Sony launches Google TV set-top box in Australia

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CNET Editor

Seamus Byrne is the Editor of CNET Australia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Usually at the same time.

Sony has become the first company to launch Google TV into the Australian market, with the new Internet Player with Google TV set-top box. The box brings several solid new features to the set-top box landscape, but at launch is only available to people buying a new Sony Bravia TV.

Sony's Internet Player with Google TV
(Credit: Sony)

Sony's Internet Player with Google TV set-top box (quite a mouthful) has a few features that trump most other boxes on the market. There's the Google Chrome web browser, which, while still a little sluggish, is optimised for TV, and results in the most readable general web browser we've seen on a TV. There are obvious Google elements, like solid YouTube integration and the Google Play Store, with a selection of TV-optimised apps placed front and centre.

One of the simplest yet most effective features of the box is its HDMI pass through, taking the box from a stand-alone specialty unit to something that overlays onto whatever your other core box might be. When attached to a Sony Bravia TV, it also integrates into the standard Bravia menus.

The remote control for Sony's Internet Player with Google TV is a kitchen-sink affair, but it's well organised. One side offers core navigational controls and a clickable trackpad. The other offers a backlit keyboard. The box is easy to control, and you can start a search by simply starting to type.

With a best-in-class browser, smooth integration into the TV experience and access to a wealth of Android apps (including AirTight, an app that gives the box AirPlay compatibility), it's a promising entrant to the local market. However, Sony has announced that the box will be launched as a bonus for buyers of selected Sony Bravia TVs. Sony has named the HX850 and HX750 models as eligible, with full details to be revealed on Thursday, at Sony's official website.

This deal is described as a limited-time offer, and we should expect the box to hit the open market in a few months' time.

In its press release, Sony describes the Internet Player with Google TV as "valued at $349". Sony would not confirm whether this might reflect a final retail price.



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PaulC6 posted a comment   

Have been using one of these Sony players for the last month, and have been quite impressed with its capabilities. As you'd expect the browser experience is simply the best I have experienced on any TV or gaming console, and the picture in picture function is definitely a highlight. Set up is quite simple and literally takes less than 10 minutes to get it all going if you have a Google account ready to go! As the article states, the remote really is the whole kitchen sink, but the design of it makes it so easy for anyone to use without being complicated or confusing.

My only gripes with it so far is that you need a set top box to receive a TV signal, but I guess this was designed with the US market in mind where just about everyone has cable. Also the software was a little glitchy, but a major update seems to have solved that so far. Overall it's a great little addition to any lounge room to greatly enhance the web experience of your current TV.

This video shows off most of its features, http://youtu.be/wSKSPjXywXk

 

cg5344 posted a comment   
Australia

If anyone is interested in getting one of these, check out the video review of all the features on the microsite http://sonyinternetplayer.com

 

weinndine posted a comment   
Australia

Is it really worth buying this with the possible chance of LG's Google TV coming out in AU? I'm quite skeptical about Sony's smart TV capability. I haven't heard anything from Sony about their smart TV being great.

 

gregory.opera posted a comment   
Australia

*Yawn*

Wake me up when Sony release a 3D-compatible television with Google TV BUILT-IN...

 

LisaL2 posted a comment   

Sony sent me one of these to trial, and so far I've been very impressed. One of my favourite features is picture in picture. I have my cable TV connected through HDMI, which means I can watch cable and surf the web at the same time.

I also love the Media Remote app which I added to my Android phone, which allows me to use it as a remote plus other cool features. It has a function called Catch and Throw, which allows me to bring up a website on my phone and press a button to throw it to the TV, or pull a site from the TV down to my phone. The standard remote is also awesome, with so many different ways to use it. It has the QWERTY keyboard on one side, and a standard remote and mousepad on the other.

I've been impressed by how easy the Internet Player was, ready to go straight out of the box. Check out my short video review here: http://youtu.be/bUbw9BxNbE8

 

Im Batman posted a comment   
Australia

Awesome, Google TV officially in AU, will have to head into a Sony store to check it out.
Great to see still being pushed as a platform and will be interesting to see what google has to say at IO.

Wonder if this announcement is a "finally" one, with it finally getting around to arriving down under...or an well timed launch with the IO coming?

 

Im Batman posted a reply   
Australia

Seeing as there was no news about Google TV and IO specifically it appears that they are finally pushing google tv out to us.

Had a look at the Sony shop, all good, does what it should.

My only gripe with google TV is that doesn't have a tv tuner, you have to have a set top box to take in the RF signal an push out the signal... its design for the US TV model where they all have cable boxes.
I might be a minority, but I don't have a set top box, the RF lines goes straight into the TV... alot less boxes and reduced cable madness.

Haivng to get a set top box and then GTV, gah, more wall warts and cables...

I am hoping that we do see Sony and others start intergrating GTV into their TVs, then it would potentially allow GTV to overlay on what ever souce you are currently connected too.

Alternatively, that through Googles ownership of Motorola, who supposedly make set top boxes, we will see standalone GTV with tuners... reducing the clutter.




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