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Google Android Television Entertainment Hardware

The Verge: Google Is Working on a TV Box Of Its Own 117

Posted by timothy
from the consume-consume-consume dept.
Amazon may have a slight lead in the world of Android-based TV-centric mini-boxes with its Amazon Fire TV, but according to this story, Google is getting set to release just such a box itself. "According to documents obtained exclusively by The Verge, Google is about to launch a renewed assault on your television set called Android TV. Major video app providers are building for the platform right now. Android TV may sound like a semantic difference — after all, Google TV was based on Android — but it’s something very different. Android TV is no longer a crazy attempt to turn your TV into a bigger, more powerful smartphone. "Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform," writes Google. "It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction." It will be "cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast." ... What does that all mean? It means that Android TV will look and feel a lot more like the rest of the set top boxes on the market, including Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, and Roku."
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The Verge: Google Is Working on a TV Box Of Its Own

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  • I'll wait and see (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chromaexcursion (2047080) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:43PM (#46673883)
    This is a space littered with failures.
    Including Google TV.
    They seem to have Netflix on-board, a start.
    But they also seem to be missing HBO, and the other movie channels. Not a deal breaker for some, but it is for me.

    If you can actually two screen with an android phone as the control and second screen that's interesting.
    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      If they had online streaming options of roku, then added local media support like boxee and WD media player it would be prefect.
    • Re:I'll wait and see (Score:4, Informative)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:30AM (#46674037) Journal

      I have a "Google TV" and I love it! Also called a "TV Stick" they are best sellers on Amazon with many models to choose from starting at around $25. [amazon.com] I bought an MK808B for my bedroom TV and it's hard not to love.

      1) It cost $40.

      2) It uses my already existing TV

      3) It streams Hulu, Netflix, CBS, NBC, and any other TV network that bothers with an Android app over wifi.

      4) It uses about 2.5 watts of power.

      5) It's not much bigger than a thumb stick.

      6) It works seamlessly with an "air mouse" wireless remote.

      7) It plays MP4 videos fluidly and runs uTorrent without issue.

      8) It has room for two USB devices and an SD card.

      9) Effortless support for 1080p resolution.

      What more do you want from set top box that actually hides behind the TV?

      • Can that thing access the Play store or do you have to sideload all the apps?

        • by mcrbids (148650)

          Play store: no problem. How else do you think I installed Netflix, CBS.com, Hulu, uTorrent, and all the other apps?

          Seriously, just imagine a tablet running on your TV using a mouse/remote instead of a touch screen. That's what I use every day. (And what is currently playing Sherlock Holmes a la Hulu; my wife loves that show)

          • Well, that's why I asked about the sideloading. I wasn't aware that Google was allowing Play services on generic/unbranded devices like that. Good to know, and I'll probably be getting one. Thanks!

            • by iampiti (1059688)
              I don't think Google are allowing that. Probably they're just turning a blind eye to it but it's not legal AFAIK.
          • by Sarius64 (880298)
            Someone mentioned that AppleTV removed HuluPlus from their latest release. Talk about suicide, especially with all of the competition supporting Hulu.
            • by Wing_Zero (692394)
              As much as i liked hulu in the past, they really piss me off now. You watch a show and and they give your a list of shows you might like, yeah, cool. click on it. "oh sorry, we only have seasons 2,3,5, and 8 and the most recent season only has episodes 1,4and 5. but we have episodes 1&2 from season one to give you false hope and addict you to it anyways"

              Netflix did this a few times to me, but at least with them, it's by season and not by episode.
      • by wiredlogic (135348) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:11AM (#46674137)

        What more do you want from set top box that actually hides behind the TV?

        An Ethernet port.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I have one, too. In my case, a MK908 with 2GB RAM, and 8GB flash. Air mice suck, and the wifi is shit so you need a USB to ethernet to stream HD.

      • I don't have one, but I agree with you. Google TV was a great piece of technology.
        It failed as commercial product.

        The world is littered with great products that didn't sell well.
      • Re:I'll wait and see (Score:4, Informative)

        by Hodr (219920) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:31PM (#46677037) Homepage

        First of all, that's not a Google TV, as the Google TV is an actual branded specially modified version of the OS with associated hardware.

        And most of these Android sticks do not effortlessly work at 1080P. Most of them are running only slightly modified versions of the Android OS that was paired with their processor (usually a RockChip variant) on one tablet or another. The reported resolution almost never matches the actual resolution (unless you update with one of the community based Android releases).

        For instance, in your Mk808B it doesn't actually run 1080P unless you update to the 1080P kernel (usually paired with the Finless ROM).

        They also have notoriously bad WiFi reception and speeds, overheat, and generally run buggy as hell.

        But don't take my word for it, read up at the forums at http://www.armtvtech.com/ [armtvtech.com] (Where you will find out that at real 1080P your MK808b can only run a select few videos)

      • If you want one with built in, customized XBMC, check out CeleumTV [celeum.com]
      • I like the sticks too. Hate the "media devices" limited to piping in movies. Why not the full android stack too?

        I wish google would make their own full android stick. Why make crippled media devices? At least give me a full browsing experience.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Completely the wrong direction. Google should place close attention to the success of galaxy, not bottom of the market but trying to provide the most possible at a competitive price. TV market, go with a dumb big screen display and full featured Android media centre, basically a compact quite desktop PC and in a tablet as a remote and you are done. This provides a design specification for manufactured to follow but leaves them what made Android a success on mobile phones, a price range of hardware to fill

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      google tv's biggest problem was exactly that it wasn't android on a box.

      this made the decision for anyone nerdy enough to want something like that to buy a box that was an android on a box.. which are cheap and plentiful and then you can play (gyro mouse or wireless mouse or whatever input.. and they are 100x better than any fucking smartTv for games, music, online video and anything..) angry birds or really any android app that doesn't need multitouch.

      what they need is just a decent default launcher app fo

    • by cHiphead (17854)

      That's so quaint, you still won't cut the cord.

      HBO and the other movie channels have had their chance. The cable is cut, they either get with the program and open subscription services to all ala Netflix/Hulu/Vudu/etc. or die on the cable-attached vine. Sorry for the loss of good programming but there's always new programming coming.

    • by clintp (5169)

      It's not the boxes themselves that are the failures, it's the content that's all shit. Netflix has old shit, HBO doesn't play nicely with anyone, movie and cable distributors are still living in the 1970's, sports leagues are still living in the 1980's. Even when you manage to get two or more players together, the metadata blows chunks.

      No thanks. I'll wait for the Pirate Bay STB.

  • by parallel_prankster (1455313) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:51PM (#46673905)
    Did they give up on Chromecast? What is the need for something else?
    • by lord_mike (567148)

      Chromecast needed a "source" to transfer video from, like a tablet, smartphone or computer. This set top box will be all in one. I wonder if it will be able to run unmodified Android apps like Ouya. If it can do that and sideload, too, I'm in!

      • by wile_e8 (958263)
        But how many people that would be interested in a set top streaming box won't already have a tablet or smartphone to use as the source? Not exactly a large market there.
        • by lord_mike (567148)

          But maybe you want to be using your tablet for something else while watching.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            That already works fine. The limitation in my opinion is that you are restricted to apps that "support" casting, which for me are google play and Netflix.

          • by AvitarX (172628)

            This was my biggest fear when I purchased a Chromecast, but actually it works fine in the background.

            It doesn't really stream from Phone to Chromecast, what actually happens (I'm guessing based on behavior) is phone sends app to Chromecast when you set said app to cast, then your tablet sends commands to that app loaded on the chromecast, the Chromecast actually pulls the video from the internet itself, not your tablet. You can hit the home button and browse away, with most apps having control buttons in th

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          I hear this line of logic all the time on Slashdot. It screams, "I live alone!" Advising that you can use your smartphone as a remote, or worse yet, as the source for the media you play on your TV makes about as much sense as "Just watch TV on your computer monitor."

          Using your smartphone as a remote control converts a reliable multi-user device into a locked down single-user unreliable device. The batteries on my TV remote literally last for years. Smartphones barely last a day. That alone is a reas
          • by wile_e8 (958263)

            Good lord what a moronic piece of drivel. It screams "I have no idea how this product works, but I won't let that stop me from bashing it!"

            • Are you the only person in the world without a charger in your house? If the battery on you phone or tablet gets that low, you can charge it while watching the show.
            • It is possible to share smartphones and tablets. Somehow multiple people can control a TV despite only one remote control.
            • Any device can control any Chromecast connected to the same wifi network. And can st
            • by Belial6 (794905)
              The only think that I didn't know was that it didn't stream from the device itself. I took your word for it that it did, since you said "or smartphone to use as the source".

              Of course, I never specifically said "Chromecast". I was calling out the stupidity of recommending the use of a smartphone as a remote or source. You didn't say anything that refutes how inferior a smartphone is to a standard remote control. Seriously, you are suggesting that people replace remote controls that run for years of o
              • by wile_e8 (958263)
                People are plugging the smartphones and tablets into the wall regularly due to regular use already, very rarely will you want to use it and have it be dead. And if you already have and use a smartphone or tablet, another remote is just another thing to get lost. And given my experience with the first generation Roku, I'll take a multitouch screen over arrow keys at least until the remote comes with a keyboard.
                • by Belial6 (794905)
                  People are not necessarily plugging them into a charger next to where they are watching TV. This means that their remote is frequently not with them when they are watching TV. Then add on top of that the fact that they need the TV remote anyway since the phone does not control volume or power on the TV. Whereas something like the RaspBMC hooked to a smartTV means that everything can be controlled with one remote that is always near where the TV is being used, never runs out of power (for years at a time)
                  • by wile_e8 (958263)
                    We could go back and forth forever, but if you are basing this all on smartphones being too unreliable and fidgety maybe you need a new smartphone. Or a tablet. Because we never have any issues using our Chromecast with our phones and tablets.
                    • by Belial6 (794905)
                      No. You just have a high tolorance for unreliability and fidgetyness. There is no smartphone on the market that has the battery reliability of a regular remote control. Any claim that there is is clearly a lie. Unless you can explain what phone you have that lets you change the volume and turn on/off the power on the TV, you are clearly just ignoring the fidgetyness of your setup. This is under the premise that you keep a tablet always unlocked and sitting next to the couch with the remote software loc
      • by swillden (191260)

        Chromecast needed a "source" to transfer video from, like a tablet, smartphone or computer.

        Casting from a Chrome tab means the computer is acting as a video source, but in most usage modes the tablet or phone is just acting as a controller; the Chromecast streams the content from the Internet.

    • by Swarley (1795754)

      Games.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bobjr94 (1120555)
      My sister has a chromecast stick, it's kind of a pain, we are staying with her for a week. You need to keep your phone nearby, keep netflix or whatever running all the time, cant use your phone for anything else and can only see apps that support chromecasting. You can't just display anything from your phone on your tv. Movies will cut off half way though if your phone goes dead and if you want to run to the store, you have to leave your phone home or whoever is watching netflix will have to wait till you g
      • Re:Chromecast? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Vendetta (85883) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:54PM (#46677153)
        You absolutely do NOT need to keep Netflix running on your phone and you absolutely CAN use your phone for something else while the Chromecast is streaming. I've been using a Chromecast since they came out and love it. In fact, my son is using it to watch cartoons on Netflix right now and I started the cartoon via my phone. I just rebooted my phone to see what would happen and sure enough, Netflix kept working just fine on the Chromecast. Once you start the stream, the Chromecast itself is what is communicating with Netflix/Youtube/whatever. One thing you are correct about is the local media streaming. That is a weakness, but you're incorrect on just about everything else in your post.
        • by Wing_Zero (692394)
          Agreed, I love my Chromecast. I stream Netflix and my Plex server content to it. Doesn't need a constant connection from the phone/tablet, (in fact, once the stream starts, it can glitch out and ignore the commands from the phone, making it hard to stop a show and switch to the next. so far only a Netflix issue)

          Chrometab isn't a big feature for me, but i could see putting the NFL.com team page on a second tv during the game.

          With my Plex Server is where i think this thing shines. I have it plugged into
      • by Albanach (527650)

        Are you sure your sister has a chromecast? As others say, you don't need to keep anything open on your phone or tablet.

        It would be different if she was casting a tab from a chrome browser on a laptop, or if you in fact have a Miracast dongle, also supported by Google as a way of streaming, but which would need you to keep the app open. Certainly that can be a pain, but again it's not Chromecast - indeed Chromecast seems designed to solve this major problem of Miracast (or Apple's airplay).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If Google continues adding more fingers in different pies like it's doing, legal restraints and calls to split it up aren't far head. Each business interest leverages the others, and makes it very difficult for others to compete.

    • by guises (2423402)
      Having a lot of fingers isn't monopolistic, having one giant finger that takes up the whole pie is.

      Besides, this isn't a new finger: Google already did this with the Nexus Q.
      • Further, there is nothing illegal about having a monopoly.

        It is, however, illegal to use that monopoly to monopolize a different market.

  • by berchca (414155) on Saturday April 05, 2014 @11:54PM (#46673917) Homepage

    "Google is currently courting select app developers to create apps and games for Android TV"

    "Earlier reports suggested Google would build Android TV itself, which would put it in direct competition with its hardware partners."

    Seems like maybe they're just letting people know there's something in the pipe, so maybe some folks will hold off on buying a Fire TV, but there's not much about what the thing might look like or do.

  • what about there fiber tv why not just reuse them?? or do they need the Network Box to work even with an software change to them?

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:01AM (#46673943)

    I don't see any mention of HBO (which FireTV also seems to lack). But I'm also wondering if the Google device will sport Amazon video, since the Fire exists.

    It's kind of silly how you can't really get all things you'd want on any one device. Even the Roku lacks the ability to play iTunes content, at least directly.

    • by Luthair (847766)
      No reason this new device couldn't also support the Chromecast protocol and act as a receiver. (And thus utilize HBO Go support that way)
    • It's kind of silly how you can't really get all things you'd want on any one device.

      Not only HBO, but you fail to mention Hulu (not Hulu Plus) and the major networks. (And I'm not going to count some overpriced rip-off app that wants you to pay dearly for access to content that they don't own or provide.) But there is one device that seems to provide me access to all of the on-line sources that I want, as well as letting me do local streaming in a wide variety of formats. That's a PC. I have a laptop

      • That's true, and I have a media PC for that reason also.

        But even though I could access anything from it, I prefer to access most content through a more dedicated source - currently for me a PS3. The playback of many things (like Hulu) kind of sucks when watching on a PC hooked up to a TV/Projector, it's just more pleasant through dedicated applications.

      • Or a CeleumTV [celeum.com].
    • Check out CeleumTV [celeum.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "By the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded."

      - Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google

    Buzz was a resounding failure, so they turned it into G+. Google TV was a resounding failure, so they turned it into Android TV.

    Dear Google: putting lipstick on a pig does not change its fundamentally porcine nature.

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      Google TV isn't a failure, it's just not the only success.

      I have a Google TV stick and I love it! It is just a tablet that uses my TV as its screen and a wireless keyboard as its input. It is about the size of a thumb drive. It cost $40 on Amazon (.search for mk808b to get the exact model I'm watching Hulu+ on as I write this)

      See my post history for details: this is quite successful. I have no idea what Google would want to improve...

      • this is quite successful. I have no idea what Google would want to improve...

        If the interface is any good, they'll probably revamp it. Ever used gmail? Google groups?

        I would say Picasa, but that was a clusterfuck from the get-go.

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      I don't even think Buzz was a failure, I think they thought it would immediately blow up, rather than slowly grow, then blow up with the network effect.

      They should have worked on integrating it with picasa, in a non forced down your throat way, but instead allowing picasa to be your place to store photos, and making it easy to post them in Buzz.

      Buzz had a few things going for it.

      1) not everybody you ever met forever was your friend (I suppose that would fade if it took off)
      2) not blocked by internet filters

  • ... you're about 4-5 years late.
    • by Luthair (847766)
      Hardly, none of the existing players (AppleTV, Roku, Boxee, etc.) have shown it to be anything more than a niche market. The real question is will the add-on box market ever materialize?
  • by txsable (169665) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @12:29AM (#46674023) Homepage

    We got a Logitech Revue when they dropped the price on them a few years ago. Been pretty happy with it, although not with the major broadcast networks who think that there's a difference between watching browser- based streams on a computer vs on a set-top android box, but that's another post.

    Sadly, Logitech last released an update for the Revue with Android 3.2, and nothing new since then; they dropped support for it, and the only updates it seems to get any more are for the Google Play Music app. Some of the other providers, like Crunchyroll, have an app that will work with the revue, but many don't. The Revue was a good idea, seems to be pretty well implemented, but perhaps ahead of its time.

  • Hopefully, the recommendation engine will work better than Google's current one on YouTube. Yeah, it's a pretty low bar, but Google's record on building useful UI's is... spotty at best.

  • That's like so 20th century.
    • Absolutely. However, this could provide decent content for my projector. (Once you've experienced a properly set-up system with a 240" screen, you will never want to look at a TV.)
  • by Nyder (754090) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @01:09AM (#46674133) Journal

    I find it funny that MS has stated they want to be a dominate player in the living room entertainment and are once again no showing at the beginning of the fight for living room dominance. This is where the battle will be fought, not at the gaming console level I would think. While I would have to put money aside to get a Xbox One, PS4 or even a WiiU, a $40 TV on a stick I would consider picking up. $100 pricing isn't out of range, but wouldn't be as much as an impulse buy.

    Oh, wait, windows 8. NM, stay out of the party.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Like always, Microsoft was one of the first players. They had TV products out by 2000. Microsoft puts out products way ahead of their time, but they almost always fail because the hardware isn't advanced or cheap enough or due to poor marketing.

      Most TV watchers have cable. Why would they waste $40 on a USB stick when their existing cable box does everything the stick does?

      Windows 8's UI uses tiles and so does the Wii, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple, Netflix, etc... What are you complaining about again?

    • And yet on my Xbox360 I've been able to play games, movies, TV shows, access streaming services and live video for five years. How is that late to the game?

    • Microsoft wants to have the paying clientele, just like Apple. Selling $30 devices at a loss to people who will never buy or rent any movies is not lucrative to them. With Xbox you pretty much guarantee people will buy games at least, and everything is there for them to buy and rent movies as well.

  • Google already has several TV interface devices on the market. There's Google Chromecast, of course. Google also sells a set top-box used with Google Fiber [google.com] That also comes with the Google Storage Box [google.com], which is a 2TB file server for storing downloaded content. There's the old Google TV, which is mostly Android software inside.

    So Google has this covered already. They have a device for viewing TV over the Internet, and they have a cable box for their cable system. They're probably going to tweak the UI on o

  • Fuck Google... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sooner Boomer (96864) <sooner.boomr@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday April 06, 2014 @03:47AM (#46674515) Journal

    ...and fuck Google TV. A couple of years ago, I bought an LG TV, which ran on Android. Fairly good performance, fairly good price. It's a 3D TV, and I was disappointed that ESPN cancelled it's 3D broadcasts just after I bought it, but what the heck. I found a Samba client that let me watch video files over my network. I even had a couple of 3D video files, like the Dr. Who Anniversary episode I could watch in 3D. Then Google "upgraded" Android. I tried EVERYTHING I could do to reject the upgrade and not accept it, but somehow it went ahead and installed the new version. Now, almost everything on the TV is broken. The native media player that was part of the original Android software is gone. The Samba client is gone. I can't even play videos from an attached USB device. LG has been less than useless. I've sent multiple emails and they are either clueless or blame Google. They have DELIBERATELY removed functionality that I specifically purchased the TV for. All that's left now is legal action.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      What model of TV is this? Why didn't you state that in your post?

      There are Samba clients for all versions of Android. There are media players for all versions. All LG Android TVs support DLNA anyway. If you can't play media over your network you are doing it wrong.

      Anyway, depending on where you live it sounds like you could probably return the TV to shop as broken. It doesn't do what it was originally advertised as doing, not fit for purpose any more, stuff you paid for no longer works etc. Don't accept it,

    • Re:Fuck Google... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wile_e8 (958263) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @09:55AM (#46675983)
      And this is why you should buy a dumb TV and just use it as a display for smart devices. Whatever is added on to the TV is usually obsolete or dead long before the TV and can't be replaced, but a box or stick can. This has been the way to do it since they started coming out with TV/VCRs, and it's even more true more that input devices are advancing so much more rapidly.
    • by Monoman (8745)

      I doubt Google pushed the update. You should probably be blaming LG.

  • by drolli (522659) on Sunday April 06, 2014 @04:26AM (#46674589) Journal

    Amazon: I really love your services, and if you allow VOD to be played on any android i will go take Amazon Prime immediatly. Dont try to puch your kindles on me.

    Google: Please focus on providing good infrastructure and OS integration in Android for everybody. Stop pushing you own Hardware. Once one company has all aspects (hardware, Software, Content) i will not like them any more.

    Samsung: Stop making smart TVs or other devices with own content channels. Your services suck and the bloatware you put on your android is the worst point about these devices.

  • I've already posted this before the Amazon Fire TV just to be disappointed when it came out. Here it is again, maybe Google is a better listener.

    The success of such boxes is eventually tied to how well they play LOCAL attached media. If it flawlessly plays my vacation photos and movies then it will stay connected to the TV. Then I might also be "consuming" whatever is on "streaming" too. But if support for local media is not there at all or if it's insufficient/buggy, the box will get disconnected and repl
    • by nblender (741424)

      I just transitioned my wife to a Chromecast with Plex installed. I think that might be what you want.

      Years ago I started with a shuttle PC running Gentoo and VLC with a custom backend to my hauppauge capture cards. It worked well but WAF (wife-acceptance-factor) was very low. Over the years, transitioned through MythTV, XBMC, and now Plex... We've dropped our cable boxes (even though we still pay for cable), and have switched entirely to locally hosted media and streaming from Plex 'channels'... All of o

  • This will be an utter failure. Why? Because it's by Google: it has to fail. The only alternative is a half-assed implementation continuously changed for the sake of it, then ignored, and then finally unceremoniously cancelled.

    Google: Do No Evil (we'd only screw it up if we tried!)
  • Somebody needs to come up with a more effective term to describe TV-oriented appliances. Because the televisions that most people use in their homes don't have tops anymore. The top is more of an edge than a 'top' on modern televisions.

  • ... I use Roku. I like it. I can't just try everything on the market.

    Is there some compelling reason for me to try one of these other things?

  • - Hey look, I got a new set top box!

    - Where?

    - There, on top of the pile of slightly older set top boxes.

    - Why do you need another one?

    - Coz it's got 2 channels that I can't get on any of the others.

    One day, we might get coherent, reasonable media service providers. For now, you'll have to make do with the "free market."

  • Google's first attempt at TV (Google TV) failed. Their second one (Chromecast) has been a success.

    But the stick format isn't right for everybody; some users might prefer a Chromecast Box with more features. If your TV has a limited number of HDMI inputs you might not want to tie one up with a stick; a box could feature HDMI passthrough, picture-in-picture combining external input and internally-generated video, and perhaps switching of multiple HDMI inputs. A box can also include a wired Ethernet port, and

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