Ready for WebTV 2.0? Personal Web Systems, a tech firm that’s developing a web-to-TV browser add-on, has raised $1.2 million worth of a proposed $1.8 million round of funding, per an SEC filing. Founder and CEO Gordon Campbell, a former *Intel* CMO, confirmed that the round was a mix of VC investment and private funding, but declined to disclose the participants. He said the money will be used for operating capital, as well as further tech development.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup was supposed to launch its browser-based device earlier this year, per this flashy NYT profile from February; Campbell said the release has been pushed back into early next year. The so-far unnamed device will retail for about $150 and give users full access to the web through their TV; people can navigate via keyboard, mouse and even the iPhone or *Palm* Pre. Campbell said the iPhone controller app has been “very well received” in field testing.
So what makes Personal Web Systems’ web-to-TV browser better than Boxee? (Or Roku? Or ZillionTV?) Campbell says that it will give users full access to the web — not just streaming video sites or publisher-supplied widgets. “To really access the web through TV, you have to have full browsing capabilities,” he said.
Sounds a bit like WebTV, which, though innovative for its time, was the epitome of an awful browsing experience. But if Personal Web Systems can make its adapter’s user interface more fluid and user-friendly, then it’s entering the market at what appears to be the right time: there’s significant broadband penetration, and there’s tremendous interest in porting web content to the TV (from both publishers and consumers).