Make your TV smart

Written by Sharad Raghavan | Updated: Jan 10 2013, 15:25pm hrs
As soon as TVs became capable enough, the dream for most tech-junkies was to somehow connect their computer to the TV, thus providing a giant computer screen, not to mention the convenience of combining two of the most used consumer electronics into one. There emerged several ways to do thisthrough the AV port, VGA port and then the HDMI port.

But these methods had their own limitations. Its all well and good connecting the computer to the TV, but how would you use it Sitting next to the computer, and consequently the TV screen, doesnt make sense. The only option was to buy a separate wireless mouse and keyboard. For many, this was too convolutedfirst check that the computer has the right video drivers, then connect the computer to the TV, connect the wireless receiver to the computer, and so on.

Woxi Media has sought to render this whole process much easierby bypassing the computer entirely and providing PC functionality to the TV itself. Its SmartPod for TV is a small box that connects directly to the TVthrough the AV or HDMI portsand instantly allows you to do almost everything you would do on the internet via a computer. Loaded with Android 2.3, the SmartPod comes with the Chrome browser and the YouTube app pre-installed.

Apart from that, it also has Googles app store, Play, installed. Like its version on any Android phone or tablet, this version of Play allows you to download any app, ranging from Facebook and Twitter to news apps like Google News and the New York Times app. And, if you get bored with all that, you can play a number of games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds that come loaded with the softwareof course, you can always download some more. The SmartPod can connect to your internet connection either via a direct line in, or through Wi-Fi.

The coolest thing about the SmartPod is that it comes with a small keyboard. This immediately makes life much easier in using the device. The keyboard itself has pros and cons. The fact that it is small and doesnt appreciably add to the clutter in your living room is a big plus. As is the fact that it has a motion sensing capability, which allows you to move the mouse pointer on the screen by simply waving the keyboard around (the keyboard comes with the required mouse buttons as well). However, one big minus is that, though it is a QWERTY keyboard, typing on it isnt too easy. Its small enough for you to use just your thumbs to type, the same way many people type on their smartphones, but its just that little bit too big to make this a comfortable task. Also, switching from using it as a keyboard to using its motion sensing capability is not intuitiveit takes some getting used to.

Priced at R9,499, the SmartPod is definitely an attractive device for most tech buffs, but the question Woxi must ask itself is, how is it going to cope with the fact that many TVs nowadays come with most of the features it offers built-in to them. Sony, Panasonic and LG, to name just a few, have all come out with TVs with pre-loaded software and that connect to the internet. Woxi may find that users may soon just not need a device like the SmartPod.

Estimated street price: Rs 9,499