Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV review
Google TV has been around in the US for some time now, but the company has delayed introducing the concept to the UK so far. In this small Sony box, however, the service finally makes its UK debut. The idea behind it is a simple one: it takes your regular Freeview, satellite or cable TV content and adds internet streaming and web browsing to it – it takes a standard television and adds smart TV features.
It does this by passing your the HDMI signal from your regular TV set-top box through input and output ports on the rear to your TV at the end of the chain. The box runs Android – a heavily modified version of Honeycomb 3.2 to be specific – and this is what you use to access the internet. The connection is via an Ethernet port on the rear or built-in single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi.
On first boot, you’re asked to sign in to your Google account, or set one up, and anyone who’s used an Android phone or tablet will be at home immediately. Apps are installed via the Google Play store and launched via a vertically scrolling launcher. Web browsing, meanwhile, is carried out via Google Chrome. There’s no widget-based desktop, though; hit the home button on the remote control and a row of shortcut apps pop up along the bottom of the screen, overlaid on top of whatever activity you happen to be indulging in at that time.
The row of apps displays a clock and Android notifications on the left, and links to live TV (via the HDMI input), the Play store, Chrome, plus YouTube and Sony Entertainment apps. You can sign in and buy music and SD/HD movies (or rent them) through this portal in much the same way that you can on Sony’s Android tablets.
One of the Internet Player’s key features is to provide internet access – via the browser or an app – while you continue to watch TV. It does this via a picture-in-picture box in the top-right corner of the screen, which displays the content from the HDMI input on the box’s rear. You can use this to look up stuff on the internet while you’re watching TV, or to keep an eye on the football while watching a streamed program on BBC iPlayer.
The USB 2 slots on the rear, meanwhile, allow you to connect accessories or play video from local storage. Sony says the box will play most file types, including MKVs, aside from AVCHDs, and it played our Full HD MP4 test files smoothly. However, we couldn’t get any of our test MKV files to play at all.
Software and OS support
|Dimensions||204 x 130 x 35mm (WDH)|
Audio format support
Video format support
Ports and communications
|UPnP media server?||yes|
|802.11 draft-n support||no|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|RCA (phono) outputs||0|
|3.5mm audio jacks||0|
|Optical S/PDIF audio output ports||1|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|