First Look: Sony Internet TV

Sony has launched its much anticipated Internet TV in New York City, and Pocket-lint was there to have a play and bring you our first impressions. Sony Internet TV is the first all-in-one HDTV integrated with the Google TV system. Much like the recently launched Logitech Revue, also powered with Google TV, Sony differentiates itself by being the first to offer the system built directly into a TV, and with it a handheld remote control. Sony is also offering a Sony Internet TV Blu-ray Disc Player that will connect to any standard HDTV to give you a Google TV experience. 

So we know that Google TV is amazing because it lets you watch live TV while experiencing the Internet. If you’re watching a live TV show, you can search for online content directly on your TV from the comfort of your couch. What makes Google TV great is the fact that unlike a normal cable TV that searches only live content, Google TV will search recorded content, internet content, YouTube content, apps, etc., to create a super rich entertainment experience that combines internet and TV.

At first glance, the Sony Internet TV itself is sleek. The Apple-esque product is extraordinarily clean looking with a black face and a white back panel. The TV itself displays in full 1080p HD with an Edge LED backlight. The Sony Internet TVs range in sizes from 24 to 46 inches, and are priced from $599 to $1399. All of the TVs in the product line feature four HDMI inputs and four USB inputs located in the back, along with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.

With the basic Sony Internet TV, you will also receive a remote control, which was described by Mike Abary, senior vice president of Sony's Home Division as “beautifully designed” with “elements borrowed from the PS3 remote.” Not sure if we were looking at the same remote control, because we would have used words more like “horribly tragic.” Maybe we just don’t get the whole 1980s vintage thing.

Regardless of how it looks, the folks at Sony did have a point when they mentioned that a full sized keyboard does not belong in the living room. Unlike the Logitech Revue that comes standard with a full sized keyboard that acts like a remote control, Sony Internet TV comes only with the handheld remote control. Although it’s a tad fugly, the remote control does feature a full QWERTY keyboard and optical mouse functions that allow you to control the TV’s volume, DVR or Blu-ray player, and basically all of the TV’s functions. It’s intuitive and relatively easy-to-use. The remote control is RF so you don’t have to point it directly at the TV while you channel surf or search. Okay, we guess the remote control isn’t so bad after all. Additionally, select Android phone users will be able to download an app that can control the TV - something that is already available for the Harmony remote offered with the Logitech Revue but not yet available on Sony Internet TV.

Sony’s answer to the Logitech Revue is the Sony Internet TV Blu-ray Player, which lets you turn any HDTV into a Google TV powered TV. The device resembles a rather large DVR with a sleek black face. It offers the same connectivity and functionality as the Logitech Revue box, but it’s also a high-def disc player so you can watch Blu-ray movies.

When it comes down to using the TV, it’s pretty awesome. Sony demoed the product by showing us a live television program with the search feature. They explained that you could watch a live TV show on the Food Network and decide to search for a related restaurant. Google TV runs on the Android platform and uses Google Chrome for all web activity. Including an Intel Atom processor, the device offers a link between the Internet and TV.  

When you do a search, results from YouTube, Google, and all related apps will pop up in Chrome all while you watch the live TV show in the background. If you prefer to minimise the program while you search the Internet, you can easily switch into Dual View, which maintains a tiny picture of the live TV program in the right-hand corner of your screen. The person doing the demo seemed to seamlessly switch between live TV, search, Google results, and he then even accessed Twitter to share his finds with the world. The seamless flow between each aspect of the system was indeed impressive.

As for the apps, the Sony Internet TV system comes preloaded with apps from Netflix, CNBC, Qriocity, Pandora, Twitter, and Napster, with more to come in the future. Users will be able to add apps from the Android Market in early 2011 including the aforementioned remote control app. All the TVs featured Sony’s streaming service “Video on Demand” powered by Qriocity.

Verdict

Google TV is awesome. We want it. This TV is super sleek and awesome. We also want that.

But when it comes down to purchasing a product that will allow me to use Google TV, you currently have two choices: the Logitech Revue and Sony Internet TV. The Revue is great because you can purchase a TV top box that will connect to a current HDTV for around $299. If you wanted to upgrade your TV, you can spring for the sleek and stylish Sony Internet TV. Sony does offer a Blu-ray player that allows you to get the features on your existing HDTV, but it costs $399, $100 more than the Logitech Revue.

Both systems run the same Google TV features including Dual View, search, and access to apps, but the main difference that stands out is that Logitech Revue users can download an app on their smartphone to control their Revue, whereas this feature is unavailable on Sony Internet TV. Logitech did have a head start though, since the Revue uses existing Harmony universal remote control technology that already has an app for easy control from your cell phone. Unfair. We know. 

The other main standout is Logitech’s partnership with the Dish Network and Sony’s lack of affiliation. We also got the impression that Sony Internet TV is a much simpler option. We can see Sony enthusiasts just paying the extra $100 for the Blu-ray player simply because it comes with one remote, rather than the keyboard, remote control, smartphone options that the Revue has. Sure, some people like this kind of customisation, but we’d say that the average consumer might just go with the Sony brand name just because it’s an easier option.

Sony also boasted that this is the only HDTV that will be available in time for the "holidays", so if you’d like to buy us a TV, you totally can, just in time for Christmas.

The four Sony Internet TV line includes the 24-inch class NSX-24GT1 ($599.99), the 32-inch class NSX-32GT1 ($799.99), the 40-inch NSX-40GT1 ($999.99), and the 46-inch NSX-46GT1 ($1399.99).

You'll be able to get the new Sony gear either at Sony's own website on 16 October and on the shelves at Best Buy starting on 24 October.



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