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LG webOS TV interface preview
What is the LG webOS TV interface?LG's new TV interface for 2014 is based on webOS, a piece of software originally used in mobile phones made by the now-defunct Palm. Its aim is to get rid of the clunky, unintuitive interfaces of previous and current smart TV interfaces.
LG webOS TV – Design The webOS interface is based around a Launcher window. This gives you access to all the main portals within the system, including streaming services like Netflix as well as more social services like Skype and Twitter.
One of its most important triumphs is that it looks a lot better than most current TV interfaces. And that's more than just about being pretty – a lack of visual intuitiveness is one of the key problems with many current smart TVs.
The interface can be used with LG's Magic Remotes, which let you use your TV remote a bit like a Nintendo WiiMote – or a laser pointer for the non-gamers among you. However, you can also use it in more traditional fashion too, with a remote D-pad.
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LG webOS TV – Features and StreamingWhat the LG webOS interface will do for most people isn't much different from any current smart TV interfaces. It'll let you stream from online services such as Netflix and LoveFilm, look at your Facebook and Twitter updates on your TV and – if you're desperate – surf the web. We'll look into how it connects with your phone and other devices at a later date.
It has an app store-based software ecosystem, so you can expect all sorts of other bits and bobs to appear within weeks. What we're not yet sure of is whether UK favourites like iPlayer, 4OD, Demand 5 and so on will be available when the first webOS TV ships, but it's unlikely to take too long for them to show up.
Of course, the app-based system also means that the quality of some experiences will be down to third-party companies. As with most current smart TV systems, you can expect a shedload of fairly low-quality filler apps to appear on the LG Store. This is a minor case in point, but note the slightly quirky font in the Facebook app below (it's a bit naff, we imagine this app may be made by LG).
LG webOS TV – MultitaskingAside from a slicker look and better support for LG's Magic Remotes, the top benefit of using webOS is the system's superb ability for multiasking. Or at least seamless switching between different apps or content streams.
The launcher overlay can be brought up wherever you are, making flicking between live TV and smart TV services. Part of the mission plan behind this new webOS TV interface is to break down the wall between 'normal TV' and smart TV, which remains a barrier for the less tech-savvy TV owner.
Things like Netflix are instead brought into the sphere of 'things your TV can do'. We're not convinced the webOS interface will cause a smart TV revolution, but it seems a good step forward in the way smart TV operates. Core TV functions are built into this interface too, including switching between other sources - other HDMI ports and so on.
Much of this multitasking success is down to the way webOS was originally constructed – by Palm, and for mobile devices (primarily, at first). The erratic way we use phones was catered for well by webOS in phones like the Palm Pre, and LG's TVs are now benefiting from this approach.
LG webOS TV – CompatibilityPart of the reason why the new LG webOS TV interface is able to look and feel so slick is that it requires a fair amount of power. All the TVs are rumoured to have at least 2.2GHz dual-core processors and 1.5GB of RAM.
If you're expecting your current TV top get an upgrade to the webOS TV interface, this seems highly unlikely. And not all 2014 LG TVs will use the interface. All the new UltraHD (4K) models will, but only 56 per cent of the new range in total will feature it. However, the slickness of the webOS interface is a good sign for the future of smart TV as a whole.
Next, read our best TVs round-up