Google TV launches in UK with Sony
25th Jun 2012 | 05:00
First product arriving in mid-July
Google TV will launch in the UK in the third week in July, with pre-orders of the £200 Sony NSZ-GS7 set top box opening today.
A £300 NSZ-GP4 Blu-ray player is set to follow later in the summer, but there's no date on when an integrated television set will arrive for the UK.
The two offerings from Sony bring the second generation of Google TV – hugely overhauled from the much-maligned original and deemed suitable for a global audience.
There's also a nifty new remote with a laptop-like multitouch touchpad on the front and a QWERTY keyboard on the rear.
Chrome for TV
The device is designed to compliment people who already have a set-top box – with the Google TV simply an overlay that goes over the top of your existing service, allowing you to keep your live TV running 'underneath'.
Google TV offers a host of apps, through the new Google Play store, what is certainly the best big screen YouTube offering and a modified Chrome browser.
"There are huge benefits from bringing the internet to TV," Google's Suveer Kothari told TechRadar at a briefing. "That's what Google TV is really all about.
"That means new content that people aren't able to access on the TV, more interactivity and engagement with that content and then potentially new discovery experiences.
"Google TV attempts to address the problems that…we think are very similar to what we saw in the smartphone market a few years ago.
"It's a very fragmented space, there's not a great experience to access the internet on the television screen and essentially Google TV is two things that sets out to address that.
"The first is an operating system that is based on Android that we have optimised for the big screen – we work with manufacturers like Sony to integrate that into the machine.
"The second is a set of Google Apps optimised for the big screen – Google Chrome, YouTube and Google Play store."
A new level
Sony's Ben Law believes that there is a space for a £200 set-top box that offers up a browser and apps rather than the type of content normally provided by TV set-top boxes.
"Some people are buying smart TVs but they want to be able to go the next step," said Law.
"They want to be able to seamlessly search through Google for any information that they want to find and they want to interact with it like they are used to on their tablets or phones.
"They want to take things to the next level."
Google TV does bring content – albeit on-demand through apps rather than traditional channels.
"YouTube has thousands of movies and the Sony Entertainment network and Sony Unlimited will have thousands of movies and shows as well," added Kothari.
"But we're also going to have things like Netflix available in addition to live television as you are going to have as normal [through your normal set-top box]."
Of course with many UK consumers already getting on-demand services (and even bad browsers) through the likes of games consoles, apps on services like Virgin Media and companion apps from pretty much every broadcaster Google and Sony will have to work hard to convince the UK consumer that they are getting value for money.
A lot rests on the browser and the ecosystem of applications through Google Play, although the Google and Sony brands have built up large amounts of good will.