In Depth: Sony Internet Player With Google TV

I spent the morning at an exclusive media event at the Sony Store at the Eaton Center in Toronto to have a look at the upcoming Sony Internet Player With Google TV. Even before I talk about the features that this product has, let me say this: Apple needs to be worried as this could easily take the breakfast, lunch and dinner from Apple TV. More on that later.

Let me start with the device itself. It’s small, thin and doesn’t stand out.

One of the big things about the device is that it has two HDMI ports. An input and an output. The basic premise is that it fully integrates with your TV so that you can surf the net, browse content while watching TV. Not to mention that it doesn’t use up an HDMI port on your TV. Nice.

The next thing is the remote:

You’ll notice that it looks like every other Sony remote out there, but it has a touch pad in the middle. This allows you to navigate and scroll with ease. Plus you can do things like pinch to zoom just like a smartphone. But the fun doesn’t end there. Here’s the back:

There’s a full keyboard with raised buttons and feedback. That way you can type URLs and the like easily. I should mention that there’s a tilt sensor in it as well. I’ll get to that in a minute. Another feature is that this remote can control all your devices. TV, cable box, etc. Nice.

The Sony Internet Player comes with Google TV installed. That means that because it’s an Android OS based device, you can install apps and have access to Internet enabled content. For example it comes with Chrome so that you can surf and do anything you would usually do from a tablet or a computer. The experience is exactly the same as any computer and that includes having Flash.

As you can see, I’ve got my blog displayed. But you’ll also notice that I have a picture in the top right corner. That’s the TV and it demonstrates the level of integration between the TV and the Internet Player. As for apps, it comes preloaded with the Sony Entertainment Network so you wan watch Sony’s massive library of movies (for a fee of course).

But unlike something like Apple TV, you have other options. For example, Canadians will get the National Film Board app preinstalled which gives users access to one of the best libraries of films out there. Apps for things like Netflix and YouTube are either already on the device or a download away. If you’ve got content of your own, no problem. There are two USB ports at the back that allow you to play content that way, or you can pull content from any DNLA compliant device via Ethernet as well as 802.11 B/G/N. And it can play pretty much any video, audio or picture format you can throw at it.

Now back to the remote control for a second. I mentioned earlier that it has a tilt sensor in it. That means that you can use it to play games that are built for that feature, or you can do what Sony did and run a drone off it:

This is the Parrot AR Drone. Using an app from the Android Market, Sony showed that you can use the tilt sensor in the remote control to fly the drone and also stream video over WiFi to the Sony Internet Player:

That’s a really great example of how open this platform is. Compare that with Apple TV where unless you get something that is Apple approved or you “jailbreak” your Apple TV, you can’t do something like this.

The price is going to be $199 CDN and the product is shipping in mid-August. I’ve already requested one for a more detailed review. But even without the ability to review in depth I will say this much. Sony has a game changer on it’s hands. This is a device that will get Apple’s attention and give the Apple TV a run for it’s money. I would encourage anyone who is looking for a device like this to seriously consider the Sony Internet Player With Google TV as it is a platform that will change the way you watch TV.

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2 Responses to “In Depth: Sony Internet Player With Google TV”

  1. This looks great. I do wonder if it will need an anti-virus built into it…eventually.

  2. 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

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