CES 2015

LG Is Betting Big on Innovations That Haven't Caught On – Yet

LG Is Betting Big on Innovations That Haven't Caught On – Yet
Image credit: LG

LAS VEGAS – Where many tech companies are aiming for a straight path into the future, one electronics giant is looking to curve.

During a morning press conference here at the Consumer Electronics Show, South Korea-based LG unveiled a number of its next big products. Perhaps the most anticipated is the LG G Flex2.

You might remember LG’s curved smartphone at last year’s big show. It’s back again, but better, faster, smarter… OK, you get the idea.

This year’s iteration features the typical curved profile, a 5.5-inch display with 1080p HD and is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 processor. The display’s cover glass is about 20 percent more durable, thanks to a special chemical treatment developed by LG.

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Like last year, LG says the phone’s curved design is intended to contour to the natural shape of your face, so that your ear is right on the speaker while your mouth is comfortably next to the microphone.

And then there’s the self-healing back side, which LG says it has improved. With the G Flex2, scratches “heal” themselves within 10 seconds, the company says, instead of about three minutes. It also features what LG calls a spin hairline pattern, which was “inspired by the motion of the stars in the night sky,” said Frank Lee, head of mobile communications for LG Electronics USA.

While watching scratches disappear is very cool, there’s a problem: Is there really a need for a smartphone to be curved? This year’s Flex model looks more impressive for sure, the verdict isn’t in yet whether people will replace their standard flat phones for one of LG’s curvy ones. LG has predicted that, by 2018, curved phones will comprise 40 percent of the smartphone market.

LG also is betting big on OLED TVs. The company announced a line of seven new models in 2015 with the impressive 4K resolution, ranging from 55 inches to 70 inches. Like the Flex, some displays will be curved.

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The images these TVs produce are breathtaking. But while LG promises that prices on OLED TVs are coming down, the big problem is that there hasn’t been much content or programming made for 4K. Watching lower-resolution programming on a 4K TV is like buying a Lamborghini and driving it way under the speed limit. No fun at all.

LG says it is partnering with companies like Netflix, Amazon and YouTube that say they want more 4K-compatible programming, including TV series, movies, music videos and more. Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief of streaming and partnerships, said the company is “doubling down” on getting 4K content in front of viewers.

Of course, LG unveiled a slew of other new gadgets. The company’s vision for the future also includes a washing machine…within a washing machine. LG’s “twin wash system” essentially is a mini washer inside a regular-size washer, allowing people to do two loads of clothes at once -- one larger, one smaller. LG says the new devices can cut wash times by as much as 30 minutes, even for larger loads.

For now, that’s some technology I can definitely get behind.

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