According to a company press release, Best Buy has released two new connected HDTVs under its Insignia brand. The 32″ NS-32E859A11 sells for $499, and the 42″ NS-42E859A11 has a $699 price tag. These sets have fairly typical feature sets, including LED backlights, 120 Hz LCD panels, and support for online streaming services including Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, Pandora, and CinemaNow. (Best Buy owns CinemaNow.) The big difference from other smart TVs is that these models come with a new user interface from TiVo. Based on the design made famous by TiVo’s digital video recorder (DVR) products, the interface lets you search across online sources to find video content that you might want to watch.
This is an important new development. The current reliance on channel grids for subscription television and different user interfaces for each online streaming video service just isn’t working. We need a more flexible and powerful user interface to make it much easier to find what you want. This new interface from TiVo looks top be a good step in the right direction. It is also interesting that it comes in a “lower tier” brand from Best Buy, and not one of the major brands. Clearly there is room for innovation at all levels of the HDTV market, and just as Google was able to replace Yahoo as the leading Web search engine, so might a lesser television brand climb to the top if it can solve the user interface problem better and sooner than its competitors.