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Which types of devices have browsers?

While ‘connected’ devices used to be mainly PCs, today this category is much more diverse and runs the gamut from mobile phones, to tablets and desktops.

Pawel Piejko - 22 May 2015
4 min read

Our device detection platform is powered by an immense device database that contains thousands of web-enabled devices. To build and maintain the database, we follow all new product releases focusing on internet connectivity. While these ‘connected’ devices used to be mainly PCs, today this category is much more diverse and runs the gamut from mobile phones, to tablets and desktops.

Today any device can be web-enabled once equipped with appropriate connectivity (WiFi, 3G, 4G). The expansion of Android, and the lowered cost of hardware components, has made bringing connectivity to a device even easier and cheaper.

Here is a list of different types of devices that enable web browsing.

1. Desktop computers

Web browsing on desktop computers is still, for many people, the most obvious way to access the internet. Every OS-based desktop machine that allows you to install a web browser (or comes with a preinstalled browser), and is equipped with WiFi, Ethernet, or 3G connectivity can access the web.

This group includes a myriad of devices of different shapes and sizes, including desktop computers, laptops, netbooks, HTPCs, NUCs, all-in-ones, or even PC sticks such as Intel Compute Stick.  

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2. Mobile phones

The history of mobile browsing is a little complicated, mainly because of the limited capabilities of early mobile operating systems. Up until the release of iOS and Android, mobile browsing was possible but the experience was a far cry from what was possible on desktop PCs. Many mobile phones utilized only “microbrowser” technologies, such as WAP.

Currently, there are several touch-operated mobile browsers that are tailored for all mobile operating systems offering users with experience comparable to desktop browsing.

3. Tablets

Browsing experience on a tablet is very similar to what mobile phones can offer especially when it comes to tablets utilizing mobile operating systems (such as iOS, or Android). For Windows 8-based tablets, a touch-enabled version of Internet Explorer is available, as well as any other Windows 8-tailored browser.

4. Smart TVs

Smart TVs typically come equipped with Internet connectivity (WiFi, Ethernet), as well as an operating system that can handle many sophisticated apps. TVs are factory equipped with apps that allow you to access online video services, like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, etc. Web browsers are often included as well, thus offering some kind of web browsing experience.

5. Game Consoles

Modern game consoles (PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Nintendo Wii U), all come equipped with web browsers that allow you to access websites. Perhaps web browsing using a game controller is not exactly convenient, but it is certainly possible. Similarly to Smart TVs, game consoles can also offer access to selected online video services that can be browsed via dedicated apps.

6. Wristwatches

Android Wear and Apple Watch platforms allow web developers to come up with wristwatch-optimized apps. Web browsers are among the Android Wear apps that you can install and use on your watch. We had a chance to test this capability on a Moto 360.

And how about Apple Watch? Apple Watch doesn’t have a built-in browser, and there aren’t any browser apps available so far but the watch has already been hacked to display websites.

7. Ebook readers

Amazon Kindle connects to the internet via WiFi or 3G, and it comes with a built-in app that allows you to browse and purchase books available in the Amazon online store. Kindle software also includes a stripped-down, WebKit-based browser that is aptly named ‘Experimental Browser,’ and has been present since Kindle 3.

8. Digital cameras

There’s a number of web-enabled, Android-based digital cameras such as Samsung Galaxy Camera, or Nikon Coolpix S800c. In fact, some of the more photography-oriented smartphones (such as Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, or Nokia Lumia 1020) might be included in this device category as well.

9. Cars

A full web browser can be built-in to a car dashboard but it’s not a standard feature given that many buyers consider this a yet another form of distraction for drivers. Nevertheless, there are some 'connected cars' offering some browsing capabilities via, for instance, BMW ConnectedDrive, Tesla Web Browser, or Pioneer CarBrowser App powered by Opera Mini.

10. Home appliances

The iconic Internet fridge has been made possible a while ago but you come across these devices mainly on technology blogs, and industry trade shows. The 'smart home' platforms such as Samsung Smart Home or LG Smart ThinQ made it easier to include basically all home appliances in the IoT ecosystem.

11. Smart glasses

Google has closed off Google Glass sales but the 2.0 version is rumoured to be relaunched. Given that the previous version of the glasses enabled web browsing, it is possible that the next iteration will allow you to do this as well.

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