What is Google TV?

I have made several posts related to Google TV, and many more are to come.  Many times when I talk about Google TV with people or post something about it on Twitter or Facebook people ask me a very basic question “What is Google TV?”

Well, that’s a big question.  The shortest answer to “What is Google TV?” is that it is a television operating system.  But that is an intimidating answer for some people.  Google TV is a system for your TV that brings together content from various sources and expands your TVs capabilities with apps.  Google TV is Android based, and just like an Android phone, you can get as creative as you want, or you can keep it simple.

Keeping it Simple
Think about it like this, If you go buy a Galaxy Nexus phone you can pay Verizon a monthly fee to use it as a phone; you can make calls, that’s as simple as it gets right?  Google TV can take the signal from your cable or satellite provider and you can watch TV shows like you normally would.  On a phone you can also have Caller ID, the ability to take pictures, and send text messages.  Google TV also has some enhancements while still “keeping it simple”, the TV & Movies app lets you not only watch shows that are coming from your TV service provider, but it also makes suggestions based on what you watch and rate, pulls content from some online sources and services (like Netflix) without any extra work on your part, and makes finding something to watch quite easy.  It is also very easy to use YouTube, which has a great TV interface, getting you started with sourcing content from online.  What is Google TV?  Easy.

Getting More Advanced
You can download apps!  “Why, Kyle, would I need apps for my TV?” you may ask.  “Because they are cool and useful.” I would answer.  Your Google TV can connect to the internet (just like your laptop or desktop) and that really unlocks the potential of Google TV.  For example, with the WSJ Live app you can get just news highlights relating to specific topics.  With the Chrome browser you have full web capabilities.  “Why, Kyle, do I need to browse the internet using my TV?” you ask.  I would answer, “Stop saying my name in every question, we’re the only two talking here, I know you are directing your questions towards me.  It’s easy, and comes up more than you might think.”  Let’s say you have a website you want to show a group of people, bring it up on your TV; or you want to fact check David Letterman’s intro monologue, Google it; or you see a news story about a  website, you can go right to it on your TV.  Want to watch music videos?  Forget MTV or VH1, check out Vevo or Promoter TV.  Crackle has free movies and TV shows that you can watch any time, and is always rotating content.  Have some pictures of you last family vacation?  Queue it up and watch them as a slideshow.  “See, <insert your name here>, how great apps are ?” I ask.  “Yes.” You respond.  What is Google TV?  Powerful.

Cord Cutting
Some smart TV users, utilizing Google TV or perhaps another platform, are cable cutters.  A cable cutter is someone who has stopped receiving cable or satellite service and just sources content from online.  I am one of these people.  Aside from not paying a monthly service fee, having fewer commercials, not needing to DVR, getting to pick when I watch a show, and not seeing reruns I’m not missing out out on anything… wait, those are all things you want to miss out on.  What is Google TV?  Complete.

For some more information check out my “An Introduction to Google TV” and “How I Use Google TV” posts.

“A better way to watch TV.”  How’s that for an answer to “What is Google TV?”?

4 thoughts on “What is Google TV?

  • October 11, 2012 at 7:32 AM


    I am purchasing a revue for christmas for my family, my mother inlaw has one with an external hard drive attached where she stores all her movies she has ripped to it. I am interested in doing the same. But a couple of questions have come to mind which i can’t seem to get really good answers to.

    1. Is there a size limit to the external hdd i can use
    2. Can i rip blue ray content and play it through the Revue
    3. Is Netflix a full featured app or does it just allow me to watch my instant que
    4. Alot of people are talking about cracking it so i can access the alternate android store which i would have todo prior to upgrading it. Is this really worth it, If so can you recommend what i use, where i get the information, etc
    5. Can you also send me a link on how to customize the home screen like you did on your youtube video i watched.

    Thanks, Steve

    • October 11, 2012 at 9:05 AM

      Hey Steve,

      I would recommend one of the newer devices (Sony or Vizio, I personally prefer Sony) becuase they will be supported longer (Logitech has jumped-ship).

      1. There is no size limit to the EHD capacity.
      2. You will need to rip Blu-Ray content using your computer, once on the EHD you can use Avia or some other media player to access the files.
      3. The Netflix app is great (better UI then the Wii version IMO) but does only let you add/remove/watch things in your Instant Que. It used to let you manage the DVD Que, but they removed that feature because “it caused confusion (BS).
      4. The new Play Store update is awesome, and you can always side-load an app if you really need it. My Sony device is not hacked in any way, warranty purposes. As-is you can still purchase movies, tv shows, and music from the Play Store and watch or listen with the TV & Movies app or Google Music. And more apps are becoming enabled every day. Apps that require first-person touch (like Angry Birds) are blocked from the TV Play Store because unless you have a touch-screen TV they won’t work, once a developer has enabled second-screen abilities they become available. More and more apps are coming available each day, both Android apps migrated to TV and TV focused apps. I tend to recommend to people not to hack their devices unless it is a second deice. I would definitely get Plex, or if you want the additional features and cost, PlayOn/PlayLater.
      5. Customizing the home screen is good, I think I’ll make another video/post just about that; sound good?

      Hope that helps!

  • October 30, 2012 at 4:36 AM

    did Google start out this service in other areas as previously they were only offering it in kansas city. how about its success

    • November 12, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      Your thinking of Google Fiber. Google TV is a platform for your TV, not a cable service.


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