LG Smart TV platform socks one to Google TV

LG boxes clever on its smart TV strategy

We had a hunch smart TV was going to be a big deal at CES. And LG’s just proved us right by launching the rather unimaginatively named Smart TV.

The new platform will be available across LG’s new range of home entertainment products, from TVs to Blu-ray players and home cinema systems. There’s also a standalone box called the Smart TV Upgrader (ST600) that can be attached to any HDMI-sporting telly – a bit like the Google TV-based Logitech Revue, then.

The similarities don’t end there. Smart TV is organized in to four main functions:  TV Live (offering, predictably, live TV), Premium Content (for your on-demand needs), TV Apps and Smart Share (a clever new USB and DLNA media playback system).

As with Google TV it’ll be possible to browse the web and download apps from a dedicated store. There are "hundreds" already available, ranging from web video portals to interactive games, and thousands more in the pipeline.

Current highlights include iPlayer access, Acetrax movie streaming, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. There’s also a unified search function, allowing you to scour web and on-demand video sources for whatever you want to watch.

NetCast 2.0-sporting TVs and the ST600 box will also benefit from full web browsing capabilities. Using the Wii-like Magic Remote you just point and click to navigate. Fortunately it’ll also be possible use Android and iOS devices as QWERTY keyboards for speedier text entry.

Perhaps the coolest feature of all is Smart Share. Like Boxee and Windows Media Center plugins such as MyMovies, it downloads rich metadata (artwork, plot synopsis, crew and cast and so on) for any media played from a USB hard disk or streamed via DLNA. The resulting interface looks glorious and slick, at least in the demos we've seen.

Will Smart TV be able to catch up with the beleaguered Google TV? How will it stand up to YouView when it arrives in spring? Time will tell, but in any case, it’s going to be a very interesting year for the gogglebox.