Browser Review: Kylo, the Browser Built for Your Big Screen!

Posted: August 1, 2010 in Big Screen, Browser, Hulu, Kylo, Media, Media Center, Netflix, Television, TV
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Kylo's homepage menu.

Since I decided to move my computer to the corner of the living room, next to the big television instead of in front of it, I’ve been looking for tools to make my computer an easy to use media center. After installing JoytoKey which has the ability to allow users to turn their video game controllers into pointing devices, I needed a browser that was easier to see on the big screen. After a quick Google search I easily found Kylo. This browser is actually quite impressive, though still a bit green.

First of all, I want to mention that this browser looks really good on even a 1080p 48″ television. The buttons are big, and when you start the browser you’re taken to an awesomely designed page with a great list of web pages that mostly work well with Kylo, including my favorite, Netflix.

Zoom and font size features.

If you hover over any of these menu items, you get a brief description of the website. I’m not really sure why Farmville is listed on here, but I guess somehow it’s STILL that popular. Though I mostly use it to read the news and watch Netflix (an excellent alternative to watching it on my Xbox 360 considering now you can get HD programming through your browser as well), it is definitely good for general browsing such as checking email, playing games, and doing research for your term paper. In fact, in conjunction with JoytoKey and an Xbox 360 USB controller, a key board, and in my case two extension USB cables, I can sit back and relax on the couch without having to constantly get up and go over to my computer to watch my next show. After exploring this browser’s settings, I was pleasantly surprised to find out you can have the browser permanently zoomed in a certain amount so that you don’t have to squint while trying to read small text on a big TV. You can also manually zoom in and out from the bar at the bottom if needed.

There are a few customization options I really thought were useful. One of which was the ability to hide the on screen keyboard, and auto-hide the control bar. I usually like to free up as much room on the screen and leave it for browsing, and by selecting these two options you’re definitely left with a whole lot of browsing space. I myself wouldn’t recommend the “Zoom in on form fields when typing” option though because it tends to not work to well when chatting on Facebook.

Options found under the Control menu.

I was definitely glad to have found this browser and will probably stick with it but there are a few things that are a bit troubling you may want to be aware of.

First of all, there is no pop-up or ad-blocker at all which means that you’ll be subject to all kinds of annoying interruptions while browsing. When visiting a news site like CNN.com or ABC.com, you’ll come to find that reading the news can become a chore. At least 90% of the time, by just visiting the front page or clicking on an article I would end up being greeted by an ad that covered the entire screen forcing me to have to drag my cursor all the way to the top and click close. Not much fun especially when you don’t even remember what pop-ups look like. Some other pop-ups, like the ones on ABC.com can be even more annoying.

Discovery.com video not displaying properly in full screen.

I would often click on an article just to find that the page was slowly being taken over by the most annoying and loudest ad for Wheat Thins I’d ever seen. Not only did it make it impossible for me to read the article (and made me never want to eat Wheat Thins again), but it also slowed my computer down to a crawl, and my computer can run Dragon Age Origins and Hulu (which is known for taking up a lot of resources) seamlessly! Some ads would freeze my computer up for a good minute or so, something I haven’t experienced since I last logged onto my 6 year old piece of junk laptop. Another thing that was a bit bothering was the fact that certain website’s videos, such as those at Discovery.com, wouldn’t full screen properly and I would mostly end up having to watch them in their regular size. This isn’t much of an issue for me since I can always resort to using Firefox when needed anyway, but it would be nice to see this problem fixed in further versions of Kylo since pop-ups and ads can make a browser dangerously vulnerable to spyware and malaware. Another issue I’m a bit upset about, but in this case, it isn’t the browser’s fault, is that Hulu is blocking it. This means you may be able to watch up to 30 seconds or so of video but then you’re greeted with a message that claims that Hulu isn’t available for your platform. What this really means is that they don’t want you to use Kylo to watch their free programming. If you wish to read up on this more, here is the whole story. The fact is, Hulu recently implemented a premium paid service (although it seems to go against their initial statements which indicated that they would ‘never’ charge for Hulu services) which allows users to to view their shows on their iPad, and certain other devices, while still having to view all of the annoying ads. I don’t know that this premium service will allow people to view their shows on Kylo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Kylo developers tried to work around this issue, which worked for less than a day when Hulu managed to block Kylo once again.

Hulu message.

In all fairness, after contacting Kylo about some of the problems I’ve been having with the browser, they actually responded with a thorough email asking for further information on the problems I’ve been having. They have also stated on their website that they’re working on many other issues others have complained about. I am definitely willing to be patient and wait to see how they will address these problems in the future, but for now I’m pretty happy with the browser. It works great with Netflix, and that’s just about all I need. All in all, it is a great concept and it is highly functional. Anyone who is looking to set up their computer as a Media Center should really look into trying out this browser. The more popular this browser gets, the chances of these issues being fixed should increase– hopefully!

Rating: 4.2 out of 5

Note: If you’re interested on how to connect your HD TV to your computer and what combination of programs you can use to have your own all-purpose Media Center, stay tuned for I will be talking about JoytoKey in more depth and other programs programs such as UltraMon and Hulu Desktop!

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