Sony grabs Google TV: exclusive with Bravia purchases… for now

Launched almost two years ago in the States, Google’s competitor to Apple TV has been missing in action in Australia, but that looks set to change with Sony bringing the box down under.

From June 28, buyers of Sony’s Bravia TV models will be able to grab a little piece of Google Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” and turn their idiot box into a web-capable idiot box.

“With the combination of the superb picture quality of our Bravia TV range and our Internet Player with Google TV, we will give digital entertainment lovers a new understanding of what’s possible in today’s living room, and tomorrow’s,” said Sony’s Carl Rose, Managing Director for Sony Australia and New Zealand.

“Combining Sony’s strength in TV and Google’s power in web, we are truly proud to be the first Google TV partner in Australia.”

Sony says that its Google TV box is so small, it can fit in your jacket, and the remote is more useful than your ordinary basic TV remote too, featuring a large touchpad on one side with lots of buttons, a motion sensor, and a backlit full QWERTY keypad in the other side for proper typing and web surfing.

The included motion sensor in the remote makes it possible for people to play games, though strangely, Sony has decided not to make its Google TV PlayStation-certified.

“Google TV has the full functioning Chrome browser, so you can browse essentially any webpage on the planet,” said Paul Colley, Sony’s Group Manager for Network Services and Technology. “It also has access to the Google Play store, and thousand of apps are available that obviously rely on touchscreen technology, so a lot have been optimised for TV.”

Just like Sony’s mobile phones, you have access to Google’s Play application store, although because it’s a different system, there are hundred of apps currently available, compared to the thousands on mobile phones. Even support for Apple’s AirPlay can be added, with the DoubleTwist application “AirSync”, which offers up AirPlay support for iDevices.

Movies are available from Google itself, and Sony will be providing access to its own supply of entertainment.

“Access to the Sony Entertainment network is included: you can access movies through Video Unlimited, music through Music Unlimited, and we’ll also include a lot of our smart TV partners,” said Colley.

Unfortunately for recent buyers of Bravia TVs, you won’t be getting a free Google TV box, with Sony us that it will only be available to purchases of selected models from June 28. So if you just bought a top-of-the-line Bravia a week before this, tough luck.

The good news is that the Google TV box will eventually be brought to market, with Sony telling us that the company “will be launching it as a standalone unit” and that it currently carries a cost of roughly $349.

We’re hoping that Sony changes that price closer to release, as both Apple TV and Kogan’s own Android-powered TV solution cost a whole lot less.

Meanwhile, interested buyers can find it available with the Sony Bravia HX750 and HX850 models from June 28.