If you think South Korea is all sky-scrapers, disgusting kimchi dishes and crazy electronics, then you'd be right. Crave is on a week's tour of the place and we're having a blast hanging with the folks at LG. Among the highlights so far have been more plasma and LCD TVs than you can shake a stick at, robotic vacuum cleaners and LG's unwavering interest in educating the local children.
We can't bring you every last detail of our trip (our hosts sternly refused to let us roam freely with our cameras in the display manufacturing plant), but Crave infiltrated LG's headquarters in Seoul and embarked on a mammoth eight-hour bus journey to the virtually LG-owned city of Gumi to update you on the hottest products of 2006, and a shedload of goodies to look out for in 2007.
We kick off our trip by visiting LG's famous headquarters: the Twin Towers in Seoul's 'Manhattan Island'. The towers overlook Seoul's Han river (Great river) and play host to LG's Learning Center for children.
Inside the Learning Center, one lucky journalist is volunteered (against his will) to have his face transformed by LG's imaging systems. In this instance he's being morphed to resemble a small bandana-wearing Korean child. We're not sure why, but the results are disturbing.
This robotic arm has been designed to accurately draw sketches of human faces. A camera takes a snap of your face and a computer analyses the picture and feeds information about your individual features to the robot arm, which draws a picture. We couldn't see exactly how accurate it was because it was broken. Possibly a really ugly child had thrown it into a state of malfunction.
Here you can draw pictures using a touch-sensitive display. This is our interpretation of a Maltese boa constrictor impersonating a worm.
LG's 3D imaging technology can more commonly be seen in commercial displays, but is put to better use in a children's simulator. Here, kids and befuddled journalists ride a time machine through space looking for, erm, stuff. It was all in Korean so we don't have the foggiest idea what was going on.
Obviously inspired by South Korea's performance in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, LG has created its own robotic football team. This lot didn't seem to be doing very well -- they've all gone to sleep on the far touchline. Maybe they think it's all over.
We leave the kiddie fun zone to check out some serious products. It's a four-hour drive to LG's manufacturing plant in the Korean city of Gumi, and though our welcome is warm, this banner proclaiming our swift demise left us feeling a bit wary.
We also bore witness to this wireless television. The 15LW10, on sale now at your local Currys.digital, is a 15-inch LCD TV that comes with an integrated battery pack for operation away from the mains. It has a base station that can beam programmes to its integrated wireless receiver, and it can be yours for around £599.
Here's LG's funky vertical-standing AN110W projector. In this photo it's sitting on its own stand, but it can also be placed on a table or mounted on a wall. In some installations LG has even covered the AN110W with wallpaper (not the lens section) to help make it as unintrusive as possible.
The Fantasy series monitors made an appearance. Here we see the lovely Ring, Eclipse and Jar versions (from left). All are 19 inches, all have 4ms response times and all have an RRP of £260.
In amongst all the televisions we spot a bunch of LG-branded toothpicks. LG virtually runs parts of Korea so it's no real surprise it plays a part in these aspects of Korean life -- including food.
LG's famous 102-inch plasma was a definite showstopper. The fellow in the picture was so overcome with emotion he actually bowed before his new plasma overlord, offering it food.