Google TV: Logitech Revue and Sony Internet TV Sony Internet TV Blu-ray player

Sony Internet TV Blu-ray player

What gives the Sony unit a super boost in overall value is the inclusion of a Blu-ray player. If you don’t have a Blu-ray player or you want a new connected device, this certainly makes the most sense. To me, it seemed comparable to a typical Sony Blu-ray player, but I won’t get into its Blu-ray playback performance as a Blu-ray player review is in the works for an upcoming issue. You can get 5.1-channel surround sound with Blu-ray playback in whatever format is available on the disc you play.

The size of the unit falls somewhere between the size of the Logitech Revue and a standard Blu-ray player. The odd size and white enclosure indicate that Sony sees this as a lifestyle product, neither a gadget nor a typical A/V component. I think Sony would do better to market it as a Blu-ray player that has Google TV included, not the other way around.

The keyboard controller is about a quarter of the size of the Revue’s keyboard, and the form factor seems to be inspired by the PlayStation 3’s controller. Your thumbs rest comfortably on two wheels at the top of the unit. The left has the arrow keys with a center button. The right side looks the same but is configured quite differently. Here you can select Home (main menu), Back (one screen), PiP window, and Settings. In the center of the right wheel is an optical mouse that you control with your thumb. When you press it, it functions as a right click.

The smaller size made it more comfortable to use than the Revue’s full-size keyboard. Having said that, it takes some coordination to use. I would get mixed up because my natural instinct was to have the arrow keys on the right. The optical mouse takes some getting used to. You can change its speed in the Settings, which helped. Still, it was a bit awkward compared with the Revue’s trackpad.

If you love your BlackBerry, then you’ll appreciate the tiny, hard-button QWERTY keyboard, and you might get the hang of this keyboard faster than I did. There’s a good amount of space between the buttons, but there’s no backlight, so it’s a serious pain to use in the dark. No light and tiny keys make for a less than intuitive controller.

Here are a couple of examples that really tripped me up with the keyboard layout. Three important functions found in the upper section of the remote—Guide, TV, and DVR—require you to hunt for and hold down the ESC key in the lower section to activate them. The BD player’s navigation keys take up the right-hand side of the top row in the lower section of the remote. You’ll have to get extremely good with touch memory to start using these without looking down.

The Sony controller uses RF, and the unit itself doesn’t have built-in IR emitters like the Revue. I had to use the wired two-lead IR blaster to control my DIRECTV receiver and surround processor from the Sony keyboard controller. While you can’t currently set up a universal remote to control the Sony unit, Sony informed us at press time that control apps will be available by the time you read this for both Android OS devices and Apple’s iPad/iPhone/iPod touch platforms.

There’s no integration between the Blu-ray player and the rest of the content and features on the Google TV platform. While they are housed in the same unit and use the same HDMI port, for all intents and purposes they are separate units. (All the more reason to supply a small, handheld remote for just the Blu-ray player functions.) When you insert a disc, it immediately starts playing. You can also access a disc that’s already in the player from the Google TV Applications menu.