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:

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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).

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LG G4 comes to New Zealand

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LG’s next great smartphone, the LG G4 has made it to New Zealand.  The cool smartphone with the natty, full-grain leather jacket comes with a bunch of distinguishing features including:

  • A 16 megapixel rear camera with an F1.8 lens for better pictures in low light situations.
  • An infrared-sensitive colour spectrum sensor that analyses and measures all of the visible light within a scene before a shot is snapped.
  • An IPS Display that produces high-contrast, vibrant images.
  • The G4 also comes with a selection of premium back covers that come in textured grey and full grain leather in black or brown.
  • Unlike competitors like the iPhone 6 and the Samsung S6 the G4 features a removable battery and a micro-SD card slot, something Android fans have long come to expect.

As you can see from the shots below the G4 has a larger screen.  At 5.5 inches it is the same size as the iPhone 6 Plus but not as large as the 5.7 inch Samsung Galaxy Note 4, my current phone of choice.

This particular selection of phones is quite interesting because of the difference in colour reproduction.  The G4 like the G3 before it has quite a clean but cool look about it.  The Samsung Note 4 with it’s Super Amoled screen has richer colours which puts people off (but I like it).  The iPhone is perhaps the Goldilocks phone because its colour rendering is just right.

The G4 display is Quad HD however and there’s no mistaking the detail and the quality of the image or video reproduction.

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From the front it is hard to tell the difference between the G4 and the other phones, but flip it over and you’ll notice the rear mounted on/off switch and volume rockers.  Of course you will also notice that distinctive genuine leather-skinned back panel.

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Summary:

I’m often asked which phone I would recommend and every month I find it harder and harder to pick one phone.  Todays consumer is spoiled for choice as the top notch phones just become more consistent and packed with features.

So what would I say about the LG G4?  It has a unique look about it which makes it stand out from the competition.  The rear mounted controls also give it a point of difference and you can’t go past the quality of the screen and camera.

I like the fact you can change the battery out (if you are one of those people who are paranoid about power and like carrying a spare battery) and the fact that you can add in an SD card.

If you definitely want an Android phone, and want to stand out from the crowd (a little bit)  then the G4 should be in your consideration set as it is one of the best high end phones on the market in 2015.

– New Zealand RRP: $1199

– Launch stockists: Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi & 2 Degrees
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That’s Handy – spending time with the LG G Watch R Smartwatch

Let’s face it, most Smartwatches are as attractive to wear as a prison issued ankle bracelet. The new LG G Watch R, $479, however changes that. It’s the first Smartwatch available in New Zealand that looks like a classical watch with a fully usable circular OLED screen.

LG G Watch R

As good as it looks, the best thing about the G Watch R is the smooth functioning of the Android Wear voice controls.  Simply say “OK Google” and your watch will light up to take your voice prompts.

I used it as I was hurtling up the Northern Motorway over the Christmas break.  While traveling to the speed limit of 100km per hour, I said “Okay Google, navigate to Playtech”.  In under 5 seconds, the watch had interpreted my command, opened my smartphone (which was safely positioned in it’s dock) and initiated GPS navigation on the phone’s screen – and all of this happened without my hands leaving the steering wheel. Very cool.

More than just a watch, the LG G Watch is a smartphone companion with a built in heart rate sensor, accelerometer, compass and barometer.

In summary, whether you want to navigate, send a text message or record a voice memo; the G Watch R, paired with an Android phone, can do it all, while looking like a timepiece you would want to be seen wearing.

Website for more information: http://www.lg.com/nz.

Photos:

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How the watch looks on your wrist.  As you can see, it’s only ever so slightly bulky, but would pass for a “real” watch at a glance, except perhaps when the screen is darkened in power saving mode as shown.

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The watch comes with a dock which allows it to be recharged through a micro USB connection (shown here with the G Watch R and the LG G3 Android Phone).  During testing I found the watch would last at least two days before needing recharging though this would no doubt vary depending on usage.  Unlike other Smartwatches (Sony’s for example) the device you can’t plug a micro usb cable directly into it.
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LG Curved 55″ OLED TV to go on sale in New Zealand

On Breakfast this morning Rawdon Christie and I took a tour of this amazing “living rooms through the decades” installation at TVNZ’s Auckland Headquarters.

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LG New Zealand has created the unique installation called “The Evolution of Television” to launch the next generation of TVs, including their revolutionary Curved OLED shown below.

The TVNZ foyer has been transformed into a series of installations, showcasing a typical living room scene from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 90s and 00s to mark the development of television through the decades.

The jewel in the crown is LG’s new 55-inch Curved OLED TV, New Zealand’s first OLED TV which goes on sale on September 11. This TV is an absolute beauty. The new technology doesn’t require a backlight as the OLED film emits it’s own light, resulting in dark blacks, excellent contrast and vibrant colour images.

The curved perspex stand is also a bit sexy (can I say that? Oh well, I just did).

This is the industry’s very first curved screen ergonomic design, providing an “IMAX-like” viewing experience in the home.

Only 4.3 millimetres at its thinnest point and weighing just 17 kilograms, LG’s curved OLED TV produces astoundingly vivid and realistic images. This is the TV for early adopters with $17,000 in their back pocket. If that sounds like you, you can make an expression of interest through the website at http://www.lg.com/nz

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The OLED TV surrounded by the new range of UHDTV’s (featuring 5 models in 55″, 65″ and 84″).

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Up close and personal with the OLED TV. The clear perspex stand almost makes it seem like the image is floating in the air.

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Sneak Peek – LG’s G2 Smartphone visits New Zealand

It looks like the smartphone wars are heating up. LG announced their new Android UberPhone, the G2, at an event in New York two weeks ago and it looks good enough to give Samsung and Apple a run for their money.

LG NZ were quick enough off the mark to get a couple of test units into the country and from my brief hands on, I can tell you that it looks and feels pretty awesome. We didn’t have enough time to carry out an in depth review but you can read more about the features after the break below.

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From the LG press kit:

New Perspective in Smartphone Design

The LG G2 brings everything together in a device with a comfortable, functional, convenient and beautiful design. The LG G2 shifts the paradigm in smartphone design by placing all the buttons on the rear of the device, making this the first smartphone to be completely devoid of buttons on the sides of the device. The Rear Key concept comes from the realisation when studying users that the larger the phone became, the more difficult it was to properly access side buttons. Moving the main buttons to the back of the phone gives users more control since this is where individuals’ index fingers are naturally positioned.  Furthermore, this is perfect for left and right-handed users.

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LG use the force, and Ewan McGregor, to launch their 2013 home entertainment range

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LG Electronics called on major Hollywood star Ewan McGregor to launch their 2013 home entertainment range today.

At a glitzy affair in one of Sydney’s most palatial private homes, the attendees got to hear about the new technology from Obi Wan Kenobe himself.

The actor spoke about his joy at becoming a brand ambassador for LG in Australia and New Zealand.

“Some of the TV’S are so clear It’s hard to describe them without swearing. In fact look at this one, its f&%#ing gorgeous” he said while pointing at an 84 inch ultra high definition LG TV.

He also chatted about the new curved OLED TV, casually describing it as “the most colour correct TV in the world.”

And the link between Ewan and TV’s? He’s well aware his work ends up more and more in homes and he’s happy to be assiciated with a brand that can accurately represent the lighting work and cinematography they create in cinematic movies.

He’s also a dad who likes to kick back and relax and watch movies with the kids on the rare occasions he’s not away filming.

Speaking if which, he will be filming the LG ad campaign for Australia and New Zealand in Sydney over the coming week.

We chatted afterwards and he told me he’d like to make the time to get to New Zealand as he’s been told it looks a lot like hus home country of Scotland.
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LG promised a few surprises and as well as the famous face they delivered a few exciting product announcements.

No longer content to be a fast follower, they are staking out a leadership position particularly in the TV space.

For the sake of accuracy I have chosen to share LG’s copy directly from their event press release. Read on to get all of the details on the new lineup. l look forward to going hands on with the TV’s in the coming weeks.

Curved OLED

On top of these announcements, LG recently said that it will begin accepting pre-orders for its 55” Curved OLED TV in South Korea, with deliveries to begin next month. More than 1,400 LG retail stores in South Korea began taking orders on April 29 from customers for the premium TV, priced at KRW 15 million (approximately USD 13,500). The announcement makes LG the first and only company to commercialize both the flat screen OLED TV, which began shipping to Korean customers in February, and the Curved OLED TV, giving LG a significant lead in the OLED segment that is expected to grow to 7 million units by 2016, according to DisplaySearch.

“Our Curved OLED TV is not only proof of LG’s role as a pioneer in next-generation displays but also a testament to LG’s commitment to bringing to market the most exciting TV technology available today,” said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG’s Home Entertainment Company.

The new features the industry’s very first curved screen ergonomic design, providing an “IMAX-like” viewing experience in the home. With more than five years of research behind developing the optimum curvature, the entire screen surface is equidistant from the viewer’s eyes, eliminating the problem of screen-edge visual distortion and loss of detail.

Only 4.3 millimeters at its thinnest point and weighing just 17 kilograms, LG’s Curved OLED TV produces astoundingly vivid and realistic images thanks to its proprietary WRGB technology. The unique Four-Colour Pixel system features a white sub-pixel, which works in conjunction with the conventional red, blue, green setup to perfect the colour output. What’s more, LG’s exclusive Colour Refiner maintains the colour accuracy of the image, resulting in images that are extremely vibrant, natural and enjoyable to view. As in the original flat screen OLED TV, the Curved OLED TV also offers an infinite contrast ratio for optimal contrast levels.

LG’s Curved OLED TV features thin transparent film speakers in the crystal clear stand, providing high-quality sound without compromising the TV’s beautiful design. LG’s Curved OLED TV took the top “red dot: best of the best” honour at the prestigious design competition earlier this year.

Timing and pricing of the Curved OLED TV in markets outside of Korea will be announced in the months ahead.

Ultra High Definition

LG pioneered Ultra HD TV in Australia with its launch of the 84” Ultra HD TV in 2012, with a premium price point that matched its premium large scale offering. With the announcement that 55” and 65” versions will be available later in the year, LG is making Ultra HD TV accessible to the masses by providing variable sizes and price points that compare more favorably to existing models.

All LG Ultra HD TVs feature the LG Resolution Upscaler Plus that improves lower resolution visual media content offering greater detailed content for early-adopters who want a detailed larger screen viewing experience.

Smart TV

In 2013, LG will deliver TVs that are easier to use with a new smart and expansive entertainment platform that keeps you connected.

Over 70% of LG’s 2013 TV line-up will be Smart TVs, offering access to premium content at affordable prices.

Key LG Smart TV features are:

·         LG’s new SmartShare will allow consumers to seamlessly share content between devices, for example from a compatible smartphone or tablet to a TV

·         The newly updated version of LG’s popular Time Machine (Time Machine II) feature enables consumers:

o   To record and save your favourite TV programs on a dedicated USB hard drive (minimum 40 Gb) or via the TVs inbuilt memory so you can rewind, pause, or watch recorded shows

o   The Watch & Record functionality will let you record a TV channel while watching a different channel (Available only on the LA86 series)

·         Consumers can control their Smart TV with LG’s easy-to-use LG Magic Remote

o   Everything works with simple gestures – Point, Draw, Speak & Scroll

o   The 2013 Magic Remote will recognise natural language voice for easier detection of spoken search terms

o   You can also download the LG TV Remote App onto your smartphone to use your phone as a remote control, or to watch TV on your phone in another room

o   Using Miracast to connect a Miracast enabled tablet or smartphone to a 2013 LG Smart TV, users can simply thumb through their favourite photos on their phone photo albums and pull them up on their LG Smart TV.