Among TV tuners, Blu-ray players and other set-top boxes, you’ll come across two types of web-enabled devices: Internet connectable and Google TV. Don’t get these two confused. An Internet connectable TV, TV tuner or Blu-ray player is very different from a device with Google TV. In fact, one Internet connectable TV tuner may be significantly different from another device described as Internet connectable. Usually, Google TV is more expensive—but not always—so it’s important to know which is a better deal.
What Does Internet Connectable Mean?
Internet connectable is a product feature, whereas Google TV is a product in itself. This may seem confusing, but it’s important to note the difference. When something is advertised as equipped with Google TV, it means something very specific (which we’ll discuss later). When something is advertised as Internet connectable, it means that it has access to some Internet content via an Ethernet or WiFi connection. What type of Internet content and how you access it will vary among manufacturers, and even among models made by the same company. Usually, it comes in the form of widgets for checking the weather, news or stock quotes, as well as support for streaming video from Netflix, YouTube, Blockbuster Online and other services. The applications come pre-installed on your device, and you won’t typically have the option to add new apps or widgets.
Also, note that Internet connectable TVs will not usually have web browsers or email support. Your access to the Internet will be limited to the applications and services pre-loaded on your device. This represents the largest downside of an Internet connectable TV, as it can quickly become outdated as services come and go.
Google TV is the first commercially viable SmartTV platform. Google TV is a full-fledged operating system, similar to the platform that runs on tablets and smartphones. This concept should be familiar to you if you own an iPhone or Android smartphone. You can add and remove apps and widgets and upgrade your existing applications when updates are available. Your Google TV may come with support for Netflix or Hulu Plus or other popular streaming video services pre-installed, but you have the option to add new services, widgets, games and apps down the road. You can even add applications that weren’t released when you purchased your Google TV device. Google TV also includes a web browser and support for a number of Google products, including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and more.
Because Google TV is a third-party OS, it’s subject to less control and restrictions than a proprietary Internet connectable device. Bottom-line: you can do more with Google TV. And, of course, a Google TV device is a TV tuner, too, meaning you can access over-the-air or cable or satellite content as well.
Think of it this way: Google TV is more like a computer that receives television signals, whereas an Internet connectable TV is more like a TV that has limited access to the Internet. Just like you can upgrade and customize the software on a computer, Google TV leaves plenty of room for expansion.