Las Vegas, Nevada
Hello and welcome to our live blog of LG Electronic’s press conference, the first on a packed media day here at the 2015 International CES.
The theme for LG’s presser is “Innovation for a Better World” and we begin with a pastiche of family scenes, like watching TV together and a child being mesmerised by a washing machine. Dr Skott Anh is LG’s first speaker today.
“What is a better life? We define it as a life that is more beautiful and more convenient than yesterday,” he says, before explaining how the Internet of Things (IoT) will help to maximise the value customers get from their LG appliances.
This year, LG will update its Smart TV platform with webOS 2.0, to now incorporate 4K streaming. This platform is set to be expanded to more platforms, including Wellness (sleeping habits, heartrate and movement), appliances and air conditioning.
LG’s HomeChat program, which uses ‘normal’ text messaging to control major and small appliances, will soon be updated to understand simple text messages. The appliances can also talk back, sending messages to smartwatches with updates on program progress and diagnostics.
Head of product development Tim Alessi takes the stage to talk about TV technology:
Alessi rightly says that LG has been at the forefront of manufacturing and marketing OLED TVs and he is now explaining how OLED can create the best picture quality – blacker blacks, whiter whites, the full colour spectrum – and that will continue to improve due to LG’s $600 million commitment to OLED production, which should lead to over 1 million units sold through 2015.
LG will launch seven new OLED models in 2015, in both flat and curved, and all will be 4K in resolution. Alessi briefly mentioned a partnership exploration it is undertaking with Netflix and clearly there is a link between these new 4K TVs and Netflix’s inchoate interest in streaming content in 4K.
Outside OLED, LG will be promoting 4K in its LED LCD range, with sizes ranging from the 40-inch mark all the way up to 105-inch. Using a new technology called ColorPrime, LG will be improving the colour reproduction on these TVs.
Discussing content, Alessi throws to Greg Peters, chief streaming officer at Netflix, who talks about how these two companies have worked together to deliver great content into consumers’ lives.
Peters said that this year, Netflix will be streaming 4K content, such as new show Marco Polo, to LG TVs. Peters praised LG for using webOS, which he describes as a “native” IPTV platform, as being the most user-friendly Smart TV platform on the market. Peters then revealed that Netflix will be launching a ‘Recommended TV’ partnership program, which will presumably include a nod to LG’s newest models.
Other 4K streaming partners will include GoPro, YouTube and Amazon, Alessi said.
To home audio, where LG’s wireless audio system, called ‘MusicFlow’, is set to compete with Sonos (and myriad other similar brands) through 2015. MusicFlow allows users to access all their hard drive music, as well as music streaming services, via a bespoke app, to play music throughout the home. More speakers can be added to the system over time. This service will also be the first to include Google’s MusicCast service, which is being launched at CES later today, Alessi says.
With a bit less detail, Alessi says LG will have new Blu-ray Players, home audio systems and monitors during 2015.
Discussing “Smart, forward thinking appliances” is David VanderWaal. He’s joined on stage by LG’s new laundry and French Door fridge range.
The new laundry range includes a remarkable world first: a dual washing machine. On the top is a conventional frontload washer, which sits upon a mini topload washer, so users can, for example, wash colours and whites at the same time. While larger than a traditional frontloader, it’s not enormous and could comfortably fit into a normal laundry compartment. This is a great announcement!
LG is also improving on its Heat Pump dryer technology, called Eco-Hybrid, and this technology has won an Energy Star award for its environmental friendliness. Local sources say it is still unclear as to whether Australia will receive LG’s Heat Pump dryers.
In Door-in-Door, LG has reconfigured its French Door model to improve their efficiency; generate less noise while running; and guard against fingerprints, due to its “distinctively dark exterior”.
Celebrity chef and TV personality Rachael Ray is now on the screen telling us that her TV kitchen has been fitted out with LG appliances and she even has them in her home too. This is an official partnership, not largesse, it should be noted.
Frank Lee is now on stage to present LG’s latest mobile technology developments. It must be said he looks very dapper in a blue silk suit, crisp white shirt and LG red tie: definitely the best dressed man so far at CES!
The new LG smartphone is the G Flex 2. “Take a moment and take it in,” Lee says over a pleasant round of applause for this reveal.
The G Flex will be available in silver and red and will include the Qualcomm’s most powerful chipset, according to Lee, and run Android 5.0. Because consumers are concerned with cracking screens, durability has been enhanced by 20 per cent, due to its curved form factor and DuraGuard Glass treatment, which is an LG proprietary technology.
New features of the G Flex 2 include Knock On and Knock Off for quick access to the notification bar; Gesture Shot and Gesture View up to 1.5 metres for easy selfies; and using “every trick we know”, improved battery life and fast charging (0 to 40 per cent in 38 minutes).
In a lovely turn of phrase to complete his presentation, Lee asks delegates to observe the G Flex 2 “in the sea of sameness” at the LG booth in the show proper.
Last up for LG is US president and CEO William Cho.
“The consumer is at centre of innovation,” he says. “Innovations make consumers smart and help them to enjoy those ‘life’s good’ moment. LG is primed for an extraordinary year. We are happy to embark on this extraordinary year with you at CES. We are at the vanguard of innovation.”