When Panasonic launched its Australian 2012 TV range, the talk was all about multi-tasking; when Samsung did so it was all about Smart TV and exclusive content. LG's pitch to get you to buy a new telly this year is strongly tilted towards the quality of its 3D offerings.
3D is, according to LG, a key driver of Australian TV sales. At the launch, the company highlighted GfK figures that suggest that 3D panels had a 63 per cent value share of the local market; the figures quoted stated that some 100,458 3D TVs sold in Australia in 2010, while in 2011 that figure jumped to 424,015 screens. LG stated it had the largest share of the local 3D market with 22 per cent share against its nearest (unnamed) competitor on 17 per cent.
LG's screens are still using cheaper passive glasses, although this year's models allow you to adjust the depth of the 3D effect. Having stared intently at a music clip that LG had rendered in far too much 3D detail, I suspect that's a feature I'd be making some heavy use of.
Aside from 3D, a lot of what LG's offering with this year's models is broadly evolutionary; as an example, the "Magic Remote" makes a reappearance, but this year's model connects via Bluetooth, comes with a scroll wheel, and rather interestingly uses onboard Dragon Naturally Speaking to give you not only voice control, but also quite specific voice searches. The demo at the launch appeared to be pretty good, but I'd need some solid hands-on time to properly evaluate what it can really do.
Likewise, LG is still in the Smart TV race, but unlike Samsung didn't use its 2012 launch to announce any new Smart TV offerings, instead talking up the range of (yet again) its 3D Smart TV applications instead. LG has still got the basics covered quite well — things like the ever-popular ABC iView, for example, Telstra's BigPond movies and the like are all still present, and SBS On Demand is coming soon. One interesting change here is that LG will let you change the default application tiles on the main splash screen to suit your preferences.
The industrial design of this year's LG TVs is very nice, with very thin bezels and a floating design above aluminium stands that do look good — although as Lifehacker editor Gus noted at the launch, they could quickly become a little cluttered once you'd plugged in more than a couple of external devices.
Not everything LG's launching this year will be in its premium "Cinema 3D" brand, but that range encompasses the entry level LM6700 ($1,599 – 42 inch, $2,299 – 47 inch, $2,999 – 55 inch) and LM7600 ($1,799 – 42 inch, $2,499 – 47 inch, $3,299 – 55 inch) and mid-range LM8600 ($2,999 – 47 inch, $4,199 – 55 inch), both of which will be available this month. Those after the full Cinema 3D experience will have to wait until May, when the 55 inch LM9600 goes on sale for $4,599.