Technology and Reviews

November 13th 2010

Google TV - It's Amazing

The Internet Has Taken Over The Living Room - Bigger is Better!

So you've got a group of friends over to watch the big game. Someone asks if you've seen the new Direct TV commercial - you know the "Opulence, I has it" commercial. So now you go through the task of getting a laptop to view the commercial - everyone crowds around the tiny 17 inch screen and views a small version of the commercial. Why go through all that hastle? Why make everyone stand up and rearrange themself around a small screen - don't you want your guests to be comfortable? Why not show that video on your TV - the ultimate HD screen that's viewable by all in the room. That time has come - Google TV.

View Websites, Stream Videos, Watch Movies And More - All On Your TV

Don't the PixelProgression and Revolution Unlimited websites look good on my 55 inch Samsung LED TV? It's really something that you have to see for yourself. The difference between a 17 inch laptop monitor and a 55 inch TV makes websites look so great. They work great - they load fine and it also displays flash right out of the box(take that Steve Jobs). It even allows for certain plugins to load. If you read my LogMeIn Article and utilize their service - you can login to your computers using Google TV! It's practically identical to using the internet on any computer.

Here Is How It Works

The Logitech Revue box, available for puchase at multiple electronic stores including Best Buy, comes in a box (pictured above) containing 2 devices, a small electronic box to plugin the system and a keyboard/trackpad combo (pictured to the right).

I've taken a picture of the keyboard with the standard Cablevision remote so that you could have a reference of how big it is. It is about the size of a regular keyboard. It's thin and sleek design make it easy to handle and pass between users. The trackpad is very responsive and will feel very similar to using a trackpad on a laptop. The button underneath to click is raised and in a nice position - it is mindful to note that tap-to-click is off by default - however you can enable it with a key combination. Hooking it up is easy. It works off of a HDMI connection, and connects between the cable box and the TV. You run the HDMI from your cable box into the Google TV Input and run another HDMI cable from the Google TV Output to the TV. By doing this, Google can easily overlay on top of your TV - so when you go to fire off a search, you can still see your favorite TV show in full screen.

It's a universal controller!

When you first turn on the Google TV system, it requests a bunch of information from you pertaining to the TV, Set Top Box(Cable Box), and Audio Device. Once you enter in your model numbers of all these devices, the system will be able to control them all from the Google TV keyboard. You will be able to turn on and off, change inputs, change channels, change the volume - practically anything you can do with the regular remotes - all with Google TV.

It also has the ability to interact with your cable provider. You tell Google TV who your cable provider is, and it allows for searching of the guide. So you get home from work, crack open a beer, and search for "Sports" on Google TV. Not only will it show you any YouTube or recent website articles about sports, it also returns any sports game currently playing or about to start. If you select a certain show from the results list, your cable box automatically changes to that channel!

This is a First-Generation Product, Some Improvements Still Need to be Made

A product like this one has been a long time coming, and it's exciting to see their first attempt at the device that operates in this manner. It's practicality is amazing, and you will find yourself using it more than you think. Some limitations still remain and need to be fixed in order for Google TV to be a huge success. Some users have complained of the system crashing and needing to be restarted, although I have never had this issue myself. When the system restarts - approximately 3-4 minutes - you cannot watch TV - you have to wait for the Google TV box to boot up.

The biggest issue that Google TV is currently having is a PR issue. A lot of major providers, including NBC, CBS, Fox and Hulu, have blocked streaming of their online content to Google TV's. There will also be questions provided by Cable Providers like Cablevision and Direct TV. There has been a big commotion lately about users cancelling their cable packages and simply watching streaming content online as well as using services such as Hulu and Netflix. These providers and channels obviously do not want to lose their customers - but Google TV's question to providers will simply be this - How can they block content that is free to stream on a computer but block it on Google TV?

The Price is Right

Essentially Google TV could replace a netbook or a laptop that you'd have in the living room just to access the internet. Keeping this in mind, the one-time retail cost of $299 seems very affordable. That's right, I said it - one-time cost. There is no monthly subscription service for the Google TV by itself. It easily hooks up with Amazon, however, and you can rent and purchase movies for streaming straight to your Google TV. These costs are just about the only ones you'll have associated with your Google TV - unless future apps that will be developed will need to be bought from a store.

My Final Word

Google TV is a great product that you will definitely use. It's first-generation attempt has succeeded in so many ways, and still leaves room for plenty of improvement. The keyboard will seem very natural to use considering that everyday life involves a computer keyboard at one point or another - so why not bring it into the living room. You'll love it. The look on my friends faces when I show them it is priceless.