Panasonic has a new Smart TV platform based on Firefox OS. We had a chance to take a closer look at the platform. Here are our hands-on experiences of the new OS, which seems like a major upgrade in terms of the user experience.
Firefox OS on a TV
Not all features of the Firefox OS were ready for CES (including the Chromecast-like feature) but we saw most of the basic stuff.
Firefox OS is based on web standards and has a very simple user interface based on big, visual “bubbles” that you can pin to the home screen. The system does not discriminate between apps, TV channels or inputs so if you like Netflix, channel 5 in your list and HDMI2 you can pin all three as bubbles.
The interface appears to be very fast and smooth. It is generally very clean and simple, so based on what we saw this is exactly what Panasonic needed after the previous Japanese-inspired clunky user interface, which in general was a bad and frustrating experience.
If you go one step deeper you will find the app menu and the “App Market”. Here you will find pre-installed apps such as a Media Player, Miracast Player, DLNA player and the usual suspects Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus and more. There is also a universal search function that provides results from YouTube, streaming services USB devices and even your TV channels. Apps are allowed to bring up notifications in the bottom right corner. Lastly, there is a built-in Firefox internet browser, even though most seem to agree that using a browser on the TV screen is a bad experience.
Only for 2015 TVs
It is not clear how Panasonic will handle the transition from the old platform to Firefox OS or if every app will work without further changes. However, Firefox will not be available on 2014 TVs and earlier, meaning that existing owners are left in the dust - unfortunately this is becoming a trend for TV manufacturers.
Firefox OS will instead be available in the new CX600, CX650, CX800 and CX850 Ultra HD TVs.
The Xumo guide recommends content based on what you have seen in the past, not only based on TV channels but also streaming services. At least that is the intention.
Firefox OS is just what Panasonic’s TVs needed. Still, it is hard to see Firefox OS get traction with only one TV manufacturer on board. Panasonic used to big in the big-5 but that is no longer the case, and we cannot help wonder why Panasonic did not make the jump to Android TV instead.