So I bought a Google TV...and....

Sony-nsz-gs7-google-tv_medium

via www.filothea.com

Well I love this thing. Let me premise this by explaining to you my setup, needs and all that other jazz. Might help you understand where I am coming from.

My Services

First I am a cable subscriber. Time Warner Cable Signature Service to be exact with all the preimums. It is actually cheaper for me because between me and my wife we watch a lot of TV, which is why we needed two DVRs. So cable was not going away to some weird A la Carte Thingy. We additionally have a Netflix Streaming account and we are Amazon Prime members.

Current Setup

I have a vast local media collection of Movies and TV Shows (Don't Ask). We have 1 TV in the Loft upstairs which is more of a media room, and another downstairs in the Family room. That is it.

Upstairs

  • Boxee Box - 4TB Hard Drive Attached for media connected to the LAN
  • Whole house DVR Box

Downstairs

  • Boxee Box Connected to the LAN
  • Whole House DVR Box

Now the good thing about the Boxee Box is that

  1. The connected USB hard drive could be accessed as a SAMBA share from a PC with effective Data rates at 11 MBps (MegaBytes not MegaBits). This allowed for easy transferring of movies, music, and TV shows.
  2. The Boxee Box downstairs could easily see that SAMBA share and access and play files from there.
  3. The UI was and still is the best I have ever seen Boxee-desktop-v15-3_medium

    via deviceguru.com

    It sorted and aggregated all your movies and TV Shows, and you could also use your own meta data files to customize Movie Posters and the like.
  4. It can play basically almost everything including ISOs. It to this day has the best codec support, and I was able to play Dolby Digital and DTS through my receiver in the Media Room
  5. It is a little hackable. Since it was end of lifed months ago Boxee Hacks offered some decent customization's that kill keep the project going.
  6. RF Remote...use this thing from anywhere
  7. USB ports allowed me to connected a USB IR Blaster to use with my Harmony 720 remote
  8. Optical Out
  9. Cool Design

Now the bad....

  1. It was kind of buggy. Now I never had a big issue with playback, but sometimes the audio will be weird like low voices and loud action, especially downstairs where I did not have a 5.2 setup. In addition 1 of the 2 will freeze when left on in standby for more than a day, so it required a daily reboot.
  2. The remote started getting flaky and weird and almost unusable for one of the boxes
  3. Lack of Support - The basically just abandoned the thing and left us hanging.
  4. The movie and content aggregation started doing weird stuff after I had to completely reset one of the Boxes. Completely annoyed my wife
  5. Boxes do not stay in sync with each other in regards to what has been watched
  6. There are a lot of Apps, but it is missing key ones like Amazon Prime and Hulu.

So this weekend I was fed up. I had to reset the downstairs box because it got into a boot loop. I thought everything was fine but it started identifying shows weirdly like merging Doctor Who and So You Think You Can Dance in the same place. The crazy part about this is that I use custom NFO files built with Ember Media Manager so it shouldn't happen. So after back and fourth with the wife of trying to get around the issues...I decided to buy a Sony Google TV
I got the Sony NSZ-GS7 to replace the Boxee Box donwstairs. And for all the flack the Google TV got I do kind of like this thing. Here are my thoughts

  • Setup was a breeze
  • One Input!!!! The fact that I do not have to consistently change inputs from One Box to another is great. The fact that I can be watching something on the DVR and do a quick search for a Movie I might by interested in without haveing to switch inputs is great.
  • The remote controls my DVR just fine. Not full integration but it is not bad at all
  • The interface is not slow, at least to me.
  • PrimeTime is a great feature allowing me to search multiple subscribed sources including Live TV for content is a huge plus
  • Plex!! I have a Plex Media Server that is using the content on my Boxee Box to serve out. The Pre-Installed Plex app was ok, but the Plex for PlexPass app beats the other app hands down. In addition now if I use Plex everything will stay in sync, and Media identification is 10 times better than the Boxee. In addition you can add Plex as a search provider for Google Search which makes it even that much better
  • I have NetFlix and Amazon Prime.
  • Bluetooth Remote
  • Better Integration with my Mobile devices
  • Voice Commands are great and they work real real well.

A few Caveats

  • So I knew good and well that I might run into issues with the Google TV when I bought it. It is running Android 3.2
  • So I got a few Force Closes with the built in Plex App, once I moved to the PlexPass not one.
  • The Sony Box gets hot. I'm not sure if it effects it too much as I have not seen it freeze up yet, but I will get a $25 Laptop cooler fan to sit under it, just in case
  • Lack of Apps. If you are all about apps on your TV well there is not much. For me I use TV for..well watching TV and Movies so I am not huge on apps

Finally, my wife thinks the Google TV is the best thing since sliced bread. She was able to master the thing in like 1 hour, and sense she watches much more TV than I do, it was imperative that there are not any weird quirks in usability.
I will wait for Google I/O to see what updates are coming for the Google TV before I purchase something for the Media Room, which that Boxee Box is still working fine. Once I do replace it I will keep one of the Boxee Boxes as a makeshift NAS device as it's idle power consumption is small at 13Watts and I can easily plug in another 4TB HD (Formatted EXT4) to the second USB port for a full 8TB of fast Network Storage.