Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rant O’Clock: LG - Life’s Glitchy

After much deliberation and procrastination I finally got around to buying a new TV for my living room recently. I purchased an LG 55” LED LCD “Cinema 3D” TV (55LW6500).

I’d never bought an LG product before, but seeing as they were the only manufacturer offering passive 3D TVs I decided go with LG.

In order to minimise any compatibility issues between the TV and the Blu-ray 3D player I choose an LG Blu-ray 3D player (BD660) too.

You know how it is when you have two pieces of electronic equipment that don’t get along: the manufacturer of the component A blames the manufacturer of component B, and vice versa. So, when buying equipment that needs to get along, I try to buy from the same manufacturer in order to avoid such heartache.

A fat lot of good it did me in this instance…

LG’s Glorious Two Dimensional Blurry “3D”.

At first I was reasonably happy with the 3D imagery the LG produced from the handful of Blu-ray 3D titles I purchased along with the TV. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and Despicable Me, in particular, looked great.

A few weeks after buying the TV, Rio was released on Blu-ray 3D. Given the dearth of decent Blu-ray 3D titles I raced out and purchased this title, sight unseen. But when I came to watch it on my expensive new telly something was wrong…

When the image was slow moving it looked OK, but as soon as the image moved fast the perception of depth was lost and the image became blurry. If you paused the image it became obvious that the problem was the result of the left and right images being slightly out of sync. That is, instead of getting a different perspective of the same frame in each eye, you get a different perspective of different frames in each eye.

After googling “Rio 3D Blu-ray problem” I found a couple of forum discussions about the issue. There appeared to be one common denominator to the problem: LG Blu-ray players (Urgh).

I called LG and was pleasantly surprised that I got to talk to a real person whose first language was actually English. But my enthusiasm quickly wanned when it became obvious that this polite, well-spoken, man was not aware of the issue and seemed more interested in getting rid of me than actually solving the problem. In the end he told me that the issue would be logged and a firmware update would be released to solve the problem, if necessary.

It felt like a generic fob off, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and waited patiently for a firmware update to be released.

Three weeks later, with no firmware update in sight, I decided to write to LG requesting an update on the status of this issue. Here’s what Paul from LG Australia had to say:

The issue is that there is one off productions that use a particular codec when creating the discs that are incompatible with certain DVD players. In this case Rio appears to be an example of how the codec of a disc clashes with the reader of a DVD player.

If and when LG release an update to rectify this issue, it will be available on this link >

Please regularly check this for any new additions to the update list.

I hope this has been of some assistance.

If LG rectify this issue? WTF! Paul, I paid good money for a “Blu-ray 3D” player, I damn well expect it to play “Blu-ray 3D” discs. It’s not optional! And, no, you’ve been of no bloody assistance at all!

I can only assume “Paul” is some lame AI program that automatically responds to emails LG receives. How else does one explain his constant references to “DVD player” when I explicitly explained the problem was with an LG BD660 Blu-ray 3D player? And the inference that it’s acceptable that some discs just “clash” with some players is, with all due respect to Paulbot, totally unacceptable.

LG’s Really Dumb Smart TV

Whilst my big gripe with LG is that the Blu-ray 3D player they sold me doesn’t work properly and that they don’t seem to care now that they have my money, I have also been mightily underwhelmed by their “Smart TV”

The ads for LG Smart TV imply that the platform has bazillions of LG apps (akin to what’s available on all those slick Apple gadgets) that will transform your TV into the most comprehensive home entertainment device ever conceived.

The truth is there’s a handful of crappy games that’ll you’ll play once before wondering why you bothered, a very glitchy media streaming app, and a YouTube app that is basically broken.

The YouTube app is by far the biggest disappointment. It starts up playing a “randomly” selected video, but I actually think a disgruntled LG app developer has coded it to find the most offensive clip possible rather than a truly random selection. I’ve only used the YouTube app four times (because it sucks as badly as it does), and on three occasions the randomly selected clip featured some talentless moron squealing “fuck”, or “fucking”, or “mother fucker”, or some other witless derivative of the f-word within the first few seconds. The one time it didn’t feature an f-word riddled rant from some YouTube halfwit, it featured a song about masturbation. Nice… Here kids, gather round and check out this awesome fucking fucked mother fucker masturbation app on the LG Smart TV.

This opening random selection “feature” of the LG Smart TV YouTube app begs two blindingly obvious questions: 1) Why does the app have to play a video at start up? 2) If you are going to do this, why not make the starting video one from an LG Channel, or some other vetted channel that isn’t going to start swearing at you as soon as you launch the app? It defies belief that LG allowed this app to be released and it farcical that they call it “Smart”.

All that said, the auto-swearing feature is not the worst of the YouTube app’s problems. Finding the videos you want to watch is basically an impossible chore. The app only gives you a clunky text search facility for finding videos. It’s really unintuitive to use, often doesn’t return the video you’re after, and often responds very sluggishly to remote control button presses. You can’t sign into a YouTube account and get access to your favourites, your subscriptions, or recommendations. You don’t even get the default recommendations for “guest” users of YouTube.

Frankly, the Smart TV YouTube app is unusable and LG should be embarrassed for including it.

I can think of another word starting with "Fu" that describes LG's Smart TV.

The Smart TV media streaming app is another disappointment. In order to get it to work you need to install Plex Media Server on your PC. It works OK if you have a wired Ethernet connection from your TV to your computer, but if you have a wireless connection (as I believe most people would) it’s hopelessly unreliable. Sometimes the app will connect to the server and work flawlessly, other times it just can’t “see” the server and fails to make a connection. There's no recognisable pattern to when it will or won't work. The Plex developers says it’s a bug in Windows 7, but oddly, this bug doesn’t affect any other apps on the LG Smart TV platform that require network connectivity… go figure.

The whole Smart TV thing feels like a rushed product. Nothing works well, and some things don’t work at all. The best app is probably the vTuner internet radio app, but even it lacks basic features like current track information.


  1. I have the same TV and the same problems. Also I can not sign in. Oh I can enter the user name and password but it never retains the data and returns me back to the sign in page over and over. I can how ever sign into the LG apps page on any PC but it's never discovered or connected to my TV so no downloading apps here either. Curiously something akin to the same effect is happening to the clock. I can enter the time manually and save but when I visit the clock again from anywhere it's blank. It didn't retain the data entered previously nor will it load it from the automatic setting.

    I bought this from Best Buy in Victorville, California, USA in April 2011 and they have been so neglectful and unhelpful that I stopped my payments. They have the same problem with store models on display and are pretending nothing is wrong and telling me they're not to blame. Fuck that! I'm old school and if I sell you a $2500 TV (or a $10) and it isn't as advertised, nor working properly I'll make it right with you regardless who manufactured it. Or who is responsible for servicing it (Geek Squad). Or who looked it over last. LG came out on the first call and swapped the main board. Same problem with the TV and same problem with the tech. They don't know squat about network capable TV's, home networks, media servers, routers, modems, etc. Completely unprepared/educated for the job.

    I will never buy another LG product, shop at Best Buy again and will actively discourage others. This is the last TV on earth anyone should purchase. And after discovering this blog I think I will follow its lead and devote a page from my blog to combat this problem with the goal of preventing others from having to enduring this crap. My phone # and contact info is available on my blog The B4 Zone hosted at Suffering the same fate? I encourage you to publish your comment here, also on my site and anywhere else it applies.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Ku.

    To be fair I should probably point out that LG released a firmware update for my Blu-ray 3D player, after I wrote this article, that has fixed the Rio Blu-ray 3D playback problem.

    As for the problem you described signing into your LG account, that's not a problem I've experienced. Mind you, I virtually never use the "Smart TV" because the apps are so poor.

  3. I also had a problem with the Rio 3D disk in my LG model BD645 Player. I found an upgrade on their web site, installed it, and now the disk plays fine. I'm in the United States. I have never owned an LG product before but so far (3 weeks) I like my TV and Player.