Go TV Google-eyed
The Google TV device can transform any screen in your home, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
and impresses immediately.
One side features a touchpad that lets users guide a mouse icon around the screen — a great improvement over arrows. The other side features a five-row QWERTY keyboard that makes text entry easier than most controls.
These thoughtful additions are surrounded by a smattering of typical buttons (power, TV, guide) and some that will be familiar to Android smartphone users (home, back, settings). That is because the Internet Player uses Android Honeycomb software and, as such, delivers Google’s Play Store apps on the big screen.
Some apps are better than others, however, and only a short list has been optimised for the biggest screen in the house. To Sony’s credit, that includes its Video and Music Unlimited services.
The former really comes into its own with Google TV because it lets users rent and stream new-release movies from $5.99. Users can also watch trailers before investing.
Other apps including Crackle, YouTube and even Google’s own TV and movie app will deliver content to the screen, though Australia’s offering is not as rich as that seen in the US. Hopefully there is more on the way.
This Google TV also arrives with a full Chrome web browser for giant web surfing. Users can scroll around the page by dragging two fingers down that touchpad. Alternatively, you can hook up a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard to this device.
Photos can also be shown from online sources, apps such as Twitter are big-screenready, and, if your TV comes with a built-in camera, Skype calls can be made through this box.
Google TV connects to the screen with an HDMI cord but advanced users can also hook it up to a digital video recorder or even a pay-TV box.
Rerouting our Foxtel iQ2 through this device seemed unorthodox, but it worked without much effort. The iQ2 could still be controlled with its original remote, yet the Google TV remote could deliver its picture-in-picture feature where Foxtel’s output shrunk into a corner while web content screened large.
Ultimately, Sony’s Google TV device is a worthy upgrade for ‘‘ dumb’’ TVs and a great way to see web content magnified.
Smart TV owners, however, may find it harder to justify its price tag.