Hands on: Hillcrest Kylo Web Browser for TVs
For Windows Media Center and other HTPCs, Kylo lets users navigate the Web through a virtual keyboard and pan-and-zoom controls, easily accessible via any USB Human Interface Device.
Kylo eliminates typical browser clutter, and provides fairly simple navigation using any HID (Human Interface Devices) devices such as Hillcrest’s own Loop Pointer or Gyration remote.
March 22, 2010 by Julie Jacobson

For all those users of Windows Media Center and other home theater PCs (HTPC), there’s a browser for that.

Hillcrest Labs has developed a Web browser for the TV, optimized for couch-side use.

The new Kylo browser lets users navigate the Web through a virtual keyboard and pan-and-zoom controls, easily accessible via any USB Human Interface Device (HID) such as the Gyration Air Remote, GlideTV, Logitech diNovo Mini and Hillcrest’s own Loop Pointer and mouse.

For all of the TV-browsing services such as Hulu and Boxee, it’s surprising that a TV-friendly browser for plain-old-Websites (POW) has taken so long to come to market (although Crestron does have a worthy solution for its ADMS media server).

The application is free, and presumably Kylo will monetize the service through advertising. Its own ad appears on the home page of the application.

A quick stroll through Kylo proves it’s as easy as the company’s press release suggests.

The home page shows icons of some of the popular streaming sites such as YouTube, Netflix, Pandora and Facebook.

Clicking on any of these takes you to the respective POW, just as you would see on a PC. But click on a text box – for example, to Tweet on Twitter – and the text section magically expands. No more squinting.

You can easily add sites to a “Favorites” list. Unfortunately, those favorites don’t appear on Kylo’s home page.

The home page itself is not exactly HID-friendly. You would expect to be able to skip from tab to tab using the arrow buttons on virtually any HID device. No such luck with Kylo, so you definitely need a controller with a virtual mouse.

Also, it would be nice to be able to close any given screen using the “Esc” or “Back” button but again, you’ll have to use your air mouse.

Even so, Kylo is a much-needed application for PC-connected TVs.

Hopefully, we’ll see a Media Center plug-in soon, as well as an iPhone app—just pinch and flick an iPhone to pan and zoom on the big screen.

Pan and zoom using the on-screen buttons

Twitter ... as is

Twitter ... on Kylo. Click on the text box and the section expands.

Favorites are easy to add, but unfortunately they don’t show up on the Kylo home page (below)

The home page takes you directly to the sites listed, not to any particularly TV-friendly sites.

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Julie Jacobson - Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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