Google has teamed up with hardware giants Sony to launch a set-top box that can offer consumers direct access to the internet through their television set.
The Google TV service first launched in the US over two years ago, and this new collaboration with Sony brings a fresh design of the hardware, with the GS7 box set for release in the UK on 16th July. Furthermore, a Blu-Ray player with the Google TV software built in, the Sony GP9, will be launched in October.
As well as free high-definition streaming of YouTube videos, Google TV users can also benefit from internet access through the Chrome web browser, and some websites such as Twitter have now launched new versions of their sites to make them more compatible with the TV interface. It is hoped that software developers will begin designing their apps bearing television in mind, as well as computer and mobile devices, so Google can maybe offer an app store on the set-top box further down the line.
The remote control for the GS7 features an in-built motion sensor for optimised gameplay, with a touchpad on side for cursor control, and a full keyboard on the other for easy use of emails and social media. Users can also configure their smartphone or tablet to act as a remote for the box via a free Media Remote app.
Gildas Pelliet, Sony's European Head of Marketing, said of the launch: "Entertainment content is available through so many channels and sites, and Google TV helps consumers easily find what they want to watch, listen to or play with the freedom of the internet and using the familiar Chrome search engine technology."
Google is looking to gazump its competitors with this set-top box; it has long been rumoured that Apple are working on a television-like system, while other hardware brands such as Samsung are already developing TVs that are capable of connecting to the internet. This collaboration with Sony signals Google's intent to grab a sizeable chunk of the Internet TV market while it is still in its relatively early stages.