CES: Google TV Powers Sony, Vizio Blu-ray Players, Media Streamers
LAS VEGAS--Sony and Vizio introduced Blu-ray disc players and media streaming devices capable of delivering Google TV, the embattled Web TV software platform the search engine hopes to breathe new life into with the help of its OEM partners.
Sony showed off the NSZ-GS7 Network Media Player and NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray disc player Jan. 9 at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show here. Vizio introduced the VBR430 3D Blu-ray player running Google TV, and the VAP430 Stream Player with Google TV, as well as a new line of Google TV-powered HDTVs for 2012.
Google unleashed Google TV on devices from Logitech and Sony in the fall of 2010. Yet like Apple TV and other such services before it, the platform has failed to gain traction beyond avid Google fans. Google hopes to change that after refreshing the software late last year with Android 3.1 Honeycomb, adding access to the Android Market and more than 150 Google TV-specific applications.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt promised new Google TV devices would proliferate by the summer of 2012. To wit, Google Jan. 6 announced LG, Sony, Vizio, Marvell and Samsung would support the TV platform. Many of those machines are being shown off here at CES.
Pivot to Sony, which claims its Sony devices improve on last year's Blu-ray player and Internet TV for Google TV. Sony's media player and Blu-ray player come with a redesigned remote control equipped with a backlit QWERTY keyboard, a touch pad for easy operation and a three-axis motion sensor for gaming.
The remote control can also be set up to serve as a universal remote to control TV, set top box and amplifiers, and the NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray player includes voice search capabilities. Sony said both devices will arrive in North America and Europe in early summer 2012, with distribution planned for other countries and regions. No word on pricing yet.
Meanwhile, like the Sony Google TV devices, Vizio's new machines can run thousands of Android apps and have the Chrome Web browser. Both feature a touchpad universal remote with QWERTY keyboard to control the V.I.A. Plus interface and other functions. The Blu-ray player and media streamer will be available in 2012, with specific ship date and pricing to be announced closer to availability.
Vizio's new R-Series feature the company's Vizio Internet Apps Plus reskin of the Google platform. There is the 42-inch R3D420VS, 47-inch R3D470VS, 55-inch R3D550VS and 65-inch R3D650VS, all of which include a dual-sided Bluetooth remote with a QWERTY keyboard on one side and a touchpad on the other.
All four sets run at 1920 by 1080 Full HD resolution. The VBR430 and VBR370 and will be available in 2012, with specific ship dates and prices coming later.
Finally, while it has nothing to show off here at CES, TV powerhouse Samsung told the Wall Street Journal it will launch a Google TV-powered TV set in the second half of this year in the United States first. The device is targeted at high-end consumers, so it should be pricey compared to other Google TV-powered companion boxes and Blu-ray players.
Yoon Boo-keun, president of Samsung's consumer electronics division, told the Journal "smart TVs" that fuel Web apps and browsing could cost $300 to $500 more than regular TV sets.