Sony is cramming Google TV into an HDMI dongle, but it will only be compatible with specific TVs.
Sony is launching an HDMI plug-in adapter of its own, the Bravia Smart Stick. Unlike Google's current Chromecast video streaming device, Sony's solution will be based on a full-featured Google TV platform. Yet unlike Chromecast, it won't cost a mere $35, but a meatier $150 when it hits the market.
The deal with Chromecast is that users take their existing devices and apps like YouTube and Netflix, and "instruct" the Chromecast device to pull a specific video from the Internet and play it on the connected HDTV. Users can even instruct it to pull supported content that's currently visible within a laptop's Chrome browser. Thus typically the only media shuffling is between the Chromecast device and the Internet, not the user's device and the HDTV.
As it stands now, the only apps that support Chromecast are Netflix, YouTube, Google's Play Movies & TV, and Play Music. Other media companies have support in the works including AOL On, HBO Go (good luck with that: HBO can't even update the Android app to 4.3), Hulu Plus, Pandora Radio, Redbox Instant and three others.
Meanwhile, having Google TV on a stick means users can download and install apps directly to the platform. These include Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video, Walmart's VuDu, Redbox Instant by Verizon, AOL ON, Crackle, Sony's Video Unlimited and loads more. The platform also provides an on-screen TV guide, picture-in-picture, and a dedicated QWERTY remote control so that the user's phone remains just that: a phone and not a makeshift remote control.
Sony's Bravia device was supposedly revealed on Friday in a Sony blog and instruction manual that have since been pulled. The company said it's an MHL dongle that will also include Sony's own Bravia apps, similar to what the company provided in its previous set-top boxes. Currently, it's unknown how much on-board storage this device will provide given that it will have access to Google Play.
Unfortunately, it seems that Sony's Google TV stick will only work on the company's 2013 Bravia TV line. That said, continue on drooling over Google's super-cheap Chromecast as a possible streaming solution, as Sony just kicked itself in the pants with this one. Still, if you're willing to purchase a Sony Google TV product for above $150, the company has the not-so-discreet Internet Player for $169.99.
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