not sure if Freeview Plus will be immediately obvious when you start up your new TV.  On our review model the setup process included the following steps; plugging in the aerial; scanning for stations; going into settings to connect to broadband over wifi; go back into settings to find HbbTV and turn that on.

Once all that was done we could browse TV and then click the red or green button on the remote to launch the Freeview Plus EPG.

First Use:

It seemed to take a while to launch properly the first time we used it, presumably as it downloaded the necessary guide information from the net.

From there in it was all smooth sailing. FreeviewPlus allows you to see what’s coming up on the 20+ stations for the next 8 days, and browse On Demand content for the previous 8 days from TVNZ, Mediaworks and Maori Television.

This is Freeview Plus’s greatest achievement – that it brings the catch up TV services from all of the players into one easy to use application. It’s no mean feat; even in Australia only one channel is on Freeview Plus so for NZ to have three is a major positive.

Freeview Plus in Action:

You can access the EPG (electronic programming guide) by clicking the red or green button.

You can navigate forwards to see what’s coming up and set reminders for what you want to watch. The fun stuff happens though when you navigate back in time, to see which programmes you’ve missed.

The guide shows you all listings for the previous 8 days and if any of the programmes are available on OnDemand they will be highlighted.

Summary:

As committed MySky users we adjusted really well to the FreeviewPlus.  The system was intuitive to use and we found ourselves watching much more free to air content than we usually would.  Strangely we didn’t mind watching the adverts (you know, those things that put the Free in Freeview) and in fact the pre-rolls looked great on the big screen.  Advertisers will be pleased to see their big budget creations in their natural environment.

If we could request one thing it would be a dedicated position on the remote control for FreeviewPlus.  From time to time we hit one of the other buttons and ended up in the LG smart settings or the TV’s own station guide rather than the FreeviewPlus EPG.  Perhaps future models will have that.

Certainly it’s great that LG have been able to get such a quality TV to market with the addition of an excellent service that most kiwis who want to watch TV without a subscription will enjoy.

More: click here to read more GadgetGuy.co.nz coverage of FreeviewPlus 

Photos of the LG TV in action:

20150712_111901

First look at the LG49UF770V – a 49 inch Ultra HD smart TV with FreeviewPlus built in.

20150712_112313Once the TV is ready go, jump into settings to connect the TV to the internet.

20150712_112410Then go into settings to enable HbbTV, the standard that FreeviewPlus is built on.

20150712_112740Now you can access FreeviewPlus’ EPG, showing the next 8 days of programmes and the previous 8 days.  Any programmes that are available in OnDemand will be highlighted. 

20150712_112812Select theOnDemand programme directly from the EPG.

20150712_112822Click to confirm…

20150712_112845(0)Then click to get options for different streams. Select and off you go.

20150712_112609If you prefer you can launch each of the individual network’s apps (Mediaworks, TVNZ, Maori Television).

20150712_111828As well as FreeviewPlus, the LG 2015 Smart TV’s have a full range of entertainment apps built in (and more that can be downloaded).

Google

Television Evolved – FreeviewPlus Launches Today #freeviewplusnz

20150605_103512New Zealand television viewers have a new way to discover and enjoy content with the launch of FreeviewPlus, a service that lets users flick between live TV and On Demand at the touch of a button.

FreeviewPlus viewers can catch up on shows they’ve missed, look through featured content and search or browse through loads of shows from all of the live TV channels and TVNZ OnDemand, 3Now and Maori Television OnDemand using one intuitive on-screen guide.

The electronic programme guide displays programmes that are coming up in the next 8 days but it also displays over 600 On Demand programmes and movies from the previous 8 days.  Viewers can experience the convenience of navigating through all the content without having to use a computer or jump into another app on their smart TV’s.

At a time where traditional TV is experiencing “digital disruption” in the form of Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) services like Netflix and Lightbox, the free to air networks have been keen to collaborate on this new innovation based on the open HBBTV standard.

Advertisers too are likely to be happy as FreeviewPlus makes it easier for people to view even more of the network’s ad supported content.

Here are some of the main questions and answers regarding Freeview Plus:

How do I get it?
1. Check your coverage: You need Freeview HD coverage (87% of people have this). To find out if you are in a Freeview HD coverage zone go to http://www.freeviewnz.tv/coverage and put your address in.
2. Check that you have a UHF Aerial and Broadband: The UHF aerial picks up Live TV and the broadband streams On Demand.
3. Get a FreeviewPlus TV or Box: Most manufacturers 2015 range smart TVs will have FreeviewPlus built in. Most of LG’s 2015 models and some Panasonic models have FreeviewPlus enabled models already, more models from Panasonic, Samsung and Sony will be enabled in the coming weeks. If you don’t want to buy a new TV you can buy a set top box for $169.  You will also soon be able to buy a MyFreeviewPlus PVR that can record your programmes too.
4. Connect to your UHF Aerial and Broadband: Plug your UHF cable into the TV and tune the stations, then connect it to your home broadband in one of three ways – wifi, ethernet cable or powerline adapters (bought separately).
5. Watch some TV: Press RED to load the FreeviewPlus guide, or GREEN to go to that channel’s OnDemand service.

 

What are the main features of the service?

Freeview Plus users can:

• Switch easily between live TV and On Demand content

• View 8-days forward and 8-days catch up TV Guide

• Easily find and discover on demand and live TV shows

• Set Reminders to notify you when your show’s about to start

• Personalise your FreeviewPlus with Your Favourites

• See all the live programming with Freeview|HD channels

 

What channels are on FreeviewPlus?

As well as OnDemand from TVNZ, Mediaworks and Maori Television, viewers can watch the following channels live: As well as OnDemand from TVNZ, Mediaworks and Maori Television, viewers can watch the following channels live: one, 2, 3, 4, Maori television, 1+1, 2++1, 3+1, 4+1 Prime, The Edge, Te Reo, Al Jazeera, Choice, TVSN, Yesshop, Parliament , Firstlight, The shopping channel, CTV8, Channel 29, TV33, Channel North (Whangarei only), APNA, Channel 39 (Dunedin only); Canterbury TV(Canterbury only), TV Hawkes Bay(Hawkes bay only), Radio New Zealand National and Concert and Base FM.

What is the technology behind the service?

The new service FreeviewPlus uses the open software standard built into the TV or set top box known as HBBTV, Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV.  What it does is combine Internet catchup TV into the television set or freeview|HD set top  box.  It’s a great new innovation which will allow people to access more and more free to air content.

What is the potential impact on viewing habits?
The trick that Freeview Plus performs is that it makes it easier for you to see the vast array of content available on free to air television. The fact that it’s easy to organise, view, save favourites and find more content like the stuff you like, will probably mean people end up watching even more content this way.

How are Kiwis viewing TV currently?

The most recent figures from Sky show that 794,000 homes subscribe to Sky while 529,000 of those use a MySky recorder.  According to Freeview  1,268,000 households have Freeview while an estimated 165,000 of thise have Freeview recorders.

 Google