LG Smart TV - Interface

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So far we’ve somehow managed to avoid talking about the onscreen Smart

TV interface LG has introduced for 2013 – even though it’s actually a

very nice system indeed for the most part.

Rather than splitting

its content over multiple home ‘hub’ screens like Samsung and Panasonic

do this year, LG’s approach is to populate a single hub with various

themed content ‘folders’ or cards providing direct links to associated

content.

The

default set up for these folders finds a Premium folder up first

containing all the key online video service providers contained on LG’s

platform; then there’s a 3D World folder providing direct access to

streamed programmes on LG’s own 3D World channel; a Smart World card

providing access to information-based apps and LG’s Cloud (more on this

latter app presently); Game World aggregating all the games carried by

LG’s platform; and Smart Share, which shows stuff collected from your

connected mobile devices, PCs and USB drives.

A

maximum of three of these folders is shown on screen at any one time,

so that the icons can be kept large and easy to select using the magic

remote. You scroll along between pages of folders just by moving the

cursor to the left or right side of the screen.

LG 2013 Smart TV system

The

opening Smart page also happily shows a shrunken version of the TV

programme you were watching when you hit the remote’s Smart button. We

were a bit annoyed to find a fairly large advert box beneath the TV

screen, though; we really don’t see why we should have to suffer ads

when we’ve paid so much for a TV – especially as the ads inevitably

occupy space that could be filled instead with extra content shortcuts.

One

other niggle with the Smart Hub layout is that if you scroll right to

access the extra content shortcut cards/folders, the TV screen

disappears. Surely it would have been better if the TV screen had been

locked permanently in position at the left of the screen while the

content folders scrolled separately, without forcing the TV picture to

disappear.

Each folder/card on the Smart hub shows eight direct

links on the home hub screen, with other options available by selecting

the ‘More’ tab at each folder/card’s top left corner.

Add

to these folder/card link icons a row of further feature and content

shortcuts along the menu screens’ bottom edge and you’ve got a system

that looks busy, showcases lots of apps you might not have seen if

everything was tucked away in submenus, and delivers plenty of direct

content access all without ever looking cluttered or confusing.

Excellent.

As with Panasonic’s excellent My Home Screen

interface, moreover, LG has provided a simple interface for creating

your own folder/card of links. However, rather bizarrely you’re only

able to import links from a very limited list into this personalised

card. You can’t, for instance, choose which video content providers you

want to have on your home card, or your preferred games.

We

guess LG could excuse this by saying that since you need to scroll past

the other themed cards to get to your personalised one you’re going

past all the main content folder/cards anyway, and so can get to content

in those folders/cards quicker without having to move to your

personalised menu. But personally we still think many users would have

appreciated being able to create their own folders from ALL the apps

available.

LG 2013 Smart TV system

While

we can see ways for further improvement of LG’s Smart TV interface in

the future, though, we need to make it absolutely clear that the

combination of the attractive, content rich menus, solid degree of

personalisation and brilliant intuitiveness of the magic remote make

LG’s Smart interface seldom less than a joy to use. Especially as the

system proved both robust and reasonably fast during our tests – a

pleasingly far cry from the rather buggy smart platforms LG has launched

in past years.

That’s it for part 1 of our exploration of LG’s

new Smart TV platform. In part two we’ll be running through the

platform’s content, and the startling number of ways LG has provided for

enabling you to access content across a range of devices.

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