Sony was one of the main supporters of the Google TV 1st generation. This year live at CES 2012 Sony announced an upgrade to their last year model (NSZ-GT1) with their brand new Google TV-powered Blu-ray player, the NSZ-GP9. Along side of the new Blu-ray player they off a new product which is their first Google TV-powered set-top box, the NSZ-GS7.
One major disappointment of the first generations of any Google TV device was the stock wireless keyboard. Whether if you use the Logitech Revue or the Sony Blu-ray, I think we all can agree that the keyboards were lacking some important features and direction in design.
After long negotiation with Sony they finally allowed us to get some eclusive hands-on (actually our hands) review. Please view the following video to see our close up hands on of both the boxes and new designed remote.
Featuring Rob Jackson from Phandroid.com
As you can see in the video, each set-top box has HDMI-in and HDMI-out, Digital out, two IR Blaster ports, one Ethernet port and two USB ports for expandable storage which also provides potential to interface with all kinds of current and future devices. The only difference between both devices regarding their ports is that the set-top box only offers one IR Blaster port which in most cases would not even be a decision factor.
The updated Blu-ray player is significantly thinner then their first introduced last year. Comparing Sony’s set-top box to their biggest competitor Logitech which offered the Revue (currently a discontinued product line) the new NSZ-GS7 improves both style and size. You wont find much difference in performance of the current but as soon as they officially release product specs we will be sure to provide comparisons.
The MOST important aspect of these new devices is not in the Google-TV box itself but the new innovation of how Sony envisions the control. Now looking closely at the remote you can see that Sony should probably give credit to some of the remotes design to Boxee but did a wonderful job providing all of the most important controls in a very small, easily handled remote.
Like the Boxee remote, Sony’s remote has two functional sides. The one side is a physical full keyboard that has beveled keys which allows for faster typing with your eyes not physically on the remote itself. On the reverse side the the remote has two major features, Voice input along with a touch pad. The voice input IMO is huge which will allow for more efficient group interaction to control and interact with the Google TV. The touch pad will be the other major valued navigational control that users will be craving for.
I would say that this remote will be comparable to the Android/iPhone remote control applications available on the Android Market/Apple App Store but more efficient in the ease of how to access each set of navigational and input regions of the remote. Not to mention, I personally never enjoy passing my phone off so someone else can try to navigate the Google TV.
Overall I think both of these products will be a great upgrade to the last year models of Google TV. As a consumer of the Logitech Revue I could easily seeing the pathway forward to my next GTV device being the Blu-ray player. One major downside for current Sony Google TV owners is that the fact the new remote is Bluetooth and NOT RF which means the new remote will only work with a new Sony Google TV.
I know that in the year 2012 stand alone boxes will be a need and Sony made a very good decision with providing this new product line-up. I feel that even though Logitech lost money with their first generation it was a huge, I mean extremely huge mistake in their part. I feel it not only looses customers respect but looses future consumers. Check back for specs when they are officially released.