Panasonic Puts Firefox OS on Smart TVs

LAS VEGAS — When it comes to televisions, Panasonic has always made exceptional TV panels for the price, as well as supremely comfortable remote controls, but the company's onscreen menus and attempts at smart-TV interfaces have consistently failed to make the grade. With the switch to Firefox OS, it looks like Panasonic may not just make the grade, but be ahead of the curve.

The Firefox OS, developed by the same team behind the Firefox Web browser, and currently saddled with the awful name "my Home Screen 2.0," is fast, colorful and positively modern — particularly when compared to smart-TV choices from Android and Roku. As I played around with the interface on the CX850 series 4K television, I was seriously surprised by the interface's speed. It was easy to hop from Netflix to cable input to YouTube and back again.

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A cool feature of the Firefox OS utilization is the ability to tag not just apps, but actual channels regularly used.

A press of a button on the tried-and-true Panasonic remote control pins channels to the home screen, which means you no longer have to hunt through the guide or remember the channel number when you want to veg with some HGTV.

Because it's using Firefox OS, the TV is also capable of using many apps currently available for the smartphone platform. Conceivably, more apps could be created by the user. Panasonic has also gotten into the app game, launching the Xumo app for Firefox OS software. After creating an account through the TV, users will be able to search for recommended movies and TV shows currently available on every single app installed on the television.

Xumo seems smart enough, and naturally suggested Breaking Bad for fans of Sons of Anarchy, but it was still a little sluggish in practice.

The updated my Home Screen 2.0 and new Xumo app will appear in all 2015 4K televisions from Panasonic. Sadly, there are no plans to update the my Home software on older Panasonic televisions.

Alex Cranz is the Assistant Reviews Editor at Tom’s Guide. When she’s not devising tests for new tech she’s figuring out the best way to run Plex on it. Follow Alex @alexhcranz. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.