aNewDomain.net — It was so easy. A few clicks on Amazon and I had purchased the Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV. Surely, this would fix my constant struggle with Google TV. Immediately, though, I felt buyer’s remorse and began looking up some facts about the Sony device. I was dismayed to find that it hadn’t been updated in five months. Drat. I quickly canceled my Amazon order and yelled at my Vizio CoStar in frustration.
This is what it has come to for me. The first Google TV device I owned was the Logitech Revue, which I bought after the price dropped to $99. Along with software bugs and underpowered hardware, the Revue saddled me with a keyboard-sized remote – it never felt like I was using an Internet device. Instead, I felt like I was using a netbook hooked up to a TV. The Google TV apps were lacking, and as previously written in many places, a number of content sites blocked Google TV entirely.
Logitech publicly announced its disappointment with the Google TV software. Still, a lot of blame goes to Logitech which was slow to update the Revue. Finally, after a June 2012 update to Google TV 3.2, it decided to stop all major updates. The Logitech forums are filled with people disappointed with Logitech’s support.
The Vizio CoStar went on sale in August. By then I was so tired of my Logitech Revue that I pre-ordered the CoStar with minimal information. At first, I was really impressed with the device, the only downside being the remote, a large chunky object that reminds me of cable TV remotes circa the late 80s. However, the unit ran so much quicker than the Logitech Revue that I was able to overlook this.
Even with the improved hardware, the app situation is still not good for Google TV. The Google apps like Play Music and YouTube are outstanding. Netflix runs well, and favorites like Plex, Pandora, and BeyondPod fill out most of my needs. There are a number of glaring absences, though. There is no native Amazon Instant Video app. Hulu, Rdio, and Spotify are nowhere to be found. We’ve been waiting six months for the SiriusXM Google TV app.
The more I use the CoStar the more frustrating it gets. The unit often freezes overnight when running the screen saver. At least a few times a day, I have to “reset” the remote by removing the batteries for a second. The play/pause functionality is hit or miss depending on the app. When the play/pause button doesn’t work, I’m reduced to using the touchpad, an experience that makes me want to throw my remote out the window.
If Google is serious about Google TV, it needs to release a Google TV Nexus device as soon as possible. This situation mirrors my experience with Android tablets before the Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 changed the tablet market forever, regardless of the operating system. It has become my go-to device for mobile computing. I like it so much I upgraded to a 32GB HSPA+ enabled device for the complete package.
To be fair, there are kernels of great ideas within Google TV. The unified search functionality is great — having all your Google content accessible makes for a convenient experience. Google’s Play Music turns my TV and speakers into the best kind of stereo. BeyondPod has made listening to podcasts via my TV something that actually makes sense because YouTube has progressed from cat videos to all sorts of interesting and informative video content.
What’s killing Google TV is the sloppy, buggy, poorly-designed third-party implementations of the software. There isn’t one unified vision of what Google is trying to do. Right now, Google TV is only a couple steps up from just hooking an Android tablet to a TV with an HDMI cable. What disappoints me most is that Google TV has the potential to be so much better, if Google would just come out with a Nexus device. This way it can do for the set top box what it has already done for the phone and tablet markets. I’ll be struggling with my Google TV for at least a little while longer, but each day of buggy software drives me closer to a service like Roku. I believe in the platform, and I just want Google to believe in it as much as I do.
LogitechRevueMote.jpg – Ant Pruitt
CoStar.jpg – Shane P. Brady
GNRemoteComparison.jpg – Shane P. Brady