Sony Electronics is taking another run at Google's TV platform -- after woeful sales of its Google-fied Internet TV introduced in 2010 -- with plans to ship a broadband-connected set-top box with version 2.0 of the search giant's TV software next month.
The Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV will be available at U.S. retailers nationwide on July 22, priced at $199. One feature Sony is highlighting is a redesigned remote control; in its first go-round, the CE maker's remote with a full keyboard was roundly criticized as overly complex.
Sony's 1.3-pound set-top, originally announced at the 2012 CES in January, carries the promise of the Google TV platform: It's supposed to provide a simple way to search across TV and Internet video content, including YouTube, as well as access apps in the Google Play store.
After more than two years of development effort, Google TV has not gained any significant traction among consumers. Its partners' 1.0 products were duds, with Logitech telling investors it lost $100 million on its Google-based set-top rollout. Google says it learned from the experience, simplifying the interface and lining up new partners including LG, Samsung and Vizio.
Sony, for its part, said the redesigned remote control still includes a backlit QWERTY keyboard, but it looks more like a smartphone. The remote has a touch pad and a three-axis motion sensor, and includes Bluetooth support so it can also be used as a universal remote to control connected devices such as TV, set-top-box and A/V receivers.
The company is taking preorders for the set-top starting June 25 at www.sony.com/sonygoogletv. "Expanding the reach and interoperability of the powerful Android platform with Sony's smartphones, tablets and renowned audio and video products, we are proud to continue our relationship with Google through the introduction of the new Google TV set-top-box," Phil Molyneux, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said in a statement. "Entertainment content is available through so many channels and sites, and Google TV helps consumers easily find what they want to watch, listen to or play using familiar search engine technology, enhancing the viewer experience. TV will never be the same."
In addition to the NSZ-GS7 Internet Player, Sony's newest Internet-connected Blu-ray Disc player with Google TV, the NSZ-GP9, will be available at retailers in time for the holiday season with a list price of $299. The NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray Disc player also will incorporate voice-search capabilities.
Sony said it will sell the Google TV set-top and Blu-ray player outside the U.S. as well. The set-top initially will be available starting with the U.K. in July, followed later by Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil and Mexico.