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.

2 comments about "Google TV Notes on Week Three: Web TV Should Be TV ".
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  1. Luke mcdonough from AIR.TV, January 14, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.

    I have not used any of these devices, nor GTV, but I am not surprised by your experience, and no one else should be either:

    1) You are right: If you want to live on TV, act like it....But who wants to live in GTV? The NYT and CNET have good reason to hope the GTV will flourish: It is their way into TV, around MSO's, and into new revenue streams and more control, hence a great execution...Cartoon Network? TBS? CNN? These are in most basic cable tiers, they make a lot of money on regular TV, no money in GTV, and no one has a hard time "finding" them on regular TV, so why would they care? They may even wonder if GTV is a friend or foe long term...

    2) This is V.1. The fact that the device is usable at all, compared to your standard remote and on-screen program guide, speaks more to the incompetence of the monopolies that underlie what it is possible to do with your standard remote and guide than it does to Logitech or GTV failings: The cable guys have been working on your remote and program guide tech for 30 years, they have been aware of the existence of the Internet for at least 15 years, and yet their central consumer interface is only a little better than v.1 of GTV? That is sad. And I suspect that GTV, and its attendant devices, will be functionally superior and easier to use than your remote + program guide, within 18 months....remains to be seen if the content providers you want will care...or if any of them will still be independent of MSO ownership...

  2. Jay Oconner from World Colours Network Inc., January 14, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.

    Could we throw out the entire model and start over. Will the 30 second commercial work in a WebTV world. Perhaps there is a another way to make it work for Advertisers, Content Owners and Viewers who are tired of subsidizing Reruns on TV. To move that model to the web will never work. What work is New Media Social Brandcasting with Product placement, branded Players Skins and leaving the content breaks completely out of the equation. If you hate commercials breaks on live TV the last thing you want is to move that over to the web. Pre-rolls are less of a pain but hanging a shopping cart on every content is the SHOPPORTUNITY of the next decade. The sooner Broadcasters get that message the sooner the hemorrhaging will diminish. We have to bridge the gap and give viewers what they want across any platform.

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