The popular Firefox web browser is now also an operating system on smart TVs, including 2015 sets from Panasonic. Read on for our expert Firefox OS review.
You’ve probably already heard of the popular web browser Firefox, but you mightn’t know it now powers the smart-TV features on 2015 Panasonic televisions.
In this guide, we take a look at Firefox OS, including its user interface, app store, web browser and multimedia features. Can that little fox revolutionise the way we use our TVs? Read on to find out.
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Panasonic Firefox OS overview
Firefox OS is essentially a refreshed interface for Panasonic’s existing smart-TV service, adding new functionality and features. The menu system has a clean, modern design based around brightly coloured, circular icons. You can ‘pin’ your favourite apps, services and even TV channels to your home screen for quick access, as you do with smartphone apps.
Navigation is fairly fast and responsive, but not without some frustrations, particularly if you’re stuck with Panasonic’s rather poor standard remote control. In this case, getting around the menus can be laborious and entering text becomes rather a chore.
To see Firefox OS in action, take a look at our video overview:
Panasonic Firefox OS key features
Panasonic Firefox OS app store
The Firefox OS app store is actually just Panasonic’s existing one with a slightly refreshed look. You reach it via the Firefox OS home screen and can browse various categories. Rather annoyingly, though, there’s no option for searching for specific terms or apps. There’s a good range of apps to download, but you’ll need to set up a Panasonic Home Cloud account to install any of them.
Our rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Panasonic Firefox OS web browser
You’d expect Firefox OS to offer a top-notch web-browsing experience, but you’d be wrong. Yes, the Firefox web browser looks more stylish and modern than Panasonic’s old proprietary one, plus it runs faster and you can now open new websites in tabs, but the browsing experience is let down by the controls, particularly with the standard remote. Moving the pointer around web pages is laborious and slow using the up/down/left/right cursor buttons. There are odd design decisions, too, such as having to move to the pointer to the edge of the screen to scroll a page. We expected a better experience from Firefox.
Our rating: 2 stars
Panasonic Firefox OS multimedia player
The ‘media player’ app comes pre-installed and you activate it from the TV’s menu by selecting the right USB device. You can display up to 60 photo thumbnails at any one time and you have various options for sorting them into your preferred order. You can rotate images, but unfortunately not zoom in. Up to 21 video or music files can be displayed on a page, but the only way to sort them is by putting them into basic folders. Playback is fast and convenient, however, and it’s compatible with all the most popular formats.
Our ratings: Photo 4 stars, Video 4 stars, Music 4 stars
Our overall Panasonic Firefox OS verdict: Firefox OS brings some welcome new features to Panasonic TVs in a bright new user interface. However, the web browser and general navigation both need improvement to catch up to rival TV brands, such as LG and Samsung.