Panasonic My Home Screen 2.0 – First Impressions
While we’ve admired the friendliness and customisation options afforded by Panasonic’s My Home Screen interface over the past couple of years, the system has started to look rather dated. Especially after the launch of LG’s groundbreaking webOS interface in 2014. So it’s no great surprise to see Panasonic revamping its Smart TV interface for CES 2015 with the cunningly named My Home Screen 2.0 system.
Perhaps more surprising, though, is the fact that this new Smart system is built on the Mozilla Firefox OS.
The new interface is a vast improvement visually on its predecessor. The home screen features a high-resolution, customisable photographic backdrop, with a row of large, brightly coloured icons superimposed on it. These icons – actually called decks by Panasonic, in recognition of the interface’s multi-layered approach – initially comprise a Live TV deck, an Apps deck, and a Device deck. Selecting one of these decks takes you into a second tier of content icons that continue the attractive design theme of the home page.
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All the icons are brightly colour coded, which as well as helping the menus look pretty makes it much easier to instantly recognise what sort of app an icon represents. For instance, if you bring particular favourite TV channel icons on to the home page, they will appear in the same pink colour as the main Live TV umbrella icon.
Home Screen 2.0 follows webOS 2.0 in treating everything, even TV channels, as apps, and the interface is almost infinitely customisable. Even more so, in fact, than the previous Home Screen system. Pinning your favourite apps and content sources to the home page is no more complicated than just pressing a ‘My’ button on Panasonic’s new Smart remote control.
This remote control also ticks an important box with us by replacing the small, round touchpad area found on previous Panasonic Smart remote controls with a larger, squarer touchpad area that feels much more in tune with the TV screen.
Since everything is treated as an app, Panasonic’s new My Home Screen 2.0 platform supports extensive multi-tasking, allowing you to have multiple apps open at once which you can switch pretty much instantaneously between. The homescreen also has a search feature that works across websites, Internet video services and other connected devices as well as within the TV’s own memory.
Other features of note are the supposedly improved voice-recognition system that now allows you to talk directly to the TV rather than into a mic in the remote control, and a new proprietary Quad-Core Pro chipset design that innovatively separates picture processing from the Smart feature processing.
Although we only got chance to play with a fairly rudimentary early build of My Home Screen 2.0 at CES, we really liked what we saw. Its design is attractive enough to feel welcoming, and perhaps more importantly it also appeared to be by far the most simple Smart TV interface around. It could prove during more extensive testing to be too simple, of course, and we were also a little surprised to find nobody willing to confirm that the new Smart system will allow multiple users in your home to set up their own personal home screens, like the previous my Home Screen system did so well.
We were mighty relieved to see Panasonic confidently stating that the Smart systems on its new 4K TVs will be able to play Netflix and Amazon UHD/4K streams. So hopefully there will be no repeat of the UHD streaming mess that affected Panasonic’s TVs in 2014.
Needless to say we’ll bring you a full in-depth review of Panasonic’s potentially impressive new TV interface as soon as the first working samples arrive.