CES 2013 -- LG's superficial brilliance

Posted by Rhuaridh Marr
January 9, 2013 8:43 PM |

At LG's conference, it was all about looking good. OLED, 4K screens, Laser projectors -- the company had a plethora of ways to make the outside world look incredible on your living room wall or computer desk. Add to that a new connected life concept based on NFC-enabled appliances -- paired with a new "Touch the smart life" tagline -- and it was a great showing from the South Korean company.

Yes, 4K is very much here to stay. Adding to sets from Sony and Samsung, LG has thrown their hat into the UltraHD ring at CES by adding two TVs and a 4K monitor to its range. Echoing Samsung, LG is introducing two smaller sets to accompany its currently available $20,000 84-inch model, all with the stunning 3840x2160 resolution. The 55- and 65-inch TVs have LED edge lighting, local dimming, 240Hz refresh rate, access to LG's 1400 Smart TV apps, 4K upscaling, passive 3D support with depth control, 3D sound zooming, and the relatively underused dual play multiplayer functionality for gaming -- which utilizes special glasses to display separate content to two players in the same game. Pricing and availability are AWOL at the moment, but we expect to hear more from LG soon.

While 4K content for home media is thin on the ground, one area that will catch up quickly is the PC market, with 4K graphics cards and games on the horizon. As such, LG is launching a 30-inch 4K monitor with an incredible 4096x2160 resolution. Details are thin, so don't expect pricing or availability any time soon, but LG are said to be aiming the screen at the commercial market for use in presentations and demonstrations -- we see no reason why it wouldn't work as well plugged into your PC, provided it can power the 4K resolution.

LG has also matched Samsung and Sony with their announcement of OLED TVs. Long-touted as the next great thing in home cinema display technology, OLED screens promise better contrast, proper blacks, and incredible color reproduction. LG are throwing their full support behind the tech and announced three OLED models, all coming this year. All three are 55-inches, and are 1080p for the moment -- unlike Sony's 4K OLED screen, though LG has confirmed that they're working on 4K OLED screens -- but the stunning picture quality of OLED will help make up for any resolution loss. The first model out of the gate features WRGB display tech, which means an extra white pixel is inserted for every red, green and blue one, to boost brightness and contrast levels. It's expected to launch in the first half of this year, and will feature LG's Smart apps functionality, WiFi connectivity and NFC for pairing with smartphones and tablets, as well as the usual plethora of connectivity and sharing options synonymous with high-end sets. No price has been announced, but around $10,000 seems a sensible estimate. The second model will launch in the second half of this year, but details are slim -- expect it to improve upon the first in terms of picture quality, and, hopefully, cost as the manufacturer streamlines production.

©GizmodoLG's third OLED TV, and the company's proclaimed flagship, is a new, curved screen display. Said to emulate an IMAX experience, the subtle concave bend is intended to provide better viewing angles and a more immersive experience for viewing content -- on top of that, it also looks ridiculously cool. Details are virtually non-existent, but LG say it isn't a prototype and will enter production this year, though refrained from confirming price or an exact date.

LG announced a new projector at CES -- which isn't usually cause for excitement -- except it's called the Hecto Laser TV. Consider interest piqued. It's not technically a TV, more a projector and screen combo with a short throw lens that LG claim will project onto the included 100-inch screen from as close as 22-inches. It's the ultimate space-saving home cinema, and LG promise a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, 1080p playback, WiFi and Miracast capability, 3 HDMI ports, a TV tuner and dual 10W speakers. LGs Smart TV apps are on board as well, for the occasional 100-inch Netflix streaming session. Pricing hasn't been announced, but with the unit available in March of this year, you'd better start planning which wall to hang the screen on.

As well as its new screens, LG has also introduced plans for home connectivity utilizing NFC and WiFi. Controlled via NFC-enabled smartphones -- sorry iPhone users but you can't enjoy this -- LG is bringing a range of NFC-enabled home appliances to market which will communicate with each other, and with the smartphone app, to allow users to better manage their home life. Simply tap the NC smartphone on the appliance to pair with it, and it will be added to the connected app. Users can then scan a barcode on a product, and the fridge will update to include it in its inventory, suggest recipes that use it, and tell you when it has expired. Tap a recipe on the fridge and send it to the oven, which will automatically preheat to the correct temperature, notify the user via smartphone when it's primed, and set the correct alarm -- again, notifying the user when cooking has finished and switching itself off. Built in diagnostic tech allows devices to self-diagnose issues, and suggest fixes to users, as well as allow for monitoring of power consumption and notify for faults such as leaving the fridge door open. Connect to your washing machine and it will alert you when a program has completed. Need to leave the house? Wait until it's finished, and then set a spin cycle via your smartphone. Can't be bothered lifting your phone? Appliances will connect to LG Smart TVs as well, so users can check on a washing machine's time, or a cooking meal, by bringing up the associated app on their TV.

LG also announced the Smart HOM-BOT, an automated vacuum cleaner similar to a Roomba, except by utilizing NFC connectivity, users can pair with their smartphone and remotely control the vacuum -- much like a remote control car. Have a spill in the kitchen? Pick up your phone and steer the vacuum to you, then set it to clean. Users can also monitor their home via its built-in cameras, and use the HOM-BOT to communicate with family members via its speakers, using their smartphone as a microphone. It sounds like a tech-lover's dream -- but could also prove beneficial to those worried about leaving their house unattended or to monitor their children.

It's a fascinating idea of what a connected home can be like, and it will be interesting to see not only how LG evolves the tech in the future, but also how it's rivals respond.

Foodwise: New blog. New program. Coming in January 2013.

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