LG Ultra HD 4K UB950T

LG Ultra HD 4K UB950T
LG Ultra HD 4K UB950T.

Having all but dominated the Android smartphone market with impressive devices packed with robust features and software, LG and Samsung are looking to recreate that success in the TV market.

Both the South Korean companies are pushing the ultra-high-resolution 4K envelope - they are using curved screens to redesign the notion of a home theatre set-up.

While Samsung has crafted a strong emphasis on external design and aesthetics, LG is looking at internal elements to woo and wow users.

Instead of updating and tweaking its smart TV interface, LG bought an operating system - webOS - from HP, to power its new range of TV sets.

Developed for a line of smartphones and tablets which HP never released, webOS is a full-fledged operating system and its impact on a TV is immediately evident.

Gone are the long pauses between triggering an app and seeing it show up on screen. Apps run faster and the overall experience is smoother.

The magic happens as soon as you switch on the TV.

A graphic-based interface takes you through the TV set-up and the basics. Are you connecting the TV to the free-to-air receiver or via a cable TV set-top box? Will you be linking it to an AV receiver or Blu-ray player? What about game consoles?

The software will notify you of the inputs to connect to and you can rename each one to identify the device connected to the TV, instead of being confronted with a list of connections identified only as "HDMI 2" or "Component".

Some TV sets may offer a selection of these set-up features, but nothing as rich or as simple in execution.

The physical interface here is also different. Instead of a complex multi-button remote, LG is staying with its small, gesture-based Magic Remote.

There is no need to remember channel numbers. All you have to do is use the scroll wheel to switch channels. As there are limited channels available here, there is no need to scroll through dozens of channel numbers.

Move the controller and a circular cursor appears on screen. Move the controller again and it generates a corresponding move by the cursor. Press the scroll wheel while the cursor is hovering over a menu option and it activates that option.

The webOS interface is easier to use. Instead of returning to the smart TV menu, the menu of apps, such as YouTube, Web browser and games, pop up from the bottom half of the screen and appear in sequence from left to right.

Apps which were recently opened appear on the left, pushing back the icons for apps opened earlier.

If you want the YouTube app to always be easily accessible and up in front, simply use the remote control to drag the icon up to the left and park it there permanently.

The Magic Remote offers a few frequently used physical buttons, such as the volume and channel buttons, mute and 3-D stereoscopic toggling.

However, for the most part, users will hardly miss any buttons which are missing. If you do, though, there is a physical button which will bring up the numerical keypad on screen.

The 65-inch TV set which I tested had amazing colours, with sharp visuals all around.

One of the things which I noticed was that the screen, although glossy, was not annoyingly reflective. So, even if you watch TV during the day with the windows wide open, the screen will not reflect much of the light coming in.

Alas, users of this 4K TV looking to try out Netflix's 4K streaming will be disappointed. The native 4K app is not available on local TV sets and there is no way to change the region settings - as you can on Samsung's 4K TVs - to force a download of the app.

Given the lack of 4K content, users can rely only on upconversion of current content to 4K.

On a 65-inch TV, the results are effective. Perhaps a 55-inch set is still too small to appreciate ultra-high-definition glory, but the results here are beautiful.

The LG set has a built-in recorder and a channel guide which displays what is showing. Unfortunately, webOS cannot overcome connectivity limitations as both these features are available only if you plug the TV directly into your home's cable point.

Adding a set-top box interferes with the broadcast signal and removes these features completely.

LG's webOS brings a new level of convenience to the smart TV. It is just unfortunate that access to one of its core features, the Netflix 4K app, limits what users can enjoy on the excellent display.

sherwinl@sph.com.sg

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