About a year ago, I was complaining to my roommate that while I loved having “The Office” on demand through our cable provider, I really wanted all of the show’s episodes available on my TV whenever I wanted. I went on to add that, essentially, what I was looking for was the Internet, with its limitless ability to host all of the back episodes of all of my favorite television shows, readily available on demand through my TV. Sure, I could watch them online, but there’s something just so much better about watching them from the comfort of my couch on a screen bigger and sharper than the one on my 13-inch laptop.
Apparently, Google heard me.
This month, the company is rolling out its newest innovation: GoogleTV. Simply, Google is putting the entire Internet on TV, meaning I can watch all of the back episodes of “The Office” from my living room couch on a decent size screen using my phone as a remote. This is a big step up from many previously released Internet/TV combinations that allowed viewers to only go to a few websites, preventing the user from truly exploring all the Internet has to offer.
To ensure that websites optimize their content for television, Google has worked out agreements with major entertainment names such as HBO, Pandora and subsidies of Time Warner, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and CNN. Users will be able to stream photos directly from sites such as Flickr and Picasa. YouTube videos will also be ready and optimized for streaming on GoogleTV. (After all, who doesn’t want to see David After Dentist on a 72 inch flatscreen?)
However, the company will be offering more than just the Internet on your TV. Applications will also be available, similar to those found on your Smartphone. Although some applications such as those for Twitter and Facebook will be available for use right away, by the beginning of next year individuals will be able to develop applications for the service, similar to the open source platform currently found on the Droid phones.
Perhaps the coolest thing about GoogleTV is the personalization options available. Like an Internet browser, the TV will have a homepage made up of websites, applications and television stations. Users will also have the option to browse websites and watch television at the same time on the same screen, as well as the ability to easily move back and forth between the two media. Another feature, Google Queue, allows for an individualized Internet DVR that integrates web aspects such as YouTube videos and Podcasts and can be viewed on demand.
According to the company’s website, GoogleTV will be available three ways. One will be through a standalone, HDTV television set from Sony. The other options, from Logitech and Sony, are added on to an individual’s television set. DISH network subscribers will have access to features like DVR combined with Google’s search technology to help search through all recordings. Although the television set will come with a remote (that features a full QWERTY keyboard), both Android and iPhone users will be able to use their cell phones as remote controls for the device as well.
The Sony television sets are currently for sale on pre-order at the SonyStyle website and will be available this weekend. Best Buy started carrying the sets this week. There will be four screen sizes available: 24 inches, 32 inches, 40 inches and 46 inches, with prices ranging from $599 to $1,399. Google is also promising over-the-air updates for free, so that even the earliest adapters will be able to keep up with any improvements the company makes.