LG has certainly talked the good talk with its new ‘Film-Type Pattern Retarder’ passive 3D TVs. But now it’s time to walk the walk, as we find ourselves staring with anticipation at the brand’s flagship 3D LCD TV, the 55in 55LW650T.
The big point about FPR, so far as we’re concerned, is that it makes 3D much more affordable. For whereas last year’s passive 3D TVs had to build a glass substrate filter into the screen, at great cost, with FPR you essentially just stick a polarising filter onto the front of the screen and save yourself a heck of a lot of work and cost in the process. Which results, of course, in a much cheaper proposition for consumers.
The first thing to say about the 55LW650T, though, is that it’s not quite as attractive as we might have liked LG’s flagship FPR 3D TV to be. Sure, its dark bezel looks opulent and glossy enough, and the appearance of a few millimetres of transparent material beyond the main bezel’s edges cleverly emphasises the screen’s svelte depth. But the bezel’s width feels a little old fashioned by today’s standards (certainly when compared with the practically bezel-free Samsung D7000 and D8000 series), and we kind of missed the all-in-one-plane fascia sported by LG’s Infinia TVs.
It’s back to cutting edge business with the 55LW650T’s connections, though. The increasingly inevitable four v1.4 HDMIs get the ball rolling, but there’s also a pair of USBs for playback of most types of multimedia files - including DivX HD - and a LAN port for either accessing files on a networked PC or else transporting yourself to the nothing-if-not-varied world of LG’s new Smart TV online service.
More needs to be said about both these LAN-related functions. First, when it comes to accessing stuff via your PC, the 55LW650T is the first TV we’ve seen to go the PLEX route. PLEX is essentially a media server utility designed to provide a ‘bridge’ between your Mac or PC and your TV (or other PLEX-enabled home theatre equipment). Movie streaming, home video streaming, TV streaming and music sharing are all possible via PLEX, and there’s much to admire about its pretty, clean, graphics-heavy interface. It has to be said we came across a few problems with setting PLEX up for this test, but we’re sure it’s just that it’s a pretty new system that will doubtless be refined over time.
The new Smart TV online platform, meanwhile, brings a smartphone sensibility to online TV functionality, by putting pretty much everything in app form, and having a store from which you can buy/download the apps you fancy from LG’s wide-ranging and eclectic app collection.
We’ve seem plenty of weird and not particularly wonderful apps on the other Smart TV platforms that have launched this year. But LG’s current offering turns the wacky-meter up to 11, with such startling discoveries as an eye test app, a colour blindness test app, an app that teaches you first aid, a Tarot app, and even a Wine Sound app that features wine glasses being played as a music instrument. Right you are.
Thankfully LG divides its app collection between Premium content and, well, ‘b-list’ content, with the Premium channel thankfully providing a very decent selection of services, including the de rigueur BBC iPlayer, the AceTrax movie rental/purchase service, YouTube, Picasa, iConcerts, Facebook, GoogleMaps and Twitter. Baseball fans might be pretty excited by the MLB.tv platform too.