Smart TVs were plentiful at the Consumer Electronics Show this year, and Google TV appeared in a number of them, including models from LG and Sony.
With its second run at web-connected TVs, Google’s grand plan is to disrupt entertainment by bringing the full searchable web into the living room, along with a cornucopia of programming choices for consumers, on an open platform. Its rivals include Microsoft with its Xbox Live online entertainment service as well as an expected Apple TV. There’s a lot at stake. The Connected TV Marketing Association estimates that 123 million connected TVs will be sold worldwide in 2014. A year ago, Google TV systems from companies such as Logitech were duds. But Marvell believes the second-generation is more appealing, since the devices aren’t noisy and don’t use a fan anymore. One of the big questions is whether content owners — who fear the access to pirated content that can happen with the open web — will come on board with Google TV.
Marvell showed a working version of the second-generation of Google TV working on a small set-top box designed by the company. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company’s Armada 1500 Foresight platform is the foundation for the hardware, featuring an Armada 1500 dual-core processor. Google chose to use Marvell’s Qdeo video processing technology in the Foresight platform to deliver 3D graphics, rich audio, and TV-friendly web content.
It features the Android Market for TV apps. So far, there are about 500 apps available, from Fox News to the Wall Street Journal. The on-screen user interface isn’t as big as it was before.
More and more consumers are surfing the internet on a laptop or tablet while watching TV. The logic of Google TV is that it integrates the web surfing into the TV itself, with a version of the Chrome web browser for TVs. You can use a remote to check out certain sites or use an accompanying keyboard. The keyboard is particularly necessary if you want to type internet searches on your TV. Some systems are likely to come with voice commands as well.
You can type in the name of a show and it will not only search the TV screen guide for your TV service. It will also search the web for results for links related to the show, with results included from on-demand, recorded and live content sources. You can share pictures on the TV and display them on the big TV. You can fetch a bunch of pictures from Google’s Picasa site and then show them as a slide show on your TV.
TVs using the new Google TV are expected to debut in the early spring. Google TV will also appear in Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.
Here’s a video showing off the features of the new Google TV, demonstrated by Hanna Kang, a brand marketing director at Marvell.