Video: Hands-on preview of the new Sony Google TV
I was away last week at BlogWorld in Las Vegas, where one of the sponsors was Sony, who were showing off their brand new Sony Internet TV with Google. Fortunately I happened to have my camcorder on me, and so, after apologising to Dinesh, the Sony rep, for ambushing him, I managed to get a rather tasty hands-on demo of the new Google TV.
Actually, I keep on calling it the Sony Google TV, but its official title is the Sony Internet TV with Google, but that’s as awkward as the new TV’s controller!
Anyway, the Sony Google TV is a brand new Sony HDTV that features the new Android-based Google TV built in to the unit itself. This has the advantage of negating the need for yet another set top box, and keeps things lovely and tidy within the Sony TV’s super-sexy proportions. Unfortunately, it also has the disadvantage of forcing you to use Sony’s own remote control.
So what did I make of Sony’s take on Google TV?
Google TV: First impressions
My first impressions of Google TV are extremely positive. It really does everything it promises, and it’s super-slick as well. You can call up TV, Web sites, YouTube videos or apps with the deft flick of a button, and the picture changes instantly. Google’s omnipresent search bar is just a click away, and lets you search through TV channels, YouTube videos and the Web seamlessly.
More impressive still was the fact that the user experience was so natural, as it’s basically just Google Chrome on your TV. Web sites, Web apps like Twitter and Facebook, even Flash games, all run as smoothly on the TV as they do on your PC. Google really have brought the Web to the TV and made the whole process so seamless, it’s hard to believe it’s never been done like this before.
One of the advantages of putting Android on your TV is that it turns into a smart TV, and so its functionality and features will actually grow over time. Already, web apps like Picasa add a new dimension to the TV. You can view any pics you’ve uploaded onto Picasa directly on the TV, and even share them from your telly via Twitter, just with a simple point and click of the remote.
It’s this interaction between apps, all based around the media you consume and share that makes Google TV add genuine value to your humble TV set.
And with Android underneath and a whole new Google TV app store about to launch, your smart TV will expand in ways we never thought possible.
Sony’s Google TV
So what of Sony’s implementation of Google TV? Well, the good news is the TV itself is impressive both as a TV, with superb picture quality (as you’d expect from Sony), and as a Google TV device. Google TV itself runs flawlessly, and it’s nice and responsive so there are no issues regarding using it day to day.
The TV is distinct from other models in that it’s white in colour, but other than that it looks like any other state of the art HDTV.
It’s got four USB ports on the side, into which you can plug a USB stick or MP3 player for viewing photos, videos or listening to music.
And this, I’m afraid, is the Sony TV’s achilles heel. With all the media we have on our PCs, the fact that you can’t wirelessly stream your content onto the TV is a missed opportunity. If you have thousands of pics buried on your PC’s hard drive, the only way you can view them on your shiny new Sony Google TV is to upload them all to Picasa (there’s a Flickr app as well, if that’s your chosen Web photo sharing app), or copy them to a USB stick and plug that into your TV.
Of course, you could purchase a Network Attached Storage device with a USB connector and plug that into the TV, but this rather defeats the point of having an Internet TV – certainly one with built-in wireless!
Sony’s Google TV vs Logitech Revue
In contrast, the Logitech Revue Set Top Box, which is currently the only other way of getting Google TV onto your TV, will let you wirelessly stream all of your content onto from your PC, and so in that respect, is a much better option.
Its keyboard is better, too. OK, not necessarily the giant keyboard that comes with the Revue, but the separate Mini keyboard you can buy is much more elegant thant Sony’s, which seems to pack in more buttons than Jenson’s family tree!
The Sony Controller works OK. It’s got a QWERTY keyboard and two controller pads (one a mousepad, the other a four-button d-pad), plus a variety of other buttons for one-click access to regularly-used features such as search. But it looks cumbersome and is bound to put some people off. Its very definitnely a controller for geeks, which is not the image Sony needs to be conveying if it wants mainstream adoption of Google TV.
Video Preview of the Sony Google TV
OK, enough waffling, here’s the video of the Sony Google TV in action, as ably demonstrated by Dinesh:
Overall, despite its nerdy looks (or maybe because of them), I love the Sony Google TV. True, if faced with the choice, I’d go for the Logitech Revue, as its supoprts wireless streaming from your PC and I prefer its keyboard. But having the latest Sony HDTV with Google TV built-in certainly has its own cachet, and with Sony pushing this hard, it’s very difficult not to be tempted by uit.
If you’re looking for a Google TV experience without an extra Set Top Box, you currently have no choice other than going for Sony’s Google TV, but you certainly won’t be buying a pup. It’s well executed, looks gorgeous (if you don’t look at the remote!), and Google TV is all you ever wanted it to be.
If you’re looking for the best overall Google TV experience, though, I’d go for the Logitech Revue. It’s more flexible, as it’ll plug into any TV, and with its media streaming support, it’s just a better option than the Sony.
But whichever you choose, I genuinely think you won’t regret it. The whole Web on your TV opens up whole new worlds of entertainment.
If you’ve bought a Sony Google TV, or a Logitech Revue, let us know what you think of it in the comments.
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