With the apparent price cut of Sony’s Google TV products and the ever expanding boycott of streaming media from many of the major networks, it would appear that Google TV is getting off to a bad start.  This didn’t stop us from getting our hands on the Sony NSZ-GT1 Blu-ray Player with Google TV to find out what it’s all about.

This first Quick Look will show you the hardware you get for your money, basic connections and the setup of the product.


What’s in the box:

 

Contents:

  • Internet TV Box
  • Keypad and batteries
  • HDMI Cable
  • IR Blaster Cable
  • AC Power Cord
  • AC Adapter
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • Reference Guide
  • Warranty Card
  • End User License Agreement


Setup:

Setup of the player could not have been easier, even though I did have to go and check out the online guides to find out the best way to connect my unit.  The quick setup guide that comes with the system does not take into account the people who also want to use an amplifier in their home theater setup.  Strange really, as I would expect the majority of people currently installing one of these units would also have amplifiers in a nice home theater setup.  Very minor remark really as it was very straightforward and didn’t really require the online lookup.  The connection configuration I used is very similar to this:

I connected my cable box into the back of the Sony Google TV unit with an HDMI cable, an HDMI cable from the rear of the Sony Google TV unit into the input on my amplifier and then another HDMI cable from the output of my amplifier to the input of my TV.  All done!

After running through the setup routine, which involved telling the system what other equipment I had connected and the cable company I was using and then linking the unit to my Google Gmail account, I was ready for action.


Media:

My first port of call was to find out what media I could get to work.  Given the reluctance of most networks to allow streaming from the Internet, I had previously configured a computer on my home network as a PlayOn media server.  This was a godsend and worked seamlessly.  Simply browsing to http://gtv.playon.tv in Chrome presented a list of the PlayOn servers configured on my home network.  Once you select the server you want to use, you are presented with a list of the media channels you can access as shown below:

 

Hulu access is the main feature that PlayOn provides.  The server configuration allows you to enter your account details which in turn provides an extra option on your list of available media called “User Queue.”  The rest of the list gives you access to all the other media sorted into various categories. You can also get into a list of all the available TV shows sorted into alphabetical order, the genres of TV shows, shows sorted by the TV networks, and much more.

The interface is basically a web page so navigation isn’t the easiest and is not optimized for the Google TV shows.  While this isn’t a big issue, it will be much easier once Hulu releases a custom application for Google TV.

 

When you enter the “User Queue,” you can view your generated list of preferred content taken from your Hulu subscription sorted by Date, by Name or by your custom defined Play Order setup on the Hulu site itself.  Once you’ve selected, you’re presented with the list of media; a single click on any item in the list starts your show playing after a brief pause.  The responsiveness of the system is determined by the specifications of the computer you setup as your PlayOn media server.

 

Once you’ve selected your media and it starts playing, you’re in the regular media player of the Google TV and you can pause and resume content at will.  You can use the cursor keys to jump backwards and forwards, but fast forward and reverse of media doesn’t work too well.


There is a whole section of application, bookmarks, and Google TV-optimized content to play with and as time permits, I’ll be testing more features and writing further articles.


Internet:

Google Chrome is the built-in browser and I couldn’t help but head over to the AndroidSPIN site to see how well it performed.  I have to say that it was seamless, as expected.  Web browsing looked simply amazing on my 55″ Samsung LED TV and was incredibly responsive.

 

I’m still uncertain about the future of Google TV and it will take a lot of negotiations and working out how to generate proportional revenue streams for the networks before it can be taken seriously and become a system the average Joe can install and use without having to find work-arounds for streaming content.

 

Google TV applications:

One disappointment (and to me it is a fairly big one) is the lack of mainstream Google applications.  Google and the Google TV early adopters have promised that full market access will be available early in the new year and this takes the technology to whole new level.  You can get the usual Gmail and Gchat using Chrome, but it would be much simpler if the applications had been available from day one.  This is Version 1 of Google TV and the potential is huge, I’m just hoping they start using it to its full potential soon.

 

Other Issues:

There is one issue that I’m still trying to work through.  The volume of everything going through my amplifier is now much lower and I’m finding I have to crank the volume way up to get to the level I had before.  It’s like the Sony Internet TV box is reducing the volume of everything that is coming from the HDMI input or in my case, the connection from my AT&T U-verse box.

 

Stay tuned for more and be sure to let us know if there is anything you’d like us to investigate in the comments below.

 

You can see the complete gallery of photos and a few extras below:

  • Lalith Vaka

    Doesnt the google TV 60hz output screw your TV picture quality of Samsung LED tv?

    • Bucketachicken

      Typically, the TV is the one that does the conversion from 60 hz to 120 or 240, so the GTV wouldn’t have any effect.

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      Bucketachicken is correct. It’s the TV that does the conversion so nothing is affected. The only thing i’ve noticed is that the sound is lower so I have to turn my amplifier up more. Must be the pass-through in the Sony box.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/dbin78 Dain Binder

    Hi Simon,

    How is the Blu-ray part of it? Does it support Hulu Plus through the PlayOn feature? Also, how can it connect to the internet (ethernet, wireless, or are both available)? Lastly, what does it do with your cable box, or is it just passing the signal on? Is anything lost if you don’t have a cable box (I use over-the-air HD programming)?

    Thanks for the write up; this is the product I have been looking at getting once everything gets the kinks worked out. I think it still has a bit to go to make it worth it. My current Sony Blu-ray (S470) handles Netflix, Hulu Plus, and many other streaming services; the only thing missing is Google TV which I hope can start moving forward instead of backwards.

    Thanks again!

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      The BlueRay is as good as any BlueRay player I’ve used.
      Hulu is supported through PlayOn and you get access to your complete queue or subscriptions. It’s not HD but its still pretty good. Once the Hulu application is launched it will be much better.
      The player has built in WiFi and Ethernet so all your bases are covered.
      Google TV knows about your cable network so when you search, it gives you the listings and changes channels for you. Only Dish network has the full integration with the DVR features.
      Hope this helps.

      • http://www.google.com/profiles/dbin78 Dain Binder

        That helps a lot Simon. Thank you for taking the time to reply!

  • http://schwiz.myopenid.com/ schwiz

    ugh, screw play-on they sold me a lifetime license for $50 and then just 2 months later they went to a subscription model without refunding a cent.

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      I’m confused. They have both options that are still available. One time Fee for lifetime and a subscription service. If you paid for a lifetime subscription your still good.
      Can you explain more and I’ll see what I can find out from my contacts?

      • http://schwiz.myopenid.com/ schwiz

        Yes when they sold the lifetime licence before they were offering the subscription model it was full featured, you could use any plugin or view any channel. Then when they added subscription those who had paid the lifetime licence are now limited to hulu and myMedia. No plugins or any other channels.

        • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

          If you wanna drop me an email with your info, I’ll see what I can find out.

        • Guest

          That’s actually incorrect. Everything that worked in PlayOn when a customer purchased it continues to work. PlayOn Basic customers, which is what they are calling customers from prior to the move to the subscription model just don’t get new channels that hvae been released since the move.

  • Anonymous

    How easy (and seamless) is it to tap into media stored on your local network, like music and videos? And what formats does it work with?

    Thanks!

    • http://www.androidspin.com Simon N. Walker

      I have a media server running on a Windows Home Server and I can stream all my content using the built in Window Media Server based on Windows Connect.
      I’ll try to keep a track of the formats I’ve tried but DivX, AVI and MP4 all play without a hitch in all formats up to 1080..

  • Joe

    Simon
    Any luck with the volume issue? I am having the same problem.
    Thanks,
    Joe

  • andres

    una consulta tengo un sony bravia kdl40bx425 lcd full hd es compatible si compro este blue ray puedo navegar en internet en mi tv gracias y saludos

  • http://www.sherwin-williams.com Sherwin

    Simon,
    Are you still using the Sony Blu-Ray Google TV w/ your AT&T Uverse. I’m thinking about getting it to add to my media stuff…but want an update on how it’s been working. I need to update my receiver, of course, b/c there are no HDMI connections in the back. I have seen other issues across the Net, but none had specified using an A/V Receiver.

    Thanks again,

  • Michael

    Regarding the connection with a cable box; can I watch cable without truning the Google TV box on or will I have to turn it on and select the TV feature? Just passing the HDMI cable through; the cable box already has its own optical line into my receiver, so audio is not an issue. The remote is too complicated for my babysitter & my wife, so I’m looking to retain control of cable via my Harmony remote without the need to operate the Google TV, but also have the capability to use the PIP to simultaneously watch TV and use Google Chrome/surf the net.

  • Michael

    Regarding the connection with a cable box; can I watch cable without truning the Google TV box on or will I have to turn it on and select the TV feature? The remote is too complicated for my babysitter & my wife, so I’m looking to retain control of cable via my Harmony remote without the need to operate the Google TV, but also have the capability to use the PIP to simultaneously watch TV and use Google Chrome/surf the net.

  • Michael

    Sorry for the multiple posts; kept getting a pop-up saying “the comment was not published, check your message,” so I kept re-submitting.

  • Cassie Buhl

    We have an older HarmonKardon and have the ability to partition some of the speaker outputs in to a “remote listening room” as they call it. There are 4 speakers we can control independently of the rest. We use it to control speakers outside. Problem is we can not get sound to play through these speakers (ie like when we have Pandora going). Any advice? Great tip on the PlayOn, I’ll give that a try. I would also like to connect my large hard drive of music via the USB on the front and navigate, but it will only recognise a small jump drive. Ideas? or am I expecting too much?