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Sony's Smart Stick: A Proprietary Google TV Device for $150

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
2013 is the year that the set-top box disappeared behind the screen. Google made quite a splash last month with the release of its Chromecast device, which was an instant hit thanks to its attractive $35 price. Roku already has an HDMI stick. Now Sony is set to release a HDMI dongle based on the original Google TV platform.
Quote:
"News of the Sony Bravia Smart Stick was reported Friday by Engadget, based on a blog post on the CE company’s website that was later taken down. A Sony spokesman confirmed the device will be launching this week and said it will cost $149.99." source: variety.com

The new Bravia Smart Stick, as Sony calls it, marries that company's own proprietary apps with Google TV—a platform that runs Android and therefore is capable of running apps from the Google Play store. The result is a highly flexible television platform that provides all the requisite smart features expected of modern televisions. When paired with the truly full-featured remote control that Sony provides—which includes a keyboard, a trackpad, and a microphone— the end result is a realization of the potential of the Google TV platform that seemed to have been left for dead after the release of the Chromecast device.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 90
Does Sony's new Smart Stick signal a second chance for Google TV?

Sony documentation indicates that the new device will only work on that company's 2013 and later televisions. There is some debate about how such a device could actually be proprietary, and whether Sony's new dongle would actually work on any television that is plugged into. Unless Sony makes a statement on the topic, the answer to that question will have to wait for the release of the device.

Another potential barrier to widespread adoption is the price: $150, as reported by Variety. That makes Sony's Smart Stick more expensive than an Apple TV or a Roku, and way more expensive than Google's Chromecast. On the other hand, it is on par with the pricing of Samsung's Smart Evolution kit, which the new Smart Stick resembles in some fundamental ways: It is a manufacturer's proprietary solution for adding smart features to a television, while making it possible to upgrade those features on a yearly basis. The only difference is that Samsung's solution is entirely proprietary, whereas Sony incorporates Google TV, for better or worse.

As for capabilities, Sony's dongle stands out from the smart stick competition by including an HDMI input and an infrared blaster. Available apps include the usual list of Netflix, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon, and more. Additionally, Sony's own Crackle and Video Unlimited services are available on the new device.
Quote:
"And unlike the Chromecast, it provides an on-screen guide and a dedicated remote control; the Chromecast relies on companion devices for browsing and control — which is a big reason it carries a lower bill of materials than Google TV-based products. But at more than four times the price, users may opt for Chromecast on the bet that more content partners will be added soon. Another shortcoming of the Bravia Smart Stick: It works only with Sony’s 2013 Bravia television line." source: variety.com
For owners of Sony televisions looking to add smart features, this could be a compelling option. In typical Sony fashion, it is a premium product with a premium price, potentially proprietary—with very little technical information to explain what its exact capabilities are. I'm curious to see where they go this, and let's not forget the PlayStation Vita TV that was just announced for release in Japan. That device is sure to make its way stateside while offering some overlapping capabilities and a very similar price point.

It is not clear yet how much support Google's Chromecast will receive, or what Apple plans to do with its Apple TV product—but I also cannot help wondering if it is already too late for proprietary smart TV solutions such as this. The device itself has not officially launched yet; Sony promises to do so later this week. Any thoughts on the topic are welcome.
post #2 of 19
I was REALLY interested in this until I got to.....
Quote:
"Sony documentation indicates that the new device will only work on that companies 2013 and later televisions. There is some debate about how such a device could actually be proprietary, and whether Sony's new dongle would actually work on any television that is plugged into. Unless Sony makes a statement on the topic, the answer to that question will have to wait for the release of the new dongle."
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Simonian View Post

I was REALLY interested in this until I got to.....

I know, I agree, and that's what I put "proprietary" in the headline. mad.gif But I think the jury is still out on what that means, based on what I've read it's just an HDMI device. The "compatibility" might have more to do with whether it fits properly, or perhaps it's a limitation of the IR blaster that makes it proprietary.
Edited by imagic - 9/17/13 at 10:51am
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Simonian View Post

I was REALLY interested in this until I got to.....

I think we were all interested until that part.
post #5 of 19
It's Google and got VUDU! Hope this adds VUDU to other GoogleTV devices.
post #6 of 19
I'd rather pay $99 more and get a Chromebook + HDMI cable.
post #7 of 19
Why not plug your lappy to the TV and get all the contents you want, besides the limited sources on theses so called 'smart sticks'.
post #8 of 19
This is just a Sony Google Tv in stick form. That's it. Those same Sony online services are available today on the Sony google Tv. For example if you use the tvs built in tv tuner ...you can't utilize PIP. It will be interesting to see if you're in the channel guide in google tv, and choose to view a channel it would then send a signal to the tvs tuner to change channel. I bet it doesn't. I bet it works like google tv today and you need a external cable or satellite box.

If Sony believe the only reason why people aren't jumping all over Google Tv is because the way the box looks they are seriously misguided.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokarz View Post

Why not plug your lappy to the TV and get all the contents you want, besides the limited sources on theses so called 'smart sticks'.

Because in some situations the content you can see in a browser on your pc is crippled compared to the dedicated tv/stb app version. E.g amazon prime. You can't view movies in hd in a browser on your pc. No dolby digital either. So a laptop plugged into a tv is 2nd rate
post #10 of 19
ok, I think its about time a thread or article is created that lists and compares all these "smart stick" devices, I've lost count and don't want to scrummage through pages and pages of what all these things do. a nice simple side by side list,

Once I can watch all my hbo/showtime boxing without the need of a cable subscription and be able to order ppv on these devices, its bye bye comcast for me smile.gif
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by apw2607 View Post

It will be interesting to see if you're in the channel guide in google tv, and choose to view a channel it would then send a signal to the tvs tuner to change channel. I bet it doesn't. I bet it works like google tv today and you need a external cable or satellite box.
All my Sony equipment supports HDMI-CEC, which means it's possible for an external device to command the Sony's internal TV tuner to change channel.
(Sony also calls HDMI-CEC as the trademark name "Bravia Sync")

Although that's rare -- most people use external boxes -- e.g. satellite or cable -- some of which do not support HDMI-CEC.
post #12 of 19
Hmmmm, for half the price (about $70-$80) you can just purchase a quad-core / 2GB RAM Mini Android Jelly Bean PC from Amazon or Ebay. They are compatible with a Bluetooth mouse / keyboard and have SD expansion slots plus HDMI (recent FW supports 1080p). On the downside, some apps require touchscreen, but that is expected. The plus side is that you get a much more functional Anrdoid device for far less of your hard earned cash. I am pretty sure that they come pre-rooted too, and thus you can side load HD netflix. I personally will stay away from these mainstream brand Android sticks as it seems that they come with many limitations.
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokarz View Post

Why not plug your lappy to the TV and get all the contents you want, besides the limited sources on theses so called 'smart sticks'.

I have several Google TV boxes connected to HDTVs and a windows PC connected to an HDTV. I almost never use the PC, the user interface isn't well suited for internet TV access, I much prefer Google TV. Some streaming from a PC is limited to standard definition, all Vudu movies were until earlier this year, now some are and some aren't. I don't recall the other streaming source from a PC limited to SD but there is at least one other example I stumbled on and a couple of other gotchas I don't like when using a PC for streaming. The apps designed for Google TV, the fact Google TV can control the TiVo used with OTA and integrates traditional TV with internet TV in a useful manner make the PC useless for me for internet TV access except for Hulu which I actually watch through Google TV used as a PlayOn client with the PC PlayOn server. I also have Roku boxes connected to HDTVs in house and those are used far more than the PC as well.

Although I have Sony Google TV models, I don't have a Sony HDTV or any TV with the required MHL port for this new model which looks inferior to the previous NSZ-GS7 and NSZ-GS8 model anyway to me. I don't know if this dongle will work with any HDTV with a compatible MHL port or only 2013 and later Sony models.
post #14 of 19
I don't do dongles
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Hampton View Post

I don't do dongles
Then apparently this device would not be a good choice for you. rolleyes.gif I use HTPCs but find this interesting were it not proprietary to Sony TVs.
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Rejhon View Post

All my Sony equipment supports HDMI-CEC, which means it's possible for an external device to command the Sony's internal TV tuner to change channel.
(Sony also calls HDMI-CEC as the trademark name "Bravia Sync")

Although that's rare -- most people use external boxes -- e.g. satellite or cable -- some of which do not support HDMI-CEC.

Yes I know its technically possible to do - just saying I bet this new device won't support channel change using the tvs built in tuner. A missed opportunity for sure.
post #17 of 19
Looks like an awesome thing to have cause I hate watching movies on my laptop. Really feel so 2005 when I'm doing it) Checked this testing video the other day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0qO4sp5T8Y
Everything looks pretty simple, so I think that's a good investment in case you have some extra money and want to spend it urgently) But not a must-have I should say
post #18 of 19

would maybe consider if it could be used on older bravia tvs. Have a Ps3 which does just about the same thing

post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by StaffordM View Post

Looks like an awesome thing to have cause I hate watching movies on my laptop. Really feel so 2005 when I'm doing it) Checked this testing video the other day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0qO4sp5T8Y
Everything looks pretty simple, so I think that's a good investment in case you have some extra money and want to spend it urgently) But not a must-have I should say

That video is about the well known "Sony Internet Player with Google TV", not the new "Smart Stick".
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