Sony launches Google TV in Australia
Google TV is coming to Australia next week.
Google‘s efforts to mind-meld televisions with Android got off to a shaky start, but Sony has stuck with it. Next week it intends to start selling the next generation of Google TV media players in Australia, based on Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”. For now you’ll only be able to get an “Internet Player with Google TV” box bundled with Sony’s new high-end HX750 and HX850 Bravia TVs, but eventually you’ll be able to buy them separately.
Sony’s Bravia gear already offers access to an impressive range of online content including movie rentals, Catch Up TV and subscription music. Google TV isn’t designed to replace these features, but rather complement them, says Paul Colley — Sony Australia’s Group Manager of Network Services and Technology.
“The built-in Smart TV features in Sony televisions are all about the lean-back entertainment experience — select a channel or movie and then sit back to watch it. Google TV is about lean-forward interaction with the web,” Colley says.
“For example you’ve got the benefit of the full Chrome web browser with Flash support. It’s the first good web experience on the TV.”
Previous Android set-top boxes such as the Kogan Agora Internet TV Portal and Nixeus Fusion XS were clunky and cumbersome devices. One of Sony’s advantages is the Google TV interface, which is optimised for the big screen. Another is the inclusion of a full QWERTY keyboard built into the back of the remote control, similar to the Boxee Box remote. Sony has also added a multi-touch trackpad, which lets users pinch to zoom on webpages, scroll down pages and interact with other Android apps.
Sony’s Google TV box has access to the Google Play app store, with some Android apps already optimised for Google TV. The remote control also includes gyro sensors, which app developers will be able to take advantage of.
While it’s a standalone set-top box, the Google TV features an HDMI passthrough, letting Personal Video Recorders or other devices connect to your television via the set-top box. This allows the Google TV to overlay menus on top of what you’re watching, rather than requiring users to switch inputs on their television. The Sony remote can also act as a basic universal remote for controlling other lounge room devices.
“It does picture in picture really well,” Colley says. “Come the Olympics you might want to watch the marathon while at the same time browsing the Olympics website for more details about the athletes or other information. The Google TV makes it really easy to multi-task.”
There’s no standalone Australian pricing on the Google TV as yet, but Sony lists its value as $349 when included in the bundle with new Bravia TVs.