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Google TV

August 2012

I recently purchased a Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV Internet Streamer for home use. 

My purpose is to learn about Internet TV and begin to "Cut the Cable". I also have some work demands that I'll get into in another paper.  I don't have any Apple infrastructure so that left out the Apple TV. I really liked the Roku but I wanted the Chrome browser. I'll get the Roku for one of the bedrooms. I'm waiting to purchase the Vizio Co-Star but it is not available yet. It is half the price of the Sony and It will probably be my third device.

I should mention that I have a Sony PS3. It's a great device but it has limited apps available for Internet streaming and has the world's worse browser. It's too bad, A Blu Ray player with lots of games, Bluetooth keyboards, and the three most popular streaming services. It also includes Sony Entertainment for more content. But the lack of the Chrome browser and no Google Play Store is a deal breaker for me. Note to Sony: You should add the PS3 to your Google TV lineup.  

I would like to explain my situation and requirements at home before I go into the enterprise IT implementation of these technologies. My Cable TV bill is around $250 per month. I'll break down this bill in another paper but here is a summary:
  • Basic and "Extended Channels"  
  • Internet Pipe
  • 7 TV Boxes 
    • 3 DVR's
    • 3 HD Converters
    • 1 Regular Converter
  • Premium Movie Channels
I'm dipping my toe into this whole "Cut the Cable" thing so I'm going slow and looking at cutting the Premium Movie Channels first. I'm very pleased with the Sony Google TV. I'll mention some pros and cons, but remember, I just started using it.

It uses the HDMI pass through to merge what is on live TV with content on the Internet. Google TV becomes "aware" of what is available to me "live". The pass through causes a slight but noticeable lag when I change channels on the cable box. I'm already getting use to it.

 I like the remote because it has all the functions I need, however, I find that I need to flip the phone over a lot. It's a trade off. I want the small size of a remote but the function of a keyboard. I wish the keyboard side had a "menu" key. I have install a virtual remote on my laptop, Chromebook and android devices. You can't do mirroring (display your tablet on the TV) like Apple TV but there is a Chrome to TV browser extension.

I don't have Netflix yet, but I plan on getting it soon. I already have Comcast On Demand and I have Amazon Prime's Instant Video. I don't have a Hulu Plus account and won't get one until an app appears. The Best Buy guy insisted that Hulu Plus will work through the browser (and that he has done it) but I keep hearing otherwise. I've been playing around with Crackle. The browser works great and can let me use video sites such as Veetle. I rarely watch the traditional networks but I DVR a lot of cable networks content.

This brings us to the part of the story when we decide what to watch on this new technology.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth it was easy to decide what to watch on TV. There was three channels and you memorized when your favorite shows were on. I watched a lot of Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk because the alternatives were even worse. Extremely limited choice made it very easy to passively decided what to watch.

Cable TV was better, I didn't have to watch the worst of TV but I still had 57 Channels (And Nothin' On). I could still memorize my favorite shows and a relatively small number of channels meant that I could passively flip through the channels to find something to pass the time. TV remote controls became helpful for channel selection to remain passive.

By the time we got to 500 channels   things started to break. By the time I flipped through 500 channels a new set of shows were on and I would have to start all over. Before I roused myself from the couch, the cable operators responded with on screen channel guides and then interactive guides to manage "program discovery". A TV remote was mandatory. The amount of content expanded and the advent of interactive channel guides and the remote control allowed for program discovery as well as passive watching (finding something to simply turn on).

Today, with Internet streaming, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that almost all movies, TV shows or Internet videos are indexed and available somewhere. The problem is that they are difficult to find.

Each streaming service has it's own catalog search but there are dozens of streaming services. Reading a catalog starting at A and ending with Z, even with genre categories, is frustrating.  There are many factors that determine which service, which device, at what time, and cost. Searching for a particular TV show or movie and at the best price can be difficult. 

Many sites are integrating search from several catalogs. "Can I Stream It" does an admirable job of finding movies on several video services and they plan on adding TV programming.

THe problem with search, however, is that you have to know what to search for. New program discovery is a problem. After all how to I find the new TV series that I'll probably like? The problem is even worse when I consider that I often want to passively view something interesting without a lot of effort. 

First, I plan on looking around for blogs or other services