Google TV Notes on Week Three: Web TV Should Be TV
For several weeks in my house we have been a bit flumoxed about what to call the Logitech Revue controller we have to pass around the living room. "Here's the rem..." my partner usually begins, only to stop herself in mid-sentence as she realizes this QWERTY slab surely can't qualify as a "remote." Seems like a small thing, but relying on a keyboard to go anywhere on your TV does prove cumbersome over time. As she passes it, her finger will hit some control button and send us into a Google TV zone we haven't seen before.
The Revue keyboard is not as versatile a universal as the Harmony remote technology it is based on, so there remains a line of remotes on the table to handle the fine tuning and mode switching. And frankly, I am pretty tired of having to type in The Daily show each evening at 11. I know I can bookmark the network on GTV, but truth is that three weeks into this and the Google TV overlay has not really integrated seamlessly into our experience beyond the Search bar. That other piece of the interface, where bookmarks and apps dwell, takes some effort to recall.
And actually there is some worthwhile material over in the main GTV Home page. The interface makes the confusing distinction between Applications and Spotlight, with the former being standalone apps and the latter being bookmarks to branded media Web pages that have been optimized for the Google TV interface. Some of these bookmarked providers actually do a better job than I have seen before in scaling the Web video experience for the bigger screen. I am impressed with the CNET and New York Times video channels especially. Both publishers have a good selection of polished video worth perusing at full screen.
Turner's offerings, especially TBS, Cartoon Network and CNN are good examples of what not to do on Web TV. Cartoon Network has badly pixelated short samples of popular cartoons. The titles may be on demand, but the experiences are so short one wonders why a user would bother. And several Turner properties also do what some other Spotlight members do, keep the video in a small window. CNN's interface for drilling into recent videos pretty much demands that you resort to the touchpad, and they even present the navigation in topic tree not unlike a Windows Explorer. Ugh!
The last thing I want on my TV is feeling as if I am back on the PC desktop I just left after twelve hours of work. This I don't get. Why would a Web video provider feed content onto a TV screen and then maintain a less immersive Web video player experience? A number of providers do this and it seems somehow tone deaf. Lurking beneath this design decision is the weird conviction on the part of some publishers that people are craving a Web experience on their TVs. Three weeks into TV according to Google, I for one can tell you this is dead wrong. If you want to live on my TV, then act as if you belong there.