Unless you’ve been hiding in a place with no internet connection for the past few days, you’ll no doubt already know about Google’s plans to dominate your living room, as well as the web.
I am, of course, talking about Google TV. The new project was announced at Google I/O at the end of last week, with the aim of bringing together the best content that’s on the web, and putting it on your TV. With so much content available on the web, it makes sense to bring that content in to your living room, without you having to watch it on your PC.
This past week at Zath, we’ve covered a few media centres that do just that. Applications such as Boxee pull content from the web and your local hard drive, giving you the best of both worlds. Windows Media Center allows you to watch not only live TV, but online services too, such as Sky Player. In addition to this, Apple’s media centre, Front Row, gives you full access to the abundance of content in the iTunes store, so that you’re never without content.
Of course, choosing between them can be difficult — and make no mistake, Google TV just made that choice a little harder — but each of the choices that we’ve covered in the past week offer unique features that others don’t have. So why’s Google TV different? The reason is simple: manufacturer support.
Each of the applications we’ve described require a PC to run, whether it’s running Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. Not only is this slightly inconvenient, as it means that you have to add another set-top box to your home theatre, but it could also have a few teething problems that would have to be addressed. With the announcement of Google TV, we were told that we’ll begin to find it appearing built in new TV’s from some manufacturers and set-top boxes too. Google are partnering with Sony, Logitech and Intel.
Clearly, getting hold of a Google TV product won’t be very difficult, with manufacturers intending to bundle it with many hardware choices, but how exactly does it work? The interface of Google TV is extremely simple, with a search overlay appearing over what you’re watching, allowing you to find what you’re looking for really easily.
With this being a Google project, you’ll be able to browse the web right from your TV, with the help of a full web browser. You’ll be able to browse from your couch, without any need for a laptop or phone to browse the web. Will Google TV provide a better web browsing experience than a laptop? In my opinion, most certainly not. Although you’ll be able to browse on the big screen, you’ll still need a wireless keyboard to navigate, which may not be ideal for some people. If you watched the keynote, you’ll have seen that Google had a few problems with their wireless keyboard not working great, meaning that they couldn’t show us all of the features Google TV has to offer.
Only time will tell us if Google TV will be a successful venture for the web-giant, but it has to be executed correctly. It’s crucial that the average, computer illiterate, person can use Google enabled TV’s without a problem, or else it’s not going to succeed up against the likes of the traditional television providers such as Sky HD and Virgin Media.
Compatibility is another major issue with the service. Google TV is running Android, and Google are no doubt going to be encouraging developers to develop “TV Apps”, but some of the apps on the Android Market are a little buggy, with Google being less meticulous about their app approval process than Apple are for the iPhone. It’s important that the experience is seamless, after all, who wants their TV crashing? I certainly don’t. Let’s hope Google can provide the goods; if they do, TV just got a whole lot more exciting.
Are you looking forward to seeing how Google can potentially improve your television experience or would you rather stick with using Google on your computers and mobile phones?