Google TV – Pros & Cons

Phillip from UK writes:

I have been looking at the Google TV set-top box i was wondering if you could tell me the pros and cons of it.  Thanks very much.

Google TV – Google’s Internet based programming service comes built right into some Smart TVs, other users can buy a set-top box that plugs into any HDTV.  Your would have several options available  from reputable manufacturers. In the U.S. these boxes range in the $99 to $200 range. Instead of a list of pros and cons, I’ll break down how it works and what you can watch.

You will need a good, consistent high-speed internet connection to watch programming.  Google TV devices don’t have a TV tuner, so you can’t receive over the air signals.  A Google TV set-top box does not offer a channel lineup of network and cable channels in the way cable or satellite service does.

What you will get are apps. Apps for Netflix, Redbox and Amazon Instant Video. However, all of these service have their own subscription fees. You also get access to YouTube and other apps that offer free content through the Google Play Store. But you won’t be able find the new episode of NCIS or The Voice that’s airing that night on network television. You won’t be able to view local news (unless your preferred station simulcasts their broadcast on the Internet and you view it with a browser) and you’ll miss out on a lot of sporting events.

However, you can use apps like Crackle and have access to thousands of movies and relatively new television shows and many network shows turn up on YouTube or via the network’s own apps within a few days of airing. Popular streaming service has been missing from Google TV, but with the addition of the Playon app viewers can steam Hulu as well as content from ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and various cable channels.  PlayOn usually costs $25 a year, but it’s being offered free for Google TV for a limited time.  Not word on how limited that time is.

What’s really going to matter most to the viewer is content and what kind of content you’re looking for is going to vary for each person. The best thing for you to do is think about what types of programming are important to you. Would you be happy watching movies and older TV shows? Do you follow a sport where you want to watch every game?  Check and make sure the content you want is available.

Of course, you aren’t limited to just view content with your Google TV set-top box. You can use it in conjunction with cable or an antenna or another service.

~ Cynthia

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