Panasonic's TV software has always been pretty bad. For a long time, the company made the best TVs you could buy, but dealing with the clunky user interface always detracted from the experience of actually watching them. More and more, TV manufacturers are finally realizing that making good software for the living room is hard — and they're turning elsewhere for help. For LG, it's webOS. Just this year at CES 2015, Sony has embraced Android TV, an incredibly smart move. And Samsung's betting Tizen is the best path forward. Now, Panasonic is finally breathing new life into its TV UI with the help of Firefox OS.
The result is a clean, flat, and super colorful design that's all about speed and getting to what you want fast. You can pin just about anything to the bottom-level homescreen; your Xbox's HDMI input, apps like Netflix / Amazon, or even specific TV channels. And a new universal search will pull up content from YouTube, video-on-demand services, and media files from attached USB storage. Apps (and eventually smart appliances) will be able to display notifications at the bottom right corner of your TV screen, and there's of course a full-fledged Firefox browser built in when you feel like doing some browsing on the big screen.
Panasonic has laid plenty of customizations on top of the foundation provided by Firefox OS, and it's calling the overall experience My Home Screen 2.0. The software will ship on the company's 4K TVs this spring. I still think Sony's leaped ahead of everyone with its move to Android TV, but Panasonic's taking a big step in the right direction. In 2015, you can buy a TV from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic without worrying about getting smacked with a god-awful UI. Navigating around your TV's features no longer leads to misery and sheer frustration. We're making progress, people.