Sony Internet TV – First Impressions

I spent some time with the Sony Internet TV. I chose to approach my test blind, without reading up on the controller functionality and such, in order to see how easy it is to pick up from a consumer’s viewpoint. Here are my impressions.

At first glance, Google TV via the Sony Internet TV looks pretty straightforward. I was able to change the channels easily enough, and to get the satellite menu open. The TV I tested was connected to DirecTV, interestingly enough. As far as the TV went, so far, so good. I was more interested in the internet side of things though, so I quickly moved on.

I had heard something about Hulu incompatability so I checked that out first. Sure enough there is an error message. See the image above. It was good to see that Hulu intends to make it work, even if it was not currently available. Hopefully the Hulu support will come soon.

The keyboard remote is pretty intricate. There are lots of choices available on a fairly small device. The remote is slightly larger than a video game controller, comparable in size to the Xbox 360 controller. There are some really obvious buttons, and some not so obvious ones. I poked around a bit without referring to the display, again trying to see how well the average person could navigate the device. In short, it wasn’t so easy.

I was able to figure out how to load Chrome easily enough. I also pulled off some Google searches and loaded YouTube. Pretty easy. I went to Twitter to file the obligatory Tweet, and ran into my first major roadblock. I use special characters and caps in my Twitter password, and couldn’t see an obvious way to input those with the remote. After a few trials and errors, I found out how to hold down certain keys to make it work. I logged into Twitter, posted a tweet, and moved on.

I tried the picture in picture while searching next. The WTA tournament was on, so I picked one of the players at random and did a search for her. I found her website easily enough and was able to keep my eye on the game while I read her stats. Searching and picture in picture worked pretty well.

Overall I had a pretty good experience testing out the Sony Internet TV/Google TV. As a nerd, I was pretty happy. I am not sure that an average Joe would be as excited though. The keyboard is really complicated. As Google develops the voice search features on Google TV, this won’t be as big an issue, but for now it is easiest for the tech savvy. I’m not saying that the average person can’t use the device, just that I am not sure they’d want to.

Like I said, I really liked the Sony Internet TV. I plan to get one in the relatively near future. My Logitech Revue is on its way and I’ll run some more Google TV tests with it. I think either way you go, Google TV has a lot to offer though. As I play with it more I’ll be sure to talk about it here.

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