I spent the last week in South Korea, visiting LG’s head office on a press tour of their home appliances. LG South Africa hosted a group of local media, including Wired to the Web, at their HQ and best shop in Seoul, and their appliance factory in Busan (a 40-minute flight away).
Shout out to LG South Africa for being excellent hosts and showing us around Seoul, the best restaurants, experiencing various cuisines, not just Korean, and a personalised tour throughout. They were long days no doubt, with a packed schedule, but how do you keep South Africans happy? With free WiFi, of course!
I would love to have shown you pictures of LG’s factory but alas we were not allowed to take any once inside. We were given a tour where we learnt that a single front-loading washing machine takes 11.5-seconds to make at LG’s appliance factory. That’s from a single line. There are seven lines at the factory, whereas other locations around the world have either two or one. During a brief tour of the factory we saw how the components were put together. It’s been five years now that the process is automated, previously it was all done manually. So crazy to think the whole process was done manually just in 2012!
On the appliance side, the South African market can look forward to three new products: side-by-side fridges with the amazing door-in-door feature (you may have seen my knock knock video on my Instagram Story); front-loading Twin Wash washing machines with the inverter direct drive motor, and the top-loader with smart inverter and turbo drum, which the latter apparently does well in South Africa and not necessarily in other markets due to the lower price point; and the NeoChef microwave that looks better than most microwaves and cooks food properly more quickly than conventional ones.
I got to see the fridge with Instaview features earlier in the year in Barcelona, which lets you connect to the internet with a built-in web browser, lets you know when food is expiring (after you put the info in for each item) and has capabilities to order more groceries when you run out. Perhaps we can look forward to the fridge linking up with Pick n Pay? We’ll have to wait and see.
All of the above products will be coming to South Africa from November onwards, according to LG South Korea. They also mentioned that products take about six months to clear in South Africa before being available in our market, which is rather unfortunate as it puts a delay in getting the products, while everywhere else already has it.
LG’s Best Shop in Seoul
Some of my highlights include products that will probably not come to South Africa unfortunately. LG South Korea says it takes new products to markets that they see as strategically important. That means back in South Africa, we’re not a priority as other countries like the US or UAE. So from everything that was shown to us at LG’s best shop, showroom and in the presentation, these are my top 5 products (I’ve not included the above-mentioned appliances that are coming to SA):
Clockwise from left:
1) LG Styler – this is a home appliance that does your dry cleaning for you! It’s a steam clothing care system, something you’d actually want, but alas it’s not coming to this market. All it needs is to be connected to water for steam cleaning of clothing, linen, stuffed animals, etc from as little as 20 minutes. Clothes get ironed in the process.
2) LG X Power 2 – This mid-range ~$300 smartphone would be great for the South African market with that price point. It has a whopping 4500mAh battery (more than 2x the iPhone 7 capacity), a 5.5-inch screen, 13MP main camera + 5MP selfie-cam, and runs on Android Nougat. Alas we won’t see it anytime soon (not yet, perhaps).
3) Smart ThinQ Sensor – I love this little gadget that turns non-smart appliances into smart ones! It can track when your washing machine is done with its load, turn on or off a vacuum cleaner, monitor food expiry dates in a fridge, or control an air conditioner. It works with different brands, not just LG. It works with an app so you can control your appliances from the palm of your hand. I would love one of these, but again, not sure when it’s coming to SA, if at all. I was told that LG South Africa will have to make that decision.
4) The Wallpaper TV – I saw this in Barcelona and absolutely love this TV. It’s 2.57mm THIN (my fingers are wider) and has a ‘peel and stick’ display that you can place on a wall in your home. If you’re wondering where everything else happens, it comes with a soundbar that houses all connectivity, ports (4x HDMI) etc. Yup, definitely not coming to SA. It has been listed on Best Buy for $8000 for the 65″ variant, not sure what LG’s official price is, but you can imagine why it won’t come to SA… I don’t want to know what it will cost here.
5) LG Gram – these line of laptops are lightweight, like its name suggests, and are meant to last long, like a claimed 17.5 hours! It’s the lightest 15″ laptop currently available at 980-grams, and appears to come in 13-15″ variants too. I’m all for portability and love how easy it is to lug around (given my current 12″ MacBook). I think this is another range that ought to come to South Africa but I’ve been told that it’s not coming here. Our market is already crowded, and not sure if LG will stand a chance against other heavyweights.
Thank you LG South Africa for hosting me and showing me the best parts of South Korea 🇰🇷. Had the best time!
(edited these pics together in a collage on Android and it refused to accept my edits, sorry for non-centralised pics)
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 14 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ firstname.lastname@example.org