Jul 29 AT 1:28 PM Dustin Earley 25 Comments

Since its inception in late spring 2010, Google TV has been on a roller coaster of success and failure. On one hand, Google TV continues to provide an excellent entertainment experience at a rather reasonable cost. On the other, the platform still hasn’t taken off like Google would have liked. And that’s okay. The connected living room experience is still in its infancy, and everyone in the game has a long way to go. But before we get there, let’s take a look at the evolution of Google TV and the connected living room experience.

The Internet? On your TV?

When Google I/O rolled around in the first half of 2010, the Internet was humming with excitement over Google’s first attempt at bringing the Internet to your living room. No one knew exactly what the experience would include, but if it somehow fit into the Google ecosystem, there’s no way it could be all bad. As it turns out, that excitement wasn’t wasted. Sure, the live demo at I/O didn’t exactly work as planned and content partners were a big mystery, but Google TV showed promise.

As the summer went on, Google and partners Logitech and Sony were hard at work making sure you got that “I’ve gotta get one of these” feeling by ramping up advertisements and dropping teasers as often as they could. As gorgeous as the teasers looked, the pre-release advertising didn’t exactly sit well with consumers. Instead of gracefully showing off what something like the Logitech Revue could do, videos were all over online showing off just how creepy an enlarged eyeball and a lonely TV could be.

By the fall, it didn’t matter what kind of botched advertising campaigns made their way online. The excitement was back, and both Logitech and Sony were ready to release their Google TV devices. The first to hit shelves was the Logitech Revue.

Initial reviews on products from both Logitech and Sony were generally pretty positive. Starting at $249 dollars, you could enjoy an integrated cable TV experience with Netflix, Chrome and YouTube to boot. Plenty of people were glad to jump on board as soon as the floodgates were open:

I paid $249 for the Revue when it came out and I still use it every day.Taylor WimberlyNetShelter

Others, like TechnoBuffalo’s Noah Kravitz, couldn’t agree less:

I had a GTV box - the Sony. I took it back. Why? Because it sucked. It was almost entirely worthless, and incredibly over-engineered and overcomplicated.Noah KravitzTechnoBuffalo

Unfortunately, Noah wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Some really enjoyed being able to use a full on keyboard to navigate the web through their TV. But it just wasn’t for everyone.

As time went on, the story of Google TV became less and less about engineering and more and more about content.

Content is king

After the Google TV had been out for awhile, the general consensus seemed to be, “What next?” YouTube and web browsing on Google TV was great, but development appeared to be at a complete standstill:

It's fun at home to watch YouTube videos with friends or showing work at the office but right now the Google TV project feels abandoned or at least heavily neglected. Where are the updates? The OS is buggy (much more on the Sony box for some reason), and without an app market developers aren't interested.Adam JohnsonMonolith NYC

Networks started blocking content, updates were missing in action, and consumers were flat-out bored. Something had to give. The promise that Google TV displayed at I/O 2010 was now gone. Sales went down so far that, at one point, returns were outpacing sales with one of Google’s “key partners.” As a result, the service was rarely talked about–if ever. Things stayed that way until the spring of 2011. At this year’s Google Developer Conference, the Big G made it clear the service wasn’t going anywhere.

During the Google TV portion of the conference, Google displayed an all new Google TV. By integrating Honeycomb (Android 3.0) into the Google TV OS, Google plans to bring notifications, widgets, a new user interface and the Android Market to a TV near you. The update is still at large however, leaving many users feeling left out:

I really had hoped that I would have seen the Google Market app on my Google TV by now. If I could ask Goole two questions, (...) it would be when will the next Google TV release come out and will us early adopters be supported? I'm hoping my Google TV doesn't become my G1.Trey HenefieldIT Security
Google TV is still an innovative and potential filled idea; however, they have a lot of work ahead of them before they live up to the hype.Oluseun OgunleganCommenter from Google+
I want the market on it now, it's such a pain that I paid for it expecting to get it, 8 months later still waiting and I didn't buy it on launch day. Please!Michael KennedyKinsley Food Pride
I'd say it's more Google that killed Google TV. They didn't get the deals in place with content owners either by not offering enough money or not trying.Tim HigginsSmallNetBuilder

Does Google have it takes to get back in the game?

The future of Google TV

If Google can finally get the Honeycomb update out to TV devices and provide developers with the support they so badly need, Google TV still has a fighting chance.

A dedicated group of hackers from GTVhacker have taken it upon themselves to get Honeycomb onto their Revue before the official update hits the air. The exact method for doing so still hasn’t been released, but several details on the the GTV update to Honeycomb have been confirmed. Our own Alberto Vildosola writes:

Looking at the photo from GTVhacker, you can see not a lot has changed since Google first showed Google TV 2.0 to us back in May. That blue bar along the bottom is back once again. I’m guessing this will appear by pressing the “Home” button on your Google TV remote. ... The space above that blue bar will supposedly house widgets, as demonstrated at Google I/O. It’s still unknown whether or not users will have access to various home screens like we have on phones and tablets. While that might seem like an obvious thing to do, I’m not so sure Google will do it for Google TV. But I could be wrong.Alberto VildosolaAndroid and Me

In order to keep things going until the update is officially available, the original Google TV set-top box, the Logitech Revue, has gone down to a mere $99 brand new. At this price point, a large group of consumers should be tempted to give GTV a shot. And let’s not forget, as many downfalls as the service has, there is still a loyal fan base:

I don't always watch tv... But when I do. I always use my Google tv.Ricky BartlemanCommenter on Twitter
I use Gtv everyday (...) I wish it were cheaper when I purchased it back in December, but with the current 99$ price tag I'm thinking about getting another for my bedroom tv!Dave KellerDriven 2 Excellence
I JUST got it, and so far I LOVE it.Brently AdamCommenter on Twitter

If a $99 Revue still isn’t enough to get you on the GTV bandwagon, then maybe that Market-introducing update is. At I/O we were promised a summer launch date, and around September is still looking good. Hopefully Google can live up to it.

How about you? Use Google TV? Love it? Hate it? Let it all out in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you think of Google’s, or anyone else’s for that matter, connected living room experience.

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

    Most Tweeted This Week


    Hooking my Xoom up to my TV via the HDMI cable with a bluetooth mouse and keyboard pretty much gives me the same experience. Until I see something overwhelming , I really cant see myself getting one. Bringing the market in and lowering the price are good starting points but not enough yet in my opinion. Honeycomb specific apps for my Xoom are few and far in between, I can only imagine it will be the same on Gtv if not worse.

    • http://www.nexsoftware.net Justin Shapcott

      I suspect it will definitely be worse.

  • http://trsohmers.com Thomas Sohmers

    As one of the original members of the GTVHacker group, I personally think that both the Sony and Logitech devices where released too soon, and Google should have gotten content deals before release. Google didn’t do that, and within a week of launch Google TV was blocked by all the major content providers, and all of us owners where screwed. I was the first person to figure out how to boot into recovery mode on the Sony Google TV (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L21guovXDsc), but besides that, there has been no progress for the Sony GTV even though the Logitech Revue has been rooted and is now running Honeycomb. I find my Sony box almost unusable because all of the bugs, and I am fearful that Sony will just forget about it users will have to rely on hackers like us to provide updates… the problem is is that the Sony box is locked down more than any device I have ever seen.

    I think with the new $99 price point and the much improved GTV Honeycomb, the Google TV really has a chance to kick Apple’s ass.

  • Jeff

    As soon as IR blasters were involved, the product was as good as dead.

    • skitchbeatz

      while I don’t necessarily agree with that statement it would be nice if there were some kind of standardized protocol that allowed devices to speak to each other. I think Google realized this with the Android @ Home project

  • dalingrin

    If GTV can integrate with DirecTV to the point that I don’t need to use the DirecTV EPG then I’ll buy it. That alone would be worth $250 to me much less $99

    • Manuel Ramirez

      It does integrate with DirecTV. I use it all the time. My only complaint is the media player. Very picky about what it can play back.

  • SliestDragon

    I still like the idea of GoogleTV, but I think I’ll wait till honeycomb, and when they get more deals with content providers…

  • @neidlinger.

    Where is the Revue listed for 99$ at? Everywhere i’m seeing it’s still 249.00.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Logitech said it was going to lower the price in the coming weeks. It should be listed for $99 real soon. I’m sure the guys will let everyone know when it happens.

      • @neidlinger.

        The Sooner the better. I’m getting really antsy to buy a Roku. and for 20 more i’d hold out for this.

  • http://aboyandhistv.blogspot.com Jason

    I won a Sony Google TV back right when they came out and I have loved it. I go to people’s houses now and am sad I just can’t pull up a youtube video to share. I love that I can type the name of the show I want to watch, and it will show me the next time it is on tv and can bring me to that channel. Yes it isn’t perfect, and the volume controls freeze sometimes, but the problem with it is the networks blocking content, not the google tv being bad. Hopefully Google will buy Hulu and fix that.

  • Pete

    So if I got a GTV at $99 now, it will be able to be upgraded to Honeycomb when it comes out? It was a nonstarter at 250 for something with unknown value, but I’d consider it at 99. Can I play media that is on my network via the GoogleTV, too?

    I agree with the previous statement the IR blaster was a bad idea, too. You know what I want out of GoogleTV?

    I want the media center capabilities of a Boxee or XBMC. I want the market and internet prowess and ability to browse with a fullon browser a la the current GoogleTV.

    And I want it in a box with a Cablecard where I can hook up an external or NAS drive and use it for a DVR. Android DVR app anyone?

    *That* I would pay $250 for. A living room Youtube player? No.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yes, the current GTV devices will support Honeycomb.

    • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

      Why are IR blasters bad? How else would new hardware communicate with random old tech? (Im seriously asking, as I’ve found the blasters helpful)

      • Pete

        I just find them to be sort of a kludgey pain. It just doesn’t seem like an integrated solution. For instance, I have a dual tuner cable box – if I have to use the IR blaster I lose the ability of one of those tuners, at least that’s my understanding.

        I guess I’d much rather have an integrated OTA tuner available (on board or USB maybe?) on a GTV, or the ability to use a cablecard directly, rather than have to string together one more device. If I had a GTV that I could pull TV into directly I could shut off my cable box and never have to mess with it again.

  • Mathieu

    GoogleTV isn’t even getting started. Be patient.
    Connected TV are the future.
    Google is trying to do it, Apple will get into it … it’s going to be the next big market after smartphones and tablets.

  • aj

    Seems pretty nice but personally i have all this access on my phone and computer. Sooooo having it on my tv is not that great. I can see why it had such trouble starting off. Not only is it still kind of a trivial or gimmecky idea right now but it seems google released to early with not enough innovation yet to really help its case. But i dont have cable anyways so but i wouldnt mind upgrading to a hd tv especially with market capability. Who knows

  • ncb1010

    “On the other, the platform still hasn’t taken off like Google would have liked.”

    It has never been a platform. It was an appliance. When they update it to run apps like they said it would in the beginning, you can call it a platform

  • dustin

    I use my sony google tv every day, and yes im frustrated with google, talk about false advertising! But in the end it is a good tv.

  • Sid

    I recently purchased an open box Sony GoogleTV/blue-ray player. Am on the verge of taking it back. Got it at a reasonable price – but feeling the product needed more time in development before release. Content deals are also an issue. Currently own new AppleTV and very pleased with it. While it may not potentially do everything a GTV can do – it works as advertised. Apple spent a fair amount of time focusing on customer experience. Have looked at Boxee and Roku & considering a purchase.

  • AndyE

    Does it organize and label local content? I need something to keep up with what i have on my computer.

  • Azeem

    At $99, the price is right for me to give this a shot. It seems interesting, and anything else that I can control with my G2 should be awesome. :-)

  • Adam

    I got a “$50 off $100+” coupon from Logitech yesterday. Revue (of course the $99 Revue wasn’t enough … ugh) plus the cheapest item they had on their site (a $15 pair of logitech speakers) means I now have a $65 Revue on its way to me. Too good of a deal to pass up. If nothing else, I would feel little guilt if an overwhelming need to root the box washed over me.

  • SL

    I’ve owned a Sony Google TV for 6 months. I’ve also been using a Roku box for 18 months. As far as usability and stability are concerned, the little $ 59 black box absolutely blows Google TV. My wife and kids will never touch that ridiculous remote. Flash 10.1 (seriously? 10.1 in August ’11???) is buggy as hell.

    Google promised early adopters the moon and didn’t deliver. Still, over a year later, this thing feels like a half-baked product.