Review: Google-TV

Google TV is either going to be massive, or the biggest consumer electronics flop in history.

Google is bringing the Web to TV. Not another TiVo clone, not a Roku box. Definitely not Apple TV. It's TV plus Google Search on your big-screen TV in the living room.

The Google-TV demos at the developer conference, despite wireless connectivity issues, showed promise as an Alpha-concept show-case, I just don't know if its going to work - either as a kludge-together of home electronics or as a practical home entertainment system...

What is it?
  • Google TV aims to be more than a browser and programme guide (and more robust than Web TV or Apple TV).
  • On-line real-time search and navigate both TV and on-line content, thanks to Android 2.1 and Chrome browser.
  • Download and run Android apps from your TV.
  • Remote-control your TV from your Android mobile device.
When do we get it?
  • Developers invited to start Google TV apps starting now.
  • Google TV available in the US - Fall 2010
  • "Aggressive international expansion" is planned for 2011.
  • Android Market for Google TV launches early 2011.
  • Google TV API available in early 2011.
  • Google TV goes open source in Summer 2011.
  • Sony plans to build BRAVIA Internet TVs and Blu-ray players that run the platform. With the Sony television sets, hardware will be integrated. Google TV will eventually integrate with Sony Playstation.
  • Logitech is building the Google TV "companion box".
  • Dish Network is in beta testing for satellite content
  • Adobe is building Flash 10.1 for the platform. Where the heck this sits with WebM is anyone's guess (??)
  • Intel is supplying the Atom CE4100 chip for the platform
  • Best Buy has an exlcusive deal to sell Google TV devices in a big retail push at launch
  • We're promised that once you buy the hardware, the service will be free. Although, of course, that doesn't include the content found by the service!
Yet Another Box
Logitech’s new set-top box (as yet un-named) containing Intel 1.2-GHz Atom processor with 4 GB memory, 802.11n Wi-Fi, dual HDMI-out ports, Dolby 5.1 surround sound and a pair of USB ports. Plug in a webcam you video-chat at 720p.

The Android-OS box hooks up to the TV and pulls content from cable, satellite and 'compatible' DVRs,  so you can Google the entire Internet plus your domestic collection for TV shows

'Lean Back' versus Lean-Forward
All Google TV devices will have remotes with some form of QWERTY keyboard for entering searches. This is not 'lean-back' (which to me is a type of bacon) this is 'lean-forward'. This is not the TV experience as you know it; you gotta work for it!

For Public Consumption?
Who is this aimed at? Can you use it?  I hated the demos. Web searches on my TV. Really? My mother can't even operate the remote control! The school kids in my club won't sit still long enough to use it and certainly don't want it on the big screen in the living room or the parents will see them searching for porn. Do I really want to browse YouTube or Android video sites and try to play grungy less-than-Standard definition 400 by 800 pixel video on my 50inch TV?

The biggest challenge? Besides the massive amount of consumer spend on new kit in the teeth of a recession? Access to content currently held by TV broadcasters and the studios and not just long-tail repeats of Desperate Housewives and CSI. Are the satellite and cable companies really going to play on this platform? Where's the revenue share, asks Mr Murdoch?

And will Sony have any interest in updating your 2010 Sony Internet TV to Google TV 3.0 Paradise Edition in 2011, instead of just selling you a new flat screen instead?

I find this rather insidious. Google wants to control the medium. TV + Google + web search for shows? Presumably all going through the cloud through Google servers? Not like iTunes at all then.

Actually no. This the the chance to trck what you watch, when you watch it, when you pause, what adverts you'll sit through and which you won't. You are about to become the most surveilled target demographic of one on the planet. Thank you and good night. Please remember to unplug your set from the mains before you go to bed.  RC


  1. I actually have the Logitech Revue with Google TV with my DISH Network services and I like it a lot! It's fully integrated with my DVR (which is unavailable with other providers) and I only paid $179 for it vs. its $299 retail value. I have an internet TV now, without having to spend a lot on another brand new TV! I recommend it to all, especially DISH customers/employees like me, for that sweet $120 discount! :)


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