LG ST600 TV Upgrader – Review

We’ve been sitting on this review for months – in the hope that LG would release a firmware update that would finally make things work right.  Alas, still with no sign of it and with last weeks announcement of 2 new TV upgrader modules it looks like the ST600 is a gonner.  Our advice?  Buy the Roku Instead.  So here’s our review – for what it’s worth.

It’s no secret that we’re big Plex fans here at Automated Home.  But while we love our Mac mini powered setup on the main AV system, even a second hand Mac mini of suitable spec is around £350 these days.  That’s why we were excited to hear of a £100 box that would bring us the Plex experience.  It’s been a while since the announcement but finally we’ve got our hands on one of the new LG ST600 TV Upgrader boxes.  Read on to find out how it performs.

Physically the unit is similar to an Apple TV, although it’s a little larger (11cms x 11cms x 3cms), even with its external ‘brick’ PSU compared to the ATV2’s internal one.  Also on the rear panel is an HDMI, an optical audio out and an Ethernet socket.  It has built in 802.11n Wi-Fi (5 GHz and 2.4 GHz) too, but you’re going to want wired Ethernet for hassle free HD playback.

LG’s specs show a 17w consumption for the little fella and it takes around 35 seconds to boot.  On arrival the unit needed a firmware update which added the Plex app (known as ‘Media Link’ on the box).  Firmware updates are a simple matter of choosing the option from one of the menus in settings and letting it do its thing for a few minutes.  Unfortunately a bug in the current firmware (version ST.8.79.173.F at time of review – Now on ST.8.79.198.F – still with issues) means that only a couple of file formats are working right now.

LG ST600 TV Upgrader
LG ST600 (bottom) compared to the Apple TV 2

Filters are something you’re used to already if you’re a Plex user.  You can choose to view ‘Recently Aired’ or ‘Recently Added’ movies and TV for example.  Or jump to ‘Recently Viewed Shows’ to continue watching a series or ‘Recently Viewed Episodes’ will allow you to continue watching where you left off on any other Plex client around the house.  You can literally start watching a movie on the iMac in the kitchen, continue on the iPad in the…cough, rest room.  Then pick up from where you left off on the ST600 in the bedroom.

As well as filters you can search although the on screen keyboard is a bit of a pain to use.  It would be nice to see the unit ship with a remote that has a decent QWERTY keyboard integrated, like the Boxee one.  As expected the UI isn’t quite Apple-like and it’s sluggish too, something that will definitely frustrate users used to the ‘Full’ Plex experience on a Mac or PC.  However this is a box that will play your 1080P MKVs, unlike the ATVs finicky choice of apple friendly formatted 720p content.

LG ST600 TV Upgrader

 Side Mounted USB Socket & Reset Button

The diminutive remote control is actually quite nice in the hand and easy to use.  The little area in the middle of the 4-way controller seems to be touch sensative and actually allows you to control the pointer on the screen while you are in the web browser.

LG ST600 TV Upgrader
The Supplied Remote Control is a Decent Little Unit

 

LG ST600 TV Upgrader
Movie Browsing Will Look Familiar to Plex Users

LG ST600 TV Upgrader
Browsing TV Shows

Browsing through your Movies and TV shows will be familiar to Plex users.  While it’s definitely a ‘cut-down’ experience compared to the one you may be used to on the Mac, it still has just enough of the Plex magic to make it usable.  It is certainly a huge step above the normal folder / file navigation of many other similar set top boxes. Indeed such an app exists on the ST600 (which we used to test the 1080P MKV playback) and it’s pretty awful having to go back to this sort of thing once you’ve used the Plex library.

LG ST600 TV Upgrader

 ‘Powered by Plex”

LG ST600 TV Upgrader

 Watch All Your Favourite Web Videos with Plex Plugins

There are other nice touches too.  When you are playing music the system blanks the TV screen all except a small info and control panel that moves about the display so as not to burn in on your best plasma.

The ST600 has a range of other built in apps, plus the ubiquitous ‘Store’ to obtain both free and paid additions.  However if you’re used to any of todays modern smartphone, tablet or PC OS’s these will probably want to make you eat your own face.

Conclusion –  We’re really only interested in the LG600 as an inexpensive Plex box for secondary zones like bedrooms.  However, as of today the firmware still won’t play many of the file types we need in the Media Link (Plex) app (even though they do in the basic movie player app).  While we wait to see what the new TV Upgrader boxes bring later in the year, you can get yourself a much better Plex experience by using the widget for Samsung Blue-ray players and TVs – check out this link for all the info.

LG ST600 TV Upgrader  :  Buy The Roku Instead  :  Samsung Blu-rays for Plex  :   Plexapp.com

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2 Comments on "LG ST600 TV Upgrader – Review"

  1. Thanks for this review. I am the one that commented on your other thread when you were awaiting its arrival (I saw it at the Gadget Show). I am glad I didnt buy it now but instead went for the ATV2 with direct boot into XBMC (movies streamed from NAS using SMB). Its been a great little toy and I dont really notice the difference in 720p from 1080p on a 40″ TV from 8′ away. The Movie library looks fantastic on it 🙂

  2. Don’t waste your time on the ST600 it is useless and not supported by LG. LG has ignored the clients who have bought this unit and have not resolved any of the problems with it.

    I wasted my money on it and truly regret it. I am running the latest beta firmware from LG which was a half hearted attempt and fixing issues. I have been running the same firmware no for about 8 months and LG has not managed to come out with any fixes.

    They are not pushing their ST820 but after my experience with the ST600 I will never touch another media product from LG. Until they support their clients don’t waste your time. Have a hunt around and look for any other product that does not have anything to do with LG.

    Mike

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