LAS VEGAS--Sony was one of the few early supporters of the Google TV platform, and the company is doubling down on its bet with two new home theater products at CES 2012.
Sony announced an updated version of its Google TV-powered Blu-ray player, the NSZ-GP9, as well as its first-ever Google TV set-top box, the NSZ-GS7. Both products will feature all of the improvements made in the most recent Google TV update, including access to apps in the Android Market.
The major upgrade from last year's model is the new touch-pad remote, which supports gestures via three-axis motion control. There's also a touch pad on the front, plus a backlit keyboard on the back. The remote is almost certain to be an improvement over the frustrating, bulky controller included with last year's Sony NSZ-GT1. Sony also touts voice search on the NSZ-GP9's remote; it's not clear if the set-top box will have the same functionality.
From the press photos, the exterior design also looks to be significantly improved from the bulky look of the Sony NSZ-GT1. The set-top box is also an important product in the context of Google TV, as it's the first alternative to the discontinued Logitech Revue.
If Sony's voice and gesture control work well, they'll help address one of our major criticisms of Google TV so far, which has suffered from either poor or bulky controllers. But even if Sony's controller is perfect, Sony's hardware will still have to contend with the shortcomings of the Google TV software, which is still plagued by bugs, blocked content, and missing premier apps like Hulu Plus.
No pricing is available yet for either models, with the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray player coming in the summer and the NSZ-GS7 set-top box coming in the spring.