First unveiled at CES 2012, Sony has now officially announced the NSZ-GS7, the company’s first ever Google TV powered set-top box. For Google TV in general this is an important launch after experiencing a rocky first year, to put it mildly, with founding partner Logitech abandoning the platform altogether and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s unfulfilled promises that the system would ship with "most TVs" by this summer.
Sony’s Google TV powered set-top box is already up for pre-order priced at $200 and will be available in the US and UK, with a ship date of July 9 followed by in-store availability on July 22. The NSZ-GS7 should also launch in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and Netherlands later this year.
The device itself has a clean design that will blend with the rest of your entertainment gear. In terms of ports and connectivity you get HDMI in and out, built-in Wi-Fi, digital optical out for audio, an IR blaster, Ethernet, two USB, and an AC connection for the power cable, which thankfully doesn't need a bulky power brick.
Inside is a dual-core Marvell chip, 8GB of built-in storage, and Android 3.2 Honeycomb running the show. The unit ships with a double-sided remote, featuring a touch pad on one side and full keyboard on the other.
Unfortunately, at least looking at early reviews, it doesn’t seem that Google will be conquering people’s living rooms any time soon. Most agree that the concept behind Google TV is compelling and the hardware in question — for the most part — lives up to Sony’s quality standards. But the Google TV software still doesn’t feel polished enough. In Cnet’s words, “It's buggy, true DVR integration really only works for Dish Network subscribers, and it still lacks dedicated apps for services like Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, and MLB.TV.”