A Sneak Preview of Google TV 2.0

June 24, 2011
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    Google TV was first officially launched last year and has been a flop. As CNN’s Dan Frommer succinctly put it, “Google TV is a flop so far. Consumers don’t seem to care, the TV networks don’t like it and most big gadget manufacturers haven’t started selling it yet.”

    Frommer was also spot on with his post’s title: “[Why] Google TV isn’t dead yet.” Google TV is far from dead. It may have not earned the interest of consumers, OEMs, and TV networks, but it certainly hasn’t breathed its last breath yet. In fact, things are about to change a bit–hopefully for the better–with Google’s announcement of Google TV 2.0 beta at last month’s Google I/O conference.

    The latest version of the Google TV operating system is based on Android 3.1 Honeycomb. This version is not yet available, except to a few select developers, numbering about 50, who participate in the Google TV Fishtank program. Google gave to Fishtank participants a kit consisting of a set-top box reference unit with Google TV 2.0 beta preinstalled.

    What’s to look forward to in Google TV 2.0? Russell Holly of Geek.com wrote all about it.

    The Fishtank kit included a set-top box (STB), a power cord, and a keyboard. The STB’s processor comes from Intel’s Atom-based CE4100 system-on-a-chip designed specifically for web-connected TVs and set-top boxes. Meanwhile, the wireless keyboard in the kit is the same as the keyboard that comes with the Logitech Revue (a Google TV set-top box manufactured by Logitech), except that the receiver is not built into the keyboard itself. For that, the kit comes with a Logitech Unifying USB dongle to attach to the device. The Logitech keyboard leads Russell Holly to believe that Logitech may still be a Google partner for the upcoming Google TV 2.0. Several non-HD ports are also found at the back of the box, which probably means the next version of Google TV may support non-HD options.

    The operating system itself, Google TV 2.0 beta, appears like a stripped-down version of Android 3.1 Honeycomb. Most of the apps have not been included, but the Clock and Live TV are there.

    The interesting part about the operating system is the inclusion of a full version of Google Chrome as the default browser instead of the stock Android browser. A Dual View function is also present, which makes it possible to stream TV and run apps or browse the Web at the same time.

    Fishtank developers are still tinkering right now with their new toy. A release version may be ready some time before the year ends. What functions do you think Google TV 2.0 should have to deserve your attention?

    Image credit: Geek.com

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