LG, meet Google TV, and the rest of us, meet LG’s Google Android-powered high-definition television a couple days before the company rolls it out in full regalia at CES 2012. That’s a shot of it up top, and yes, I think the interface looks a little unwieldy, too — almost a mishmash of what Microsoft’s doing with its tile-based Metro interface and a left-right master navigation bar to keep you from getting lost in sea of tiny bookmarks and icons. (I’m hearing the set will in fact support both the default Google TV overlay or an LG-tweaked version — I’m not sure which we’re looking at in the shot above.)
LG says it’s an all-in-one set, something it’s calling an “LG Smart TV with Google TV,” so it’ll have some LG logic either integrated with, grafted onto, or working sidewise with Google’s Android- and Chrome-powered interactive television standard. It’s said to run on LG’s own L9 chipset, about which I’m finding nothing else online save an ocean of press release repeats (Is it ARM-derivative? If not, does it afford LG an edge on pricing?). There’s been no word yet on screen size(s), but we’ll have that info in just a few more days.
The TV will support 3D, specifically LG’s “Cinema 3D” technology, meaning all you’ll need is a pair of battery-free “lightweight” stereoscopic glasses. LG’s also talking up its “magic remote QWERTY” interface, which I was prepared to write off as meaningless “magic” marketing-speak (onscreen keyboards tend to suck equally), but then noticed it refers to LG’s voice- and gesture-controlled remote with microphone and QWERTY keyboard (I’m assuming on the remote itself, but maybe I’m wrong about that). Move over, Kinect!
With this announcement, LG joins Samsung, Sony and Vizio in offering Google TV products, so things are looking up for the format from the electronics manufacturing side. The trick for Google and its partners remains getting content on these sets that consumers are into (some keep calling that “quality content,” which sounds wrongheaded to me — I’d rather call it “whatever the masses are jonesing for”).
In any event, it’s telling that LG’s still planning to release Smart TVs based on its own NetCast-based design in tandem with these Google TV-powered sets. Companies like LG are hopping on the Google TV express with a “money talks, bull-stuff walks” approach, no doubt waiting to see how buyers respond before committing with more authority to the platform.