In addition to the usual unboxing pictures, we have an unboxing video too.

With an ultra-glossy black top and white body, the Sony NSZ-GT1 is a handsome Blu-ray player that will stand out in the A/V stack. While I would have preferred an all-black option to better blend in, my only real concern with the player’s design is that its dimensions and shape limits stackablity. This negates any orientation advantage provided by the slot loading optical drive. The front of the player holds a power button, optical drive, a USB port, connect and eject button. After turning the device around, we find the port for the infrared (IR) blasters, an HDMI input (limited to stereo PCM audio), S/PDIF (TOSLINK) and HDMI output, 10/100/1000 Ethernet, a fan, three USB ports and power input.

After removing the cover, we can see that the NSZ-GT1 uses two fans; one in the back and another by the front USB port. The fans are very quiet so they are not a cause for concern, but the large optical drive is quite loud during load and seek operations. Almost half of the size of the player is taken by the optical drive with the other half occupied by the passively cooled CE4100 and motherboard. Given that the device cannot be stored vertically, I would have traded the drive for a sleeker, smaller chassis more like Sony’s other Blu-ray players.

The included remote is actually a small RF keyboard (placed on a CD case below) with a D-pad located on the top left and a touch pad on the top right. For the most part, I found it easy to use with two hands and really enjoyed that line-of-site was not required to drive the player.

The most significant issue I had with the remote was with the touchpad; which is very difficult to use with any accuracy. A trackball would have been a much better choice. Fortunately, outside of web browsing there are not many scenarios where mouse control is critical so the impact of this design decision is limited, but there are some other annoyances also worth noting:

  • Key modifiers (Fn/Ctrl/Shift/Alt) are not “sticky” like a mobile phone keyboard, which makes one handed use impossible and inconsistent with existing consumer norms for thumb keyboards
  • Disc Player specific buttons (i.e. top menu, audio, eject, etc.) are not dedicated keys and require “Fn” plus the other key to operate
  • Mouse control does not work on Blu-ray and some of the other menus creating an inconsistent user experience
  • The effectiveness of transport controls is inconsistent: working in some scenarios like disc/video playback but not in others
  • No backlight makes it impossible to use in low-light environments

The remote also includes IR capability to control the TV and audio video receiver (AVR) so it can act as a quasi-universal remote, but there are some serious usability limitations to managing the other components in this way. The main problem is that a specific function cannot be assigned to one device (i.e. the AVR controls volume), but also because specific knowledge of the environment and the limitations of the remote are required to make everything work—which seriously limits SAF (Spouse Acceptance Factor). Ideally, an IR receiver and basic navigational functionality should be possible with a true universal remote to at least get the device and necessary components powered on and set to the correct input.

For example, to turn on the GTV and other the devices:

  1. Turn on TV by pressing “TV I/O”
  2. Check that “AMP” is not selected
  3. Turn on NSZ-GT1 by pressing “BD/EXT I/O”
  4. Press “AMP”
  5. Turn on AVR by pressing “BD/EXT I/O”
  6. Use the AVR remote to select the correct input on the AVR

Those fortunate enough to have an HDMI CEC enabled AVR and TV can fix the muddled experience, because the device actually works very well with CEC as long as you assign it to the “Cable TV” input (using another input on the AVR may also work depending on whether the cable/satellite STB is CEC enabled) on the AVR and setup the TV to link volume control with the AVR. In this configuration, turning on the device with “BD/EXT I/O” will also turn on the AVR and TV as well as selecting the correct input automatically; to turn everything off simply press “TV I/O”. This feature was especially convenient when watching a Blu-ray movie, where inserting the disk into the player while “Off” would turn on the device as well as handling everything else required to enjoy the movie without any additional user intervention.

For those who cannot live with the Sony remote, you can swap in a USB wireless keyboard. Obviously the more specific keys may not have a direct map, but I found the similarly sized Lenovo N5901 more than adequate to fill the gap for traditional web browsing. That said, using the “Scroll” left trigger button with the regular remote’s touchpad to move around web pages made the experience tolerable, and I have to wonder if many users will continue to use the browser after the novelty wears off.

Besides the remote a manual, power adapter, two headed IR blaster and HDMI cable are also included with the player.

Introduction Setup Impressions
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  • Aloonatic - Wednesday, December 01, 2010 - link

    OH, i keep forgetting (as i'm in the UK) that these US prices often don't include taxes, as well as how much PS3s are these days :)

    You gotta really want to use Google TV to bother with one of these things/

    Are those sorts of services used much in the US? Can't see these things catching on in the UK without being freeview/digital TV PVRs as well, such is the importance of the BBC, and cost of broadband with the traffic limits that have crept in over the last few years.
    Reply
  • xype - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    Welps, looks like another Google product with Serious Potential™.

    What happened to the tech reviewer that they are always talking about "future updates" with some products/companies. The piece is in stores _now_ and it's making its first impression on the consumers _now_. And God forbid those are people who have a mobile phone running Android 1.x still, because the "future update" never materialized.

    Google doesn't just _not_ get certain aspect of a non-geek's life, they also don't understand that they're only going to get a certain amount of shots at the consumers before they earn a "Always Alpha, not worth the money" badge.
    Reply
  • xype - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    Spellink mistake, should be "...to the tech reviewers that..", as I'm not singling out Andrew here. :P Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    So if this goes like Android phones have, in a few years it will really be something to see. That said, early adopters will either have to do things on their own (like rooting old phones) or accept that as early adopters they don't always get a finished product. As always, people should see enough to buy a product based on what it is now and what they know they can do with it, not future hopes.

    That said, as-is does this do ANYTHING as well or better than other CE devices? at least until its rooted it seems like it might be a tough sell even to tech-geeks.
    Reply
  • babgvant - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    LOL :)

    Sony has a good history of updating their BD players, so I'm not too worried that the player will be stuck in the current state forever. For e.g. the BDP-S570 (the better player referenced in the last section) shipped without 3D and Netflix; both were added via firmware updates.
    Reply
  • babgvant - Thursday, December 16, 2010 - link

    There should be an update to both the NSZ-GT1 and Revue coming very soon. Should bring a better Netflix app and DD pass through along with many other updated for the Sony. Reply
  • marvdmartian - Tuesday, November 30, 2010 - link

    Limited file recognition/playability, a remote that looks like a netbook (without the screen), and the typically atrocious Sony price? Really??

    Personally, I can think of a half dozen other players/systems that I'd rather hook up to my home entertainment system, that won't cost any more, but have much greater capacity/ability.
    Reply
  • cyberpdx - Friday, January 14, 2011 - link

    I just returned a Jan'2011 purchased Sony NSZ-GT1 to my local Best Buy store. I had uit for about 10days. Here are some comments and reasons for the return......:

    PROS:
    - Nice design of box
    - Easy set up

    CONS:
    - Remote does not control the channel up/down on my Sony Bravia TV (huh?)
    - Remote mouse does not work very well....very slow to move cursor at times.
    - On screen display is very confusing to navigate.
    - Netflix was a key reason for me to buy this, but I could only get in about 50% of the time.
    - USB ports on back of box are not general purpose (is this for "Sony only products"?)
    - Frankly, not very good content. No ABC, CBS, NBC online.
    - No PDF reader on Google TV s/w

    There are many more to list. I thought about keeping the unit until the next s/w upgrade comes out because I expect Sony/Google will fix some of these things, but I did not want to risk it. Besides, there are surely better & cheaper units coming out from different manufacturers within the next 6months and I am content to wait. Until then, I am still packing my note pc from my home office to my Bravia in the living room and watching Netflix and web surfing the easy way.

    Good try Sony, but you fell flat on your face (from a dedicated Sony fan, by the way).

    GRADE: C-
    Reply
  • CraigHerberg - Sunday, January 16, 2011 - link

    My major beef regards dropped frames. Specifically, when watching sporting events in high def, the screen frequently looks jittery, as if it is dropping frames. Also, when playing back home movies in 1080p, the screen frequently pauses, thereby making the movie virtually unwatchable.
    This box has no problem with with 720p home movies. Blu ray discs present no problem.

    Craig Herberg
    Reply
  • tletourneau - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - link

    Perhaps an updated review my be in order seeing that HonyComb has been released for these devices and has made some mojor changes. Reply

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