This is the second attempt from Google to get into the world of TV. With an improved operating system and faster hardware, it’s getting one step closer to becoming a viable add-on for your existing television.
Similar to the first generation TiVo, the Sony NSZ-GS7 set top box works in conjunction with an existing receiver – which could be a Freeview box, Sky+ box or Virgin Media TiVo. It doesn’t matter, as long as it has an HDMI output that you can connect to the HDMI input and then loop through to your TV’s input.
What you then get is the Google TV interface, with the ability to watch your existing TV in the background, or in a window – instead of switching to another input for a standalone experience. It’s not much different to a BRAVIA Smart TV, except that this time it’s running Google’s operating system and not a proprietary one.
You also get a remote control that has two sides, with an illuminated QWERTY keyboard on the rear and various buttons and an optical trackpad on the front.
To control your existing receiver, you can connect an optional IR-blaster that allows the Google TV box to do things like change channel etc.
Powered by a 1.2GHz single-core processor, there’s more than enough power to ensure a slick user experience, but don’t go expecting a stellar performance when looking at Flash based websites or powerful 3D games.
Not that this is likely to be an issue given the fact that, although based on the Android Honeycomb operating system (V3), there are a few differences between native Android and Google TV V2. The most important is that apps that rely on touchscreen usage (which is a sizable number, for obvious reasons) are probably not going to be found on the Play store at all.
What you do get are a selected range of apps, which will likely grow very quickly as Google TV begins to take off. After all, no developer worth its salt is going to miss out on a new market if it’s relatively easy to recompile existing code. Until then, early adopters should be prepared to feel like beta-testers. Anyone that already uses and lives by their Android smartphone or tablet should have no problem getting to grips with this, even though the user interface isn’t a straight copy.
For working with your existing devices, DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct support means you can easily access content from your PC, NAS (network hard drive) or a smartphone or tablet set up to share content over the same network.
The NSZ-GS7 is likely to have a retail price of £200 when it goes on sale in mid July 2012.
Sony NSZ-GS7 – Key Specifications
|Storage space||8GB internal storage + USB|
|Broadcast TV||Works in conjunction with an existing receiver connected via HDMI loop-through.|
|TV on Demand||Yes|
|Catch up TV||Yes|
|Apps and Games||Yes (Via Play store)|
|USB port to play media||Yes (2)|
|HD support||Yes, up to 1080p|
|Music/Movie Streaming Services||Yes|
|Remote viewing of content||No|
|Other||Remote control app for smartphones/tablets to control Google TV + Access to Play Store with access to Google TV (V2) apps.|