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)
As things get older they tend to get bigger. It’s the same for people, corporations, models of cars, budget deficits… and so it is for webOS. As Palm was in the process of being subsumed its great mobile operating system was being eyed for much broader things, far bigger than the little phones it had previously been flashed on. Things like printers and desktops and laptops, but for its first proper foray outside of a phone it has a tall task: compete in the brutally vicious tablet space.
Its weapon is the TouchPad, a 9.7-inch tablet from HP that got official back in February and will be available July 1st (if you don’t manage to find it earlier) — $499.99 for the 16GB model, $599.99 for 32GB. That’s exactly on parity with the WiFi iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1, current kings of the tablet court. Does this plus-sized Palm progeny really have what it takes to hang at that price point, or is this just a chubby pretender that’s outgrown its britches? Read on to find out.
Amazon may not be shipping HP’s first webOS tablet until July 17th, but why wait? The outfit itself just affirmed that the long-awaited TouchPad will go on sale to eager Americans on July 1st, with the UK, Ireland, France and Germany a few days later (and Canada in mid-July). Following that, a phased rollout will take it to Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, New Zealand, Singapore and Spain “later this year.” It’ll be on sale pretty much everywhere for $499.99 (16GB) / $599.99 (32GB) — or £399 / £479 across the pond — with pre-orders starting at your favorite e-tailer just ten days from today. For those looking for a highly connected version HP also made clear that it’ll be partnering with AT&T for a 3G (or will it be “4G?”) edition later in the summer. Head on past the break for a look at the full retail partner list, and yeah, yesterday would be a great time to start saving up.
When it comes to webOS 2.0 (now actually called HP webOS), it almost felt like we’d never see the version number, let alone get to review it. It’s been an intense few months for Palm: after floundering in the early part of the smartphone wars, it was scooped up by HP for a tidy sum of $1.2b. Though it seemed like the dream of webOS could fade away, the company made it clear that it had plans to not only continue the work Palm had done in the mobile world, but extend what the tiny company had created to other platforms as well (tablets, and yes, printers). We’ve heard a lot of talk from both parties since the acquisition, but have seen little in the way of proof that progress was indeed being made — but that’s all changed today. Palm has officially released its second generation OS into the wild, along with a new, beefed up version of the Pre (at least in France — North American handsets are coming soon). The company offered us an early developer phone to test out the new OS and see if the combination of tightened code and a significantly faster device (the Pre 2 clocks in with a 1GHz CPU) could make a difference between last place and a fighting chance. We’ve taken an extensive look at the new OS, so read on for our full take! Read more
Palm gets official with webOS 2.0 and Pre 2: hitting France on Friday, Verizon 'in the coming months'
And just like that, the rumor mill smirks. HP has just come clean with a device that we’ve been hearing more and more about over the past few weeks, and with it will come the next generation of webOS that we’ve been hearing about for even longer. The Palm Pre 2 will be the first device to ship with HP webOS 2.0, with the revamped and renamed (presumably to use on more than just Palm smartphones) mobile OS promising “true multitasking,” Stacks (for organizing apps) Just Type, HP Synergy (links your email and social networking accounts), Exhibition (enabling users to run apps designed specifically for the Palm Touchstone Charging Dock) and support for Adobe’s Flash Player 10.1 Beta. It’s also bringing along a new Favorites tagging option, Skype Mobile (on the Verizon version only), text assist, integrated Quickoffice, VPN support, a redesigned launcher and full support for Bluetooth keyboards and SPP peripherals. Read more