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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Samsung reveals NZ product line up for 2015 but keeps some products under wraps

Samsung yesterday put their consumer electronics products on show, giving kiwis a glimpse of the technology they can expect to see in retail stores in the coming months.

While a great number of products where revealed at the Bangkok launch, including the stunning high-end 88 inch JS9500  SUHD television, there was no official mention of the upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone.

Instead the media were shown the new Galaxy A range of ultra slim smartphones which are pitched more to the mid market as well as a plethora of digital home appliances.

Samsung Forum 2015 Key Announcements

SUHD TV:  Pitched as the next leap forward in UHD TV technology, Samsung showcased a range of SUHD televisions.  While UHD itself is still in the early stages of adoption, the new SUHD standard will deliver more than double the brightness and greater colour richness of the previous technology.

This is possible because of nano-crystals which transmit different colours of light depending on their size, producing higher colour purity with increased light efficiency.

Despite all of that, Kiwis will potentially be most interested in the Rugby Mode smart feature which enhances the look of a sports game and produces highlights of key match moments on the fly.  Prices and dates available for the 2015 televisions are yet to be announced.

Premium Audio: A new line up of home theatre audio solutions were revealed.  The WAM 7500/6500 speakers deliver a 360-degree sound from a stylishly egg shaped body.  The company also showcased its new Curved Soundbar 8500 series which complements their range of curved TV’s.

Digital Appliances:  The Dualwash washing machine drew a lot of attention due to a non-digital innovation.  The washing machine has a built in sink in the lid which allows users to pre-treat their laundry before tipping it into the wash.

Phones and Music:  The assembled media were hoping to catch sight of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S6, but there were to be no leaks before its March reveal. Instead they were shown the mid range Galaxy A devices.  The Galaxy A7, A5 and A3 all feature a slim metal unibody design in a range of colours and sizes.

Beyond hardware, Samsung announced the arrival of Milk Music in the Asia-Pacific region with a rep confirming that it would launch first in Australia and New Zealand.  Optimised for mobile devices, Milk Music is Samsung’s version of an internet radio/music discover .

The “Listening TV” issue

Separately from the launch, Samsung New Zealand also put paid to the internet reports that Samsung Smart TV’s may be “listening in” on private conversations and transmitting the information to advertisers.

A press release issued just before the conference.  “Voice recognition allows the user to choose to control the TV using voice commands in addition to their remote control and is a Samsung Smart TV feature which can be activated and deactivated by the user.

It went on to say “If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is only given to a – voice-to-text conversion provider during a requested voice command search.  At that time, the voice data is sent to a server which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV. “

Delegates at the Samsung Forum that I spoke to seemed bemused that the voice search feature, commonly seen these days in smartphones, had received so much adverse publicity.
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Lightbox Is Here – Telecom Delivers TV Over The Internet

A new online service is about to give Kiwis a lot more choice over how they watch TV shows.

Telecom Digital Ventures today revealed that their new streaming service, called Lightbox, will launch in the coming weeks offering people with a broadband connection the opportunity to choose what they watch, when they like and with no ads.

At launch TV shows Lightbox will include 24Live Another Day, starring Kiefer Sutherland as the iconic Jack Bauer.

24 2Game of Thrones junkies will likely get their costume drama fix through Vikings, currently in production on its third season.

Drama series Mad Men is also confirmed as part of the line-up.

While the full line-up of shows won’t be revealed until the service goes live,  Launch Director for Lightbox, Simon Hoegsbro says viewers can look forward to entertainment the whole family will enjoy.

“We’re launching with around 5000 hours of award winning TV shows that span all genres – whether you’re into drama, comedy, sci fi, fantasy, reality or kids shows, there’s something for everyone.”

A free 30-day trial will allow TV lovers to explore the service thoroughly before they make their first payment of just $15.

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The Details: How Lightbox Works

The service can be used across multiple devices, including laptop, desktop, iPad and Airplay on Apple TV.

Up to five devices can be registered to each Lightbox account, and two shows can be played at once, so you can watch the latest drama series in the living room while your kids sing along to their cartoon favourites in their bedroom.A parental control function enables parents to filter out content playback according to rating.

Set up is easy. There are no contracts or installation visits required and membership is available to all New Zealanders, regardless of their broadband service provider.

“Our aim is to bring our service to as many homes as possible,” says Hoegsbro. “We want viewers to discover shows they’ll love, and have the freedom to watch them on their own terms. Lightbox enables exactly that.

“We hope New Zealanders will take advantage of our free 30-day trial to check out what we’re offering and watch some great TV shows. To pre-register, visit lightbox.co.nz and enter your email address.”

Small print: Compatible device and broadband required. Your ISP charges apply. Lightbox is $15 per 30 days after the 30 day free trial. Terms of use apply.

Website: www.lightbox.co.nz

Twitter: @lightboxNZ

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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