Friends don’t let friends buy the LG Smart TV Upgrader. With Smart TV’s all the rage and a number of folks not in the market to buy a new TV, a Smart TV upgrade box like the LG Smart TV Upgrader, Boxee, Agora, Roku, Apple TV, etc may be a perfectly fine stop-gap measure. Those with ambitions to embrace the potential of “smart TV” would be well advised to steer clear of this product.

The Product
The LG Smart TV Upgrader is supposed to deliver the functionality of the LG Smart TV to those with older televisions. The small set top box will connect to the Internet and your home network by way of on-board wireless or a wired connection. Once connected to your TV via an HDMI cable (not supplied), the device will let you surf the Internet, stream content via the Internet, and stream videos from other computers/servers on the same network.

The Content
The LG Smart TV Upgrader upgrades to what, exactly? It doesn’t upgrade to the same functionality as the LG Smart TV’s. An LG Smart TV provides streaming access to services like ABC’s iView, Plus7, Bigpond Movies, Facebook, etc. The Smart TV Upgrader, however, provides access to ‘premium’ content like YouTube, a streaming radio app, an app that provides access to four low-rent games, Picassa, a weather app, and (a baseball app). Further low-quality apps can be downloaded from LG’s app store.

The Design/Function
The content disappoints, supplemented by its sub-par interface. The interface is similar to that on LG’s Smart TV’s, with content separated between downloadable apps from the LG store and the ‘premium’ apps like the aforementioned apps for YouTube, streaming radio, etc.

The supplied remote control is minimalistic with its button layout (a plus), but button presses are rarely accepted by the receiver on the first press. It enhances the frustration levels on this disappointing product. And don’t expect an easy experience navigating your way around the internet browser with the remote.

Some of the obvious functionality also seems missing. The two biggest annoyances for me was the absence of an on-screen message telling you an incorrect password has been entered, and the lack of a CAPS button visible on the on-screen keyboard (later revealed after hitting an unrelated button).

The Verdict
Streaming media to TV’s is relatively still in its infancy, but that doesn’t stop LG’s Smart TV Upgrader from being a serious disappointment. If the content matched that of the LG Smart TV’s, the product would be serviceable, but it really isn’t in the same league. The content and web browser lacks any worth and takes away from any value offered by the local area network streaming capabilities of the device.

As the product currently stands, the LG Smart TV Upgrader has no perceivable value to consumers. For anyone looking for a streaming media device, they’d be much better served by buying one of the many other similar devices currently on the shelves at a similar price point. I’d recommend a Boxee Box over the LG Smart TV Upgrader in a heartbeat, but there’s certainly a number of other products out there that I’m sure offer a much better user experience.