Sony unveils first Google TV

Sony unveils first Google TV

And they will be the first TVs on the market to run Google TV, Google’s new operating system for Internet-connected televisions. People annoyed by the number of electronics-filled boxes accumulating in their living rooms will no doubt rejoice. But the new technology comes with another potential irritant — a remote control that may intimidate all but the most digitally savvy users.

Consumers can do virtually everything online with Sony’s televisions that they can on a computer — post messages on Twitter, stream movies from Netflix and read the news. A Google search engine specifically designed for the television screen is intended to make it easier to find show times or programmes stored on a digital video recorder, along with other kinds of information.

The introduction of the new Sony line comes at a time of increasing competition among Internet TV providers, which, until recently, was long on promise but short on delivery. Apple, Logitech, Roku and Boxee all offer technology for marrying televisions with the Web. But their set-top boxes must be connected to a television (granted, the setup isn’t difficult). Sony’s new TVs come preinstalled with the necessary software and therefore don’t need an additional connection other than to the Internet through a cable or Wi-Fi.

The new Sony televisions (HDTV flat-screens) come in four sizes, and are priced as follows: 24-inch ($600); 32-inch ($800); 40-inch ($1,000); 46-inch ($1,400). The TVs will be available starting Saturday through sonystyle.com. Best Buy will put them on sale starting Sunday.

The technology takes into account the inevitable desire by consumers to multitask. People who open a web page while watching football, for instance, can still keep an eye on the game in a small box near the bottom of the screen. Users can also bookmark content that they want to see later.

Criticism

Over the last week, much of the web chatter about Sony’s new television has been directed at its remote control. Images recently leaked online showing what looked like a mini-computer keyboard prompted a wave of criticism.

With all of the buttons, the controller does look daunting. But using it during a demonstration turned out to be relatively intuitive. The controller, which is about six inches across, includes an optical mouse for moving the cursor and a home button to return users to the start screen.

In any case, Sony plans to soon make an app available in Google’s Android marketplace that will allow people with Android phones to use their phones as remote controls. Voice navigation will also be possible.



















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