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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google TV in Canada - A Primer

I was able to pick up Google TV last week in Dallas and I guess I was lucky as the Best Buy where I purchased it is having a hard time keeping them in stock.  From the full demo, at the store, it will be incredible to have the ability to have a full converged environment with your TV and online content, it will become one of those must have for home entertainment.

I ended up purchasing the Logitech Revue vs the Sony Google TV box.  The Sony Google TV box has a Blu-Ray player but the Logitech Revue has a full keyboard and an add-on for video chat. I didn't need a Blu-Ray and the full keyboard seemed important to me (the Sony Google TV has what looks like a PS3 controller with a mini-keyboard).

I wasn't sure how much value having the Google TV add on would be in Canada (as it isn't supported here - note: you need a ZIP code in the setup process but you can use 00000 to skip the step) but I was happily surprised. First off you don't get the convergence with TV and the Internet (so you can't run your DVR, leverage Queue fully or have a TV guide in the apps) but it acts as an Internet layer over your TV so you can can leverage most of the other functionality.

Overall I am really happy with Google TV.  With the access to the Internet and the HD video available from most of our Canadian TV networks on their sites, Netflix and NHL GameCentre we may even try to go without our Bell TV subscription for a bit.


1. It is pretty cool being able to jump back and forth between Internet and live TV (the show can go PIP or flip between screens) and so far it seems much better than having a laptop kicking around.

2. The additional content is great from a bunch of different sources, Google TV Spotlight is a series of content apps designed for TV (Large screen viewing - the leanback mode) - These all have all (or some) content available in Canada - CNN, New York Times, Flixster, TNT (just show trailers), Vimeo, Crackle, CNET, blip.TV, the Onion, Cartoon Network (only the games are available in Canada), clicker,  Dailymotion, KQED, MeeGenius, TuneIn Radio, CHOW TV, Net-A-Porter, Vevo, and of course Youtube.  There are also others but you don't have access to them in Canada at this moment.

3. Picasa Gallery and the fact you can access multiple Google Accounts on Google TV.  Having access to all of your pictures and movies on the big screen is great

4. Google Queue.  This is really cool and will even be better when TV content is available to be integrated in Canada.  In short Queue is like Google reader for your TV and online content.  Below is a video that outlines its features.

5. Online Content from the Canadian networks - almost all of the networks in Canada have access to the current shows online - most in HD.  So you can access all of the shows when you want (after they air) through their websites and if they have a feed you can add the shows to your Queue so you will know when they are available.  I also purchased NHL Game Centre through which lets you access all of the games online which now allows me, through Google TV, to get all of the games in HD on the television.

6. I like that it runs on Android.  So many of the new features coming out soon will quickly be added to this as well - Music / Media store, streaming of content over the cloud and the integration between the phone and Google TV.


1. I may be missing something but I can't find an app for gmail, the only way you can access it is going through the browser.  I am sure this is coming but it is a little of an annoyance now.

2. Netflix in Canada does not yet support streaming on Google TV - it looks like it is coming soon.

3. No integration with a music player but I believe that is coming with the release of Android 2.3 Gingerbread in the next couple of weeks.

4. No app store (or that i have found) or access to other apps - this has to be coming or I just missed it.

Overall Google TV is great, very different that Apple TV as it is more focused on integrating content from online and TV than media playing.  Can't wait until it fully launches in Canada (no date as of yet) and seeing what happens when they continue to develop the platform. Still a great buy now for Canadians that are interesting in seeing what the future will bring.


Richard said...

I was wondering, in Canada can you access streaming video sites such as Megavideo using the Logitech Revue?

Simon Rodrigue said...

Richard - mega video does work. Just did another update on Google TV in Canada -

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the info. You mentioned possibly dropping your Bell TV, but it appears you need the satellite or cable box in order to use the logitech revue. Can it be used directly without the box?

Aaron said...

Good Link guys!

All major networks have blocked Google's ability to access online content. That means if you missed it on regular TV, you can forget getting it free online via Google TV.

If this does not change soon, it could spell the end for this latest Google "Experiment".

Remember "Microsoft WebTV"???

Anonymous said...

Simon, are you connecting your HDMI enabled cable set-top ? i have a Bell Canada set-top that is pretty old and has no HDMI port. i thought i would still be able to get some features, but nothing is happening when i power it all up just with the Revue connected to the TV

Anonymous said...

Can a VPN be used to access Hulu?

Anonymous said...

Do you know if surfing can be done by VPN so one could surf Hulu from Canada?

Simon Rodrigue said...

I never tried a VPN but I would have to believe that it would work - Google TV is just a web platform.

Simon Rodrigue said...

As for HDMI the Logitech Revue only has HDMI but as bell and Google TV are not yet launched in Canada you could still use it and connect it directly to your TV.

Simon Rodrigue said...

As for HDMI the Logitech Revue only has HDMI but as bell and Google TV are not yet launched in Canada you could still use it and connect it directly to your TV.

Alan Wade said...

Yeah i just got Google TV VPN