The WMA100 as a web browser
In my review of the WMA100, I suggested that the user interface of the device was nothing more than a custom web browser that only viewed pages of media to play. Now maybe I could prove it. Since I could feed HTML to the box through my NSLU2, what if I could direct it out to the wild, open Internet? Then I would have a web browser on my TV.
All I would need to do is put a URL that pointed out to the Internet in the HTML that I fed the WMA. Then I could select that URL through the standard WMA user-interface and pull down a web page. Browsing the web on my TV without a mouse or a keyboard? Useless, right? Right. But that didn't stop me!
It was actually a bit of fun as I browsed everything from slashdot.org to cnn.com to SmallNetBuilder.com on my TV (Figure 7). It turned out that I actually had some web page navigation via the WMA100. The arrow keys on the remote could be used to scroll and navigate from URL hot-link to hot-link on the page, and the numeric keypad could be used to enter characters in forms on a web page using cell-phone style entry!
The only thing missing was a location field to type in an arbitrary URL. As I browsed to a web mail interface and read my email, I was reminded of an old Internet axiom that suggested that every program expands in features until such time as it is able to read email. Maybe this is true of hardware devices as well!
Figure 7: Browsing the web on my TV using the WMA100
I suspect that users who only have a WMA100 can also use my little HTML trick by entering a list of bookmarks into the HTML on the PC that is fed to the WMA100. It would just be a matter of finding the HTML down in the Apache tree and adding in a list of bookmarks or a least a single starting point.