Very promising – with more apps, it could be the class king
Apple TV-bashing flexibility and spec
slick and easy to use
Needs more free streaming, especially in high definition
Smart TV is one of the big themes this year, but what if your TV’s a couple of years old and, for want of a better word, a bit dumb? The answer could well be LG’s ST600, also known as the Smart TV Upgrader.
This little box is only a little bigger than the tiny Apple TV, and is therefore more compact and a bit more stylish than its key rival, the Sony SMP-N100.
Such a small chassis limits the LG’s connections, but the major basis are covered between the HDMI and optical outputs, a USB socket for connecting hard drives and an ethernet socket for a physical internet connection. Super-fast 802.11n wi-fi is built-in, too.
A growing amount of contentThe ST600 ticks all the content boxes. Catch-up TV comes courtesy of BBC iPlayer, Acetrax provides on-demand movies, vTuner has internet radio covered and social media users get Twitter and Facebook access.
At this point it does lack the likes of 4oD and Demand Five, and it’s a shame that there isn’t a Qriocity-style HD movie service, but these could come.
More after the break
Right now, LG’s app store contains only a small number of (peculiar) little games and the like, but we have every reason to expect it to expand quickly.
Unlike Sony’s SMP-N100, the ST600 does a decent job when it comes to streaming content over your network.
Plays multiple formatsIt plays video formats such as MKV and AVI, the former at up to 1080p, while WAV support means it handles uncompressed audio, too, although it is a shame that everything is upsampled to 48khz – we’d rather 44.1khz music was played as such.
Still, performance is good. Standard-definition files show a touch of motion smear but are generally vibrant and clean, and HD is lovely and detailed.
By class standards there’s plenty of punch to audio, too, and surround soundtracks fill the room nicely.
Our only other issue is that the ST600 is occasionally a little ponderous – apps can be slow to start and inputs take a heartbeat longer to register than is perfect.
We’d also like to see a Boxee-style QWERTY remote.
So, the ST600 isn’t perfect, then, but none of its rivals are, either. In fact, this LG is quite possibly the best one yet.