Smart TVs are all the rage nowadays, but I am not a fan. While some consumers prefer convergence, I like to have my TV serve as nothing more than a display. For streaming media, I like the option of adding my own device, such as the amazing Amazon Fire TV (which will hopefully reach the UK before too long). Sure, you can still add such a device to a smart TV, but if there is anything I hate more than convergence, it is redundancy. I don't want multiple ways to access Netflix or Hulu in the same room.
If you are searching for that one device to add to your TV, there are many to choose from. However, a new Android-powered device is shaking things up a bit with a unique form factor, called the TVPRO from a company called Reshape. You've got to check this out.
"TVPRO is equipped with a quad-core processor and full 1080p HD webcam, delivering an uncompromised video communications experience. Powered by Android 4.2.2, TVPRO offers all the latest content from the Google play store, providing access to over 1 million apps, music, movies and TV shows, which includes the Reshape platform application," says Reshape.
The company further explains, "the dual-sided, full QWERTY keyboard air mouse remote allows you to control your TV just like your computer. With TVPRO, users can now Skype with family, Hangout with friends or Reshape with professionals all on the big screen in the comfort of their home, forever changing the landscape of the living room. Any TV can now become an interactive portal to entertain and communicate with the world."
The company touts the following features:
- Full 1080p HD webcam with a wide 90 degree viewing angle
- Quad-core processor powered by Android 4.2.2
- Dual noise-cancelling microphones for improved sound quality
- Integrated speakers deliver independent audio solution
- Google Voice Search
- 1080p HD streaming
- MicroSD storage up to 32GB
- Bluetooth enabled for wireless keyboards, headsets, or wearables
- Wi-Fi and LAN Ethernet connections
- Miracast, DLNA and XMBC support to wirelessly send photos, videos and other media from compatible devices
When you read that list, it seems like a wonderful TV companion, and yes, the specs and features are very impressive. However, the truly remarkable thing is the form factor. Rather than having the device as a box that connects to a webcam, the entire thing is packed into the 1080p webcam body. Why is this important? In a living room or bedroom setting, less is more - you don't want to see unsightly wires.
Believe it or not, this device began its life as a means to connect people at home with personal trainers and wellness professionals over webcam. While it has grown beyond that, it still retains that feature, by connecting to the company's online network through a dedicated app.
If you are interested in getting one, you can back it at Kickstarter here. The lowest pledge that you can make and still receive a device is $139 (with $25 shipping outside the US for a total of $164 or £98); that's quite reasonable for what you get with TVPRO. Will you back it? Tell me in the comments.