The Equiso Smart TV began as a Kickstarter project seeking $100,000 to develop devices to “make your dumb TV smart.”The big idea: Turn your television into a giant, Wi-Fi-connected Android tablet, with a small dongle that plugs into HDMI ports.
I thought it was pretty cool, and with the company reaching a final fundraising total of $241,000, it’s clear a lot of people thought the same. My Smart TV arrived in the mail last week and I’ve been tooling around with it ever since.
So far I’m on board with the device, but there’s a huge caveat: While the hardware is done, the software driving the Smart TV is far from finished. By the company’s own admission, there are some pretty obnoxious bugs to be worked out. Video on HBO GO is choppy, for example. There’s a jarring lag between selecting an option with the remote and the device actually registering it.
In its most recent update, Equiso wrote “For those that have received the Equiso Smart TV we hope you are loving (and the bugs that shipped with it) your new Smart TV.” [sic]
A different update boasted that the device would be integrated with Plex, a popular media player. But I still had to pay for the app and install it seperately. Once it was configured, I could browse my video library but was unable to play a single file. (Music files worked just fine, however.)
Equiso recently wrote that “we are grateful to our backers who have chosen to back us and be beta testers to help make a better product.”
When I threw my money in, I was less interested in being a beta tester and more interested in being a user, but I’m not going to fret over this. Equiso is already at work to release an update that will tackle these bugs and make it closer to the device I imagined when I backed the Kickstarter campaign.
That being said, the Smart TV is absolutely killer in other respects. Imagine playing Angry Birds on a huge television–it’s pretty fun. My computer audio setup is pretty minimal, so the Smart TV makes it a snap to take advantage of my television’s much nicer audio equipment. Casually browsing YouTube is great, and you can connect a webcam to the device and engage in a Skype video chat over your television.
As it stands, the Equiso works, but not well enough for me to recommend buying it. We’ll revisit the device once it gets the software update that it needs.
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