Google TV Shootout: Sony NSZ-GS7 Versus Vizio Co-Star Page 3

Get It Going

Given the greater complexity of the Google TV boxes, it’s no surprise they take a bit longer to set up than media players that connect directly to the TV. Assuming there are no hiccups, the process is fairly straightforward, but there are a lot of steps, so expect to spend about 15 or 20 minutes to get either of these systems up and running.

The early version of the Sony player I tested had several pretty serious issues, ranging from the remote not pairing with the player, to it not being able to connect to y network. More troubling, it wouldn’t entirely shut down, even though the power light went out, so it didn’t pass through live TV signals. (The menu overlay remained on the screen.) Fortunately I was able to exchange it for a new model, which performed much better. It’s possible some of these early issues were addressed by a firmware update.

With the second unit, the remote paired quickly, followed by an on-screen tutorial for the remote’s features. With the Sony, you have a choice of opting between a quick-start mode that lets the player start up faster, or an energy-saving mode that takes longer to turn on. You then go through the system set-up, setting the display size to match your TV’s screen size, signing into (or creating) your Google account, setting up the TV service, and enabling the remote to control your cable/satellite box, TV and receiver. Once completed, the system needs to restart to register the settings. During this process, I was prompted to perform a software update that purportedly made improvements to the media player and Socialife, Sony’s area for social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. With both boxes you can get customized recommendations for new shows if you opt in to this feature.

Not everything went perfectly, though. On the second day of testing, the box suddenly wouldn’t play live TV with the power on, and it wouldn’t pass through TV signals when it was off.  Thinking it was an issue with my satellite receiver, I disconnected the Sony from the chain and the TV worked fine. Apparently, it was a short-term gremlin; when I restarted the system later it worked fine, and continued to do so for the remainder of my test.

Not surprisingly, setting up the Co-Star was very similar to the Sony player. Using on-screen prompts, I manually paired the Bluetooth remote (pressing two buttons on the remote simultaneously), maximized the display to my TV’s screen size, connected to my wireless network, and signed on to my Google account. After setting up the remote to work with my other gear, the system rebooted, alerting me there an update was available that seemed to fix some issues the box was having with multi-channel audio. The update took nearly three minutes to complete before the player restarted. During the test, I had no real issues with the Co-Star, except one: It wouldn’t pass through live TV signals when it was turned off. As a result, I had to keep the Co-Star powered up for the duration of my testing. I can’t imagine that it was designed to stay in the power-on mode, but that’s the only way I could get live TV signals to my TV.