Today, LG launched its 2014 lineup of LCD, LED and OLED TVs -- showing off its new webOS Smart TV interface, some new designs, and a renewed and expanded lineup of Ultra HD (4K) screens. Here's everything you need to know if you're considering buying an LG TV this year.
This Year's Model Lineup - By Series
LG has a new labeling system in place for this year's televisions. If you're in a big box retail store, you'll more easily be able to tell the difference between the various TVs you're looking at, and better be able to understand why they're different. The E Series is LG's OLED TV lineup, U Series denotes an Ultra HD LED TV, and L Series is the company's mass-market LED TVs (with and without the webOS Smart TV gubbins).
The L Series comprises the vast majority of LG's TVs for 2014. The lineup starts with the $499, 1366x768 pixel 32LB563B -- it's a non-Full HD, 50Hz, non-Smart LED edge-lit telly, with an integrated 20W stereo speaker system and LG's Time Machine TV recording (with an external hard drive connected).
From there, the next step up is the LB5610 -- a 1080p Full HD TV with $599 32-, $899 42-, $1299 50-, $1699 55-, and $2199 60-inch options. All screens apart from the 60-inch are 50Hz (the 60 is 100Hz).
Moving up to the LB5820 and LB5840 gets you the cheapest entry into LG's new webOS Smart TV platform. Across the two series there's a $699 32-, $999 42-, $1399 50-, $1899 55-, $2399 60-, and $3299 65-inch option available. The Freeview Plus standard for HbbTV is included, too. The next model up, the LB6500 and LB6560, adds local dimming to the LED edge lighting (the 70-inch LB6560 only though, apparently), massively boosting contrast when you're watching an especially dark or bright scene in a TV show or movie. This is the first model in the lineup to include passive 3D, too. The $899 32-, $1249 42-, $1749 50-, $2199 55-, $2599 60-, and $4199 70-inch are still reasonably priced; they're all available now in stores, but the LB6560 will be available in mid-May.
Any more expensive TV in LG's lineup is only available in larger screen sizes; a full two thirds of the 2014 lineup is 50-inches or larger, and 37 per cent is 60-inches or larger. The LB7500 TVs all include 12-zone local dimming, and all of them are 200Hz panels. You can buy a $2799 55- or $3199 60-inch model in the LB7500 kit-out. This is the pinnacle of LG's regular Full HD LED TV lineup; everything larger or more expensive is a Ultra HD panel.
There are two distinct models in LG's Ultra HD U Series, with five different screen sizes in total. The entry-level UB850T, which you can already buy right now, which has a 16:9 3840x2160 pixel panel in 49- and 55-inch screen sizes, uses LG's webOS Smart TV interface. Local dimming, a 100Hz refresh rate, passive 3D, and a twin HDTV tuner all come as standard for the $2499 49- and $3199 55-inch models.
Moving up to the larger, more powerful UB980T gets you the Ultra HD PRO processing engine -- better upscaling of Full HD content, apparently -- as well as a much more powerful sound system. Depending on the screen size you go for (there's a $5999 65-, $9999 79-, and $TBA 84-inch on the way), you get an appropriately powerful Harman Kardon sound system, with dedicated internal subwoofer and faux-surround audio setup.
The Ultra HD U Series lineup definitely looks like the halo product for LG this year; the cheapest UB850T is surprisingly cheap, while the UB980T looks fantastically featured.
LG is continuing to sell its existing EA9800 OLED TV, at $5,999 for the sole 55-inch model. It's a curved panel, which may or may not be to your liking. LG is touting its patented four-pixel WRGB OLED design -- with a dedicated white pixel for higher maximum brightness levels -- over Samsung's three-pixel alternative.
This also means that LG isn't including WebOS on its top TV -- you'll have to wait for the next model for that. LG is launching a 4K OLED by the end of 2014 -- it's a 77-inch, curved Ultra HD OLED TV, although there's no word on whether it'll have WebOS. More news on that as it happens.
LG Smart TV, Powered By webOS
The webOS interface on LG's new Smart TVs for 2014 is based around the technology it acquired from HP a while ago, and showed off at CES this year.
The webOS interface is based around the Launcher, which pops up at the bottom of the screen. The Launcher bar lets you choose from live and catch-up TV, Web browser, and so on. The Launcher bar is fully customisable, and can show recently used services for multi-tasking (and close them if you're done). Apps that you're not actively using still run in the background -- so you can load a large YouTube clip while you're watching a show on free-to-air TV, for example.
All the apps you'd expect are included as standard; there's YouTube, ABC iView and SBS On Demand, and LG's Store lets you install more as you need them. The interface can also be controlled via voice recognition (on the LB6500 and higher) through LG's bundled Magic Remote control.
Beyond the Launcher, there's one other useful feature courtesy of webOS -- the Live Menu can be popped up while you're watching TV without disrupting it; it's an instant menu that gives you direct access to webOS' most important features.
Everything on your LG webOS TV is run through the Magic Remote -- the backbone of LG's control system for years. The Magic Remote has a revamped microphone for better voice control, and the new remote can be used as a universal remote to control external Blu-ray players, home theatre systems and other devices.
With a Wii-like accelerometer and infrared control built in, you wave the Magic Remote around to control a cursor on the screen of any LG Smart TV. It's basically a wireless mouse pointer, and the webOS interface is genuinely easy to control with it. It's not purely onscreen control, though - the Magic Remote has all the basic TV buttons that you'd expect, with power, volume, source and channel buttons as well as a multipurpose scroll wheel.