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.
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.
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.
Photos of the LG TV in action:
First look at the LG49UF770V – a 49 inch Ultra HD smart TV with FreeviewPlus built in.
Once the TV is ready go, jump into settings to connect the TV to the internet.
Then go into settings to enable HbbTV, the standard that FreeviewPlus is built on.
Click to confirm…
Then click to get options for different streams. Select and off you go.