Sony has a lot of stuff at CES, my favorite being the Xperia Ion with it’s fast capture camera, but they also had some pleasant surprises to their Google TV lineup. There were three main improvements:
(1) The most noticeable change is with the remote. Sony’s Google TV remote was formerly designed like a Playstation Controller, with the face displaying a full keyboard. Their new version looks and feels much more like a traditional remote with typical controls on one side and a full QWERTY Keyboard on the flip side. The addition of a large trackpad and voice input are incredibly welcome features.
(2) Sony’s Google TV Blu-Ray player has been updated to a much more compact and attractive form factor, essentially halving the size, and adding 3D capabilities. We were told the first generation of devices will receive a software upgrade that will enable 3D as well.
(3) In the past, customers who wanted Google TV with Sony either had to buy a Sony Internet TV with Google TV onboard or buy the Blu-Ray player. But what if you’ve already got a Blu-Ray player and a TV and just want the Google TV experience? Now you can purchase a small Sony Google TV Set Top box that provides a more affordable and compact option.
Other than these hardware alterations, the Google TV experience is very much the same. I’m still waiting for the Android Market to become flooded with apps and games designed specifically for Google TV followed by a flurry of add-ons thanks to Android Open Accessory.
Will 2012 be the year of Google TV? If it is, look for Google IO to be the coming out party.