The Consumer Electronics Show hits Las Vegas next week, and Google has announced that LG will be joining its Google TV line-up, while previous partners Vizio and Samsung will finally debut products and Sony, the only company still making Google TV devices, will have some new ones. But will new partners alone be enough to boost the platform?
New To Google TV: LG
LG Google TV’s most attractive feature is its ease of use, thanks to the combination of its Android-based user interface and the Magic Remote Qwerty designed by LG. LG Google TV’s user interface and main screen have been designed for convenient browsing and content selection. Multi-tasking is also possible, as the search, social networking and TV functions can be run simultaneously. The user interface can be accessed using the Magic Remote Qwerty which combines the user-friendly benefits of LG’s Magic Remote with a QWERTY keyboard.
We’ll see if the remote makes that much of a difference. Having used some from the two existing Google TV manufacturers out there, the problem seems to be that the platform requires a complicated remote, not that the remotes are too complicated due to lack of good design.
Previous Partners Vizio & Samsung Moving Forward
As for Vizio, its Google TV partnership was announced around this time last year. Consumers have been waiting for a year now, and it looks like they’ll still more waiting to do, since only demonstrations will be happening. Vizio has no details at all posted on its press release page.
Also this time last year, it was announced that Samsung would be producing a Google TV-powered device. Then there was silence until November, when a flurry of news came out that Samsung was in final talks to produce a device. As with the others, there’s currently no further news on the Samsung press release page about devices to be shown at CES.
Sony Still Hanging With Google TV; Logitech Bailed Out
Sony — one of the only two Google TV partners today to actually produce Google TV-powered sets and set-top boxes — will be unveiling new devices at the show. As with the other makers, there’s no further news in Sony’s own press area.
Logitech was the other Google TV partner to make a unit. Last year at CES, Logitech had a huge area I walked through devoted to Google TV.
However, Logitech dropped its support of Google TV in November, saying it contributed to over $100 million in lost profits. It has no plans to produce new devices, though it is still supporting existing ones.
Google TV Devices Currently Available
The Google TV site suggests that Logitech is selling its remaining inventory direct. Not that I can see, at the Logitech page Google points to. But third parties are selling the devices, originally priced at $300, from $100 upward. It goes for $150 at Amazon.
As for Sony’s Google TV devices, its set-top box including a DVD player costs $200 (down from $400 when it launched), and its TVs run $500 for a 32″, $800 for a 40″ and $1,000 for a 46″ set.
Google TV Still Bad, Apple TV & Roku Far Better
The current devices, even with the Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system that was recently added, are awful. Terrible. I say this as someone who has diligently used them for well over a year. They fail to let you locate and find TV online as they were originally intended to do, because TV networks continue to block them.
Hulu — which you can get on Android phone and some Android tablets — deliberately blocks Google TV devices (which is also Android) from streaming its content, even if you have a Hulu Plus account. The Hulu Plus app isn’t offered.
The Apple TV and Roku devices allow easier access to online TV content for less than $100. Roku is my particular favorite: Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are all available through the unit without the complicated controls that Google TV foists upon users.
New Google TV Partners Not Enough
It’s encouraging that Google’s managed to get new partners to commit to its platform. It shows that Google is still standing behind the project and even able to win third-party support. But the platform itself needs major upgrades to how you use the hardware, and content deals need to be ironed out, if Google TV is ever really going to take off.
I’ll be out at CES next week with visits scheduled to all the makers above, so expect more news on the devices plus any impact they may have for marketers. There was an initial interest that Google TV might be a new platform to design for or cater to, but it still remains a very watch-and-see situation.
The first article below is a comparison I did about a year ago between various devices. I’ll be updating it in the near future, but it still gives you a good idea of cross-platform strengths and weaknesses.
- Internet-To-TV Players Compared: Roku, Apple TV, Boxee & Google TV
- Life With Google TV: My First Day Review & Impressions
- Programming Your DVR Made Easy: Google TV, Dish & The Logitech Revue
- Why You’re Still Waiting For Hulu Plus On Google TV
- Apple TV: My First Day Review & Impressions
- Roku: My First Day Review & Impressions
- Review: Real Life With The Galaxy Nexus Android 4.0 Smartphone
- Google’s Coming Tablet: A Response To Kindle Fire, Not The iPad
- For Consumers, Android Is More “Clopen” Than Open
- Google’s Eric Schmidt To Speak At CES, YouTube To Keynote