Google recently introduced its long-awaited, long speculated about TV. Unlike the little devices like the Orb, Roku, or AppleTV, GoogleTV returns to the set-top box model and it’s based on Chrome as an interface.
The company will be working with Turner Broadcasting, which is opening up its web sites to Google TV and the companies say TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim (Adult Swim? Truly, we have to watch TV more often.) will be available through Google TV.
NBC has signed on with CNBC Real-Time and HBO Go will be available to subscribers. NBA is introducing NBA Game Time to let people see highlights and scores. In addition, Amazon Video On Demand with 75,000 titles and Netflix with last count 16,000 (in 2009) are available through the Google TV box.
From the face of it, Google TV hits some important high notes. It's familiar. The introductory site promises to show us the plain and simple Google search bar and says "Type in what you want to watch, and we'll find it for you."
Now that's cool. Google also promises to be able to switch between TV and the web without changing inputs. Rather, it makes the web a channel. Google TV also does Flash, supporting Flash Player 10.1.
As you might expect, it supports Android phones as remote controls but it will also support the iPhone as well. Yes, everyone on the couch has a remote control. Democracy comes home, where it belongs.
Other features include the ability to send content from the phone to the Google TV with the "Fling" feature.
Intel is providing Atom based processors for the Google TV, while Sony and Logitech are the first companies to announce products. Sony will build a Blu-ray player with built-in Google TV as well as a range of all-in-one TVs with Google TV enabled on them.
Also, Logitech has announced a new box, called the Revue. It can be used with existing setups and will include Logitech’s Harmony remote control. The $99 Logitech Keyboard Controller will be available as an add-on for other Google TV products as well. The Logitech system will also offer a keyboard and take advantage of Google TV’s remote control access for Android and iOS products.
The Logitech Harmony for Android app and for iPhone will be free. Logitech and Dish also announced that the Logitech Revue with Google TV and accessories will also be offered to existing Dish Network customers through Logitech and the Dish Network.
But that’s not all. Logitech also announced the TV CAM with Vid HD software for video calling via the Revue box using USB. The TV CAM includes two digital, directional microphones to help reduce noise and Logitech’s RightLight 2 technology comes into play to adjust images in dim lighting situations. The Logitech TV Cam and Vid HD software enable video calls of up to 720p.
The new products from Logitech are available for pre-order from Logitech, Amazon, and BestBuy. The Revue with Google TV carries a suggested retail price of $299.99 and the Logitech Mini Controller is $129.99. The TV CAM is $149.99. There is no official price for the Sony products but Sony Insider says it has an inside track to company leaks.
The four Sony Google TV models will come in 24-inch, 32-inch, 40-inch and 46-inch screen sizes and the site says the 32-inch will be priced at $1299.99, the 40-inch at $1499.99, and the 46-inch $1899.99. Cue the howls of outrage here.
What do we think
The prices are relatively high, but the Google TV system is really a mini-computer. With luck, it will fit into home systems comfortably and make people’s lives easier. No one says, you have to buy the box, and the keyboard, and the TV CAM but we’re betting a lot of people do.