May 09 AT 2:34 PM Anthony Domanico 48 Comments

Google and Sony announce new Google TV box

sony google tv

Google TV is almost an afterthought at this point. The service lacks a real differentiating feature to make it a must-have item in your entertainment center, and at least one of Google’s partners decided to stop making set top Google TV boxes because they feel the software is premature. Still, companies such as LG are getting into the game recently, and yesterday Google partnered with Sony to unveil a new Google TV set top box.

This isn’t Sony’s first entrant into the Google TV series; the Japanese conglomerate was an early Google TV advocate, selling TVs with integrated Google TV service since the time the service launched. The next version of Sony Google TV will be special. Not so much for the Google TV service, but for the dual-sided remote control that will be included.

The Remote

The dual-sided remote features the customary TV remote controls on one side, and doubles as a full QWERTY keyboard when flipped over. The result is around the same size as a remote control, as opposed to the full keyboard sized remote on the original Logitech Revue, and the awkward controller on Sony’s original TVs.

The Box

The box is unsurprisingly less interesting, what with it being a big black box and all. The video above shows the box in action, though we’re told the unit was non-working at the demonstration. The box and included remote are set to be released sometime this summer, so we’ll likely be hearing more about it in coming months.

Until then, we’ll try to figure out why we actually need a Google TV at all. Meanwhile, you can watch the Google-Sony event in its entirety in the video below.

Source: Phandroid

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • jaxidian

    Bummer, I was hoping they would have made this into a better unit. I would SOOO buy this if they simply added a digital OTA tuner and some storage (or even a USB 3.0 or eSATA port for me to provide my own storage)! I WANT Google TV but I want it to replace my HTPC, which means the Google TV box must have its own tuner and DVR functionality.

    Come on, Sony. Make me one!

    • ihatefanboys

      why ? why do you need a tuner and DVR functionality ? its the internet on your TV, its delivering what it promised. If you want a DVR, buy a DVR, if you want a tuner, buy a tuner. Get over it…dont blame the product for not living up to YOUR expectations, when it is delivering on its promise each and every day. It was never advertised that it would replace your DVR, or have storage, or anything like that. If you can find proof that it did promise it, link it, if not , please stop whining. Thanks !!

      • miuyabz
      • jaxidian

        1) When did I claim it didn’t deliver on its promises? I didn’t.
        2) nvm, not worth my time
        3) ditto

        Moral of the story is Google TV offers no value to somebody who has a full-blown PC in their A/V rack unless that Google TV device can replace all of the critical features that the HTPC is used for. As I suspect is the case with MANY (not all but maybe even most) people who have an HTPC, tuning/DVR features are absolutely the primary reasons I have an HTPC – everything else is secondary to that.

        • Joe

          Completely agree with you jaxidian. I have gtv now and a sony hd dvr. Am a cable cutter. GTV would get a standing ovation from all cable cutters if they would include a OTA tuner and some sort of storage. is doing this and won best of show at CES. GTV is far superior to as it already has a wonderful program guide. If they would att the OTA tuner, a little bit of storage (with expansion slot as you mentioned for more storage if you needed it), and a GTV mirroring app so you can mirror your phone screen (like the HTC HD Media Link HD), the GTV would sell like hotcakes.

    • Homncruse

      I think you’re envisioning a completely different product. Google TV is not a replacement for your HTPC. Google TV is an *input source* for your HTPC.

      Google TV output HTPC HDTV

      DVR functionality would be silly, since Google TV is primarily aimed at streaming channels – i.e., not live TV, only a client to the various streaming providers (Netflix, Hulu, etc.), and not only does it not make sense to record that type of semi-DVR material (you can play, pause, rewind, fast forward), it would probably introduce a whole litany of licensing problems with keeping the material on your local storage after the streaming dates expire (note: this is NOT like a DVR on broadcast TV – there are different licenses involved).

      • Homncruse

        Weird, the blog ate my formatting. Second part should have read:

        Google TV output > HTPC > HDTV (I used bidirectional angled brackets with a – in between last time, a la HTML tags)

      • Derek R-C

        I will play devils advocate then. Why would I want google tv then? I can watch Hulu, Netflix, etc on my HTPC.

        • yankeesusa

          What is an htpc?

          • lament

            not sure if serious.. but it’s Home Theater PC.

        • Homncruse

          The truth is, if you have a full HTPC, you probably won’t have much of a use for Google TV. But an HTPC is hardly an out-of-the-box setup, and it requires maintenance, foresight, and all kinds of planning and research. Google TV (and other piecemeal setups) doesn’t.

          A good friend of mine has an HTPC setup rather well, whereas I’ve gone the route of off-the-shelf add-ons like TiVo, “smart” components (TV, Blu-ray player, etc.), and both of our setups are fairly comparable. We’re both equally tech-savvy, and whether you go HTPC or out-of-the-box is a matter of opinion. There’s nothing that my setup can do that his can’t, and vice versa. There’s nothing in my setup that would fit well into his, and vice versa. They’re two different, completely independent solutions to the same problem. We both use Logitech Harmony remotes with heavy use of Activities, so neither system is harder to use for a visitor than the other (admittedly, before I had my Harmony, my system was NOT user-friendly at all).

          An HTPC is typically a more expensive upfront option, whereas my piecemeal approach is more expensive over time, but with smaller individual chunks — and I can upgrade a single component without having to completely rethink my whole setup.

    • kinderdm

      I agree that I wish it had the OTA tuner. Kinda frustrating that it will integrate with cable but will not support free TV, especially when cord cutters a large part of their customer base.

  • Matt

    oh my look at that controller .. . . attacked by buttons -,-

  • amgala

    Let’s see if they price themselves out of the market or not. That was one big issue with why the Logitech Revue didn’t take off like expected, although of course the big networks preventing access to GTV was the main one.

  • oddball

    Honestly a set top box doesn’t make much sense to me. If I decide to stop using it I am out whatever the cost is. If I buy a tv with it built in if they stop developing it I can still use the tv just fine

    • Homncruse

      By your logic, the inverse conclusion seems more true.

      If you decide to stop using Google TV:
      a) with a set-top box, you’re only out the cost of the set-top box,
      b) with it integrated into a TV, you’ve paid a premium price for a something you no longer want – yes, the TV will still function as a TV, but that’s like buying the latest and greatest superphone and only using it to call your mom

      And I imagine there are more complexities involved in integrating Google TV into a TV instead of a set-top box. Updates will probably take longer due to those complexities. Also, if I try to hack my Google TV set-top box and brick it, I’m only out a couple hundred at most. If I do the same to my TV, I’m out WAY more than that.

  • Slith

    With no storage why does it have to be a box at all? Why not integrate into the TVs? Or how about a Google TV PlayStation hybrid?

    • Wunako

      ah exactly what i wanted to say i would love to see maybe a ps3 update that enables google tv features or something idk im just really putting that idea out i know its 2 diff OS. but hey the remote looks cool wish the box was a little smaller but at end of the day it will come down to price

  • Baller

    Any information about selling the remote separately? I have the original Sony GTV Bluray and the only downside I see is that atrocious remote that came with it…

  • Ironzey Lewis

    Does it have IR blasters? That is why I still use my Logitech today. It stays out of the way until I want to use it, and when I need it I only use one remote.

    • yankeesusa

      Yes, it does have an ir blaster. They have a picture of the back which shows the port for it which also shows an hdmi in and out, 2 usb ports a digital optical audio and an ethernet port.

  • halo0

    I bought the revue basically because it was only 99 bucks but I’ve found I never use it. Well, not actually never, I probably fire up google music on it once a month.

    • Baller

      I use YouTube integration and Photos integration and I love the TV and Movies app as opposed to the normal channel guide, I also rent movies from Amazon there. Sharing YouTube, photos and occasionally web pages is really nice with Able Remote from my phone to the GTV. My parents and inlaws want a GTV just for the photo and video integration.

    • ihatefanboys

      I use it every day ! never go a day without either browsing the internet, or going on youtube, etc…..or streaming movies and tv from one of a dozen or more sites, better and faster than HULU.

  • Darkseider

    Please let it be an ARM based unit. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE…

  • jerkyjones

    There’s a mic hole on that thing. Nice.

  • SGB101

    that is the most fugly remote eve, y not just have a Bluetooth receiver and a downloadable app to our phones.

    that must be a cheaper simpler and better solution to that monstrosity

    • Reallunacy

      Umm, go to the Play Store and search Google TV Remote.

    • Reallunacy

      Umm, go to the Play Store and search Google TV Remote.

      • sgs101

        Alright duck, we don’t have google tv here, so I’m not to know.

        Thanks for letting me know.

  • Mix

    As long as it’s fast it could be interesting.

    I love my Samsung TV to death and my buddy bought a new “smart” Samsung and it’s looks awesome; however, the “smart” aspect of the TV is barley there as it takes 30 seconds to type something in as it will freeze if you go to fast.

    Had to turn off his TV twice when trying to show me Youtube video’s… and operational are two different terms it seems.

  • ihatefanboys

    Sorry Anthony, I know you are going the route you think will make you popular with the trolls that post here, but i politely disagree. GTV is far from an “afterthought”. Just because the brainless tech heads that want a piece of tech to wipe their asses, and cook their meals, and do their laundry, and cater to them into their 30s, huh, oh wait…..they already have that, its their parents…..but you get my point. Logitech will regret opting out, and LG and SONY will reap the benefits. My Logitech Revue is awesome, I use it everyday, it hasnt disappointed me one bit. I realize that its delivering everything it promised, its the internet on my 52inch Bravia.

    • Vance

      Agreed. Love my revue. When we’re not streaming Netflix or YouTube, I’m reading androidandme, updating my fantasy baseball team, or just letting the live wallpaper aquarium entertain my two year old daughter. Best $99 I ever spent.

      • Jimmy13

        I am in this camp. I have really enjoyed my logitech revue and was sad to hear it was being discontinued. I love using it for my plex front end among many other things. It arranges the channels on my box just great. It’s smaller and cooler than a HTPC and cost about a fourth of what a HTPC would. Sure it doesn’t do absolutely everything that a HTPC can but it still works great for my needs. I can even logmein to my home computers and do work on those if need be. It’s the attitude that “Google TV is almost an afterthought at this point” that will cause it not to get purchased or improve. When Android came out it was slow with not amazing apps and really iPhone had it beat. Flash forward to now where Android is just as good or even better than iPhone in my opinion. This didn’t happen by people saying things like “we’ll try to figure out why we actually need a Google TV at all”.

  • seabass978

    Yea but who could resist the mystery of the black box.

  • Toto

    Poor design. (especially the front side of the remote).
    Sony should learn how to design a remote from another TV startups such as Roku & Boxee.

    • Johnathan Prochaska

      My VIZIO smart tv remote is pretty B.A. It has a querty keyboard on the back like this but the front is very simplified compared to this.

      This is the front of it:

      Works great because it has the dedicated keys for the services we use the most. Netflix (which I share my account with my parents) and Amazon (which I use for the free videos with Prime).

  • Dave

    This unit doesn’t have a blu-ray drive like the last GTV box sony put out, does it? Cuz that’s all I need. My pc streams some stuff, my 360 gives me hulu/netflix, but I need a blu-ray player and access to my google music….

    • impulse101

      Im so glad I have a PS3 instead of a 360…thank god!

  • canuckgiant111

    This box does not have blu-ray. They are also launching a version with blu-ray integrated like their current box. Think of this one as the Sony version of the Revue but will have a new model like their current one with upgraded specs.

    I think Google I/O will bring ICS to google TV quickly thereafter. Just a guess.

  • MoSDeeb

    I will most likely grab this unit as I cannot stand the current model’s remote does not have a back-light so its near impossible to use in the dark.

  • cabukgaint111

    Actually the blu ray model is the white unit in the photo next to the black set top box

  • smeghead68

    That remote looks fugly. I’m always looking to replace my HTPC with something but this isn’t it.

    • Maximo

      Yea totaly

  • Maximo

    Is this like an apple tv?

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  • OkaNare

    hi to you all…

    i would like to know if the best alternative to the STRONG SRT 7000 HD Digital TV Receiver.

    Or has anyone tried this unit outside Australia?

  • Steve

    The only reason I bought the first version was so I could cut the cord from my cable company and watch what I watch on my computer on my tv. The day after I bought it (first day is was released) I found out all the networks blocked it. I thought Google would have worked that part out, but apparently not. Didn’t return it because both Google and Sony assured me that within a few months it would be better. I knew better than that… but was willing to wait much longer, but now it’s been forever. And the remote… come on. How are you supposed to use the remote without a backlit keyboard. Did they ever once try working the remote while watching a movie in the dark like most people do. Even though it’s been updated many times, the software is still way too slow for me to ever consider using it from my couch. If I want to do that, I just hook up my HDMI cord and use my magic mouse from the couch. Now I have two AppleTV’s and use those all the time for Netflix and running all my other media from my Mac. My Sony Google player is now just a glorified $399.00 Blu-ray player.