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CES: LG SmartTV Upgrader aims at AppleTV and GoogleTV; Magic Motion Remote works like Wii controller

January 5, 2011 | 10:09 am


LG unveiled its SmartTV Upgrader set-top box for HD TVs at CES on Wednesday morning -- taking aim at both the Apple TV and Google TV.

LGSmartTVUpgradr The SmartTV Upgrader, which is a little bit larger than a hockey puck, connects to any TV with an HDMI connection and uses a Wi-Fi connection to allow users to download and use LG's Internet-connected apps on their TVs through the box, said Tim Alessi, LG's director of new product development, at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"We're going to be second to none with the amount of content that we provide to our consumers," Alessi said.

Skott Ahn, LG's chief technology officer, said the company wanted to offer the SmartTV Upgrader for those looking to get Internet apps on their TVs without having to buy a new TV.

"Although we'd love for everyone to buy one of our new Smart TVs, we know that may not be possible," Ahn said.

Ahn, Alessi and other LG officials did not offer a release date or price for the SmartTV Upgrader but did say the device would arrive this year.

Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes are seeing a boost in popularity this year at CES, from just about every manufacturer, and the SmartTV Upgrader will run the same software and apps as LG's line of 2011 Internet-connected sets, which offer a new user interface and a new LG App Store unavailable on LG's 2010 line of NetCast-connected sets.

Like Google TV, the SmartTV Upgrader will feature a Web browser for viewing websites and checking e-mail from a TV, and the ability to search for content found in different apps. Unlike GoogleTV, the SmartTV Upgrader, however, won't be able to search a user's cable boxes or home network for TV shows and movies.

Among the apps LG said would be offered: TV and movie streaming services such as Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video on Demand and Best Buy's CinemaNow. Photo sharing can be done through a Picasa app, and YouTube, Twitter and Google Maps will have apps on the SmartTV Upgrader as well.

The SmartTV platform will be controlled using LG's Magic Motion Remote, a slim black clicker that features only six buttons and uses motion-sensing to direct a cursor around the screen, much like the user interface of the Nintendo Wii video-game console.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Images, from top: the LG SmartTV software dashboard, which will be found on LG SmartTV sets. The LG SmartTV Upgrader. Credit: LG