Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

TV Makers Sony, Vizio Give Google TV Another Go

Google’s first efforts to bring Internet (okay, YouTube-centric) content to television sets has become the stuff of lore. Google TV didn’t work onstage during its debut! Logitech stopped making its Google TV box, calling it “a mistake”! And sales were “slightly negative.”

But it was evident at January’s Consumer Electronics Show that the search giant — and its hardware partners — hadn’t given up on the idea of marrying Internet TV with “real” TV, mainly through small boxes, like Apple TV or Roku, that run Google TV.

And as my AllThingsD colleague Peter Kafka noted a month later, if the new and improved Google TV system works the way it has been advertised, it may actually do a nice job.

Now, TV maker (and new PC maker) Vizio has officially announced availability for its Google TV device, the Co-Star.

Available for preorder in early July, the Co-Star costs $100, comes with a Bluetooth-enabled, touch-friendly universal remote, and includes apps like YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and iHeartRadio, as well as access to OnLive’s cloud gaming platform. Vizio also notes that the Co-Star supports 1080p full-HD and 3-D video.

Unlike most set-top boxes that bring Internet connectivity to your TV, the Vizio Co-Star can connect to your existing cable or satellite box, which Vizio says allows you to toggle easily between live TV and Web apps. Bonus: The universal remote means you won’t have to switch remotes, either.

And just yesterday, Sony made a push with its new Google TV player. The NSZ-GS7 — also known as the bland “Internet Player,” take your pick — is a set-top box that runs Google TV and includes apps like Netflix and Hulu Plus, plus access to a Web browser. It goes on sale July 22 and costs $199. It will also be sold in the U.K., Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Mexico.

LG was the third hardware maker at CES this year to hop aboard the Google TV train, though the electronics maker rolled Google TV into its existing “smart” TV platform, rather than showing off a separate box. LG’s Google TVs are also 3-D-friendly, and include motion-control technology through a “Magic Remote.”

The G2 Series Google TVs hit the market late last month, at $1,699 for a 47-inch model, and $2,299 for a 55-inch set.

A more integrated approach to TV-plus-Web may seem like an easier solution, but keep in mind that, at least in the short term, the market for interim devices like Internet set-top boxes is ripe, with many consumers clinging to their older TV models and looking for solutions to get their Web video fixes.

Vizio’s Co-Star is a third of the price of the original Logitech Revue for Google TV, and lines up with Apple TV in terms of price, though it does cost more than some Roku models.

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