LAS VEGAS--Details have been leaking out over the past week, but this morning LG officially announced the Smart TV Upgrader, a small set-top box that offers LG's Smart TV suite of streaming media services.
Smart TV includes all the same streaming-media services found on last year's LG products (Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, YouTube, CinemaNow) and adds Hulu Plus, Amazon VOD, NHL GameCenter, NBA Game Live, and MLB.TV. Along with content from the Web, the Smart TV Upgrader is DLNA-compliant, so you can stream music, photos, and videos from a connected PC. LG will also have its own app store, enabling you to download new apps for your Blu-ray player
More uniquely, the Smart TV Upgrader will offer a Web browser, although the company hasn't yet detailed what video format (Flash, HTML5, etc.) will be supported. The player will also be be controllable via a free iPhone/Android app, which will enable text input using your phone's keyboard. That's a particularly nice upgrade considering the including browser, as it will be make it much easier to enter URLs, rather than using an onscreen keyboard.
While it's nice to have the ability to purchase LG's Smart TV suite without buying a more expensive product like a TV or Blu-ray player, the Smart TV Upgrader will face tough competition from products like the Roku XDS, Apple TV, and Sony SMP-N100, which offer similar functionality. Its release date and pricing were not announced, but we'd guess the Smart TV Upgrader will need to be less than $100 to compete with already established players in this category.