In May, Sony and Google announced a strategic alliance to develop new Android-based hardware products. The partnership is bearing fruit in the form of Sony Internet TV, powered by Google TV. It seems that most premium new release HDTVs come with Internet connectivity these days but one of the big differences offered by Sony’s Internet TV devices is a Dual View feature that lets viewers watch TV and surf the web at the same time.
Sony Internet TV is available in integrated LCD HDTV models as well as a Blu-ray Disc player that brings Sony Internet TV functionality to an existing HDTV. Built on the Android platform, it runs the Google Chrome browser and is powered by an Intel Atom processor. All the TVs include 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, USB ports, DLNA, UPnP and 8 GB of built-in storage. As well as Sony’s Video On Demand powered by Qriocity streaming service and a variety of pre-installed apps including CNBC, Napster, NBA, Netflix, Pandora, Twitter and YouTube, from early 2011 the devices will also let users access and add applications from the Android Market.
The ability to surf the web to find the name of some actor, tweet about what they’re watching or check their gmail without losing a minute of their favorite show will no doubt appeal to many people and that’s just what Dual View does. However, the Dual View function doesn’t split the screen 50/50 or let the user decide whether the TV picture or Internet content will dominate. Instead the TV picture is relegated to a small Picture-in-Picture (PIP) in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Making sure the on screen text was large enough to read and the aspect ratio of the widescreen format probably didn’t make things easy in this regard but it would be nice to see an update that at least lets users easily switch which content is relegated to the PIP.
The ability to browse the Internet also means a chunky remote in the form of an RF QWERTY keypad that incorporates an optical mouse. The remote’s layout and size means that, although it might be convenient for surfing the web, it’s probably going to be too big for one-handed surfing of the channel variety. Users of select Android phones will also be able to control the TV with an app that will be available from the Android Market in a few months.
The Sony Internet TV line includes the 24-inch NSX-24GT1 (US$599.99), the 32-inch NSX-32GT1 ($799.99), the 40-inch NSX-40GT1 ($999.99), and the 46-inch NSX-46GT1 ($1,399.99). Those looking to get onboard with Sony Internet TV but don’t want to buy a new TV can opt for the NSZ-GT1 Blu-ray Disc Player ($399.99). All the TVs feature distinctive white backs with black gloss bezels, while the Blu-ray player features white front and sides and gloss black top. All come with the QWERTY keypad and all will be available from Sony Style from October 16 and at Best Buy shortly after.