Print 48 comment(s) - last by vol7ron.. on Oct 18 at 9:35 AM

Sony's Google TV  (Source: Sony)

The TV packs one big remote control. Soon you will be able to control your TV via your Android smart phone, though, even using voice commands.  (Source: Sony)

For those who don't want to buy a new TV, Sony is also offering a Google TV Blu-Ray player, giving customers one more way to ditch the set-top box.  (Source: Sony)
Google aims to take over the emerging TV OS market

Google is increasingly became a leading force as an operating system developer.  Its Android smartphone operating system is growing faster than any other smartphone operating system, and its Chrome operating system for tablets and netbooks will soon debut as well.

But Google's latest OS entry comes in a market you might not expect -- television.  On Tuesday, Sony introduced the first television hardware on the market to be powered by Google's new Google TV OS.

The new Google TV-enabled HDTV flat-screens from Sony come in 24-inch ($600 USD); 32-inch ($800); 40-inch ($1,000); and 46-inch ($1,400) varieties.  They will be sold through and at retailers like Best Buy.  Best Buy will have the new TVs stocked by Sunday.

The new Sony TV marks a departure from "dumb" televisions that had to be attached to set-top boxes from companies like Apple, Logitech, Roku and Boxee, in order to provide additional functionality.  With Google designing the operating system, Sony was free to focus on adding enough hardware to support it -- a manageable task.

Sony packed an Intel Atom-based CE4100 consumer electronics system-on-chip (SoC) into the television to provide it sufficient processing power.  The TV's video hardware is capable of providing a dual-view mode, with two simultaneous high-definition feeds.  You can connect the television to the internet by ethernet cable or by Wi-Fi

The operating system, Google TV, is actually a variant of Android and shares much of its source code.  As Android is built on a Linux kernel, this marks yet another example of how Google is quietly growing Linux's market share (Linus Torvalds must be somewhere silently cheering).

The OS is streamlined to provide easy web browsing, with a focus on common activities like reading the news, posting to Twitter/Facebook, and running searches.  Much like Microsoft did with Bing for its upcoming Windows Phone 7, Google has fine-tuned a version of its search engine that's more friendly for TV uses, with a propensity to display TV show schedules prominently in the results.  As with any browser, users can bookmark their favorite content for a speedy return at a later date.

One of Google's closest competitors, the new $99 Apple TV, has a lot to worry about from Google's new OS.  It is capable of playing 1080p video, while the Apple box can only muster 720p.  And while Apple has banned apps from its set-top (for now), Google has embraced them, with the new TVs soon being able to fully access the Android market (Sony's page says this feature is "Coming in 2011").  The Sony TVs come preloaded with CNBC, Napster, NBA, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter, and YouTube apps.

The TV will soon have a plethora of control options.  Current users must utilize a bulky six-inch remote that packs an optical mouse pointer, a mini keyboard, a home button, and more.  Soon, though, Google will be releasing an app that will allow Android phone owners to use touch and voice controls on their phone to navigate through their television's menus.

But Google isn't abandoning those with "dumb" TVs who are loathe to upgrade to a new set like the slick Sony HDTVs.  Accompanying the HDTV launch is a new $400 USD Blu-Ray player from Sony that come with Google TV installed inside.  This unit comes with the same kind of advantages as its television brethren -- eliminating the superfluous set-top box, offering full 1080p, and offering access to useful apps.

Surveying the Google TV launch, one can't help but get the notion that Google is plotting the demise of the traditional personal computer.  After all, much like Apple, it is luring customers away from their desktops and is getting them to increasingly devote their computing time to their smart phones and tablets.  And now it's doing the same thing with televisions.  Given the success of Android, it seems that makers of traditional PC hardware and software should be very concerned.

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By Shatbot on 10/13/2010 9:27:55 AM , Rating: 2
Thankyou Google, at least now there will be a piece of Sony hardware that can render properly. With all the stupid updates issued by Sony on my PS3, Google's site still renders with the JPEG "google" over the 'seach' and 'feeling lucky' buttons. Honestly - it's the most simple page in the world.

RE: Finally...
By pequin06 on 10/13/2010 9:33:29 AM , Rating: 2
I tried maybe twice to surf the internet on my PS3 and it really wasn't worth the effort.
I think it would be a good idea later down the line to update the PS3 for GoogleTV.
Then it really would do everything.

RE: Finally...
By MikeMurphy on 10/13/2010 9:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
a QWERTY keyboard in a next-gen living room device?

They couldn't come up with anything better than that?

RE: Finally...
By w1z4rd on 10/13/2010 10:32:42 AM , Rating: 2
i've been waiting for one of these for as long as i can remember!! this is totally awesome - and now i know where my savings is going to go to!

RE: Finally...
By Motoman on 10/13/2010 12:02:57 PM , Rating: 2
...what, you wanted a Dvorak keyboard?

RE: Finally...
By omnicronx on 10/13/2010 1:08:25 PM , Rating: 2
Like what?

A keyboard with different key positions than every computer in use today?

Of course its going to be a QWERTY keyboard, its the standard.

QWERTY dates back to typewritters (for letter positioning at the very least) and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

LOL @ the comment below though ;)

RE: Finally...
By MikeMurphy on 10/14/2010 2:01:29 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah guys, If you think I was referring to a non-standard keyboard layout rather than a GUI that doesn't require a keyboard, then the concept is obviously totally lost on you.

My apologies for cluttering up the discussion board with such 'advance' concepts.

RE: Finally...
By Alexstarfire on 10/14/2010 5:27:12 AM , Rating: 2
How else do you use the internet without a keyboard? That's really the only reason I see them having it on there. Probably also great for searching through your files for something specific, but it's pretty much impossible to use the internet without a keyboard of some kind.

RE: Finally...
By The Raven on 10/15/2010 11:15:47 AM , Rating: 2
Do you work for Nintendo?

The Wii's browser sucks BTW. Please give me a keyboard.

RE: Finally...
By vol7ron on 10/18/2010 9:35:47 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah guys, If you think I was referring to a non-standard keyboard layout rather than a GUI that doesn't require a keyboard, then the concept is obviously totally lost on you.

My apologies for cluttering up the discussion board with such 'advance' concepts.

So by 'advance' (sic), not 'advanced', you mean that you want the TV to read your mind, or at least have some sort of retina recognition to follow your eye pattern? Is that because voice activation isn't good enough...

Soon, though, Google will be releasing an app that will allow Android phone owners to use touch and voice controls on their phone to navigate through their television's menus.

RE: Finally...
By Adonlude on 10/13/2010 2:39:54 PM , Rating: 2
The article says Sony is launching a $400 Bluray player with Google TV. Now why would they implement the same tech in the PS3 at a lower price and obsolete this $400 item? It would be nice but unfortunately it will never happen.

RE: Finally...
By acer905 on 10/13/2010 4:08:39 PM , Rating: 2
... When Bluray players were still new, selling for $1000, sony put one in the PS3, essentially doing what you said they would never do.

RE: Finally...
By Alexstarfire on 10/14/2010 1:10:00 AM , Rating: 2
Because it also acts as a Google TV? IDK, maybe that only makes sense to me though.

RE: Finally...
By JasonMick on 10/13/2010 9:46:28 AM , Rating: 2
Sony, in my experience has had some big driver problems (at least in the past). I had a Vaio laptop a few years back that would magically have all the text/icons for running programs on the taskbar get scrambled (under Vista). You could reach some programs, by clicking on the scrambled graphic of another running program (e.g. click Firefox to get to Open Office, etc) And when you Alt+Tab through Windows they would just disappear.

I was sure it was some sort of malware or something, so I scoured the laptop using HijackThis and other free utilities, searching for any trace of an infection. I even took it to some security researcher academic types that I know @ my local university. No luck. No serious malware/virus infection.

I got Sony to replace the GPU. It still had the same issue. At the end of the day I concluded that it was most likely a video drivers problem. (as the tasks would still be running, it was just their window display that was screwed up).

RE: Finally...
By Samus on 10/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: Finally...
By EasyC on 10/15/2010 7:13:31 AM , Rating: 2
Wrong. Sony has come a long way in the laptop quality game. I've had my laptop for about 8 months and not a single issue with it. It offered a better screen with higher resolution (Since when did every laptop manufacturer feel that 1366x768 was an OK resolution???), form factor (14"), and power (i5/GT330) for less than its competitors. It doesn't warm my lap even under full load and is bone quiet. Oh, and it was cheaper.

I was very hesitant when buying it, but it's gotten nothing but great reviews, so I took the plunge and haven't looked back.

May be...
By MeesterNid on 10/13/10, Rating: 0
RE: May be...
By JasonMick on 10/13/2010 9:38:34 AM , Rating: 1
You don't need a set-top box with this system... that's the whole idea...

Why release an individual set-top box, when you can incorporate all its functionality into a Blu-Ray player or inside the TV itself?

I do think the system is a *bit* pricey. Sony's last-gen Blu-Ray player is on sale from $209 at right now, so the new model is roughly a $191 markup.

Is this sum worth it to ditch the settop box and get full internet browsing? Certainly not for all customers, but maybe for some.

RE: May be...
By nrizzotte on 10/13/2010 10:01:47 AM , Rating: 2
Can someone help me understand how this works? I understand the web and social networking options of it, but do you still need a cable tv signal?
I also see it has an HDMI in jack on the rear. So you're required to have a set top box to tune the stations, necessary for any premium channels?
If that's true how does that replace a set top box? or are they referring solely to a third part web device?

RE: May be...
By JasonMick on 10/13/2010 10:20:44 AM , Rating: 2

Can someone help me understand how this works? I understand the web and social networking options of it, but do you still need a cable tv signal?
I also see it has an HDMI in jack on the rear. So you're required to have a set top box to tune the stations, necessary for any premium channels?
If that's true how does that replace a set top box? or are they referring solely to a third part web device?

You need cable of some sort. So either video from a cable-connected settop box (like Uverse's) or direct cable like Comcast typically does with their low end packages.

So perhaps it would be more proper to say that Google is trying to do away with *certain kinds* of third-party set-top boxes, e.g. non-cable ones like Apple's.

RE: May be...
By tophat on 10/15/2010 7:23:41 PM , Rating: 2
The GoogleTv is an interface that allows for widgets to be placed onto the HDTV. Those widgets will then be able to access internet content (much like your smartphones). Content such as VOD, commerce sites such as eBay, and social networking sites such as Facebook. What this requires is an internet connection. With Google TV and being internet enabled (HDMI 1.4 now allows for internet connectivity through the same HDMI cable), the HDTV can now do away with the DVR as well as the HTPC if the HDTV has a storage device connected to it or has one internally (or an ability to connect to a NAS). This is a real game changer in the sense that the HDTV will no longer be a merely a means to display data but access data. Being able to connect to the internet opens up a whole new dimension of features and accessibility.

RE: May be...
By theapparition on 10/13/2010 1:38:56 PM , Rating: 2
I do think the system is a *bit* pricey. Sony's last-gen Blu-Ray player is on sale from $209 at right now, so the new model is roughly a $191 markup.

When was comparing retail MSRP vs. newegg ever a fair comparison?

When eventually offered on Newegg, I bet you soon see prices settle in the low $300 range, which is quite acceptable for the extra functionality.

RE: May be...
By Alexvrb on 10/13/2010 6:20:43 PM , Rating: 2
What about FiOS TV users? What if I have an existing set top box like a slingbox or whatever - I'm not going to pay for extra hardware built into the TV I don't want.

Not to mention it makes the whole thing less flexible. If the built-in hardware becomes inadequate for "the next new thing" then you either have to get a new *gasp* set top box or else replace the whole TV.

I'd rather they worked with the industry to come up with a new standard for housing a removable internal STB that has a direct (internal) connection to the TV. Slide your Verizon, Slingbox, WD Live, Google, Apple, whatever Box into the side of your TV. Bam, it's connected. Need a new STB? Slide the old one out, new one in, bam you're done.

But google has never been big on standards, unless it suits them. In this case, they won't conquer the TV OS market by opening the doors to competition.

RE: May be...
By Alexvrb on 10/13/2010 6:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
... and no, cablecard is not good enough. I've looked into it, and it doesn't allow for very much additional functionality in many cases. What I am proposing would be similar to Google TV, only you could use a Box from any vendor with any OS and it would add new interfaces/functionality depending on the Box. The Box could even hijack the infrared reciever so you could use the controller for said Box and manipulate all the TV functions as well as the new functions.

RE: May be...
By Alexstarfire on 10/14/2010 1:20:58 AM , Rating: 2
I'd just consider this another option rather than thinking all TVs will go this route. It'd be great for them since you'd upgrade TVs more often, but people don't want that.

RE: May be...
By omnicronx on 10/13/2010 12:29:50 PM , Rating: 2
It is perfectly reasonable, you just have to dig a little deeper.

Please.. PLEASE stop looking at AppleTV's $99 price tag thinking it is some sort of deal.

Apple is a content provider, Google partners selling these devices are not. Apple can recoup any losses on the hardware with the content that you are most likely going to order in their locked in system. It does not play a vast array of file formats, and you are basically limited to iTunes for your content.(basically for video you are also limited to x264 content which means you will have to convert other sources to an acceptable format in order to play it)

GoogleTV's strategy is completely different, these hardware manufacturers are making nothing from content, they are making money from selling the devices alone.

That all being said, the GoogleTV is heads and heals more open than AppleTV will be. You will be able to run android apps, source content from anywhere, and will have support for many more file formats. It also seems like you will have access to more content in the first place on release (such as Hulu) while Apple TV is basically just iTunes and Netflix.

Both strategies are unique and have their pros and cons.. but its not as though one is truly cheaper than the other. It seems to me that will GoogleTV you are merely paying upfront, while you will pay later with AppleTV. (and in the long run, you could easily end up paying more for AppleTV)

Nobody can really say which one is better than the other, as both are in their infancy.. Time will tell I guess..

By Spivonious on 10/13/2010 10:19:56 AM , Rating: 1
"40-inch ($1,000)"

Wow, I can get a 50" plasma (and a much better picture than LCDs of that price range) for less than that.

RE: Price!
By Akrovah on 10/13/2010 1:41:34 PM , Rating: 3
True, but you will also not get the same level of functionality. You may not use that functionality and so the cost would be unjustifiable to you, but some people may find this to be quite useful.

May wife actually asked me if something like this existed last week. A TV that can also view online stuff like netflix and youtube etc. without needing a separate box. That way she could take it and move it to another room easily and still be able to make use of it. (obviously this woudl be a smaller model).

RE: Price!
By Spivonious on 10/13/2010 1:58:32 PM , Rating: 2
Many TVs have this stuff built-in now. It's just not branded by Google. For example, Panasonic has "VieraCast".

RE: Price!
By jkrafcik on 10/13/2010 7:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
I have a Panasonic with VieraCast. It sucks. Applications take forever to navigate to and load. UI is awful and slow. The only thing I use it for is Pandora. Otherwise I just use my Xbox 360 or PC.

There are tons of things you can't do with VieraCast that you can with TV. Run any app you want via Android Market. Use the internet. Search for content on your TV. At the end of the day, I'm guessing all TV manufacturers will either adopt Google's software layer or a future competing product from Apple or Microsoft. The TV manufacturer's software doesn't keep up with the work that the software houses will do in this space.

RE: Price!
By DNAgent on 10/14/2010 12:50:55 PM , Rating: 2
Our LG has a similar functionality called Netcast, which enables:
Vudu HD movie rentals
Yahoo! apps
Google Picasa webalbum browsing

It's fantastic, with the exception of the Yahoo! apps which are all slow and lame.

By L1011 on 10/13/2010 9:47:28 AM , Rating: 5
And in return for all these cool features, how much "snooping" is Google performing on me and my TV habits?

/end cynic.exe

RE: Privacy
By Mojo the Monkey on 10/13/2010 1:44:39 PM , Rating: 3
A very good point. People often forget that Google is a advertising/marketing company at its core. You better believe some semi-innocuous-sounding language is going to be slipped into their user agreement allowing them to "anonymously" track your habits.

No, you're not known to Google as "John Smith." You're known as #75628 living at 213 maple lane born in 1982 with a X, Y, and Z surfing habits making $140,000 per year.

But thank you for not recording the name.

Dumb TV
By sfobear on 10/13/2010 9:38:44 AM , Rating: 3
Great, now that we have smart TV's, what can we do about "Dumb Television", "Dumb Networks" and "Dumb Programming"??

RE: Dumb TV
By FITCamaro on 10/13/2010 10:30:09 AM , Rating: 4
Unfortunately this does nothing to get rid of "dumb programming" like Jersey Shore, American Idol, 16 and Pregnant, etc.

Weird decision from Sony...
By dijuremo on 10/13/2010 10:09:52 AM , Rating: 2
Why would they not integrate a PS3 into their TVs and then enable all of those missing applications?

It would be an all in one TV/Gaming/Blu-ray Player/(all PS3 can do) and if they embraced some of the widely used codecs such as Matroska, it would be a killer....

I know... dreaming....

RE: Weird decision from Sony...
By Schrag4 on 10/13/2010 1:42:36 PM , Rating: 2
I can think of a few good reasons. You may want to upgrade to a bigger/better TV without buying another PS3. Or little Johnny might want to bring the PS3 with him when you go visit family in another state for an entire week. And if the PS3 goes out you don't want to send in your TV for a few weeks. Same if the TV goes out, you may want to just move the PS3 to another TV until your better one is fixed/replaced.

I'm lost and need help
By SunAngel on 10/13/2010 10:50:31 AM , Rating: 2
When I think of an STB I think of a Moto or SA cable box. Is that the purpose of GoogleTV? To replace the cable box. Otherwise, I am having a hard time understanding where this all fits into the dumb-tv interface scenario. Is it suppose to be a DLNA front-end like kind of thing or what? Or more like a n app holder for the like of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the others?

RE: I'm lost and need help
By omnicronx on 10/13/2010 12:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
Well the idea is to replace setup boxes I would imagine, but thats not how it will work to begin with. (That would be Google/Apple's best case scenario)

If you still want access to your local cable/sat provider, you will need a setup box and they will work independently. (i.e its not like MCE)

I think the idea is to do away with TV as we know it today all together as there is nothing tying Google/Apple TV to having a cable/sat service.

And no, its purpose is not to act as a DLNA front end (although it would make sense to support it).

Apple TV in particular seems to be a complete TV replacement, while it seems to me that Google TV will probably complement it, more than replace it.(at least in the beginning until some major content providers start to support it)

By troysavary on 10/13/2010 2:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
I can either buy a new TV for $1000 or spend $400 on the Blu-ray box just to be able to watch streaming internet video on my TV, or I could buy a $15 HDMI cable to plug my existing TV into my PC and do the same plus a whole lot more.

RE: So....
By amanojaku on 10/13/2010 3:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
You're assuming everyone's PC is next to the TV, or that people don't mind running a cable across the room/house.

FYI, my PC is next to my TV for that reason. And gaming in 1080p is awesome.

that remote
By hexxthalion on 10/14/2010 7:15:44 AM , Rating: 2
is a joke, right? :D

RE: that remote
By robinthakur on 10/15/2010 11:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
I know right? It reminds me of one of those chunky casio calculators from the 80's...and was the first thing I saw in the article. There's no way such an ugly device would be tolerated in my house in the living room :)

I give it a year
By PrezWeezy on 10/13/2010 7:29:29 PM , Rating: 1
I don't honestly see how this is terribly useful. Certainly not anymore so than buying a $300 HTPC which can do everything this can do sans the apps. I'm at a loss to see where this might actually be useful...

RE: I give it a year
By Renski on 10/14/2010 5:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
Because Android feels so much better than Winblows... Take a look at this.

By amanojaku on 10/13/2010 9:33:43 AM , Rating: 2
Any word on whether this is firmware or software? I'm not looking forward to another device to manage, patch or secure.

I do like the initiative
By vectorm12 on 10/13/2010 10:11:40 AM , Rating: 2
But to be honest even if the webbrowser performs as well as Chrome on my desktop I can't see myself doing my reading/browsing etc on this.

Sure I might have a look at youtube or some other videostreaming site but I wouldn't be reading Anandtech on it.

I sure wouldn't want to try to be productive in any way on a setup like this, sure it may be targeted primarily towards casual users but the notion that it would leave my desktop/laptop unused is a joke.

Android on PS3
By Renski on 10/14/2010 5:44:25 PM , Rating: 2
Google TV runs off of Android. Android on the PS3 w/ Google Tv. Now that's a thought...

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