Here’s some rather unusual news from Pebble: Former webOS designers Itai Vonshak and Liron Damir have left LG to join the wearable startup, which is a pretty big deal given their unique spin on UI design — you’ll want to check out what they did to LG’s smart TVs before they left. In fact, if you recall the ill-fated First Else phone from late 2009, its Splay interface — now available as a standalone launcher (pictured above) on Google Play — was also the work of the Israeli duo. With Vonshak now in charge of Pebble’s Product and UX team plus Damir joining as the Head of Design, we can’t help but imagine what a webOS-powered smartwatch would look like. Well, at least someone’s already made a Palm OS watchface for the Pebble to keep us amused.
Filed under: Wearables
Now that plasma TVs are really on their way out, it’s the perfect time for a true alternative to LCD, and LG is ready with its cheapest OLED TV yet. The 55EC9300 is the third generation of curved 1080p OLED TVs to roll out and with a price tag of $3,500, the price has dropped 75 percent since the first one debuted a year ago for $15,000. It’s still pricey for its size, but you won’t have to choose between tuition and a TV this time around. Inside is the webOS Smart TV platform we loved at CES, and of course, the new display technology that is supposed to bring better colors and deeper blacks than have ever been possible before.
The question now, is if the improved colors of OLED are a better option than the high-res 4K screens currently flooding shelves. If the rumors are right, we’ll see a 65-inch 4K version soon that cuts out the compromises, but costs twice as much. You’ll be able to get your own eyes on the screens soon — pre-orders are available through Best Buy and Amazon, and Best Buy will sell the set starting on the 24th.
The TV section of John Lewis stores, where customers and voyeurs alike come to gawk at the latest sets, will be joined by three new models today that also happen to bear the retailer’s name. Its first own-brand TVs, known as the JL9000 series, have been made by LG especially, and thus run the manufacturer’s webOS smart TV platform. Self-branded products tend to be at the lower-end of their category, but trust John Lewis to deck out its TVs with 1080p LED IPS panels, integrated 2.2-channel soundbars with extra subwoofers, passive 3D and 8-megapixel webcams. Those bells and whistles come at a cost, of course, so the 49-, 55- and 60-inch models will set you back £1,399, £1,699 and £2,199, respectively (still, a little cheaper than when the range was first teased). In typical John Lewis style, each one comes with a five-year guarantee, meaning you can chase the store directly if something goes wrong — not that you’d be happy about it when laying down that kind of dosh.
Source: John Lewis
John Lewis is a big fan of cornering retail exclusives on gadgets, and it now appears that this love is extending to smart TVs. Pocket-lint has noticed that the department store chain is teasing the JL9000 series, a line of self-branded, LG-designed webOS TVs that should be more than just a rehashes of the sets we saw at CES this year. The 49-, 55- and 60-inch models will all include stands with built-in 2.1-channel soundbars, giving you decent (if likely unremarkable) audio out of the box. There’s also promises of support for local streaming services such as BBC iPlayer and Now TV, although we’d frankly be surprised if these didn’t appear on a UK-specific set.
The catalogue only promises that the JL9000 range will be available “next month,” so it’s not clear exactly when you’ll get to swing by the local shop for a look. However, these models will certainly be pricier than garden variety webOS sets. The 49-inch variant will start things off at £1,499, while the 55- and 60-inch editions will respectively cost £1,899 and £2,299 — apparently, those speakers command quite a premium.
Since LG informed the world that webOS is coming to 70 percent of its smart TVs this year, naturally we were keen to take it for a spin. So, when they offered to let us take it for a spin, and have Director of Product Managment Colin Zhao and Head of Product Management and Design Itai Vonshak walk us through the new UI, we jumped at the chance. And, not only did we get to see it in action, we also learned a bit about the philosophy behind LG’s move to webOS on the big screen.
For folks thinking LG’s version of webOS might favor its prior mobile implementation, think again. While the underpinnings are the same, the card-based UI has been ditched — according to Vonshak “content is king on the television, and we didn’t want to pull the user out of the viewing experience” by dumping them into an all-card view. When you hit the home button on the remote, you’re greeted by a rail of parallelogram-shaped colorful icons at the bottom of the screen overlaid on top of whatever you’re watching. Those icons include a Today recommendation engine (provided by an unnamed third party) that shows content popular with the viewing public, plus any and all content sources available to the TV, be it online video, localized media, live TV, gaming console or media streamer. Naturally, Netflix is red, Hulu is green, Roku is purple, and so on. As you’ll see in our video below, navigate the menu to the left and you’re greeted by panes that show your viewing history. Slide to the right within the menu and you’ll see the rest of your video sources that couldn’t fit on the home screen. Speaking of, that home screen comes with a preselected set of apps, but it’s completely customizable by the user.
Navigating amongst the icons is fast and easy, and the LG TV swapped sources without issue. “We wanted to treat the web like a first class, not second-class citizen,” said Zhao. The aim is to provide an equally enjoyable user experience regardless of where content comes from — and from our limited demo time, we’d say that LG is on the right track. This seamless and simple switching amongst content is one of the three guiding principles in designing the UI. Along with switching, setup and discovery are the other two.
We already mentioned the Today recommendation engine, and it is the main way that LG’s discovery principle has taken form, but it’s not the only method for discovery. When hovering over the icons for various streaming services, the screen automatically populates screen shots from popular content they provide — rolling over Netflix, for example, caused a picture of the cast of House of Cards to fill the screen.
LG has taken an interesting approach in helping customers set up its new smart sets — it’s attempting to make the process entertaining. To do so, LG created a series of cute cartoon shorts featuring a little black avian character called Beam Bird. The system alternates between screens for setting up WiFi connections and streaming accounts and the aforementioned shorts. While we only got to witness a video cut together showing the process, we imagine that the cartoons will definitely appeal to many. And even for folks who aren’t super keen on the idea, Vonshak assured us that the bird will only appear at setup, and they’ve kept the cartoons short enough to avoid user fatigue: “we didn’t want Beam Bird to turn into Clippy.”
We didn’t get to spend a tremendous amount of time using this new version of webOS, but we did see enough to say that Zhao and Vonshak are definitely on the right track. In fact, we’d say its the best Smart TV UI we’ve ever used
As usual, LG has encouraged our speculation by slowly revealing details about many of the new TVs it’s bringing to CES and today during its press conference we’re finding out the rest, including price and release windows. First up is its impossibly large 105-inch curved LCD, an ultrawide screen that may actually deliver on its promise of a cinema experience in the home. While this doesn’t have a specific release period, LG is anticipating an MSRP of about $70K so it won’t come cheap, but its unique 5,120 x 2,160 resolution is impressive enough to merit consideration — if you’re not convinced don’t worry, there are a number of other options. If you’re looking for a new OLED TV instead, LG is also setting high water marks there with its Ultra HD 77-inch curved model. It combines ultra high resolution with the company’s best display technology and high dynamic range algorithm for a picture that should be stunning. Of course, that comes with a similarly eye popping price of $29,999 when it starts rolling out during the second quarter of this year, but delivering on the promise of one of our favorite displays from last year isn’t cheap.
For those that want the latest in TV technology but prefer a flat viewing surface, LG is also almost ready to deliver its conventionally-shaped Gallery OLED TV in the US. The 55-inch EA8800 doesn’t have the all the pixels of its predecessors above, but with an MSRP of $8,999, it’s a bit closer to our price range and hopefully, new production plants will make the price fall even faster. Of course, there’s a possibility that our favorite part of the announcement is the most easily obtained, as LG has revealed that webOS is coming to most of its new Smart TVs this year.
Purchased from HP and adapted to work on TV, the experience begins with a user-friendly tutorial and setup process, and moves on to a connected TV system that could surpass the others in the field right out of the box. The webOS Launcher is built for multitasking with apps and live TV, all built around the concept of past, present and future. This platform is LG’s first compatible with apps built on HTML standards (Netflix, Hulu Plus, Facebook, GetGlue and others are already lined up), which should hopefully attract more developers to the platform. We’ll have to get our hands on it to verify the company’s pledge that it’s “Making TV Simple Again,” but so far it appears to have a good start — check after the break for a few more screenshots.
LG has already shown quite a bit of its hand ahead of CES (105-inch curved LCD; OLEDs OLEDs and more OLEDs; Ultra HD televisions of all sizes) but with its press conference now just hours away, it’s showing off a bit more. Now we have an official pic or two of the webOS interface on a TV, and LG’s blog indicates it should appear on more than 70 percent of the smart TVs it’s releasing in 2014. The webOS launcher is teased as offering all the voice search and gesture recognition features we’ve seen on LG TVs in the past few years, and enhanced multitasking between apps and live TV. There’s even an animated “Bean Bird” character to walk users through initial setup and pair the magic remote.
That’s not all that’s new however, as LG also confirmed it will launch the Life Band Touch. Similar to Nike’s FuelBand, this wearable (pictured after the break) promises far more features powered by its ability to sync with both Android and iOS devices over Bluetooth 4.0. It has touch controls for music playback and incoming calls on the synced device, and can be used with special heart rate monitor earbuds. There are a few other products mentioned as well, check back tomorrow at 11AM ET for all the information from CES as we liveblog LG’s press conference.
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours — all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
Samsung revealed two new additions to its camera lineup: the NX30 and the Android-powered Galaxy Camera 2. Click the link for hands-on photos and more information about their NFC-based “Tag & Go” feature.
LG is rumored to be releasing a new WebOS Smart TV at CES, and according to @evleaks, this is what it looks like. Click through for more details about the smartphone-like UI and potential launch apps.
After being announced almost two years ago, Mozilla has yet again delayed the release of its Windows 8 Firefox app until mid-March. Follow the link for details.
ZTE is bringing an impressive seven devices to CES, and leading the pack are the Grand S II handset and BlueWatch smartwatch. Click on through for more information.
Source: Evleaks (Twitter)
Via: The Verge
Source: ZDNet Korea (Translated)