Google adds LG, Vizio, Marvell & MediaTek to their TV initiative

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on January 7th, 2012

The next wave of Google TV products is upon us. In a blog post the search giant announced that they’re building on their partnership with Sony and expanding their TV-centric software to new companies. In 2012, Google TV will run on TV sets made by LG, Samsung, and Vizio, as well as a new generation of Sony devices. Marvell and MediaTek are also working closely with Google to provide chips to power GTV hardware. Though more information will be made available next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, LG celebrated the news early in a press release. Here’s their plan: “LG Smart TV with Google TV combines the familiarity of Google’s Android OS with the convenience and comfort of LG’s 3D and Smart TV technologies, offering consumers a new and attractive home entertainment option.” They’ve announced that they will ship two “series” of TVs in 2012 that will come loaded with GTV, and they will take advantage of a new voice and gestured based remote control they branded the “Magic Remote QWERTY.”

Stick right here for the lastest on Google TV’s expansion. For a peak into the future, hop after the break to watch Google’s CES preview video that highlights upgraded search functionality and Android Market app selections for Google TV.

Update (1/15): LG and Vizio announced new TVs with Google TV baked in, and Sony (also on cue) unveiled their next generation of Google TV products including a new Blu-ray player and a network streaming device. Pricing and release dates for all of these GTV-infused products haven’t been made final. When they are I’ll go more into detail about the individual hardware units.

[Via Google; Engadget] (Click here for more…)

Google TV gets an update

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 31st, 2011

Google admits that their initial attempt at meshing television and the Internet “wasn’t perfect.” On Friday the company laid out their plans for Google TV 2.0 and their hope is that with the new software additions and refinements, customers will be more enticed to purchase a GTV box or compatible TV set if they haven’t already done so. At the official Google TV blog, the development team divided the changes into four categories. First, the user interface has undergone a cosmetic facelift and is now “much simpler” to navigate. The new customizable home screen displays favorite apps across the bottom of the screen and an “all apps” folder allows users to quickly browse every pre-installed and added app. Next up is refined search. There’s a new app called “TV & Movies” that allows users to “easily browse through 80,000 movies and TV episodes across cable or satellite, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and many other sites.” Before, the search box allowed users to type a query to make it easier to find a specific TV show. While that search box remains present, the TV & Movies app–which aggregates content from all kinds of services including live TV and Internet-based locations–makes exploring and discovering content in one place a reality. Third is an enhanced YouTube experience. YouTube videos are now available to watch in HD and the video service is more closely integrated with Google TV search. For example, when users search “hysterical baby” they will be able to save the search results as a “channel” to access any time. And last but certainly not least is the addition of Android Market. Google says that “Android developers can now bring existing mobile apps or entirely new ones to TV.” Obviously apps requiring a touch screen, GPS, or telephony will not be made available for download on Google TV devices, but Google claims that “50 developers have seeded the Market with cool and useful apps” made specifically for use on a TV. As in all app markets, the selection will grow over time. Another update to GTV includes the ability to view online pictures in a new Photos app.

According to Google the update to Google TV will rollout to compatible devices made by Sony first starting this week and then it’ll make its way to Logitech’s Revue sometime after. Google promises that more software updates are on the way, “as well as new devices on new chipsets from multiple hardware partners.” With Google’s TV efforts evolving and speculation that Apple is about to enter the fray, the Internet on the TV initiative is just heating up. See what the new Google TV interface looks like in the gallery below. Video after the break.

[Via Google TV Blog] (Click here for more…)

Network TV says HALT! to Google TV: FOX joins the fray

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on November 11th, 2010

Shortly after Logitech and Sony introduced their devices that welcomed Google TV into family living rooms, CBS, NBC, and ABC blocked TV programming on their websites from being accessed on the Google TV platform.  On Wednesday, after only a couple of weeks on the fence, FOX decided to join its network competitors and block its Internet streaming content from being watched on TVs through Google TV-enabled boxes.  Why is this happening?  I’ll give you the same reason as before.  It’s all about making money, and Internet-based ads provide far less revenue than television ads.  We’re in what I call a weird transition state, and the TV networks simply don’t know how to handle to move from watching TV to watching TV content from the Internet on the TV.  It’s all a big mess right now with the customers stuck on the unfortunate side.  Hopefully network TV can get their act together and make peace with the tech companies (Google, Boxee, etc.) who are trying to make content accessible on more screens.  We will win in the end; the question is not if but when.

[Via Engadget]

Network TV says HALT! to Google TV

Posted in News,Technology,Television by Scott Meisner on October 21st, 2010

Didcha get yourself a new Sony Internet TV or Blu-ray player or are you thinking about impulse buying the Logitech Revue powered by Google TV?  If you’re contemplating such a purchase did you think you’d have the ability to watch network TV content off their respective websites using the built-in Chrome browser?  Well you thought wrong, unfortunately.  Today the Wall Street Journal confirms that CBS, NBC, and ABC have blocked TV programming on their websites from being accessed on the Google TV platform.  NBC and ABC are allowing select promotional content to be viewed, but if you attempt to stream a full episode of The Office you will fail miserably.  And to top all this off, Hulu is blocked too; and not because it’s Flash-based–Chrome runs Flash content just fine–it’s the networks’ fault.  So what’s Google going to do about this?  In a word, nothing.  In more words: “Google TV enables access to all the Web content you already get today on your phone and PC, but it is ultimately the content owners’ choice to restrict their fans from accessing their content on the platform,” said a Google spokeswoman.  News Corp., for the time being, has not opted to block FOX content.

Why is this happening, you ask?  Well in the end it all comes down to making money.  And networks know TV ads bring in a whole lot more cashola than Internet-based ads.  Right now we’re stuck in this weird transition state where TV has snuck into bed with the Internet and just doesn’t know what to do next.  Here’s to hoping that something is figured out real soon.  Because I want my on-demand teevee streaming content this very second.  Boxee, good luck.

[Via WSJ]

Google TV ready for primetime (part 2): Sony Internet TV & Blu-ray Disc Player

Posted in Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on October 13th, 2010

Yesterday Sony held their own event to reveal their Google TV initiative.  Unlike Logitech’s companion box (the Revue), Sony is incorporating Google TV into a new line of HDTVs and a Blu-ray player.  The Google TV experience on the new Sony TVs and BD player is exactly the same as it is on Logitech’s Revue, so I will spare you another Google TV explanation and jump right to the hardware announcements.

The Sony Internet TV lineup includes 4 HDTVs: the 24-inch NSX-24GT1 ($599.99), the 32-inch NSX-32GT1 ($799.99), the 40-inch NSX-40GT1 ($999.99), and the 46-inch NSX-46GT1 ($1,399.99).  They all feature a full HD 1080p display with edge LED backlighting except for the 24-incher; that one’s fitted with CCFL backlighting.  They all include built-in WiFi and around back there’s 4 HDMI ports, an Ethernet port, 2 USB ports, component and composite video inputs, optical audio output, 2 IR blasters, a headphone output, and power of course.  Every TV will come bundled with an bizarre-looking QWERTY keypad remote.  Though it appears large in pictures, the remote is about the size of the small Logitech Mini Controller and it takes design cues from the PS3 DualShock controller (it’s got left and right triggers).  In addition to the QWERTY buttons, the remote also has a D-pad and an optical mouse built-in.  The whole contraption does not look entirely intuitive; there’s definitely going to be a learning curve with it.

Already have a perfectly fine HDTV in the living room?  Skip the TV and go for the new Internet TV Blu-ray Disc Player.  At $399.99, the BD player sounds like a pretty good deal when it compare it to the Logitech Revue.  For an extra $100 you’re getting Blu-ray disc support; something to think about.  The player includes built-in WiFi, 1 HDMI input, 1 HDMI output, and 4 USB inputs.

I said I wouldn’t talk about software, but there’s one Sony addition on this front.  In addition to the Google TV apps, all Sony Internet TV products will come preinstalled with Qriocity, a Sony video on-demand app.  Sony also reminds you that more apps are on the way when the Android Market hits Google TV in early 2011.

The Sony Internet TV and Sony Internet TV Blu-ray Disc Player are currently on pre-sale at SonyStyle and Best Buy.  They will be available to purchase this weekend starting October 16 at Sony Style stores, and they’ll make their way to Best Buy outlets on October 24.

Google TV has arrived.  Will it be the Logitech Revue or Sony Internet TV?  The choice is yours.

[Via Sony; Engadget]

Google TV ready for primetime (part 1): Logitech Revue

Posted in Images,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on October 7th, 2010

Today Logitech held a press event to unveil the Logitech Revue with Google TV companion box.  But before I go into the specifics of the box, allow me to refresh your memory concerning what Google TV is exactly.  Back in May Google held its annual Google I/O developer conference; it was here where they detailed Google TV.  In essence, Google TV is software that integrates TV and the web on one screen.  GTV’s most prominent feature is search.  Typical situation: You’re hanging in the living room and want to watch an episode of Top Gear but you have no idea when and where it airs.  Simply tap the search button on a compatable keyboard (more on the hardware later) and type “Top Gear” into the search bar.  Within seconds GTV will provide you with all kinds of relevant information about the show.  In addition to letting you know at what time and what channel it airs on, you will be provided with the show’s web page and YouTube videos.  That’s right–GTV searches live television, your service provider’s guide listing, and the world wide web.  But it does more than this.  GTV comes installed with the Chrome web browser giving you access to virtually every website on your HDTV.  And yes, the browser supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1.  With the DualView function, you can enable picture-in-picture only this time that means you can browse the web and watch TV simultaneously.  Typical situation: You’re watching a baseball game and want to check on your fantasty team and player stats.  DualView is your friend here.

Watching TV and searching the web for TV-related content (or just for fun) is only the beginning.  GTV also supports apps.  Though the Android Marketplace won’t be ready for the service until 2011, GTV will come preloaded with a bunch of useful apps.  Twitter, Pandora, Napster, VEVO, blip.tv, The New York Times, USA Today, CNBC, NBA GameTime, Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, HBO GO.  Google is reportedly in talks to bring Hulu Plus to the service as well.  Google provides YouTube and a media gallery to browse your photos and video.  In addition to app and developer support, TV networks have agreed to optimize their web portals for viewing on GTV.  For example, Turner Broadcasting has been hard at work tweaking GTV optimized sites for TBS, TNT, CNN, Cartoon Network, and Adult Swim.  No doubt more networks will follow suit.

So I think you get it by now.  Google TV brings TV and the web together in one space–your HDTV.  Cross-platform search, web browsing, and apps.  Now you must be thinking how can I get Google TV on my television?  Here’s where today’s news enters the picture.

Logitech Revue is a companion box that hooks up to your HDTV, cable/satellite box, and the Internet to bring the Google TV experience to you.  Want hardware specs?  You got it.  HDMI In, HDMI out, audio optical output (S/PDIF), Ethernet port,  802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, 2 USB 2.0 ports, integrated Logitech Harmony Link IR blaster, and Logitech Unifying wireless technology.  Setup is simple really.  Connect the bundled HDMI cable to the Revue box and your HDTV, bridge together the Revue box with your cable/satellite box with another HDMI cable, and hook up the Revue box to the Internet (either direct to Ethernet or to your wireless home network).  That’s it.  And how do you interact with the GTV interface?  With the included Logitech Keyboard Controller of course!  The full QWERTY keyboard resembles a standard PC keyboard but also comes equipped with a touchpad, D-pad, dedicated search and DualView buttons, and remote control buttons.  It speaks to the Revue box (which in turn talks to the rest of your TV setup) using Logitech’s proprietary wireless technology.  Logitech Revue with the Keyboard Controller will sell for $299.99 when it releases at the end of the month. (Click here for more…)

Google TV explained in new video

Posted in Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on July 2nd, 2010

At Google I/O in May, Google unveiled its latest plot to enter our homes with Google TV.  The service is described nicely here, but if you find yourself wanting more, click play above to discover what Google TV is all about.

[Via YouTube]

Google I/O 2010: WebM, Android 2.2, Google TV & more

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on May 21st, 2010

This week thousands of developers gathered at Google I/O 2010 in San Fransisco to find out what Google’s got up their sleeve for the next year (and beyond) and how their contributions can make things better for the end user.  At this year’s event Google introduced a new video standard, demoed their latest software revision of Android, and pulled the veil off their latest foray into a whole new market–television.

WebM: Flash, HTML5, h.264–these are all video codecs that power different types of video players on the Internet.  WebM is a new video codec developed by Google.  The plan for the WebM format is to make it open-source and royalty-free from the get-go.  WebM is packaged into three parts: VP8, a high-quality video codec under a royalty-free license; Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec; and a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container.  According to Google, “VP8’s efficient bandwidth usage will mean lower serving costs for content publishers and high quality video for end-users.  The codec’s relative simplicity makes it easy to integrate into existing environments and requires less manual tuning to produce high quality results.”  So far, the following companies are backing the new WebM standard in their browsers: Google (duh), Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe.  (Mozilla already updated their Firefox to support it, Opera says their browsers will support it “soon”, Adobe will inject VP8 support into Flash too, and Chrome support comes on on May 24.)  Google will also implement it in the YouTube player (HTML5 & WebM, sittin’ in a tree…).  WebM also has a list of hardware supporters including AMD, ARM, Broadcom, NVIDIA, Skype, and T.I.  But the big question is if Microsoft and Apple will adopt it.  At this point, there’s no word if Apple will jump on the bandwagon (big surprise there), and Microsoft has stated it will support WebM in Internet Explorer 9 (but users will be required to install the VP8 codec themselves).  If there’s any tech company out there who can develop and push out a new open source video codec it’s Google.  With the on-going battle for dominance between the aging Flash and up-and-coming HTML5, it will certainly be interesting to see if Google can emerge out victorious with WebM.

(Click here for more…)