More than 20 TV brands to benefit from LG’s acclaimed webOS platform
LG inspired nothing short of a revolution in smart TV when it launched its webOS platform way back in 2014.
The previous clunky, sluggish, poorly laid out TV smart systems we'd suffered with before was suddenly replaced by webOS's beautifully slick, fully integrated, compact and incredibly user-friendly interface. It was a genuine revelation that finally revealed just how important online content was going to become to the TV experience.
Even though rival brands have, inevitably, sought to emulate webOS' successes in recent years, LG's webOS has continued to evolve and grow, largely maintaining its popularity with consumers and industry professionals alike.
So today's announcement that LG is now not only licensing webOS out to other TV manufacturers, but that more than 20 of those manufacturers have already taken up that license is excellent news indeed. Particularly when the 'smart' situation in the budget TV world has started to regress over the past couple of years to another wild west situation.
While LG hasn't yet revealed every TV manufacturer's names that have signed up for webOS smarts, brands we know about so far include Polaroid, RCA, Ayonz, Konka, Sunny, Linsar, Makena and Hyundai and Aiwa.
These brands typically operate at the budget end of the TV market, so it remains to be seen how well their processors manage to handle webOS's demands in terms of responsiveness and stability. Especially given that the 2021 version of webOS delivers a substantial step up in terms of its graphical presentation and sophistication.
However, one of the things that have made webOS so successful over the years is precisely how little strain it seems to put on TV' brains'. There's hardly been a trace of the regular crashes and menu sluggishness we've seen to some extent with pretty much all other smart TV platforms - including, in particular, Android TV, despite Google's effort historically being the platform most widely licensed by budget TV brands.
As well as introducing a slicker, more stable interface to a much wider swathe of the budget TV world, the webOS licensing program should also boost the amount of smart content buyers of affordable TVs might expect to have access to. After all, while territorial and license differences will mean that licensed webOS televisions won't necessarily have access to all the apps LG's own TVs do. The likes of Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, sports streaming service DAZN and LG Channels will definitely be there, saving other TV makers the trouble of trying to strike separate, individual carriage deals with such key third-party content providers.
LG has confirmed, too, that the licensed webOS system will support voice search and control, as well as the latest AI algorithms for helping users access preferred content and services more quickly.
The bottom line is that provided the licensing of webOS proves as effective in practice as it sounds on paper, the TV world's median smartness level looks set to rise considerably over the next 12-24 months. And that can surely only be good news at a time when the once passive television is now taking on an ever more active and important role in our day to day lives.
I’ve spent the past 25 years writing about the world of home entertainment technology. In that time I’m fairly confident that I’ve reviewed more TVs and projectors than any other individual on the planet, as well as experiencing first-hand the rise and fall of all manner of great and not so great home entertainment technologies.