On paper, the idea for Google TV is a great one. Who would not want to have all one’s TV entertainment choices located and reduced to one desktop box? Imagine surfing the internet, watching streaming of video services and enjoying your cable or satellite TV channels all from the same box. Not only do you get the convenience of having all your favorite content streamed through one box, but it is also powered by Google Search. It sounds great on paper and the specs look great. However, when it comes to implementation, it looks like Google TV is still not ready for prime time.
Sony’s NSZ-GS7 is the Japanese manufacturer’s second attempt at putting together a Google TV box. By all accounts, this is a much better and more solid outing for Sony than its previous try, which is the Sony NSZ-GT1 Blu-Ray player. While this box does not have any Blu-Ray functionality looks much better and appears to be better designed than its predecessor, but it still falls short. Many critics appreciate the fact that the NSZ-GS7 sports a really nice remote. How nice? We are talking about a double-sided remote that is very sleek and combines a touch pad and a full keyboard. The drawback to this remote is that while geeks will take to it like ducks to water, most rank and file consumers might find it too techie or too cumbersome to learn. The gold standard is still the run-of-the-mill cable TV or Blu-Ray controller. The simpler, the better. Still this remote system packs many features that is sure to get many oohs and ahhs from both veteran geeks and middle-of-the-road home tech users. The improved controller is easier to use than its predecessor because of the larger touch pad area and the DVR buttons are very simple.
The previous Google TV controller, NSZ-GT1, was dead on arrival. It had too many buttons and a touch pad that was not just up to speed. Its successor gets many praises because of the full keyboard on the other side of the remote. It is very hard to do a search without a keyboard. Let us face it, web based search is still a very keyboard-centric activity. Unless you are doing search on a smart phone, an adequately sized keyboard is still necessary and that is where this Google TV remote comes up heads and shoulders above its predecessor. Also the main body of the box is very sleek. It has full HDMI support, digital output, optical jack and IR blaster. It supports Wi-Fi and has two USB ports. It also supports a traditional Ethernet cable. What more can you want? It even works well with a streamlined or slim power strip. There is no need for a bulky power supply for this unit. Hardware wise, this device has much going for it.
What kills the deal for many reviewers and gadget fanatics is once again the Achilles heel Google TV, the software. The software is still buggy. It does not certainly have true integration of DVR functions because only Dish Network subscribers can truly benefit from that function.
What is worse is that the software still lacks apps that are dedicated to popular services like MLB.TV, Amazon Instant and also Hulu Plus. There have been reports by reviewers of the box top unit freezing up when it is being powered on or downloading Podcast apps and other items from Google Play store. It also runs the risk of rebooting the box top set. Other reviewers claim that it is hard to access their Google Music database using the NSZ-GS7. There are just too many loose parts and unpolished segments included in Google TV software. While Sony has gone a long way in taking care of the hardware end, the software still has a long way to go.