As broadcast and cable television is augmented by online content, television manufacturers are scrambling to integrate the two formats. All-in-one television/internet browsers are the solution that hardware manufacturers, such as Apple, and internet giants like Google, are looking to produce.
The latest news is that LG is producing a new Google TV that will be released in the U.S. in late May. While Google already has some TV devices out now, a Sony-produced TV and two set-top boxes, Google is upgrading the hardware to be even more convenient.
Introduced at CES, the LG Google TVs have skinnier bezels than their Sony counterparts. More interestingly, the new television sets have an upgraded remote. As you can see, the Sony products ship with a large, clunky keyboard-hybrid device. LG has created the Magic Motion QWERTY remote with a cell phone-inspired keyboard. The blending of the different technologies to create a compact, easy-to-use device might be what sells the LG Google TV to consumers. Google TV also has an app for iPhone and Android phones that turn the devices into remote controls.
Google’s release of a new TV product is an attempt to jump ahead of Apple. While Apple already has Apple TV, a peripheral box that plays iTunes content on the television, there is speculation that Apple will launch its first fully-integrated television sometime between the end of 2012 and 2014.
There is legitimate concern as to whether or not consumers are ready to buy into the Google TV format. Will the built-in Google Chrome browser, internet/TV picture-in-picture, and Google Play store be enough to entice people to buy all-new television sets? For me personally, I spend much more time in front of the computer than I do watching television. I only watch television once or twice a week. However, I’m sure that I’m in the minority.
I also own an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While the Xbox does not have a built-in browser, I can watch Netflix and YouTube on my television, the same functionality touted by Google TV. I can also watch Hulu, which isn’t available on Google TV without a difficult hack. As for internet browsing on the TV, the PlayStation 3 has me covered. While I would love to have the LG Magic Motion remote/keypad, as typing on these consoles is extremely tedious without a special keyboard, that’s not enough to sell me on buying the whole system.
For me, buying a new Google TV won’t even be considered until I need a new television, and even then, I will probably pass on the LG Google TV due to its price. The 47-inch and 55-inch TVs are rumored to sell for $1699 and $2299, respectively. With many 47-inch televisions retailing for less than $1000, that sets a difficult price point for consumers who already have functioning computers, albeit in another room.