Google TV

It’s official. Google TV is coming to the UK in the form of a £200 set-top box developed by Sonyand landing sometime next month in July.

Planet TV Ed: Launch date is now set for 23rd July 2012

First Google TV Flopped

Google TV, a product from the search engine titans which merges television viewing with online capabilities and apps, was first launched all the way back in 2010 with the Logitech Revue set-top box. However, consumer reaction was anything but positive. In fact, people complained of a buggy, poorly designed OS, with limited apps and a high price. For Logitech, the experience was a disaster, with the Google set-top box losing the company $100 million. Two years later, though, Google has since made many changes to this service and now the improved Google TV is coming to Britain on board the Sony NSZ-GS7 set-top box.

Photo: Sony

Redesigned User Interface

So just what’s better with Google TV this time around, one might ask? Well, for starters, the entire user interface and OS has been redesigned, for the better. Your favourite TV channels, apps like YouTube, the Chrome browser for online activities and so on are now accessible directly from the home screen – much like with a smartphone. Also like on a smartphone, Google TV users will have many more apps to choose from than before.

Uses Android Based OS

Actually, the new Google TV OS is based on Android and, as a result, it can run Android apps, although these must first be optimised for use with TV screen sizes. Therefore, we can definitely expect many more quality apps than before. Besides which, Google has played a role in optimising some of the most important apps, such as YouTube, for use on the large TV screen. Other major on board apps that users can look forward to include the ubiquitous BBC iPlayer, the Chrome browser, as well Google TV’s photo viewer which can aggregate photos from services like Picasa, Flickr etc.

Better TV remote

It’s not just the OS which has received an overhaul, the controller has too. If you remember the Logitech Revue, then you’ll know it came with an awkward to use full size keyboard for controlling the Google TV set-top box. The new and improved Google TV Sony box, on the other hand, comes with an ordinary sized Sony remote control. What makes this universal remote special is that it contains a QWERTY sized keyboard on its reverse side to make tasks like internet browsing easier, as well as a touch screen on its front side for use with many apps. Moreover, the Sony NSZ-GS7 set top box can also be controlled via an Android smartphone or tablet of your choice if you prefer.

Dangerously High Price Tag

While the Sony Google TV box certainly looks like a major improvement over the Google TV from two years ago, there is one factor that could hurt its chance at success, namely, its high price. Sony are selling the NSZ-GS7 set-top box for £200, which is a bit much for just internet capable Google TV. Apparently the company is also launching a Google TV Blu-ray player later, but there’s no confirmation yet on when Sony is launching a TV with integrated Google television. We suspect the latter would appeal to customers more since they get both Google TV abilities and a new television in one package.

Planet TV Ed – we don’t necessarily agree with this assessment on price. Yes it is more expensive than Apple TV by some stretch, but it does have other benefits.

Tough Market and Competition

When you can have access to many of the same online features with Xbox Live, or when such features come included on your new Samsung LED TV, the incentive to fork out two hundred quid on a new Google TV set-top box definitely dwindles. At any rate, Google has upped the ante in a smart TV market where there are many major players, including Microsoft, Samsung, LG, and we suspect Apple, but still no clear winners.