A Few Thoughts on Google TV

The official announcemnt of the Google TV platform left me doing a lot of thinking. An internet connected television isn’t a new idea, and attaching a PC to a television isn’t exactly novel either. So why is it that I find Google TV so interesting?

In many ways, Google TV can be compared to the iPhone. Smartphones have been around since before Apple hit the scene. Phones played music and surfed the web, and they even had touchscreens before the iPhone.

But Apple took the existing technologies and combined them into device, cutting out the excess and making it simple enough for anyone to use. And they made it easy to understand. Unlike other smartphones, people understood what the iPhone was and why they wanted it.

Google TV doesn’t do anything too revolutionary either. Using the interface, you’ll be able to search for the shows and movies you want to watch across a series of search engines and streaming and download services. If you’re using DISH Network, it’ll search your DVR while it’s doing that.

That’s pretty cool, but aside from the limited DVR functionality, it’s nothing the Boxee box can’t do. Yet Boxee is a new and unfamiliar name, and it uses a new and unfamiliar interface, at least as far as most television watchers are concerned.

But Google, there’s a friendly household name. And since a Google internet search is commonplace, a Google television search seems logical. I could even see it being used as a verb. “Hold on, let me Google that episode of ‘3rd Rock From the Sun’ I was telling you about!”

The other thing that Google TV has over the competition is the hardware standard. If you get a separate Google TV box from Logitech, you’re getting the same processing power and interface as if you were getting the Internet TV from Sony. They use the same chip and the same operating system, so there shouldn’t be any differences in performance.

That’s something to take into consideration when picking up a streaming device. I long considered picking up a Roku HD until I realized that the interface and response time for Netflix was actually worse than on my Xbox 360. Google TV won’t have that problem.

And that’s what it all comes down to. There’s no need to wonder if one Google TV unit is better than the other. They use the same parts, and they use the same software. It’s a familiar name for searching and the QWERTY controller makes it oh so easy to do.

Will Google TV be great? It’s hard to tell at this point, but if it makes and appearance at CES this year, you can bet I’ll be hands on with it. Will it be successful? Unless someone botches the launch by pricing it out of reach or failing to make it seem consumer friendly, I don’t see how it couldn’t be.

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