7 unanswered questions about Google TV

CNET takes a look at the questions raised by the Google TV demo, including privacy issues and how Hulu may react.

Matthew Moskovciak Senior Associate Editor / Reviews - Home theater
Covering home audio and video, Matthew Moskovciak helps CNET readers find the best sights and sounds for their home theaters. E-mail Matthew or follow him on Twitter @cnetmoskovciak.
Matthew Moskovciak
3 min read
Google TV

The announcement of Google TV Thursday has confirmed rumors that the company was looking to enter the living room, but there are still plenty of questions about how the new platform will play out. Here's what we still don't know.

Will Hulu block Google TV?
We're still waiting to hear what Hulu has to say about the announcement--especially since Google featured the service in its demo--but we're betting Hulu will block Google TV like it's done to other living room solutions like the PS3 and Boxee. That's a huge obstacle, especially since Hulu would likely be Google TV's killer app. And if Hulu blocks Google TV, will other TV-centric content providers like ABC and Comedy Central follow suit?

Will Google be watching my viewing habits?
Google has had its share of privacy issues as of late and it's only going to get worse when the company has a box in your living room. Will Google be offering up contextual ads based on what you're watching? Collecting the usage data to sell? No word yet, but we would expect Google to get into this market without having a plan for advertisements of some sort.

How much will the hardware cost?
Google TV is really a software platform at heart, but you're going to need new hardware to use it. The announced Logitech set-top box is likely to be the cheapest option at first and it will have to compete with Roku's $100 Digital Video Player that offers similar functionality. Similarly, if the price premium for Google TV functionality on Blu-ray players and HDTVs is high, it will be a tough sell, especially since so many streaming-media services are already available. Not to mention the fact that many people already have a laptop with an HDMI output, which leads us to our next question.

Why is this better than a laptop or iPad in your living room?
When Google showed off how Google TV could minimize an NBA game to a picture-in-picture window and browse stats on the Web, the attendees took an applause break. To us, it seemed like the worst of both worlds, by shrinking the high-def video to the corner and browsing stats on an inconvenient interface. Isn't it easier/better to browse your fantasy team on a laptop or iPad in your lap while the game is running full screen on your HDTV? We need to see better implementations of the technology to convince us it's worth the hassle.

Will people accept a keyboard in the living room?
Google did show off the ability to control Google TV with an Android phone, but what if you don't have one? Google pretty much flat-out said you'd need a keyboard in your living room and it looks like you'll need some kind of mouse/touch pad to navigate as well. We're not sure people are ready for all that extra gear in their home theater and it's a major change from the standard sitting-on-the-couch experience.

Is Google TV too much Web and not enough TV?
If you can get over a mouse and keyboard in your living room, there's still the problem that the web isn't designed as a "10-foot user interface". Text on the web looks small when you're sitting on your couch and a lot of Google demo showed browsing conventional Web sites to get to the video.

Does this mean the end of the Boxee Box and Roku's Digital Video player?
We have plenty of questions about the new Google TV platform, but there was still a lot to be impressed by. The reality is that Boxee and Roku now have a major competitor and Google has an enormous amount of resources to back up Google TV.

Those are the major questions we had after the demo--let us know what's on your mind in the comments.