Hands On With Vudu On LG: 1080p, Like, NowS

Don't get me wrong: the announcement that LG's connected HDTVs are getting Vudu streaming—especially instant-on 1080p HDX movies—is a good thing. It's just that we got a few minutes with the service, and, well, something's a little... off.

It's got nothing to do with Vudu's service, which is largely unchanged from the days of the Vudu set-top box. (I mean, we're still in those days, technically, but hey, narrative! ) The interface is the same easily navigable set of panels and menus, which seem to work fine with LG's standard remotes—no standalone clickwheel controller here. The movie selection is still decent, with concurrent releases for SD, 720p and 1080p HDX films on a near-DVD timescale, which has been one of Vudu's selling points since it first hit A/V stacks last year. And it's certainly not the 1080p HDX video quality, which was excellent on the 47-inch LH50 and started streaming in just a few seconds, even on the demo room's ~4.5mbps connection. Nope, it's not that.




The strange feeling I got from the movie samples, whether in SD, 720p or 1080p modes, was down to LG: The NetCast sets that'll carry the Vudu option have LG's 120Hz Trumotion interpolation technology, meaning that they essentially insert frames between what's already on the source material, with the stated purpose of "smoothing" the video output. As we—and others—have complained about before, though, the effect can be strange, making motions seem unnatural, and giving a multi-hundred-million-dollar films an odd, camcorder-like aesthetic.

That issue is really offputting here, and not optional. It made The Knowing look like a daytime soap opera, and made the bus chase scene in The Prisoner of Azkaban look like an extended Benny Hill sketch. Sure, I'm being a little hyperbolic, and for a lot of people—the people who actually like the idea of these high refresh rate sets, I guess—this won't matter. But for anyone who's sensitive to this kind of thing, it could be a dealbreaker. Vudu says they're in talks with LG to include an option to disable this feature with future Vudu-enabled sets, but for now, well, sorry,

But despite this admittedly obnoxious issue, the previous conclusion still stands: set-top boxes are on their way out, and multi-service web-connected TV's are The Thing Right Now. Netflix is showing its bright red face basically everywhere right now, and apparently, Vudu's in talks to try to get that same kind of presence. Which, 120Hz or not, is a step in the right direction. [Vudu on Giz]