Sony to Sell HDTVs w/Google TV
Washington, D.C. (October 13,
Sony Style stores this Saturday will begin selling Sony HDTVs
which include Google TV web service. Best Buy will likely start
selling the sets about a week after that.
The Sony rollout will include four models -- a 24-inch set for
$599; a 32-inch set for $799; a 40-inch set for $999 and a
46-inch set for $1,399. Each set will offer built-in Wi-Fi and
come with a keypad and integrated mouse for typing in text.
Sony will also begin selling a Blu-ray player with Google TV
inside for $399.
The Google TV feature, which includes an on-screen menu and
operates on the Google Android system, will allow you to
download Net-based apps just as you can on an Android smart
phone. But the sets will also come with Netflix, Pandora,
Twitter and YouTube and other pre-loaded Net services that will
permit you to search for shows among channels.
"TV and the Internet, together at
last." Mike Abary, a Sony senior vice president, said at
a New York press event where the sets were unveiled, writes PC
Google TV is expected to be available in set-tops this holiday
season. However, Sony said it would only be built-in Sony HDTVs
during the rest of this year.
Americans have set-top fatigue; they are not interested in
buying new boxes to further crowd their living rooms unless the
box fills a pressing need. A specific Google TV box does not
fill a pressing need. Despite what Sony's Mike Abary, Americans
have not been sitting around saying, gee, when are they ever
going to bring TV and the Internet together at last. They are
content with accessing the Net on their PCs, Macs and mobile
But here's the good news for Sony: With Google TV inside (no box
required), some consumers will take a chance on the new sets.
Their thinking: Google TV comes with the set so I don't have to
buy (or install) something extra to make it work. To a nation
that's decidedly non-tech savvy, that's a plus.
However, there are still three obstacles in Sony's way.
1. The set prices are bit much; for instance, you can buy a very
good 1080p 40-inch set now for less than $900. But Sony is
charging $999 for its new Google TV-fueled 40-inch model. I'm
not sure even the curious will pay a premium for a TV just
because it has Google.
2. While the sets come with the convenience of built-in Wi-Fi,
many consumers are still baffled about how to set up a home
network system that would allow them to access Google's features
on their sets. I know that may sound crazy to those who have
long mastered home networking. But most Americans are still
trying to figure out the difference between an HDMI cable and
component cables, or even whether their sets are truly
broadcasting in high-def. (Surveys show that some Americans
still believe they are watching HDTV when they are not.)
Again, this is not a tech-savvy nation. It will take awhile
before a majority of consumers are comfortable with the concept
of setting up a wireless system on their TVs.
3. Most people simply want to relax while watching TV; they
don't want to pull out keyboards and start typing Internet
addresses or app names. It destroys the experience. So for
connected TVs to have a bright future, they will have to enhance
the convenience and entertainment factor of watching TV. By
example, a Netflix app that allows you to watch movies instantly
at home on your TV is a winner -- if the video quality is good,
which it usually is. But a Twitter app which allows you to write
on your screen while you're trying to watch your favorite show?
In short, connected TVs have a future in America. But they are
in their infancy and TV makers and their partners have a long
way to go before most Americans feel comfortable with the idea.
Industry companies need to reach out to make it easier for
consumers to understand and use the new sets and set-tops.
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