Yesterday, Sony stores began selling its line of GoogleTV products. They are the second company to bring Google’s Android-based “connected TV” solution to market and their TVs and set-top box will be available at Best Buy starting next weekend.
Since Web + TV convergence is practically the “holy grail” for me, this morning I eagerly picked up Sony’s set-top Internet TV and have been messing around with it all afternoon. Here’s a 7 minute demo of what I've experienced so-far:
- It lays the foundation for Web/TV convergence by blending Over-the-Air (OTA)shows with Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming content in a unified search function.
- The streaming HD content is really crisp and sharp – one forgets that it’s not coming from the cable box. The "leanback" U/X works particulary well and is easy to navigate.
- There is an opportunity for the networks to also create user experiences that are designed and optimized for connected TVs in lieu of their websites' full episode players.
- The ultimate success of GoogleTV (and others) will be in the content partnerships they create. The ones they have “out of the box” just begin to hint at the potential of a true arsenal of content.
- I’d love to see more (and better quality) live streaming/interactive content. The “CNBC real-time” channel is nowhere near what it could be.
- I will probably never (or very rarely) use the bluray disc player that's part of this set-top box. The last time I rented or purchased a DVD was over 3 years ago.
The salesperson at Sony mentioned that in January there’ll be a number of feature enhancements/upgrades to GoogleTV including the ability to download apps from the Android Market. There is also supposedly a deeper integration with Comcast on its way.
Boxee Box comes out in November, AppleTV is already out (and, no doubt, on its way to a number of feature upgrades), and let’s not forget Roku. This fall is already shaping up to be an important catalyst in true Web + TV convergence. Stay tuned…