Time for a brutal TELLY-OFF: Android TV versus Firefox OS

The fight for the living room's future is on


Breaking Fad The battle for Smart TV dominance continues to ratchet up, with Google and Firefox now both wading into the same connected space. The former has reignited its living room ambitions via Android TV, while open source rival Firefox has partnered with Panasonic.

Old TV with Ceefax

40 years on from Ceefax and we're still gazing at menus for guides and information

You might reasonably expect both to be cut from much the same cloth, but having lived with new tellies from each camp, I can reveal there’s a world of difference. One is lithe, intuitive and fun to use. The other isn’t.

To go head-to-head, I borrowed an Android touting Sony 55-inch KD-55X8505C and Panasonic’s 50-inch Firefox OS enabled TX-50CX802B. Both of these new season 4K UHD TVs are priced around £1,800 and offer a comparable high-end feature set. Many will see their Smart functionality as a defining difference.

Google and Sony have been down the same connected road before. The first iteration of Google TV debuted Stateside in 2010, launching in the UK in 2012 with the NSZ-GS7 set top box.

Early Google TV – Sony's NSZ-GS7 set top box

Early Google TV – Sony's NSZ-GS7 set top box

The ambition, I was told back then, was to bring “the full freedom of the Internet to the TV for the first time.” The diminutive Sony STB sat between source and screen, and could navigate the web via a Chrome browser and run specialised apps.

The tech was pretty cool. The internet could be viewed simultaneously with live broadcasts via a Picture-in-Picture mode. At the time, Google TV was running a customised version of the Honeycomb OS, optimised for widescreen HD. Consumer interest though remained low. The car boot beckoned.

2015’s Lollipop-based Android TV platform is a good deal more ambitious. But will it be a consumer hit? Certainly cash-strapped TV manufacturers seen keen enough to sign-up, not least because it probably saves a lot of expensive dev work in-house. Both Sony and Philips will sell Android TVs in Europe. Sharp will offer sets in the US.

Android TV updating

Turn on, tune in and wait for it...

In truth, I lost hope early on. The setup is laborious. The first thing you're prompted to do is sign in to your Google account, entering a code generated by the TV into an Android TV setup page on a networked browser. The screen then checks for any updates and prompts you to download. This proves quite a lengthy process, and that’s before it begins to optimise resident apps (of which there are more than 180 out of the box).


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022