In the consumer electronics business, one plus one does not always equal two—sometimes trying to put too many ideas in one product is simply a mess (do you really want your camera to create special effects as you’re taking a picture? probably not).
But in the case of Panasonic’s linking of Internet television and pad computing, one plus one might just add up to five.
I’d been skeptical about this whole Internet TV thing from the beginning. TV-watching, in my household, is typically a group activity; Internet surfing is a solo sport. I get annoyed enough when my husband or kids grab the remote and channel hop; I can only imagine what would happen if they could hijack the screen and check their favorite Internet sites without leaving the couch.
But Panasonic’s Internet TV can take the apps off the screen and put them where they belong, on a pad computer on an individual’s lap. The pad also can act as a super-charged TV remote, but all that channel surfing takes place on the pad itself, a new channel doesn’t appear on the main TV screen unless it’s pushed there (with a quick finger swipe) from the pad. And the pad-user can pick the pad up and leave, at which point it acts like an ordinary pad computer, and a more standard TV remote takes over the TV control functions.
This could be an Internet TV I wouldn’t hate. But no word on pricing or release date—possibly Panasonic just launched it at CES 2011 as at trial balloon. Hey Panasonic, for me, anyway that balloon will fly.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.