Internet-connected television is not new, with LG’s Netcast, Panasonic’s Viera Cast, Samsung’s Internet@TV and Sony’s internet-integrated Bravia all presenting cut-down versions of the internet. The world’s first TV with an Android operating system though, is a breath of fresh air by comparison, using proprietary graphics processors inside the set to enable the 42 inch HD LED Lava Scandinavia to handle the full internet experience you’d get with a normal computer. Gizmag’s Mike Hanlon and Noel McKeegan spent some time with the Scandinavia recently and came away VERY impressed.
The secret appears to be in the graphics processors within the Scandinavia. The specifications show that the set runs an old version of the Android operating system (version 1.5), but don’t for a moment think that the end result is less than spectacular.
I came across the Lava stand at IFA in Berlin two months back, and had to fight to get the tiny Cideko into my hands, such was the interest from the milling throng. Within two minutes I’d seen enough to head off in search of Gizmag’s Editor-in-chief Noel McKeegan to drag him back to the stand to have a look at it. The interface and navigation experience was significantly better than anything we’d previously seen – pages loaded fast, you can zoom easily and with a feel lacking in the internet TVs we’d already seen (all of the above). The cursor moved where you wanted it, responding exactly as it should, and all the familiar internet services of a mobile Android device were there except for the telephone function. Pages refreshes were just as quick as on a computer, with Flash fully supported.
“The Youtube videos are the best bit,” I said handing him the Cideko controller as it loaded and began playing video in astoundingly good resolution.
Noel has a healthy skepticism of new technology claims. “Right then, let’s see something I know,” he said, flicking to Gizmag’s Youtube channel and loading a video I’d watched him cutting in a hotel room a few days prior.
The video began playing in high refresh rates with extraordinary clarity. Noel's reaction: “It’s almost hard to believe you can make Youtube look this good on such a big screen.”
The queues were forming and the general buzz around the People of Lava exhibit was very positive. Noel pushed ahead running various other apps, looking for a flaw but not finding one.
Flicking back to another Youtube video he’d produced he watched closely to see how it handled the flaws only a video producer sees and continued to be impressed. “We’re gonna need to get much better at producing video very quickly for when this hits the market,” he said, immediately beginning to think about the ramifications of a device which was delivering a promise which had long been hollow.
“The convergence of the three screens just accelerated,” was the verdict as he began scanning the show guides to see what was happening nearby in the giant German trade show, adding, “I’m not at all convinced about 3D TV but I am now convinced about the ability to watch Youtube content on a big screen television without needing your imagination”.
“Heaven help the television channels.”
Here’s hoping the tiny Swedish company which has only 20 employees, can raise the capital it needs to get the sets onto the market in quantity.
LAVA’s range of Scandinavia Android TVs – the 42-, 47- and 55-inch are now on the market and sadly, they’re only available in Europe in relatively modest quantities at unmodest prices.
Gustav Sandstrom’s article on the Wall Street Journal explains the latest business situation for the tiny Swedish company which has produced a product markedly better than the established giants.