Google TV set-top boxes, which are already available in the US, will launch in the third week of July for £200-£300. Apple’s TV box currently costs £99.
The Android devices allow users to browse the web and access applications through their televisions, as well as watching broadcast TV. The highest priced version, available later this year, will also be Blu-Ray compatible.
Users can operate the set-top box using a dual-sided remote control with a touch pad cursor control on one side and a full keyboard on the other. It also has a motion sensor for playing games, voice search and the option to turn any smartphone or tablet into a remote control with a free app.
Having a TV product allows Google to exploit the long-form professional content it has invested so heavily in on YouTube, as well as the enormous range of apps available on the Google Play store.
Gildas Pelliet, Sony’s European head of marketing, says the partnership with Google allows the company to expand the reach and interoperability of the Android platform with Sony’s other smartphones, tablets, audio and video products. The Sony Entertainment Network and Sony Unlimited will have “thousands” of music and programmes available on-demand via the platform.
He adds: “Entertainment content is available through so many channels and sites, and Google TV helps consumers easily find what they want to watch, listen or play with the freedom of the internet and using the familiar Chrome browser.”
Non-traditional media owners have so far struggled to compete in the smart TV market, as many broadcasters are unwilling to sell rights to companies such as Hulu, Google and Apple for fear of losing their brand identities and control over the advertising that appears next to their products.
A study last year also found that 88% of marketers do not have a smart TV strategy, despite predictions that global sales of the devices will surpass 100m by 2014.