Mike Lewis | Jan 14 2013 07:30 PM
We were probably expecting a flood of Google TV announcements this year regardless of how we feel about the platform. CES did not disappoint but there were only a few stand-outs between integrated and set top box devices. Here is a quick run down of the devices that were announced including one that many thought would become a potential Nexus-like Google TV set top box.
Starting in the set top box space, we saw a couple unlikely entrants making a Google TV announcement at CES. Netgear announced the NeoTV Streaming player now loaded with Google TV. They had released their own platform device three years ago, but they opted to place Google's software on board this time around. This set top box comes with a remote control with touch pad and QWERTY keyboard and operates similar to other devices with HDMI in/out. Netgear boasts a simple 10 minute set up along with their own personal media streaming UI. With a $129 price tag, we'll see how this does against other newer models. Being a Netgear fan for years, I would have no concerns buying this and replacing my Logitech Revue.
Chinese applicance and electronic producers Hisense announced another set top box at CES 2013. The Pulse appears typical compared to other similar devices, a shiny black square box, but Hisense touted what was under the hood. They claimed this 3.0 Google TV device will be the fastest on the market as it is released. Upon looking for the specs, I found that the Pulse will carry a dual core Marvell Armada 1500 processor (1.2GHz) with a 750MHz GPU. 1GB DDR3 memory and a 4GB Flash NAND are also on board. Early reviews seem to agree that this does provide a significant amount of speed reducing any annoying OS lag that can sometimes come with a Google TV experience. Pricing around 100 bucks on Amazon, this is also a compelling device provided Google do it's part to push providers to create applications for their platform.
The most interesting device comes from Asus. Breaking from the traditional set top box, they announced what can only best be described as a "Big ass cube". The Qube will feature a proprietary 3 dimensional interface which looks clunky. It also has fairly run of the mill specs with 50GB of complementary cloud storage from WebStorage. The device will come with the potential for motion detection which could be interesting for gaming support, but this certainly cannot be the rumored "Nexus" device that was rumored before CES began last week. The partnership is always possible but this device, without a ton of support and no pricing announced, will likely not be taken too seriously in this now crowding market.
Among the carriers that made the most waves with Google TV at CES 2013, LG probably garnered the most attention. The Korean manufacturer announced seven devices will ship this year with Google TV installed. These devices will not come cheap though at first, ranging in prices from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. For those that want the Google TV experience integrated with their televisions, LG is vying to be the production leader with wide market saturation. With devices ranging from 40 to 55 inches and beyond, there will potentially be several LG Smart televisions with Google TV loaded for any budget by year's end.
The biggest takeaway, I think, from CES 2013 is the interest from manufacturers in the Google TV platform. That interest many are hoping will spur developers at Hulu, HBO, and other content providers to push applications for mass consumption. I will predict that if that does happen, Google TV will consume the set top box and integrated OS market well into next year isolating and turning the Apple TV and Roku into less of a mainstay, and more of an enthusiast device, which is what the Google TV is today. If there is going to be any flip in the television OS market, it will depend on those applications.
Any thoughts on Google TV after this year's announcements at CES? Feel free to share your doubts and hopes in the comments.