With many TVs we’ve seen this year really upping the smart TV ante with both their content and interfaces, there’s some serious pressure on LG – the last of the big-name brands to show its new 2013 Smart TV hand – to keep up with Joneses. But with enhancements to the amount of content on offer, as well as lots of new ways of accessing content – including voice recognition, NFC support, and a brilliant new ‘magic remote it just might have the answers it needs.
Our first port of call is LG’s new Magic Remote. Shipped free alongside a standard remote with every new model in LG’s range from the LA660V upwards, the Magic Remote proves a brilliant alternative method for streamlining and simplifying your use of the TV’s Smart and standard features.
Three key points make the Magic Remote so effective. First, it’s a universal remote, and so can be used for taking over control of other parts of your home cinema system. Second, it lets you navigate, Nintendo Wiimote style, the onscreen menus simply by pointing the remote at the right part of the screen. More on this presently.
Third, it features a vastly streamlined button count versus the standard remote, which sticks to the most important functions. Anything else is accessible using the 'Virtual Remote' button that brings up an on-screen version of the main remote to access the function you want by pointing at the screen.
The LG Magic Remote's most eye-catching feature is the scrolls wheel. This wheel provides you with a brilliantly tactile and extremely fast way of scrolling through menu lists, as well as allowing you to select options by pressing it in.
You can even use it to quickly spin through channels while watching the digital tuner. The only issue we’d have with it is that it only spins vertically, while some of the menus it works with are arranged onscreen horizontally, leading to some slightly unintuitive moments.
The ‘point and click’ aspect of the magic remote really does work brilliantly. The pointer is activated simply by picking the remote up or shaking it around a bit, and it responds with outstanding speed and accuracy to your movements of it. It’s configured, moreover, so that you can cover the entire area of the screen, from one side to the other, simply by flexing your wrist. There’s no need for any tiring full-arm gesture nonsense.
Despite the small movements needed to cover a large expanse of screen area, though, the system is precise enough in its responses to make sure that it’s not at all difficult to finish your motion with the onscreen cursor perfectly positioned over the option you want to choose.
This all makes for a much more intuitive way of selecting options from LG’s graphically rich menus or surfing web pages than using a standard remote.
It’s worth adding that LG’s new TVs do also support gesture control using your hands, like Samsung’s top-end TVs. This is standard on LG TVs with built-in cameras, otherwise it only becomes possible if you add an optional USB camera. However, the system isn’t as comfortable or effective to use as the magic remote, so you’ll likely only ever even think about it if you’re one of those people who’s forever losing their remote controls.