India’s first AI-enabled TV is not quite “intelligent” right now

India’s first AI-enabled TV is not quite “intelligent” right now


  • LG is touting its new ThinQ line of televisions as the first AI-enabled TVs in India.
  • The TVs start at 32,500 and run up to 2.9 million.
  • But LG hasn’t yet added the actual smart platform to the Indian variants.
LG, today, announced its ThinQ AI series of televisions in the country. Ranging from 32,500 to over 2.9 million, their flagship feature is the fact that they have AI platforms built in.

However, the TVs aren’t quite artificially intelligent just yet. In fact, LG says that they come with 800 built-in voice commands, which allow the user to interact with the TV. So, you can ask the TV to search for “Salman Khan movies” and it will do so. You can ask to increase volume, turn off after a show has ended and so on.

But the central requirement for any platform to qualify as AI is learning. A platform with 800 built-in commands is the same as one that has a million such commands. It’s not AI, it’s just very meticulously planned software.
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Of course, that doesn’t mean LG is falsely advertising the AI capabilities of these TVs. The company says it will be pushing an update to these TVs around August, which adds “natural language processing (NLP)” capabilities to the TVs. NLP is the part of AI programming that deals with language, and it’s expected to make it easier for users to bark commands at the TVs. Instead of using all the in-built commands, you’ll be able to use the “gist of these commands”, says Abhiral Bhansali, Head of Marketing (Home Entertainment) for LG India.

Interestingly, these same televisions run the Google Assistant in the US. However, the same is not applicable to other markets, and there’s no support for Amazon’s Alexa assistant either. While LG is neither confirming nor denying the possibility of the Assistant making it to the Indian ThinQ variants, the company says its own voice platform will be operational for now.

This, in turn loses LG precious functionality. For instance, while the televisions can search for content through voice commands, it does so on YouTube and the web browser. That limits the functionality, since YouTube will never allow full movies to be hosted and web content is either pirated, paid or not functional. Essentially, the TV will be displaying links to Salman Khan’s movies, instead of actually playing them. With the Google Assistant on the AndroidTV platform, you can search through Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc.

So, despite the fact that there’s voice support here, you might fall back to manual navigation often. Whether this is as limiting as we feel it can be, can only be discerned after a full review.

On the brightside, LG is adding voice support to its entire line, from the cheapest to the most expensive TVs. The company update its E, C, B and W series TVs today, with the wallpaper thin W8 being the most expensive of the lot. The LG E8, B8, C8 and W8 have OLED panels, so they rate highly on picture quality, while the cheaper smartTV range have regular LED screens, with LG’s WebOS platform.