It’s rapidly becoming evident that an HDTV can’t rely on just a high-def screen anymore; it must have enhancements in order to gain attention from the consumer. Among the enhancements now expected are such things as an Internet connection, availability to run “apps,” and display 3D.

But to really “enhance” the overall experience, you need to find a way to make the TV “smart.” One way to do that is to bring in a technology that can integrate throughout the set and all that it’s doing. Ergo, the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series is a “Google TV,” in that features and functionality that most are familiar with when online is now integrated as part of the overall operational experience.

For those who wonder, the “Google TV” aspect of the LG is actually a software implementation that ties in through the TV and the features that it offers — it’s not a stand-alone box as has been the case in the past. You’ll need to enter/create a Google account in order to use all of the functionality — basically the system tracks what you’re doing and offers suggestions based on what “it” sees going on; this is similar to using Google-based functions online in its simplest sense. But here we have television broadcasts added to the mix.

The advantage of the Google experience is that much of what is going on is happening online — as you’re accessing video, photos, looking at stuff that is not just locally based. Google TV is able to do such things as make “searching” more of a clean and stable experience, along with integrating with the TV signal to provide details as to what is being broadcasted, will be broadacasted, etc. When you consider the applications (“apps”) and other online aspects of the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series, having Google TV as a “helper” is a real advantage.

So I expect that setting up the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series will not be the “same-old, same-old.” Jumping into the future, I’ll find that the normal setup procedure I used needed to be modified so as to enable the set to more fully integrate and control the satellite receiver I am using for TV (and give me better access to the program guide, for example). But getting back to the present…

Assembling the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series is a straightforward task requiring two people due to the size of the screen. I also suggested using a back brace if you have trouble with your back since lifting the set by yourself would be a grave mistake.

You must first install the base unless the LG is going to be wall-mounted. This requires two sections to be connected and works best with two people. With that done, the LG can now tilt a bit as well as swivel.

I decide to go with the basic procedure that I’m seeing on the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series’ start up screen: I’ll connect a HDMI between my Dish Network satellite receiver and the LG, rather than just outputting from my amplifier which has the inputs of other devices connected to it. There’s 4 HDMI inputs on the side, along with a Component, Composite and DVI options (the last being for connecting to a computer, although transmitting wirelessly to the set is a better option, I think — providing you’ve the tech to do it). Plus there’s USB ports for accessing content from external sources. Besides analog RCA audio ports, you can also output digital audio and have it go into a speaker system. I’ll note right now that the speakers in the LG are moderately good — nothing special. The midrange is fine for television broadcasts and the clarity of the sound is well within the acceptable range (actually a few points better). You can “tweak” the sound a bit to your liking, but I would say use the output and go to your speaker system for more impressive sound-field results when watching movies. Not that the audio experience is bad, it’s just nowhere as overwhelming as the video is to your eyes — ack, I’m jumping ahead again! But if you activate the “3D Sound Zooming,” you can enhance the audio for a more surround-like effect.

So now I’ve attached an Ethernet plug from my wired network directly into the back of the LG and it automatically sets itself up. You can use wireless instead, but this will require a bit more attention to such details as the name of your wireless network, the password, etc. Nothing against the self-help menus that pepper the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series, but taking the easiest route is always the best for me.

I can now access a lot of functions, from online websites like Netflix and movie rentals, select 3D streaming movies, pick “apps” to load in and even use the Chrome web browser to mimic a computer.

The 3D system built into the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series is based on polarization: this means that the 3-D glasses are extremely lightweight, have no batteries, can be worn for long stretches without incident and can cost very little — 6 pairs are included with the LG and that’ll do, pig. Because of the size of the display and the LG’s inherent brightness, the loss of resolution that results from polarized 3D viewing wasn’t onerous at all — in fact it looked highly detailed during my tests (more on this later). Add the wide viewing angle and more than one person can be watching 3D on the LG, make that 4 with no issues. You’re paying for 1080p HD and for sure you’re getting it.

A few words now about the “Magic remote” I’m using. Rather than being long and lean, it’s short and squat. Which is a good thing, since one side holds a scroll wheel/direction pad and all the expected controls for a TV (including “Search” and other dedicated keys). Flip the remote over and you have a full QWERTY keyboard, albeit with small buttons that make those like me have to use digits rather than thumbs. The best part of the remote’s “magic” is that it’s a wireless pointer — it was paired the minute I turned on the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series and went past a few of the start up screens. So no problems there. I also dig the “candy bar” design much more so than the angled remotes that I’ve seen lately.

You may wonder if the 120Hz that the LG uses to drive the display is adequate, given that there are faster models now available. I find 120Hz more than fine, providing that polarized 3D is being used, as it’s here that motion streaking and other “bugaboos” are likely to be seen. The use of LEDs helps to provide a smooth issue and overall I had no viewable issues with the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series. That’s that. I tried playing Wrath of the Titans in 3D (an excellent example to use considering that it’s almost all special effects), and for the most part the 3D was definitely a positive part of the experience — even when I moved to a more extreme viewing angle (something most people don’t normally do when watching). Switching to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance drove the 3D into overdrive — it’s even more extreme and all of the fire washing out from the movie might seem a heavy cliche, but in 3D it looked abso awesome. Including some scenes that I can’t talk about here. So forget about plot and acting because it’s the 3D effects that make this film and watching it on the LG’s 55-inch screen is one grand experience.

I should also add that the inclusion of LED technology makes the color palette quite intense, whether in 2D or 3D. Not so that it looks unnatural, but colors “pops” even when confronted by lower resolutions such as coming off a DVD disc or from an Internet website. Accessing online video is easily done through the Menu, which lets you continue to watch the TV signal (up to a point). I’d have to say this was one of the better integrations of video/online options that I’ve seen.

Did I mention that you are using the “Magic remote” to control everything? What you should have done earlier — me too! — is connect the IR blaster cable from the LG so that the “bulbs” at the other end can be placed in front of the IR receivers of the devices that are going to be controlled, like a Blu-ray player for example (not to mention the set top box providing the TV signal). A few simple setup steps and it’s one remote to control them all.

Editor’s Rating:

Rating: ★★★★½

Excellent

Bottom line: The LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series is a high-quality HDTV ($2,099 retail) that will grace any home with a big image from a seemingly small form-factor. And it doesn’t leave out any of the features that today’s consumer expects either. But even better is that it provides an outstanding image and doesn’t require any special maintenance in order to access its many functions, including the use of the Google TV technology. It’s kind of funny that a HDTVs main purpose — showing a picture on the display — is less of an “excitement” factor today. That is unless the TV doesn’t look good or can’t perform up to snuff. Neither of which is a problem with the LG LCD 55-inch Cinema 3D Google TV G2 Series.

Pros

  • Self-help “Wizard” screens
  • Customize 3D depth
  • Keyboard-equipped remote

Cons

  • Keyboard buttons tiny

 










Marshal Rosenthal

 
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.