Back in the day we were one of the first on our street to get a colour TV. It caused quite a commotion. Neighbours' kids would peer through the windows just to see what it looked like.
These memories popped into my head while reviewing LG's Hybrid TV because the 'gee-whiz' I got from it reminded me a lot of the wow factor I got from that 24" wood veneered boob tube from my childhood.
Upon first hearing the name Hybrid TV, I wondered if LG had created a petrol/electric TV with exceedingly low mileage per adverts consumed.
It turns out that the Hybrid TV moniker came about because of close collaboration between LG and Freeview. The Hybrid TV has both UHF and satellite tuners built in which means if you live outside of Freeview UHF coverage but have an old satellite dish on your house, the Hybrid TV should still work.
Look and feel
The first thing I noticed about the Hybrid TV was just how light it is. Reviewing TVs usually means large boxes and frequent trips to the chiropractor. Not so with the Hybrid TV. It was so light I thought they'd forgotten to pack it back at the factory.
The Hybrid TV was thankfully in the box as were remotes, batteries and half an Amazonian rainforest worth of manuals.
The Hybrid TV is an attractive beast. A metallic bezel defines the edge of its screen which is punctuated by a small red LED in the centre of its bottom bezel which lets you know you're plugged in.
There's also two remotes included. The first remote is a conventional rectangular slab with all the usual buttons.
The other is a curvy number that LG call the "magic remote". The magic remote will be familiar to anyone who's ever used a Nintendo Wii. A small on-screen pointer moves on-screen as the TV tracks how you've moved the magic remote.
There's just half a dozen buttons located exactly where my fingers expected to find them. LG have also added a scrollwheel (just like on a PC mouse) and a microphone (the Hybrid TV also has a speech recognition function baked in).
Spinning the Hybrid TV around reveals a ton of connectivity options. As well as a UHF antenna there's a satellite socket plus HDMI and component/composite video inputs. There's also a SCART socket, 3 USB ports, Ethernet, plus an optical digital audio out socket and a PC card port.
Getting set up
Setting the Hybrid TV up was a relatively pain free experience. Should the urge ever take me and I buy my very non tech savvy parents a smart TV, this would be it. The clever cartoony graphics hold your hand throughout the entire set up process, making the set up process a complete no-brainer.
This is largely thanks to a character called Beam Bird. Beam Bird gives plain kiwi English tips and tells you when something isn't quite right, even exclaiming "Sweet as!" once set up is finishing.
Aside from its animated cuteness factor, Beam Bird makes the set up process a whole lot less intimidating. He isn't too in your face too much so hopefully won't become the smart TV version of Clippy.
Having connected it to a UHF antenna (I also tried it on my Sky dish) and tuned it, the Hybrid TV asked for a data connection. Using its in-built Wi-Fi, the Hybrid TV detected my router, asked for a password and went about getting connected. I was good to go. Total set up time from unboxing to viewing - a mere 15 minutes.
Freeview mightn't compete much on content, but the picture quality of what was broadcast was stunning. A quick play with the settings menu also revealed both a home and store mode plus a Picture Wizard. These let me calibrate colour, contrast and brightness levels in my lounge to get the picture just right.
Local LED dimming meant that the Hybrid could dim LED backlighting on screen areas displaying black or dark colours. This helped deliver impressive contrast levels considering the Hybrid TV's screen is an LED backlit IPS LCD panel. Blacks were dark while whites remained bright.
Colour accuracy was also bang on. Skin tones looked natural rather than oversaturated or sunburnt pink or Bart Simpson yellow. Greens and reds were also constrained and didn't bloom. Picture sharpness for both Freeview HD and Blu-Ray content was crisp, defined but not over sharpened.
Another area that often tends to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to LCD TVs is motion. Left to their own devices, LCD TVs deliver juddery video when it comes to fast moving on screen objects. These can be pretty distracting, especially with sports viewing.
Getting around this requires some pretty clever video processing. Early motion processing techniques often led to artifacts around edges of fast moving objects which is at least as distracting as unprocessed juddering. The Hybrid TV's video processing was pretty flawless. On-screen motion was silky smooth.
Bells and whistles
Picture quality aside, there isn't much that the Hybrid TV doesn't do. Plugging a USB hard drive into one of the spare USB ports on the Hybrid TV's rear adds PVR capabilities, allowing users to pause, record, rewind and fast forward live TV.
The Hybrid TV is powered by WebOS, that was originally developed by Palm and used by HP. In use it was pretty slick. Hitting a home button on the magic remote brings up a series of coloured blade-like mini buttons. These present a heap of options ranging from a web browser, through to YouTube and music services plus live TV. Unfortunately the LG app store wasn't available. Here's hoping it launches in NZ soon as a strong ecosystem for apps will make WebOS hum as a smart TV platform.
The Hybrid TV also played nice with most of my media collection, streaming video and audio as well as displaying photos. It was also 3D capable, making use of LG's passive 3D glasses (which handily also work at the cinema). The 2D to 3D mode delivered convincing synthetic 3D with minimal crossover interference for TV shows, photos and gaming.
Speaking of which, LG are sweetening the deal for gamers via a promotion that'll see Xbox One consoles given away with 50"or larger LG TVs including the Hybrid.
There's a lot to like with the Hybrid TV. It earns brownie points for having both UHF and satellite digital TV connectivity built in, allowing it to work wherever you are in NZ. Picture quality is great and it's dead easy to get set up regardless of how tech-challenged you happen to be. LG have crafted a great accessory for couch-spud kind.
RRP: $1,599.95 RRP
Screen: 42", Full HD 1080p IPS LED backlit LCD (w/Local LED Dimming)
Aspect ratio: 16:9
Viewing angles:Viewing angles (H/V) 178°/178°
Video processing: TruMotion 100Hz/Triple XD Engine
Tuners: Twin Freeview satellite and terrestrial tuners
PVR Functionality: Freeview recordings to built-in memory (4.9GB) or external USB HDD
Audio: 2 x 10w speakers
3D: LG Cinema 3D
2D to 3D converter mode
OS: webOS Smart TV Platform
Accessories: 1x LG Remote, 1x Magic Remote
Additional controls: Finger Gesture/Voice Recognition
Dimensions: (W x H x D) 960mm x 606mm x 238mm