Google TV Looks Decent But Probably Too Expensive

Google TVClick here to flip through how Google TV works and what it looks like →

Photo: Google

Google has taken the wraps off a new site promoting Google TV, its web-meets-your-TV product that’s launching later this year.In short, Google is trying to add a bunch of Internet features to your TV set: Primarily search, plus video and apps.

How will you use it? It will either be built into the new TV you buy — Sony’s the first partner. Or you could buy a separate set-top box to add Google TV to your existing TV. Neither will be cheap.

Click here to flip through how Google TV works and what it looks like →

Before Google TV launches, some thoughts:

  • Google TV is going to be costly, probably hundreds of dollars, and most people probably won’t want to pay it. Google TV will be built-in to some Sony TVs, but because there is an Intel chip involved, it’s probably going to be significantly more expensive than typical TV sets. And the standalone Logitech Google TV box — for the rare audience who might buy a separate box for their TV — is rumoured to cost $300. So no matter how cool this thing is, it’s still too expensive for most people. Maybe if it could cost $99 or less, or if TVs with Google TV built-in cost the same amount as normal TVs, it has a chance. But not for $300.
  • This looks like what Apple’s new Apple TV should be more like, though this is a textbook case of how Apple and Google are different companies. When going into new products, Apple starts simple and gradually adds complexity. Google throws everything at the wall and sees what sticks.
  • It’s obvious why Google is doing Google TV: There is a huge opportunity for advertising here, and Google wants to be all over it. Someone is going to be a big winner someday making the living room digital. There’s no reason it can’t be Google.
  • But most people still don’t know that they need the Internet on their TVs. Google and its partners — Sony, Logitech, and Intel — will have to explain to people why they do. This will require advertising on TV and customer service — two things Google goofed up with its Nexus One phone.
  • Google’s user experience could be crappy — we don’t know yet. What we’re seeing right now are mockups and the work of a marketing department. We haven’t seen the software in use yet, and it might not be very good.
  • This highlights how weak TiVo is at the web. It had such a head start, and totally blew it.

Google TV works with your existing TV, satellite, cable, and internet. Google isn't trying to replace your TV, just its crappy user interface, by floating Google's on top.

You can get Google TV built into a Sony TV (probably more brands in the future) or via a standalone set-top box. But we don't know how expensive either of those will be yet -- possibly $300.

You can use your phone as a remote control. This is an Android phone -- will Google support the iPhone? (It should.)

You can watch TV while using web stuff. This is pretty cool, and why it needs such strong chips.

Apps coming soon, including Netflix, Pandora, Napster, Twitter, Chrome web browser, etc.

If you belong to DISH Network, Google TV can plug into your DVR. Presumably, Google wants all cable companies to offer this.

The home screen looks like the old Boxee homescreen. Fine, but nothing special.

Google is including Flash on Google TV, so you could (in theory) play FarmVille. Might need a mouse, though.

Conan site prepared for Google TV.

HBO Go site prepared for Google TV. May require you to be a subscriber to a certain TV and broadband service provider.

Blip.TV site customised for Google TV.

New York Times videos site customised for Google TV.

Cartoon Networks site customised for Google TV.

CNN site customised for Google TV. (Will it include live streaming CNN TV? Probably not!)

Vevo site customised for Google TV. (Music videos.)

TNT site customised for Google TV.

Adult Swim video on Google TV.

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