Despite not having any time on stage whatsoever at Google I/O, it seems that the search giant has not quite given up on their dreams of controlling the TV just yet. During CES we saw many new hardware partners talking about their release of Google TV devices, and we’re finally seeing some of those devices come to market.Arguably one of Google TV’s biggest supporters so far has been Sony, who was the first to embed Google TV into a line of televisions. Now, Sony is approaching Google TV from a set top box perspective.The device itself is very unassuming. This box will sit on your TV stand and not really move after you have turned it on. The back of the device is home to HDMI input and output ports, a pair of USB ports, and a port for power and an optical audio connection. Out of the box you get the power cord, IR blaster, the device itself, and Sony’s new remote control.In many ways, the set top box resembles the original Google TV box, the Logitech Revue. At least, on the outside. On the inside, the new Sony Google TV has a much faster processor, lots more RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. The hardware bump makes sure the device doesn’t stutter when watching HD, and keeps the Chrome browser running very smooth.Where this device really shines is with the odd looking remote control. It’s not often you come across a remote that is covered all the way around with buttons. Both the front and the back have different uses and different features.The front of the remote is your basic navigation. You have the trackpad for browsing the web and playing some of the games in the Google Play Store, and you have your home buttons, color map buttons, and basic TV controls. On the back, you have a complete keyboard with backlit physical keys.The keyboard buttons are just sturdy enough that you won’t be pressing them accidentally when using the other side of the device, but are soft enough that you can type URLs and search for things with ease. After Sony’s last keyboard controller, which more closely resembled a failed PS3 concept controller, this new one makes a welcome change.For $199, Sony’s new Google TV is everything the Logitech Revue should have been. The sooner this box hits the shelves — which should be in the next few weeks — the better chance Google TV as a platform has of surviving.This box is easy to use, powerful enough to handle any kind of user, and priced exactly right for what you are getting. If Google’s other partners follow Sony’s lead, we will see a lot more Google TV devices being sold very soon.
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