LG is pushing its TV range for 2013: around 70 per cent of its TVs will be smart enabled, and it's backing this up with new-sized Ultra HD TVs and even — we hope — the first commercially available OLED TV in Australia.
The LA8600 is the LED smart TV flagship for the company, and we've taken a look at the 55-inch model and, spoiler alert, there's a lot to like here.
In terms of design, there is very little to quibble with on the LA8600. The ultra-thin bezel gives the screen an edge-to-edge styling, and the stand itself is a rather clever bit of engineering. There are small castors built into the underside of the stand, letting it rotate easily side to side to adjust viewing angle.
It's only a short arc, but it makes small adjustments to the LA8600 a one-handed job, not a back-breaking, cabinet-gouging event, and it's indicative of the thought that LG has put in to the overall design.
The access to ports at the back was also particularly appreciated — the four HDMI ports and the three USB ports at the side, not the bottom, making it simple to get everything plugged in.
As we said in the preview, the LA8600 arrived pre-assembled in a special road case, so we can't comment on what the initial set-up is like for when you first open the box.
The software set-up, however, is just as effortless as we've come to expect from modern TVs — auto-scanning for channels, auto-detect for internet — it's a matter of a few remote clicks, and you're up and running in a few minutes.
Easy access for the HDMI and USB ports.
(Credit: Nic Healey/CNET Australia)
Remote and smart features
The new-look Magic Remote also gets a big thumbs up. LG has kept the general design of the older one, with a few tweaks. The back lighting can be turned on and off, the scroll wheel is responsive and the buttons all have good feedback.
The voice commands can be accessed from the remote, and, more importantly, the pointer function seems a little tighter than previous models. We were quite surprised by how easy it was to use the on-screen keyboard with the remote.
The smart TV interface will also feel quite similar to anyone who's owned the older models. The screen is divided into section, with the default, labelled Premium, where you find your video-on-demand content, including a sold array of catch-up TV.
This is followed by 3D world, Smart World, Game World and then the Smart Share category, which is where you can link the LA8600 to devices around the home and generally connect to your home network.
LG certainly has all of the elements you'd want from a smart TV, including a well-populated apps marketplace, but the interface feels just a little dated. That said, you can easily edit the order in which the categories appear, and even create your own custom "card" with up to eight of your preferred apps and links in the one spot.