Saturday, April 16, 2011

Now In Color!

I haven't had any real problems with my Sony Bravia HDTV (model KDL-52W5100), which has two types of internet capabilities. First, it has native "apps", which are accessed through Sony's XMB interface (the same one they use on the Playstation 3). Most of these apps simply access feeds (RSS or something similar) from various audio/video serving sites and provide a simple folder-based browsing interface to drill down to specific content. These all generally work well (with the exception of the DLNA server support, which is still a fairly hit-or-miss affair for some reason).

Second, it has Yahoo Connected TV widgets. These are small apps that can be popped up over part or all of the screen, and can access various internet-served data, videos, pictures, games, and so on. As opposed to the native apps, these Yahoo widgets are uniformly bad. The startup time to bring up either the widget engine as a whole, or individual widgets, is unacceptably long. The functionality of the individual apps is generally limited (since you only have the TV remote as an input). I don't really do Facebook or Twitter, so I can't say if those apps work better than the others, but so far I haven't found any reason to bring up the Yahoo apps beyond the first couple of attempts.

But via Engadget HD, it appears that Sony is going to try and see if someone will pay for these apps going forward. It's an obvious move - any revenue stream in a storm - but these things aren't even worth the $1 purchase price I wouldn't think twice about clicking for on the iTunes App Store, for example. Unless Yahoo has some kind of major revamp in place (and the screenshots provided don't really indicate that), or unless the next generation of Sony HDTVs has substantially more CPU power under the hood (which is certainly possible), I personally would stay away.

Also unanswered is how much of these upgrades and improvements will be pushed back to older models. I'm not one of those people that insists on endless free upgrades on everything I buy forever and ever - just curious on how much of this is just a software push versus being dependent on new hardware.

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