Google TV has been all over the news recently, because of recent press events by Logitech and Sony, with the search engine giant making its big play for the living room space. Even with all the hubbub, Google's new home entertainment platform can be tough to understand, so we've rounded up some of the basic questions you might have about Google TV.
What is Google TV? The basic pitch for Google TV is the capability to search all of your TV content through a search bar similar to Google.com's, which displays on your TV. The search bar overlays whatever screen you're on and combs through online video sources as well as live TV from your cable/satellite box to find content. (Currently, Google TV searches only DVR programs for Dish DVRs, although we've been told that support for other DVRs will roll out over time.) The idea is that you don't need to know whether the video originates from Netflix, your cable box, YouTube, or a random Web site--Google just finds it.
That's the main gist of what Google TV does, but what makes it hard to understand is that a Google TV-equipped device needs to do a lot to make that functionality seamless. It has standalone apps like Netflix and Pandora; a built-in Chrome browser capable of displaying (almost) any video you can watch on the Internet; the ability to control other devices like a Harmony universal remote; and support for the Android Marketplace coming in 2011. There's just a lot going on in any Google TV product.
Why do I want Google TV? If you find yourself watching content across several different platforms (Netflix, Amazon VOD, regular cable, ComedyCentral.com, etc.), Google TV should take away a lot of the hassle over finding exactly what you want to watch. If you want to watch a recent episode of "30 Rock," you can just search for "30 Rock" and Google TV will show you results in all the available services. Google TV leans strongly toward a "search" model of TV watching, rather than "browse." If you generally browse a program guide or flip channels looking for a show, however, you might not get as much use out of it. Similarly, if everything you want to watch is already available via your cable subscription, you probably won't benefit much from a Google TV product.… Read more