Hands on: LG 55GA7900 Google TV review

Voice search powers this web-savvy set

What is a hands on review?
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You use Gmail all day long, increasingly run Chrome, and have been known to watch the odd YouTube video, so why should you desert your beloved Google-made goodies when you sit down in front of a supposedly smart TV? You shouldn't, thinks LG, which has made this luscious-looking Google TV especially for Google users.

However, if last year the prospect of a Google TV was a genuinely exciting 'watch anything from the web' idea, now it seems like just another tweak to smart TV – but Google software lovers will adore the 55GA7900.

LG Google TV

Google TV is nothing more or less than a mod to LG's existing Smart TV user interface. It has the same three panels on the home page dedicated in turn to a live TV thumbnail, Premium apps (such as Netflix, Lovefilm, and in the UK version, the BBC iPlayer), and – new for 2013 – My Interest, which appears to be a rolling news service based on a genre you select (world, business, sports, etc).

LG Google TV

It also retains 3D World (the 55GA7900 is also a Cinema 3D telly) and LG's SmartShare panel, one of our favorite media streaming platforms, on swipe-able panels.

It's across the bottom that the Google action begins, with LG's usual roster of apps now added to or replaced by Chrome, TV & Movies, YouTube, Google Play (though don't expect to be able to download any app you might use on your phone) and a voice search app. These apps can be customised and replaced or added to by a quick drag 'n' drop.

LG Google TV

This 55-inch 55GA7900 is one of seven Google TVs in LG's line-up for 2013, with its 47-inch variant joined by five models in the step-down GA6400 Series. All use a special Google TV version of LG's latest-gen remote called Magic Remote QWERTY, which has the same microphone built-in, but adds a full keyboard on the reverse.

LG Google TV

The standout combo is PrimeTime, which searches the TV and the web for anything you ask it. It's best used with the Magic Remote QWERTY's mic, which uses surprisingly sensitive 'natural speech recognition' for voice searching, and it really works.

LG Google TV

Even in the noisy environment of the CES show floor, a call to find the 'movie about a casino robbery in Las Vegas' elicited the hoped-for Ocean's 11, complete with a link of where to watch it on-demand, or even purchase it. It first searches live TV before looking at content in the TV's apps, and lastly does a web search.

Using the Magic Remote pointer (think a Nintendo Wii nunchuk), it's a simple interface to navigate – and at time it's incredibly nuanced and stylish, For instance, it's also got a wise EPG that lets you find movies, comedy and other genres on live TV; scroll through a pop-up menu on the left-hand side and cover art or thumbnail images appear for each title.

LG Google TV

The Google TV architecture then delivers its last surprise with a YouTube smartphone/tablet app, which allows a video played on a handheld device to be pushed to the TV. Simple – and brilliant.

The 55GA7900, which includes a TruMotion 200Hz backlight scanning mode and Cinema 3D skills (as well as the dual play option for full-screen 2D gaming for two 3D-spectacled players), is a step-up option even judged purely on picture quality. It runs LED Plus, code for some local dimming that appears to jack-up contrast, while new for this year – and something we've seen on Samsung's stand, too – is the inclusion of a subwoofer in the TV to boost sound.

LG Google TV

We've liked LG's smart TV interface for a few years, but the integration here of some rather simple but highly polished Google TV features makes the 55GA7900 a rather special set. OK, so Google TV isn't quite as ambitious as we were once promised, but as a mod to existing smart TVs, we think it really works – and the voice search is the icing that makes it click.

LG Google TV

What is a hands on review?

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Tech Specs

Product TypeLED-LCD TV
Scan Format1080p
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Product FamilyGA7900
3D Type3D
Smart TVYes
Brand NameLG
Screen Size139.7 cm (55")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Horizontal Viewing Angle178°
Vertical Viewing Angle178°
Wireless LANYes
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
Backlight TechnologyEdge LED
VESA Mount Standard400 x 400
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand788.92 mm
Width with Stand1246.89 mm
Depth with Stand325.88 mm
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
3D TechnologyPolarized
3D ConversionYes
PC StreamingYes
Internet AccessYes
Media PlayerYes
3D Glasses RequiredYes
Motion Interpolation TechnologyTruMotion 240Hz
Enhanced Refresh Rate240 Hz
Height708.9 mm
Width1246.9 mm
Depth34 mm
Product SeriesGA7900
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
ManufacturerLG Electronics
Product Model55GA7900
Product Name55GA7900 LED-LCD TV
Manufacturer Part Number55GA7900
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.lge.co.uk
Marketing Information

Whether you have an expansive home theater or a comfy living room, LG offers state-of-the-art televisions for every room in your house. For game days and movie nights, LG's plasma, LCD and an LED TVs deliver an incredible entertainment experience in the comfort of your home. LG also offers the innovative 84 inch UHD TV with double the resolution of a standard HD TVs and the stunning OLED TV with an infinite contrast ratio. Plus, with our Smart TVs and 3D TVs, you can connect to the internet or turn virtually any programming into a 3D experience.

Weight (Approximate)23 kg