The first iteration of Google TV was panned by reviewers and provied to be disastrous for hardware developers Sony and Logitech. Will a new, improved Google TV fare better?
First demonstrations of the finished 2.0 tech will be staged at the Google I/O developer conference opening tomorrow in San Francisco. But jumping the gun, Sony and Vizio have already announced new Google TV set-top boxes (and in Sony's case, also a Blu-ray player) designed to turn existing televisions into Smart TVs. All to browse websites (via Google Chrome), search for streaming movies, locate favorite TV shows and (in Vizio's case) play games, too.
"The primary change" (from generation one) "is how the viewer interacts with the Google TV platform," said a Sony spokesman. Remote controls for the new Google TV products signal the circuitry via Bluetooth radio signals rather than infrared light, so you don't have to be pointing the remote at the screen while entering commands. The front side of the remotes (Sony's is slimmer/sexier looking) feature a touch pad for point and click, scroll and drag and even pinch-and-pull operations. The backside has a full QWERTY keyboard to simplify searches for sites and entertainment.
The gazillion dollar question remains which content providers will share their data bases and streaming shows with Google TV. That was the sticky wicket the first time the product came around, when the likes of Hulu and Viacom said "No go, amigos,"
The new version can handle both Adobe Flash Player and HTML streaming video. Sony is being shy about alligned services while Vizio says its Co-Star Stream Player will run Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, M-Go, YouTube and iHeart Radio.
Co-Star also claims distinction as the "first stream player to offer video games on demand through the OnLive Game service." And boasts inputs for cable or satellite TV signals, so the viewer can enjoy a split-screen experience mashing live/recorded TV and web-based content.
Sony's new NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV is ready for pre-orders (and promised July 22 delivery) at $199 at Sony.com, while the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray player with Google TV ($299) will arrive for the holiday season. Vizio's Co-Star will be available for pre-orders in July (and delivery, um, whenever) at vizio.com, priced at $99.99 with introductory free shipping.