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.
 

Marvell's ARMADA 1500 : The 88DE3100
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  • djc208 - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    My sister just got a Sony BD w/ Google TV, more for the Google TV than the BD, she loves it, but she wants mostly streeming and the keyboard is much more convenient for searching than most remotes.

    I'm hoping Google does something with this. They bought SageTV last year, presumably to help them in this area as Sage had some really good software for recording and serving local media. I'd hate to see them die in a Google basement for nothing. Especially when the Sage community is now on life-support.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Boxee's remote implementation (of the keyboard) is much more CE / consumer friendly than the full fledged one which came with the Revue. The Sony keyboard is somewhat inbetween. Google needs to put some basic guidelines for the manufacturers to get the user input environment / facilities right. Reply
  • ol1bit - Friday, January 06, 2012 - link

    I have the Sony as well, and works great for me, but the goggle tv part isn't much better than what my wireless Vizo Tv has already.

    Goggle needs to get some content other than no name channels. Some TBS/ABC/HBO options would really help.
    Reply
  • rothnic - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    While I agree with your comments related to the first iteration of the Google TV software, I don't agree with the second part.

    I bought a Revue for $99 when the announcement that HC and market was coming to it. I have a HTPC, but don't want to have to switch over to it, wake it up etc when I just want to stream something. Installing Plex has allowed me to almost never use my HTPC anymore since I can play a great deal of my NAS(running the plex server) content.

    In my opinion the interfacing with the STB is a key integrating feature and extends your STB functionality. With the addition of the market it really will grow to be an amazing capability. There are plenty of streaming devices out there, and Google TV devices are definitely a step forward. They were just sold with alpha software and at a bad price. With both of those fixed, I see no issues with it.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Revue makes sense at $99. So, with the new Marvell SoC, we can get the 'Revue' at $99. But, does the Revue handle all the local media that the WDTV Live SMP is able to at the same price? I am not a fan of running a media server (for transcode purposes) on a NAS or another PC just to make up for the inefficiency / deficiency of the player. The player should just see a network share and stream from that in full quality (no messing up the audio or playing at a lower resolution, sorry!). The Sony BD player running Google TV could have been the perfect media player for playing MKVs, ISOs and all the other requirements that local media enthusiasts have? Unfortunately, Google TV didn't quite work what could have been its magic over there.

    For all the online services that the Revue supports, can it better a lower cost dedicated solution from Roku or NTGR or even the WDTV Live SMP?

    First, Google should get the above two aspects right, and after that, it can go and interface with a STB and a DVR. Also, people should think about whether it is necessary to really record TV.. With content available online (both legal and through 'dubious means'), the necessity to record stuff is going the way of the dodo..
    Reply
  • MSIC - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Sounds to me like Google TV is trying to do what Boxee have been pretty successful at doing - providing a robust and appealing "10 foot UI" that both streams local media and IPTV.
    Given Google's size.... why not buy Boxee??
    (I can see that it repeats the above comment about Sage, and i'm an XBMC user myself due to the flexibility that it gives, but i still think Boxee is the best stab yet at this sort of device for Mr & Mrs Joe Public).
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Yes, I can definitely see the value in Boxee's trifecta model (Free to air broadcast channels, streaming media services (OTT) and personal media collection). Google could learn a thing or two from them for Google TV. Reply
  • owan - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    But everyone out there does this. I agree that GTV tried to do it all and failed to do any of it, but theres no incentive for Google to be Roku or Boxee. They need to be more than that, hence their decision to do STB integration. The problem, at least in part, is that they pushed it out way too early without the market. With no Android market they completely shot themselves in the foot since they became a "me too" player with subpar implementation of both local and network playback and no "killer app". I guess they assumed STB integration would be the differentiating factor, but thats a tough nut to crack properly because the CableCo's are actively trying to fight internet content delivery in order to protect their business. Reply
  • pugster - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Part of the big mistake of Google TV is trying to integrate with a STB. Instead, Google should be making something that could compete with Roku's and WD tv live and go from there. A device with an ARM CPU 512mb of memory and about 2gigs of flash for less than $100 and other manufacturers can probably make it for about $60 range. Who knows, maybe google can lure content providers and make the google TV as the IPTV like. Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, January 05, 2012 - link

    Google just marketed it wrong,it was a livingroom PC while for some reason people expected it to deliver content.After that,it seems,that Google just gave up on it (no software updates,no market access) waiting for the Intel contract to expire.

    "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"

    Why would they do that and why would that sell?They have to provide something more,somthing that matters if they want to take over our TVs and it doesn't have to be about content delivery since that industry is ...well,nuts and it's very hard to get a reasonable ,usefull, deal. They will have Motorola soon,they might get Hulu in the end so they do have some more options than before.
    Reply

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