Google TV Goes ARM with Marvell's ARMADA 1500by Ganesh T S on January 5, 2012 8:01 AM EST
Coming back to the software platform, it is worthwhile to pause and try to see where Google TV is headed. To most reviewers, Google appeared to have bitten off more than it could chew in the first iteration of Google TV. In trying to be a jack of all trades (DVR support, HDMI passthrough, keyboard in front of the TV etc.), it ended up being a master of none of the purposes it aimed to serve.
I have two Android based media streamers running at home right now, the TViX Xroid A1 from Minevox and the Nixeus Fusion XS. I love how the Android features blend seamlessly with the media streamer experience in both the units. The reason Android works for me in both the units is that the gadget has some specific purpose, and it fulfils that purpose first (play local media) before letting the Android features take over. Unfortunately, the Google TV devices out there right now don't get local media streaming right and the online media streaming aspects are better in devices such as the WDTV Live SMP / Rokus. So, there is no incentive for the consumer out there to invest in a box which doesn't get anything right.
It is time for Google TV to start afresh. Pulling away from a PC-like model and trying to resist the temptation to make people spend time (searching) online will be a good first step. If Google keeps trying to make their device act as a bridge between the existing STB infrastructure and the display, it would just mean that the lessons have not been learnt. Google TV should just provide the users a low powered media streamer device with the perfect hybrid of OTT services and local media playback capability. Moving on to DVR capabilities and STB interfacing without getting that right is a waste of effort. In this context, the shift to an ARM based platform is a good choice.
How suitable is the Marvell platform? Going the ARM route is perfectly reasonable. I am more worried about Marvell's track record in this market. I have hesitated in going forward with the Fusion XS review because the firmware is not yet stable or ready for prime time. One may point to Nixeus being at fault for this, but the Kaiboer K860i isn't receiving any glowing reviews either.
Given the similar SoC architecture, I expect a lot of SDK features / code base to be shared between them. Hopefully, the SDK given to the Google TV device manufacturers is up to the mark and gets the necessary features right.
In summary, both Google and Marvell seem to be starting off on the wrong foot in this venture. Given the situation, we hope to be pleasantly surprised when checking out the Google TV devices in action at CES next week.