Sony Internet Player with Google TV
Sony’s Google box does Web browsing and apps on your TV
- Chrome Web browser is very good
- YouTube and Sony Entertainment Network apps are good
- Some localisation issues
- Google Play library is small and unappealing
- No popular streaming video on demand services
Sony's debut Google TV device in Australia is effective at bringing Web browsing to the big screen -- the Chrome browser works very well. The Google Play app store claims thousands of apps, but few are appealing. Some of the best Google TV apps - HBO Go, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video -- aren't available in Australia, so the Sony box's appeal is largely limited to Web browsing and Sony’s video and music services.
Price$ 349.00 (AUD)
Currently, the Sony Internet Player with Google TV is only sold in a bundle with selected Sony BRAVIA TVs. It is unknown whether it will be sold separately.
Google TV has been around in the States since 2010, and Sony has released half a dozen products with the service built in. The NSZ-GS7, better known as the Sony Internet Player with Google TV, is the first one to reach Australian shores and the first model in a revamped second generation of Google TV products.
Sony Internet Player with Google TV: Design and setup
Google TV aims to bring the interface and app selection from the company’s Android smartphone and tablet operating system to the biggest screen in your house. The idea is one box that lets you browse the Web, and play apps, streaming video and music, and games.
The NSZ-GS7 set-top box is about the size of a paperback novel, measuring 204x130x35mm. It’s a surprisingly solid and heavy box with an attractive glossy black finish on the front and top. Beyond a single white power LED, there are no screens or buttons to speak of — the system is navigated entirely with the bundled remote control.
Around the back, you’ll find some different ports to what you’d expect from a standard media streamer. As well as the standard fare of HDMI output, two USB inputs, power and optical digital audio, there’s also an IR blaster jack — useful if you want to use the Internet Player as a universal remote for controlling your TV or sound system — and a HDMI input.
The HDMI input is novel in that it’s designed to be used with a digital TV set-top box or personal video recorder — you plug that into the Sony Internet Player, and then watch free-to-air TV through a Sony Internet Player app. This could be useful for anyone that wants to browse the Web while watching TV, but if you don’t use a PVR or set-top box, it’s a redundant feature. In any case, it requires another device to work properly.
The bundled remote control is not the only way to control the Sony Internet Player — you can use an Android or iPhone app on your smartphone or tablet — but it’s the best. We were sceptical about such a complicated remote control when we first learned about it, but after a few hours of use it proved itself to be generally effective and useful.
The remote control uses both sides of the traditional candy-bar format, with one side dominated by menu and playback buttons surrounding a multi-touch trackpad, and the other featuring a full QWERTY keyboard with tactile buttons a la Logitech diNovo Mini. It takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve learned when and where to switch between navigation buttons, the trackpad, and the keyboard, it’s surprisingly easy to use.
Sony Internet Player with Google TV: Features, apps and performance
The Sony Internet Player interface is reminiscent of an Android smartphone, but the interface has been shuffled around to suit a TV screen. The grid layout of apps is easy to navigate, and the Google Play store is reasonably straightforward as well.
After setting up our Sony Internet Player, we were presented with a series of setup steps — fine-tuning screen size, connecting a network, and learning to use the remote control. After that, you’re left at the device’s home screen with a variety of apps including YouTube, Chrome, Video Unlimited and so on.
Before we go any further, we should say that the main appeal of the Sony Internet Player in Australia has to be the Chrome web browser. Used in conjunction with Sony’s double-sided remote control, the full Chrome browser works very well on a big TV screen — it’s easy to read text from a comfortable viewing distance, the browser works quickly and we didn’t have any problems with any pages not loading. Flash is supported, HTML5 works perfectly — the Internet Player is able to load any page that a full PC would be able to. The service integrates well with the YouTube app that’s pre-loaded, as well — if you come across a video you want to watch, it’ll load in the native YouTube app with the full remote control features usable.
The YouTube app is also impressive, as you’d expect from a Google-developed product. As far as we could tell the full library of content was available (a far cry from the limited library on the iPhone), and all the Google account features like playlists and favourites were easy to access.
The Sony Entertainment Network app allows access to the Sony Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. Video Unlimited is Sony’s movie streaming offering — it’s not the best-priced way to watch movies from the Internet, but it’s got a reasonably large catalog of new release and older movies. Expect to pay around $7 for a 48-hour HD movie rental and a dollar or two less for standard definition. Music Unlimited is a streaming music service as you’d expect, with content from Sony’s record label. These two services are useful if you want to listen to an album on your TV or watch a movie without running out to the video store.
Now, onto some less impressive features. Our test Sony Internet Player with Google TV had a variety of streaming video apps pre-installed like Netflix, HBO Go and Amazon Instant Video. We’re unsure whether these will appear on the production version of the Sony Internet Player in Australia, but we hope not — if they’re unusable in Australia, we would prefer they be blocked off in the Store as well. Google TV’s TV and Movies is also unusable locally.
There’s no access to any local services like ABC iView, SBS On Demand, Quickflix, BigPond Movies on Demand, or any catch-up TV from the commercial networks.
Since these video streaming apps are a big part of Google TV’s overall appeal, this puts a big limitation on the usefulness of the Sony Internet Player. Functionality is limited to the Chrome browser and the variety of apps that are available on the Google Play store, and Sony’s Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services.
There are some good apps in the Google Play store, like the Boston Big Picture photo blog and Panoramio, but the variety of apps is nowhere near as extensive as you’ll find on an Android smartphone or tablet. The games we saw included Freecell and Solitaire and Gem Miner 2, but we didn’t find anything particularly memorable or appealing. You can add media streaming and Apple AirPlay functionality to the Sony Internet Player with the Plex and Airtight, which does restore some features that are otherwise missing.
The Media Player function of our Sony Internet Player was marked as ‘Coming Soon’, so we weren’t able to test what video or music files the device is capable of playing. There is a Photos app that can read any USB stick that’s plugged in, though — it works well enough for viewing JPEG slideshows.
As it stands, we see the main appeal of the Sony Internet Player being the Google Chrome web browser, YouTube, and Sony’s Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited services. Everything else is unappealing, unnecessary or unavailable in Australia. We hope the Australian retail version of the Sony Internet Player has unusable apps blocked off from the Google Play store, and any US-specific features hidden from the device’s home screen.
Sony Internet Player with Google TV: Conclusion
We were both impressed and unimpressed with various aspects of the Sony Internet Player’s performance. The Chrome browser and YouTube are the best we’ve used on a TV, but the app selection and lack thereof are a major problem.
If you want a good Web browser and YouTube viewer on your TV, the Sony Internet Player handles these very well. Sony Entertainment Network music and movies are also workable, although prices are high. For more advanced features, this device is hard to recommend.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung to detail new Tizen OS for smart home appliances, IoT devices
- HPE is bringing Optane storage to Unix servers
- HP rolls out patch to fix keylogging bug in certain laptops
- Some HP PCs are recording your keystrokes
- Rumor suggests the Note8 will be a bigger S8+ that adds a missing feature
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Moto G5 smartphone: full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- FTSenior Systems AnalystSA
- FTSenior Java DeveloperVIC
- TPSenior Sitecore Developer (.NET)QLD
- FTTIBCO Support AnalystVIC
- FTDesktop Support OfficerSA
- TPICT Customer Support OfficerNSW
- FTPHP / WordPress DeveloperQLD
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- TPICT Customer Support OfficerNSW
- FTSales Client Services Manager (Mid-market)QLD
- FTPMO LeadNSW
- FTSenior Infrastructure Engineer (Windows & Virtualization)VIC
- FTLAMP Stack DeveloperNSW
- FTTelecommunications Provisioning LeadQLD
- TPSoftware Engineer / DeveloperQLD
- FTUX / UI Designer MobileNSW
- CCProgram SupportVIC
- TPAndroid DeveloperNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystACT
- TPNetwork and Systems AdministratorNSW
- FTJava Technical Team LeadVIC
- FTDevops EngineerVIC
- TPPrincipal Portfolio Officer - One Month Contract - DSITIQLD
- FTBusiness Development Manager IT Software & Primary HealthcareQLD