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Tip-offs that these are no ordinary TVs are the four USB ports and keypad/mouse combo remote. You've seen connected TVs before, even from Sony. But the new Sony Internet TV models let you navigate anywhere—not only to preselected sites. The four TVs and one Blu-ray player are future proof, too, thanks to downloadable firmware upgrades. Even Sony refers to these products as "Google TV."
The four LCD TV models, also known as the NSX-GT1 series, are available in 24-, 32-, 40- and 46-inch screen sizes. All offer Full HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution. The three larger models feature LED-edge lighting, while the 24-incher incorporates a CCFL backlight. Each contains four HDMI inputs (2 rear, 2 side), digital optical and stereo audio outputs and two IR emitters, among other ports. (The emitters can be used to control a cable or satellite DVR and a Blu-ray Disc player, for example.) Though there is an Ethernet jack, 802.11n-compatible Wi-Fi is embedded in the TV. All come with a wireless remote in the form of a QWERTY keypad (right).
If you're happy with your current HDTV set but like the idea of upgrading to Google TV, Sony is offering the NSZGT1 Internet TV Blu-ray Disc Player (left). Except for its disc-reading capability, the Blu-ray player's functionality and interface is the same as the TVs'.
As you sit back to hop around the Internet or play multimedia, all the models feature snappy performance, thanks to the Intel Atom processor CE4100 "system-on-a-chip." Each model contains 8 Gigabytes of storage.
The built-in applications are what distinguish these TVs and Blu-ray player. You can search the wide Internet, bookmark favorites or easily revisit your most visited sites. A wide range of media players are built in, including Flash support. The TVs excel at letting you multitask, since you can watch TV in a moveable picture-in-Web window. So, for example, you could be logged on to your Twitter account conversing with friends who are watching the same TV show. Or you could be updating your Facebook page while watching The Social Network.
Alternatively, you could be half watching the NBC comedy, Community (below), while typing a query in a search field at the top of the screen. Who does that?! Clearly, Google TV products are meant for viewers with more on their minds than "must-see" TV.
All five Sony products are able to search across your satellite or cable program guide. You can also download an over-the-air guide for interactive use with the TV's tuner. According to a Sony sales specialist, a frequent question is whether Google TV can help reduce viewers' cable bills .He says that the jury is still out, but he points to the abundance of à la carte programming—free or rental content—available on Google TV. It includes TV shows you can stream from the networks' own sites, Netflix instant viewing, YouTube videos and Sony's own video-on-demand service, Qriocity (pronounced "curiosity"). Not limited to Sony Pictures titles, Qriocity lets you view a movie as many times as you want within a 24-hour period. For example, you can rent Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in standard definition for $3.99 or in high definition with 1080i resolution for $5.99.
|The Most Visited screen offers launch tiles to your sites.||The Qriocity service lets you stream recent movies.|
On the downside, Hulu, a service that streams commercially-supported TV shows, was blocking access to Google TV users in early 2011. The speculation was that users would at least be able to subscribe to Hulu Plus and its larger library of titles.
For now the same browser serves all, so different family members can't call up a personal set of bookmarks. However, parents can block access to sites they deem unsuitable for their children. Similarly, they can set a ratings level for entry to TV shows and movies.
"I'm surprised how many non-early adapters have expressed real interest in Sony's Google TV products," says the Sony sales specialist. "I think they realize that they're not being locked into what's available today. They're also buying into the next generation. These are products that can grow."