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LG has done a terrific job with webOS, aka LG Smart+. Unlike rival internet connected TV platforms it's predicated on simplicity, with an unassuming menu bar that allows easy access to streaming services and functionality. As an example of minimalist interface design, webOS is brilliant. The slanting coloured tiles of the launch bar offer instant access to streaming services, broadcast TV and other functions including web browser and TV guide.
Where the interface excels is in its ability to switch sources. You can watch BBC iPlayer or YouTube, pause and flick over to live TV, and then return and carry on with the stream. It's fast too. You can also prioritise services and functions by grabbing them with the cursor and dragging them to the front of the launch bar. There's also a history list of things you've been watching recently. Even the out of the box set up routine has an edge over rivals, with LG's Bean Bird mascot guiding users through the process.
WebOS works great with the cursor driven Magic Remote too. The gyroscopic sensors track your position accurately onscreen, and the ability to drag and drop elements of the WebOS interface is very intuitive.
The webOS tiles spread across two screens, but there's no folder system to nest them together so you may well run out of space. That said, the launcher itself works best with a relatively small selection of key apps on the main screen.
At the time of writing there's not a full set of catch up provided, with only ABC iView and SBS On Demand offered. Other streaming services available include BigPond Movies and YouTube. LG says it's optimistic about providing new third party apps, courtesy of an open SDK for developers. Back-end apps include Smartshare, Camera and Photo Editor, Time Machine for recordings made to a hard drive and an egallery for artful screen filling.
Optional apps from the LG download store include CinemaNow, Skype, Spotify, Eurosport player, , Napster, Deezer and others. The platform also supports screen mirroring from compatible smartphones. There are some functional caveats though. The set lacks dual terrestrial/satellite tuners which rather limits second screen opportunities.
One big surprise for such a thin set is the audio performance. The downward firing speakers of the EC930T sound surprisingly robust. And while volume is capped before things get too rowdy, there's a good full-rounded mid-range which serves most content and dialogue particularly well.
While OLED's picture attributes are immediately obvious, assessing value is somewhat more difficult. While LG continues to erode the entry price of its OLED screens, there's still quite a gulf between this new technology and established LED sets, consequently the $3,999 55-inch EC930T is clearly not going to appeal to those looking for a big-screen bargain.
But this is very much a premium screen both in terms of design and performance, so you wouldn't expect to find it in a bargain basement deal. In terms of cosmetic design and 1080p image quality it's decidedly upmarket.