May 21 AT 1:09 PM Sean Riley 11 Comments

Google TV – An Overview

Yesterday brought us not only the official announcement of Froyo, but also that of Google TV. To quote from Google directly “Google TV is a new experience for television that combines the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the Internet.”

Release date and partners
Lets start with the most important question — when can you have it. The answer is sometime this fall; Google has stated that it will be available initially on a companion box from Logitech and select Blu-ray players and TVs from Sony. Best Buy is going to be carrying this hardware nationwide, so you shouldn’t have a hard time tracking down something running Google TV. Just in case you would like to be the first on your block to bring Google TV home you can sign up here for updates.

Intel and Dish Network are also early partners in the project with Intel bringing their processor to power things along and Dish Network promising a high level of integration through their existing HD DVR boxes this fall (although you still need a Google TV device connected via HDMI). Hardware specs beyond the Intel CE4100 Atom processor that have been confirmed so far include WiFi, HDMI, USB, LAN, S/PDIF and IR blasters.

OS and apps
Android 2.1 is behind the wheel of Google TV with a couple new tricks up its sleeve including the full Chrome Browser and Flash 10.1 support. Not surprisingly as it is Google the basic interface is heavily search oriented, but running on an Android and Chrome base opens Google TV up to app development and Google will be releasing the Google TV SDK and web APIs “soon after launch.” Apps that are scheduled to be available out of the box are Google Listen, Netflix, and Amazon Video on Demand.

Whatever content you receive through your provider will be available to you through Google TV, but that is then augmented by all of the web content out there. YouTube demoed a “leanback” version that offers what is intended to be a more living room friendly experience. As mentioned above Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand will be on board. The full Chrome browser with Flash 10.1 of course opens you up to the content library of the entire Internet.

The big question mark that everyone is buzzing about is whether Hulu will block access to Google TV which considering their past history seems entirely possible and would of course take a large swath of desirable video with it. On the other hand if Hulu is enabled through either an app or the browser and their subscription service hits with a reasonable backlog of episodes we could finally be looking at a replacement for a cable or satellite subscription.

At least in the case of the Logitech companion box you can use your Android phone (or iPhone which they inexplicably use in the demo video from Engadget embedded below) to control the entire experience which as they say basically makes your phone replace a $400 standalone Logitech Harmony remote. That is definitely a compelling feature as I have always been too cheap to shell out a few hundred bucks for a remote. Logitech also indicated that a keyboard would be available with their companion box, but no indication yet from the others on input solutions.

While we are on the subject of cost unfortunately everyone seemed to be silent on the matter. No word from any of the partners as to what a “with Google TV” companion box, Blu-ray player or TV will set you back.


As Google acknowledged early in their intro for Google TV, many have tried to succeed in this space including major players like Microsoft and Apple, and to varying degrees all have failed. Google believes that they have managed a level of integration that critically does not pull users out of their existing comfortable TV experience, but instead simply enhances it.

That certainly sounds compelling and as someone who was eagerly awaiting the Boxee Box this summer I think they have at least sold me on holding off until the fall to see whether Google TV manages to deliver on this promise.

Based on what you have seen or heard so far does Google TV sound like the solution that is finally going to bridge the gap between TV and the Internet for you?

If you want to OD on all things Google TV you can find Google’s animated intro for Google TV, the keynote introduction, and finally a demonstration of the Logitech companion box all below.

Via: Engadget

Source: Official Google Blog

Sean has been with Android and Me for over 8 years and covering mobile for the last 9. He occasionally muses about gadgets and tech outside of the Android universe at Techgasms.

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  • http://Website Frederik Rooms

    I’m not interested sorry. And the biggest reason is the fact that Google isn’t very keen on Europe! (Google Voice,..) I don’t see any changes in our TV-life unless they have the same focus on Europa as they have on America.
    Boxee, Netflix is all based in America so there is no competition here. Maybee that will be the backdoor…

    It’s good to have Google TV but I think it will take years to be part of our TV-life. Until Sony is really going for Google TV!

  • Sean Riley

    They have said they are planning to go international with Google TV in 2011, but I don’t believe there is any specific information regarding partnerships yet.

  • http://Website zene

    Hey google. Put a camera on it and we could even use skype on it. Winnnnn.


    • Sean Riley

      Logitech has one in the works; though it will be a peripheral. I’m sure that will be a common offering if Google TV manages to get decent adoption.

      Between forward facing cameras on my phone and a camera on my TV I may start getting really paranoid though.

  • dave

    First off I am as big an Android fanboy as the next guy, but did anyone see the Google TV keynote live? What a disaster. That would never happen at a**le. Just sayin. Google has a lot of work to do when announcing new products. Come on this is supposed to be revolutionary and you can’t get the thing to work live? Embarrassing.

    My initial thought is that Google TV seems ok. Just ok. I am not going to be running out and waiting in line for another set top box that will “make life easier.” To me, I like the simplicity of my TV. I sit there, I watch my shows or my movies and I relax. If I want to turn the Xbox on I switch the input with a single remote. I don’t want a keyboard, or search boxes, web pages or apps on my TV. I don’t even want to use an app on my phone wasting battery as I surf my tv with the same stuff I can do on my phone. I just want to sit and watch something. Just doesn’t do it for me.

    I watched the video above and still wasn’t impressed. Time will tell if this thing sells or not. I won’t be buying one.

    • http://Website Matt

      I Think Google has the vision to make it happen since, unlike Apple TV, they aren’t in it to sell a ton of units or sell content. They make money just by users using the hardware and content of as many partners they can line up. I call it the “Everyone Wins” model. I think they need to convince Microsoft that GTV combined with a computer’s WMC capabilities would be amazing. Combining my WMC DVR, Dloaded content, and ripped movies with the amazing integrated interface would be awesome!

      Possibilities: In Depth sports info on screen (augmented reality TV apps). See a batter’s avg vs LHP over the batters head. After a football play, instantly show the Fantasy Football points. Allow for a WIKI style movie experience, add comments “That joke is a reference to a 1962 Hitchcock film”. Or an instant connection to Google maps to show where different movie scenes were shot. When digital TV was first talked about, these were some of the possibilities that were talked about, they have thus far gone unrealized. The great thing about Google is that they allow Developers to create and lead the platform instead of just one guy that never changes his shirt.

  • Mr.Droid

    It’s the TV we all been dreaming of, but I didn’t think Google would be the one to invent it. I always thought Apple would when they made Apple TV, but I was crushed when I found out it was only for the iPod. Thank you Google.

  • Euforeik

    I want that stuffed animal next to the TV. haha

  • SGB101

    i think its looks very promising, and im glad its comming out in US first as by the time it gets here (UK) the bugs sould be ironed out.

    sorry my american friends :)

  • http://Website Sarah

    As a DISH employee I have the GOOGLE TV and it didn’t cost much at all.
    It was $179.00 with DISH and a $4.00 a month integration fee. I love what I can do with it,
    with my daughter starting to learn more and being able to identify everything it’s good use for her. I get to do what I like as well, check emails, browse and just have fun from my couch.

  • orgone

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.