A DIFFERENT VIEW OF GOOGLE TV

The new Google TV has been getting a lot of criticism from reviewers but we loved it. What can we say: we’ve always been a little different.

Google TV

The most common complaint is that you can’t use it to watch TV shows from Hulu.com or from broadcasters who block their content. We think this really misses the point: Google TV isn’t for people who are trying to save money on their cable bills, it’s for what economist Friedrich Hayek called “leisure pioneers.” Eventually, it will be cheap, the system will improve, and everyone will end up using it and wondering how they ever put up with a dumb TV.

There are three ways to get Google TV, which, by the way, is an operating system, not a device.

  • One, you can connect a TV to a $400 Sony box that includes a Blu-ray disc player. It has the catchy name of NSZ-GT1. Wouldn’t you love to sit in on one of their marketing meetings?
  • Two, use a similar box from Logitech that doesn’t have a Blu-Ray player. It’s called the Logitech Revue and retails for around $300.
  • Three: Buy a 46-inch, $1400 Sony TV that includes Google TV. That does seem excessive.

We bought the Sony box, even though we already had a Blu-ray player, and we haven’t looked back since. It has opened a world of fun and education. Sure, most of the stuff could have been found on our computers. But it’s a lot of trouble to find it.

In the first couple of days with Google TV we’ve enjoyed gadget shows, author interviews, science shows, and investing programs. This is a tiny fraction of what comes up just going ‘round the dial, so to speak. New material comes in every day.

The Sony controller is a little bigger than a smart-phone and — to our delight — has a full QWERTY keyboard. You can type what you want to see. Type any web site (ours, for example) and it comes up.

The Google TV menu has sections called Bookmarks, Spotlight, Applications, Most Visited and Queue. Applications include Netflix, Pandora, an NBA app, etc. Other apps will be available in a few months. The Spotlight section includes New York Times videos, a CNET channel (CNET has dozens of gadget reviews every day), and others. If you have a slow link to the Internet, many of the channels will come in with interruptions, waiting for their signals to load. CNET came in with no lags, however.

The “Queue” section of Google TV has channels for art, business, comedy, food, investing, magazines, news and politics, science, society and culture and tech news. We watched Nora Ephron talking about her new book, some art gallery walk-throughs and a show on making money with stock options. Click on the magnifying glass whenever you want to surf the web, rather than using one of the channels. Use “picture in picture” to watch regular TV in a corner of the screen while web browsing.

Overall, this has been a lot of fun, very educational and we’re glad we bought it.

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