Since Dave quoted me in his last post, I figured I’d better weigh in officially on the Google TV debate. First, I’m surprised everyone is so taken aback by the price. Given the amount people are willing to spend on new iPads, smartphones, and game consoles, $300 (Logitech Revue) doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for an entertainment gadget. That said, you do have to know what you’re getting… and what you’re not getting for the money.
Several people have asked me if they can buy Google TV to replace their existing pay-TV subscription service. That’s not what Google TV is for. Yes, you can make it work that way if you want. Use OTA broadcasts plus content from Internet video services and the web at large, and you can cobble together your own TV package. But you won’t get ESPN, or access to the same amount of cable network content that you can get with a cable subscription. TV on the Internet is still hit or miss. Adding a Google box to your set-up doesn’t change that.
What Google TV does do is organize all your viewing options in one place on the big HDTV in your living room. The apps look entertaining, and Google has even gotten content providers to design their web-based content to make it more HDTV-friendly. If you like to bring up videos on the web and share them with people in the room, Google TV is also good because it builds in a full Internet browser. You can even access personal content off your home network and play it through the Google interface. Cool stuff.
Google TV looks like a lot of fun. But, bottom line, it’s probably overkill as an add-on to your cable subscription. Personally, I already have a DVR, VOD, and a Roku for watching Netflix. Not to mention the netbook usually in my lap. Do I need a Google TV on top of all that? Not really. Someone’s going to have to convince me that I want it enough to make up for the fact that it’s mostly superfluous. Fun, but not really useful.