Still more TV than Internet
We found that the first-generation of Google TV devices from Sony were still more TV- than Internet- or PC-centric. Listening to the scenarios described during Sony’s presentation, it’s easy to envision viewing a movie on TV while searching the Web for articles about the film and the actors. (In fact, that’s exactly one of the things we did a few minutes later, during the hands-on session.)
It wouldn’t be tough to add some other functions to the mix, like reading your e-mail or sending out a few Tweets to friends during the commercial breaks in Sunday football, for example.
Given the space constraints of the handheld, the onboard alphanumeric QWERTY keyboard is too small and cramped to let you crank out long word processing docs, or to accomplish much in terms of number crunching on a spreadsheet, for instance.
On the other hand, the lightweight, RF-enabled remote contains a lot functionality that’s quite useful for navigating TV channels and the Web (and it’s certainly convenient to be able to both from the same handheld unit).
Roberts showed how you can use the same remote to operate Sony’s new Blu-ray player, too.
Along with the QWERTY keyboard, Sony’s remote features up/down and right-left arrow keys, a row of function keys for
DVD playback (such as pause and play), special keys for bookmarking Web pages and switching between modes, and a mini-trackball for mouse cursor functions. On the back of the unit, you’ll find buttons for zooming and for scrolling down the screen. The RF-enabled remote is lightweight, and it operates on two AA batteries.
More apps and other functionality down the road
Mike Abrery, senior VP of Sony’s Home Division, told the crew of reporters at the event that Sony’s PS3 game machine acted as the inspiration for some of the design elements in Sony’s new Internet TV family. At least in part, Abrery was referring to the graphical user interface (GUI).
Obviously, Sony’s PS3 games aren’t available for the Internet TVs (barring, of course, hooking up your own system), but Android games should be coming along with the future downloadability of apps from the Android Market.
Meanwhile, the new Internet TVs and Blu-ray player will come with some apps already on board, including Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, CNBC, NBA and Sony’s Qriocity video on demand (VoD) service.
The GUIs are actually slightly different for the Blu-ray player and the TVs, although we found both to be quite intuitive. In both cases, there are two separate search functions available from Sony’s menus: TV Search and Internet Search. If you toggle into Internet mode, you can also access Google or any other search engine (as well as any Web site).
Peter Sherman, Google’s product marketing manager for Google TV, said that Google and Sony haven’t yet decided where the Android Market will show up on the GUIs.
Sony ran demos at the event using DISH Network’s satellite services, but we were told that Internet TV will also support various cable TV networks.
For the most part, the gear ran really smoothly at the launch, although we did experience delays of several seconds in switching in and out of the Dual View split-screen mode.
Sony’s new Internet TV products are taking a major leap forward over previous industry efforts, which have tended to be very restrictive in Web site access. The addition of Google apps early next year should be a huge plus. Over time, Google-driven Internet TV is sure to gain even more capabilities. Will 3DTV ever be one of them?
“That’s a possibility. I don’t see why 3D TV couldn’t happen with Internet TV. But in these particular products, we’re just focused right now on combining TV with the Internet,” said Matt Seymour, a senior product manager at Sony.
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