Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

This Internet TV is worth a Lookee

13

January

At the International Consumer Electronics Show last week in Las Vegas, Internet-connected devices were everywhere. Nearly every TV was Internet-ready and there were radios, picture frames, security systems, door locks, baby monitors, Blue-ray players and other things I didn't see. One thing I did see was the Lookee TV.

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Lookee TV is a small Internet TV and Radio device that connects to your home network. It comes in three models; a desktop model with 4.3-inch screen and ethernet or WiFi connections, a portable model with 4.3-inch screen and WiFi only and a TV box model. All three are equipped with TV out with support for resolutions up to 720X480.

Of the three devices the desktop model of the Lookee TV (above) was the most interesting. Think of it as a replacement for a traditional clock radio (it has an alarm clock with dual alarms and and radio). Having it on the nightstand would give you access to lots of Internet content. You also can use it as a digital picture frame or media player using the built-in SD card slot. A line-in audio jack provides for connections with an iPod or other mp3 player and there is an included wireless remote. The unit can run on four AA batteries which also serves as a battery backup. The distributors of the Lookee TV, Best-Supplier International, say more than 1000 Internet TV channels and more than 3000 radio stations and podcasts from around the world are currently available.

During my demo at CES the desktop version could not connect to the WiFi network at the Las Vegas Convention Center because of excessive network traffic, so they had the unit connected to some stored content. The screen was crisp and bright and the sound was surprisingly good. They connected the unit to a small TV and that worked well too. A composite video cable is included and a component connection is possible too with the correct cable.

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The portable version of the Lookee TV felt very nicely made and the screen looked excellent too (I suspect it's the same screen). The features are pretty much the same as the desktop model except it runs on a 600mAH Rechargeable Li-Polymer battery, has no ethernet capability and no line-in for audio. As a portable unit it needs a WiFi connection for Internet content. With most new Smartphones including WiFi hotspot capability, you could use your phone for access. As nice as it is, however, I'm not sure it will be able to compete with all the 7-inch tablet computers coming out that offer similar content and much more.

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The last model is the TV box which, obviously enough, is made to connect to your TV. It's basically the same thing as the other two without the alarm clock, FM radio and screen. I was disappointed to find it doesn't have an HDMI connection and wonder how it can possibly compete with the Apple TV, Roku boxes and Internet-connected TVs without it. The one advantage for the Lookee is there are no fees for most Internet TV and radio content.

Of all three units the desktop version of the Lookee TV is an interesting addition to the Internet-connected appliance universe. It could be used as a hip, WiFi clock radio on the nightstand, on your desk at work or on the kitchen counter. The other two pieces are OK too but they will have to fight for a place in the already crowded arena for streaming Internet devices.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 3:17pm]

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