Google is looking to forge a new frontier by finally bringing the Internet into the lounge room.
In the last couple of years, there has been an explosion in the number of products which have tried (or are trying) to bridge the gap between the home network and the home entertainment system. One of the most eagerly awaited products in this regard is the Boxee Box, due for shipping in November 2010.
Based on the media hype and pre-orders, the Boxee Box is shaping as a winner so the burning question is what will happen when Google TV arrives?
First up, a little about Google TV. Google is planning to utilize the Android operating system which has been hugely popular with mobile phones and couple it with the Chrome web browser and the Flash video player to create an open platform for TV related devices. This approach has the advantage over other offerings of using established products with a ring of familiarity about them.
However, the Boxee Box uses the very popular (and free) Boxee software which has been available for a few years and runs on your PC. Boxee utilizes Apps (as does Android), so enticing developers to build Apps will be a critical component in the battle for Internet in the lounge room supremacy.
You may be pondering what it is you can do with Google TV while sitting in your armchair with a favorite beverage at hand?
The interface will certainly make it easy to search, find, record and play TV content plus Internet media too. A picture-in-picture facility means you can watch some live action while checking some related information at the same time (like game statistics if watching sport).
Other features include being able to view pictures from your networked PC, listen to music from a variety of networked sources and enjoy whatever goodies the Apps developers come up with. And you can have a custom home page on your TV making it quick and simple to get straight to your favorite content.
So what is Google doing about physical products? Well, it has teamed up with Sony who on 12 October 2010 (or thereabouts) will show their new Sony Internet enabled TV, running Google TV of course.
Another partner is Logitech who will produce a box called Logitech Revue with Google TV which will sit between your home network and your TV, just like Boxee Box.
Logitech is targeting the existing 60 million HDTV owners who will not want to buy a new Internet TV but who will see the Internet lounge room experience as compelling.
Whether Google can redefine the home entertainment market with its approach remains to be seen and it will be an interesting show to watch in itself. The competition for networked home entertainment products is becoming intense and the big players are starting to get seriously involved.
However Google’s involvement via Google TV will raise awareness for all Internet users – the lounge room will never be the same again in terms of what (and how) we watch and listen.