Google TV Shootout: Sony NSZ-GS7 Versus Vizio Co-Star Page 5

Should You Give Google TV a Go?

For most of us, the real question is whether Google TV is worthy of another chance, especially with so many competitive products offering the same, and often more, content, especially streaming video services. My impression is that while the new-and-improved Google platform is markedly better than the first iteration, it still has a work-in-progress, unfinished feel to it. Content-wise it’s still seems limited compared to other what’s offered on other add-on boxes, such as Roku, and even many proprietary Smart TV platforms. Adding Google Play support is a positive step, but the number of apps that are optimized for Google TV (i.e. bigger screens) is still only a fraction of the entire Android library. And there still seem to be bugs in the software, though it appears than many can be fixed via firmware updates.

Also, several of the so-called apps — most notably Amazon and HBO — aren’t really apps at all; instead, they’re shortcuts to the Chrome browser that simply takes you to the company’s Web page. There were also a number of instances where a Chrome searches pulled up the mobile versions of website. And some services, including Netflix and the DirecTV program guide, seemed to take longer to load with the Google TV boxes than when I accessed them directly from my TV or DVR.

Still, there is a lot to like about what Google TV is trying to do, especially its comprehensive search capability and the ability to really control everything with a single, if sometimes complicated, remote. To me, that makes Google TV sort of like a problem child you hope will one day outgrow his or her awkwardness and mistakes and realize its full potential.

As for the question of whether the Sony or Vizio media player is the better option, I think it largely comes down to price rather than performance. Unless you absolutely need an optical audio output or the proprietary Sony Entertainment content, it’s hard to justify spending twice as much money for the Sony when the Vizio delivers comparable performance.