PALM DESERT, Calif.--Companies have been trying to shoehorn the Web onto consumer TV sets for the past 15 years. However very few have been able to turn it into a profitable business, or, at the very least, something that finds a balance between being powerful and easy to use from the couch.
Still, some of those early missteps have led to hardware makers now putting Web services like Netflix, Twitter, and Facebook into their latest TV sets and Blu-ray players. There's also a growing group of companies that are trying to bring the entirety of the Web to the living room instead.
Three of these are launching new product iterations this week at the DemoSpring conference: GlideTV, Hillcrest Labs' Kylo Browser, and Viaclix. All three attempt to bring a full Web-browsing experience to TV sets.
Hillcrest Labs has actually been kicking around since 2001, and introduced its "Loop" remote control in early 2007. This is a special circular mouse that has had its buttons and ergonomics optimized for use on the couch. The tech inside it was also the source of a patent dispute with Nintendo over its Wii remote controller.
What the company introduced at Demo was a new browser called Kylo that works on both PCs and Macs, and makes use of the company's Loop hardware to make it easy to hop around the Web, and Web video sites. While users are able to download Kylo free of charge, and without buying a $99 Loop remote, the company is hoping it will spur sales of the remote.
Also offering special mouse hardware was GlideTV, which introduced a revamped version of its couch-friendly browser. Unlike Hillcrest's Loop, GlideTV makes use of a touch pad. Though it too is about finding Web video content to watch in a nontraditional Web browser. Its big new feature is that it scours the Web for new content, then separates it into channels. The new version also adds predictive text input so users aren't pecking out too many characters in a text search. … Read more