Kylo, the Web browser for your TV, gets geeky

Hillcrest Labs is making some useful additions to its TV-oriented Kylo Web browser, but will it be enough to compete with Google TV?

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

Did you hear? Having the Internet on your TV is a big thing again.

Google is just now getting into the game, but companies like Hillcrest Labs and its Kylo browser have been around for years. On Wednesday Hillcrest is putting out an update to its TV-friendly browser, which brings a handful of new goodies like user agent spoofing and integration with Windows Media Center.

Between the two major features, the user agent string tweaker is infinitely more geeky, but can go a long ways towards making some sites simpler to navigate from your couch. In short, it lets you set which sites you want to use a certain user agent for (like the Wii, iPad, or iPhone), so that each time you visit them the browser will trick it into thinking you're accessing the site from one of those devices. This is particularly useful if you're privy to one of YouTube's many custom variants, like for the Wii or PlayStation 3.

You can now have Kylo trick sites into thinking you're using a particular browser, which can be useful in some places that offer a more couch-friendly version. Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET

As for the Windows Media Center plug-in, it simply adds a launcher for Kylo within WMC that lets you launch it from within the app, then come back to Media Center when done. This may seem like a small tweak, but it makes it markedly simpler to jump back and forth between watching live TV (if you have a TV tuner) or recorded/stored content, and doing some casual browsing.

Other additions include a way to pick what the default page zoom is when opening any Web page, a toggle to have Kylo's UI hide itself after loading a page, and support for printing Web pages to a networked printer.

Hillcrest Labs is definitely in a unique position until the release of Google TV later this year. While the company makes its Kylo browser for Web browsing on computers hooked up to TV sets, it also makes a pointing peripheral called The Loop, and licenses its Freespace pointing technology to third-parties. Google, on the other hand, plans to bring its software outside of computers and into TV sets and set top boxes. The two companies are unlikely to co-exist on the browser front, however Hillcrest could do well licensing its pointer tech to remote makers.