As you probably already know, LG unveiled new Smart TVs based on the Palm’ smartphone software platform webOS; now redesigned to fit on a TV screen. We had some hands-on time with LG’s webOS.
Hands-on with LG's webOS Smart TVs
LG has previously used its in-house NetCast platform on all Smart TVs, and has experimented a little with Google TV. None of those projects have been very successful, and LG has admitted that the experience has to be simplified, which is why LG is now switching to the new wehOS platform.
webOS is based on “cards” that you can pull up from the bottom at any time. The system is generally fast and smooth, and the simple cards implementation works great as a TV user interface. LG says that the webOS platform features multi-tasking, but unfortunately not in the sense that you would expect. It can have 10 apps running at the same time, but whenever you switch to a new one the previous is put to sleep. You can quickly switch between apps, but you cannot have Pandora music playing in the background while browsing a photo app. It is possible to customize which apps are placed on the app bar.
LG still has an app store and it features some of the most prominent names in streaming, social and other categories. However, the selection is not that large, and even though LG promises more apps along the way, we fear that it will take time to build up a healthy eco system. LG also tells us that none of the apps developed for the NetCast platform will work, but adds that app developers should be able to easily redesign the apps, as the webOS is based on an open and easy-to-develop-for platform.
The webOS platform generally looks and feels very smooth, and it is technically capable of supporting some of the new TV technologies, including 4K streaming (from Netflix) and HEVC decoding. Everything is controlled with the motion-based Magic Remote, and the simple interface is a joy to use compared to most Smart TVs today. Unfortunately, LG’s webOS platform will not make it to LG’s pre-2014 Smart TVs that will be stuck on NetCast. Only the 2014 models and forward will use webOS. LG expects 70% of its 2014 TV line-up to feature webOS.
All in all, LG’s webOS looks like a strong foundation for LG’s future Smart TVs, and possibly the best Smart TV platform right now. We will try to confirm that when we receive the first test samples in a few months’ time.