LG Google TV Reviewby Jason Inofuentes on October 2, 2012 9:00 PM EST
- Posted in
- Google TV
- Media Streamer
- Media Player
- LG L9
- LG G2
We’ll start with an overview of the device itself, and a quick display analysis. LG Display, the conglomerate's panel making subsidiary, has had enormous success technologically and in sales. Their high density displays have been behind many of the “retina” displays that have crossed our bench, and their effectiveness in larger panels has panned out to include commercializing larger OLED panels and making the most of LED lighting in their more traditional TFT-LCD displays.
The LG Google TV features an edge-lit LED 1080p panel, that can do 120Hz and offers passive 3D with the included glasses. As always, thin is in, and there really is very little to this television that isn’t display. The LED’s around the screen's edges must take up almost no space, as the bezels are quite thin at around an inch and at its thickest the set is just 1.4 inches deep. The brushed silver bezels are matched to a brushed silver stand, which makes for a simple but attractive design. All that brushing is an effect, though; both bezel and stand are plastic, not aluminum.
Around back you’ll find four HDMI ports, one component, one RGB (VGA), three USB 2.0, one 100 Mbit ethernet port, an auxiliary audio port, and a port for an IR blaster. That’s plenty of connectivity for any setup, and the multiple USB ports means local storage can be attached alongside other accessories. Capacitive buttons make up the on device controls and run along the bottom right edge of the display, alongside a status LED.
I’m not an ISF certified display calibrator, like our man Chris, but I know my way around a CIE chart. So I took to characterizing the display. In broad strokes, there are two kinds of TV viewers; those that like them bright and blue, or those that prefer them accurate. Many are oblivious, certainly, but there is a preponderance of buyers that fall closer to the bright and blue. It isn’t their fault, really; it's a conditioned behavior. In an effort to draw our eyes to the dozens of TVs on display in a big electronics box store, manufacturers crank up the brightness and aim for vividness rather than accuracy in their colors. The effect is eye catching, but in the same way as a 10 foot Christmas tree. And like such a tree, once you get it in the house it might not look quite right. The two key standards that display calibrators live by are color temperature and gamut.
Color temperature refers to the balance of colors represented in a white screen. Since individual pixels are made up of red, green and blue subpixels, the white you see on your screen is actually made up of varying amounts of colors. Our eyes perceive colors differently, though, so it’s not simply a matter of turning the gain up on all three subpixels; rather, a balance is sought so that white doesn’t become vaguely blue nor slightly red or green.
Color gamut puts those subpixels to the test forming the rest of the colors, and, rainbows not withstanding, there are an awful lot of colors. Various charts are used to represent color gamut, but each has one thing in common, a reference frame. We’re providing two forms of CIE charts, and in each you’ll find a black triangle, this represents the sRGB color space. The white triangle is the actual measurements from the device being tested, and when we refer to color gamut, we’re referring to the percentage of the reference triangle that is overlapped by the test triangle. So how’d LG’s Google TV do?
When we took our measurements with the set in its default configuration the results weren’t surprising. The color temperature was off the charts above 12000K, and the brightness was an impressive 342 nits. The color gamut chart looked very good, a little askew of the reference green, and a little beyond the reference blue. That extra blue tone probably explains the excessive color temperature; lower temperatures are called “warmer” because they bring the white balance further towards the red reference. In use, the television isn’t assaulting, thanks in large part to the good color gamut, but whites do take on a curious hue.
Dig through the settings menus for a little while and you’ll come across another option. Alongside Vivid and Sports, lies the ‘ISF expert’ presets. LG takes the time to roughly characterize their sets and program a decent batch of settings that bring the display closer to the ISF standard. Characterizing the display yielded vastly different results, but it was almost uniformly good. The color temperature averages about 8000K and could be tweaked further, though it’s noticeable that where you’d most notice the color temperature (between 30% and100% brightness) the value hovers right around 7000k. The penalty for this configuration is a brightness that doesn’t break 100 nits. Watching a movie with the shades down and the lights off, this configuration really elevates this display to exceptional. Turn the lights on and open the shades on a sunny day and you might run into some washed out images.
A little more tweaking and we would probably be able to get the brightness closer to 200 nits without sacrificing color temperature. And a visit from a display calibrator could bring this set much closer to ISF standards, but all told, it’s enough to say that without much work at all, this set looks great. All the dynamic this and that is nothing if the images just look bad. Not something you’ll likely worry about with this set.
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Mugur - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkXBMC. And if you can launch it with a single button press from the remote, would be even better. :-)
JaredC01 - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkYou can install 'third party' apps on the TV, and I happen to have a beta version of XBMC on my Evo 4G LTE... Might have to give it a try.
nathanddrews - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - link+1 to this idea.
The "perfect" HTPC has been with us for a while, I think. A simple, vanilla $350 laptop with SNB (or IVB) inside connected via HDMI and loaded up with XBMC can honestly do just about everything. Toss in a couple XBMC plugins and I'm not sure you can do better. Local, network, or Internet, you've got a single interface to listen to or watch anything you want.
I can't wait until they get Eden-level stability into the Android app. :)
JaredC01 - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkI actually have the 55" version of the G2.
On 'the panel' page you state the TV has 2x component inputs. That's incorrect. The TV has a single component input and a single composite input. When using component, you must also use the audio from the composite input cable, which removes the ability to use them both at the same time as well.
Also, you said there's 'no apparent way to change the panel order' which is also incorrect. You cannot REMOVE a panel best I have found, but you can rearrange them. The same is true with the shortcut bar, you can change the arrangement and selection of all the items in the bar side the home, notifications, and apps buttons.
As for the 'Home' shortcut on the app bar, it toggles between full-screen video and the panel layout.
I will also say that you CAN download an alternate launcher from the Play Store, though it's the typical tablet / phone UI and not a Google TV enabled launcher.
JasonInofuentes - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkI've already packaged the unit up for return to LG but if you wouldn't mind filling me in on how to rearrange the panels and the shortcut bar I will add that information in. I dug through the settings and couldn't figure out how.
I did actually try a few launcher's out, including one designed to replace the Google TV launcher, but there wasn't really any value add, and the LG launcher seemed eager to reinstate itself every now and again.
As for the component inputs, you are correct, and I'll update that shortly. Thanks.
JaredC01 - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkFor rearranging the panels and the shortcuts you just have to long click on them (long click on the panel name tab for the panels) and it will give you a drag-and-drop rearrangement menu. As for swapping out the icons, it's as easy as hitting the Menu button on the remote (from the Home screen), and selecting "Customize home items".
chavv - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkFor 60$ one can buy Android 4 powered "pc-on-flash"
With hdmi, usb, wifi, sdcard connectivity
yyrkoon - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkDo you actually own one ? If so, have you used it for months ? Years ?
At this price, the reliability comes into question, as well as the origins of the device.
In all honesty I too was thinking the same thing. At the beginning. Then I saw this was a full blown "PC" + screen, in one device. For $60 you're hardly going to get a HDTV along with it.
Yes, I too have seen these devices you speak of. they are more like $70 + for low end dual core AllWinner A10 ARM based systems that are slightly bigger than a USB thumb drive. Also at $70 they do not come with wifi, or a SD card slot. Just USB, and HDMI out. Also, at these prices, these devices are all no name brand devices. From China, where yours truly has no faith in customer relations. If it were Asus, or someone else who cares about their reputation, then this would be a non issue for me.
However, I have read a few user reviews on such devices, The best I have found so far some person bought 3 devices, and was happy with 2, because they 3rd powered up for 5 minutes before dying . . . so yeah. Whatever you like.
yyrkoon - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkAs an aside, I would probably not buy a device like that which is reviewed myself. Let alone for $1000+ USD . . .
Get a rasberry PI, and wait for someone to release a google android TV image for it. Get the proper write tool for given OS, write it to a SD card, Pop in the SD card, viloa. Near instant google TV for $35 USB plus shipping. Plus time invested.
chavv - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - linkI agree, chinese device...
Yet, for 60$ one can buy rockchip3066 (real dual-core cpu) based device with mali mp4 gpu. With hdmi, sdcard, usb and wifi.
If retail sellers want 100$ for such device without these ports, well they take riska and want profit :)