Sony has become the first company to launch Google TV into the Australian market, with the new Internet Player with Google TV set-top box. The box brings several solid new features to the set-top box landscape, but at launch is only available to people buying a new Sony Bravia TV.
Sony's Internet Player with Google TV set-top box (quite a mouthful) has a few features that trump most other boxes on the market. There's the Google Chrome web browser, which, while still a little sluggish, is optimised for TV, and results in the most readable general web browser we've seen on a TV. There are obvious Google elements, like solid YouTube integration and the Google Play Store, with a selection of TV-optimised apps placed front and centre.
One of the simplest yet most effective features of the box is its HDMI pass through, taking the box from a stand-alone specialty unit to something that overlays onto whatever your other core box might be. When attached to a Sony Bravia TV, it also integrates into the standard Bravia menus.
The remote control for Sony's Internet Player with Google TV is a kitchen-sink affair, but it's well organised. One side offers core navigational controls and a clickable trackpad. The other offers a backlit keyboard. The box is easy to control, and you can start a search by simply starting to type.
With a best-in-class browser, smooth integration into the TV experience and access to a wealth of Android apps (including AirTight, an app that gives the box AirPlay compatibility), it's a promising entrant to the local market. However, Sony has announced that the box will be launched as a bonus for buyers of selected Sony Bravia TVs. Sony has named the HX850 and HX750 models as eligible, with full details to be revealed on Thursday, at Sony's official website.
This deal is described as a limited-time offer, and we should expect the box to hit the open market in a few months' time.
In its press release, Sony describes the Internet Player with Google TV as "valued at $349". Sony would not confirm whether this might reflect a final retail price.