CES 2010: LG goes to Infinia and beyond

This just in from WHFSV's crack away team on the ground in Las Vegas; report filed by Rachael Prasher:

LG played host to a global selection of bleary journalists at the first press conference of CES 2010 this morning, and in spite of an over-long and frankly irrelevant preamble regarding boardroom changes and a lot of executive backslapping, time was found to flesh out the Korean manufacturer’s ambitious plans for 2010.

Despite the electronics world in general suffering an unprecedented annus horribilis in 2009, LG enjoyed record sales and operating profits.

According to LG’s North American CEO Wayne Park, then, 2010 is the perfect time for LG to undertake the most significant product introductions in its history.

The list of new products and technologies is extensive. LG’s new sub-brand, Infinia (which will be to LG what Viera is to Panasonic or Bravia to Sony), will be attached to the company’s premium TV and home cinema products, and the new line-up will include innovations such as 3D TV, wireless HD, Freeview HD, wireless internet and Skype.

There’s even a confirmed launch date (Spring 2010) for the company’s 15” OLED TV.

Overall, LG will launch more than 70 TVs in 2010, which means either a) spectacular levels of choice or b) unprecedented confusion for customers, depending on your viewpoint. Either way, the company’s commitment and ambition is impressive.

A new family of LED TVs tops the Infinia range. The LE9500 (seen above, and in profile at the head of this piece), LE8500 and LE7500 feature local backlight dimming of up to 240 addressable segments, offering what the company claims are deeper black levels and a uniformity of backlighting never before available on screens of just 23mm depth. In addition, the LE9500 and LE8500 feature the latest 480Hz incarnation of LG’s TruMotion processing.

April sees the arrival of LG’s first 3D TV, the LD360. This 47incher will be compatible with Sky 3D TV at launch, and incorporates ‘passive’ 3D technology so that only simple, inexpensive 3D glasses will be required to enjoy 3D programmes and games.

LG’s allegiance to Freeview HD means that half of its 2010 TVs will feature integrated Freeview HD. April sees the launch of a total of 25 screens – LCD, plasma and LED – at a range of price-points and screen sizes (from 32” to 60”) with Freeview HD built in.

And by the end of the year, more than half of LG’s TVs will incorporate broadband functionality, meaning Skype and YouTube are accessible directly from the TV.

Niceties, as well as practicalities, are also on the LG agenda. Certain Infinia models will feature a new ‘point-and-click’ remote control system which uses minimal buttons and extensive on-screen menus to make your TV’s remote control function more like a wireless computer mouse than a traditional IR wand.

Equally intriguing is LG’s new BD590 Blu-ray player (above). Here’s a disc-spinner with integrated wi-fi capability, eight-channel audio decoding and something the company’s calling ‘express reaction’ start-up. Most intriguingly, though, the BD590 features an integrated 250GB hard-disk drive, making it less of a Blu-ray player and more of a media library.

American consumers will be able to get their hands on the BD590 from next month, but no UK launch date has been confirmed as yet.

No definite date for the CF3D projector, either, though frankly we’re prepared to wait. This is a Full HD, single-lens 3D projector featuring 120Hz TruMotion processing that has previously only been seen on flatscreen TVs, and LG is claiming the usual astronomical brightness and contrast figures.

The fact that it’s first to market with a technology many rivals haven’t even been able to commit to as yet speaks volumes for its ambition.

Then there’s the new mobile phone with solar recharging or, as the world has signally not been crying out for, a mobile with integrated Pico projector. And we haven’t even touched on LG’s plans from greener, more efficient washing machines and refrigerators… but what we have established is this: LG is in earnest.

It’s determined and implacable. And, on paper at least, it’s got the products to make every other electronics manufacturer in the world sit up and take notice.

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.