Stopped by the Sony store after work to look at some TVs. A guy at work put a bug in my ear about cheap, smallish TVs. Got me thinking that an actual TV would be kind of nice for hockey season… Anyway, the first thing I noticed when waling in was a 24″ TV with Google TV on it. Got a chance to play with it a bit.
Look ma, it’s the internet! ON THE TV!!!!! Did I ever tell you I owned a WebTV? Back in the days when a Windows 98 box using a 386 processor was cutting edge tech, I had a WebTV. It did what I wanted, which was mostly getting online and email. I nearly went blind trying to read all that mostly text based internet on my TV, but I got my content. Of course a year later I dropped nearly 2 grand for the 386 based computer. The WebTV was quickly forgotten, until today.
The salesman brought up the Chrome browser on the fancy TV and it was…. the internet. It was WebTV 2.0. It was a lot sharper cause the TVs nowadays are that much better, but still, it wasn’t anything that I don’t have right now. The guy was trying to make a big deal about seeing the internet and the TV at the same time. I didn’t mention that I could do that now, it’s called a laptop with the TV on. And that highlights the other problem with Google TV, at lest the Sony version, it is beyond clunky. The interface is awful. Seriously, have you seen the controller? It’s a mass of tiny buttons, a total disaster. A laptop is sooooo much better, an iPad takes it to the next level. Once airplay allows you to put your iPad content directly on the TV, there really won’t be any reason to put up with the awful controller of the Sony.
The one thing that might help Sony’s Google TV is the Android store. The things I’ve liked about Boxee, and I think Roku does this as well, is the apps. If you’re looking for content on your TV that isn’t TV, the apps make it easy to find stuff. There are all sorts of video podcasts, webcasts, private streaming channels, web based sports, movies, etc The apps I’ve seen are a lot like on demand channels with their own content ranges. I didn’t see anything like that on the Google TV. You could do a search for content and it looks like it would grab stuff from both online and on demand. When they integrate the Android market on there, maybe there will be some interesting stuff to see.
After playing around a bit, I understand Apple’s approach with the Apple TV a little more. The Apple TV is much simpler, and keeps the TV the TV and doesn’t involve the internet much. I think that’s going to have much more appeal than Google’s approach. Personally, if I were to get something like this, I would drift towards a Roku or Boxee box. They seem to have a good balance between internet-ness and good old TV entertainment. I’ll be really surprised if Google achieves any widespread penetration in its current shape.