Google TV is not a Media Center Replacement

My first attempt at a home theatre system was an XBMC on an original Xbox. Once that outlived its usefulness (read: I got a girlfriend who didn’t want to use a controller as a remote), I transitioned to an AppleTV running XBMC. When GoogleTV was announced, I thought it was the answer to my prayers, I was wrong.

The main problem is other companies. Do I fault Google? Yes, a little. However, additional faults lie with Logitech, Motorola and the content distributers.

I figured with the recent price drop of the Logitech Revue to $99, how bad could it be? Boy, was I wrong.

1. DRM Issues, of COURSE! Motorola has an HDCP issue where they only allow one (1) device to be between the set-top box and the TV. This means I can’t put my receiver in the chain with the Google TV. DRM: Protecting you from watching your content.

Needless to say, this made me want to wish cancer on every decision maker at Motorola because now I have to rewire my entire system, the “20 min setup” just turned into a “60 min setup”.

2. Reinventing the Guide – Great Idea, Poor Implementation Once I got into the operating system, I tried the “big get”, using the search function for finding a TV show. A search of “Family Guy“ gives me a list of search results and lets me know that Family Guy is coming up in the next hour. There’s no additional functionality. I assumed the whole point of putting this system in my chain of devices would help me. So far, it just added another remote (a keyboard sized one, no less), and made me rewire my cables. In my test, my only options were “Tune Now” (there was no way I was watching 5 mins of Kevin James syndicated rerun) or “Guide”. Why don’t I have an option to “Tune Later”, where whatever I’m watching now won’t be interrupted, and the channel will change at the top of the hour?

3. The Guide’s Missing Features The reason that you see all 1000 of your channels on your set-top box’s guide is so you are constantly tempted to purchase the additional channel lineup from your cable provider. I have two problems that Google TV does not solve; first, I’d like to hide channels I do not have, second, I’d like to hide channels I do not want. I’m an elitist, I didn’t buy a 60″ widescreen HDTV to watch a show in 4:3. Allow me to hide the shitty SD channels from searches.

Since everything is indexed and presented differently, allow me to rate shows. The “What’s On” option then becomes “What’s On That I Can Tolerate”. Instead of 200 options, I can see if any of the 10 shows I actually like on are TV now, then I can browse “What’s On” now if I choose.

4. Lack of Scheduling Like most adults, I have a set TV routine. News in the morning, Family Guy / The Office whenever it’s on, and then the rest of the weekly garbage on TV. If you are going to claim its a smart device, then allow me to schedule what I want to watch. At 6:30am, automatically tune to my favored local news station, so that when I turn on my TV, it’s on. Whenever Family Guy comes on between 6:30pm and 9pm, prompt to change the channel, I can accept or deny the request.

5. Does not index DLNA content I started this piece off with a discussion about my media center, I was hoping GoogleTV to help. My goal was to get rid of having to use my AppleTV for XBMC. Google TV cannot mount SMB or NFS shares like XBMC can, so I had to rely on DLNA. Not ideal, but workable. Except that you can’t index DLNA content with the searching function. Pointless.

6. Integrates with Nothing As another android device in the house using my primary display in the house, it only seems natural for the ability to receive alerts on my TV. For beginners, when my phone rings, display who is calling. For advanced users, allow me to send an HTTP request which pops up an toast-style notification of my choosing and design ala Growl.

I’m an advanced user, my needs are above the bell curve, granted; however, so far, the features are below the curve.


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