It's been five months since Google announced Google TV, but the concept is yet to sink in to many potential users' minds. Now that the first of the Google-enabled television sets are here, it is time for a layman's guide to Google TV.
Google TV is not a TV per se, it is the software.Some like the operating system in a personal computer. Like Windows is not a computer, Google TV is not a TV. It is the software or platform that the TV uses for certain features.
Google TV lets users experience television and the Internet on the same screen at the same time. This means that while watch your favourite show on TV, you can also browse the Internet for show-related info or anything else that you usually do online.
For example, if you want to post a tweet while watching a show, both the Twitter interface as well as the video of the show can be displayed on the screen simultaneously, so that you don't miss the action on TV while retweeting that funny tweet. This works somewhat like the picture-in-picture mode. You can also watch Internet videos and listen to music available online right on your TV set and also create playlists.
Since Google is best known for search, they have also brought the awesomeness of the search bar into Google TV. The search bar allows you to search for TV shows, channels, apps and also the entire WWW. Users need not go through multiple clicks and screens to schedule their favourite shows. This can be done right from the search bar.
The Google-powered TV also has a customisable homepage to allow quick access to favourite channels, websites and applications. You need not replace your existing HDTV set to enjoy the features of Google TV. All you will need is an additional Google TV set-top box, that is if you don't want to buy a TV that has Google TV built in.
But to make the most of Google TV you need to have a fast broadband Internet, something not always available in Indian conditions. The recommended Internet speed is 2.5 Mbps and 10 Mbps for HD content. Indian Internet service providers may need to rejig their controversial fair usage policy to accommodate Google TV usage.
Moreover, only television sets with High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) support can be hooked to Google TV devices. Also, your existing DTH or cable set-top box needs to have an HDMI output to be able to connect with the Google TV set or set-top box. This also rules out a majority of Indian television homes. The Google TV software is built upon Google's Android and Chrome platforms.
Google has tied up with manufacturers such as Sony, Logitech and Intel for hardware support. Both Sony and Logitech have unveiled their Google TV devices.
Quite like the apps on your smartphone, Google TV comes with pre-loaded apps for optimised content consumption experience. Users can also download apps from the Android Market for their Google-enabled TVs. Developers will also be able to create and sell apps for Google TV on the Android Market. Instead of the conventional remote control, Google TV devices come with wireless controllers that have a built-in keyboard.Your Android phone and even the iPhone can double up as a remote for your TV. You can also use multiple phones to control the TV
With additional accessories, Google TV users can also do more. Such as make video calls.