Sony, Sony, Sony. We like you. We want you to do well. We want all your recent financial troubles to disappear and for you to continue to make top quality tech. But sometimes you just don’t help yourself. This is the Sony Google TV NSZ-GS7 Network Media Player 7000-K Google Boxatron 2.0 thing. And it’s not going to beat the Apple TV box. Not by a long shot.
Ok ok, so the real name for the pictured product is the Sony NSZ-GS7 Google TV Network Media Player. It’s Sony’s latest Google TV-powered connected set-top box, which lets it access the web, show picture-in-picture and connect to Bravia, and it’s just been made available for pre-order. All well and good, but there are several big thorns in the side of Sony’s box that still point to a losing strategy for Google TV.
Designed in the dark
Ok, so the box part here is nicely designed. It’s got similar lines to the Vaio laptops and is, for the most part, pretty inoffensive. But then, there’s not an awful lot to get wrong with a black box. Where the Sony 8k Quark Big Box Connected Googleatron really sticks out, though, is in its remote.
Look at it. It’s plasticky. It’s ugly. It has to do a lot of things, granted, but there’s just no excuse for Sony – a company that’s meant to be at the high end of consumer tech – producing a device with a remote that insultingly ugly and instantly confusing. If you ripped the Sony branding off the NSZ-GS7, you’d probably guess that it was designed by Alcatel.
$200. That’s £127 in your money. And that’s just far too expensive for a product without the branding clout of Apple. Google TV is still a non-entity in the mindset of the average consumer. Arguably so’s Apple TV, but then Google’s not got the same store fronts that Apple has, with which to woo potential customers.
It’s a valid point that you do get a bit more bang for your buck at the moment with Sony’s offering, thanks to Sony’s larger portfolio of web-connected services. But with Apple TV destined for a major refresh this year (to tie in with the rumoured TV set launch), Sony overshooting Apple’s pricing is bold to the point of foolhardy. £97.43 will get you an Apple TV from Amazon. Your call.
Oh God, that name. Sony’s got a very hit and miss strategy to its product branding. Sometimes it gets it bang on. It’s done good things in getting the names ‘Bravia’ and ‘Vaio’ out there, for instance. But Network Media Player? Not very strong.
A few weeks back we went to see Sony about its Music Unlimited app. It’s a great service, but we were left scratching our heads as to why someone at Sony didn’t raise their hand during development and suggest that the whole thing just be rebranded to the far more recognisable ‘Walkman’. If it did that, Sony could try to put a Walkman in every pocket by putting one in every phone. That’s a wasted opportunity.
It’s the same here. How is ‘Network Media Player’ the best possible name for a Sony set-top box? Google TV or no Google TV, there must be something better. Hell; even ‘Sony Set-top’ has a better ring to it.
Google TV has been floating around in various forms for a while now, and has failed spectacularly to gain traction. Teaming up with top-tier manufacturer like Sony is a good way to change that, but it’s going to need something far better thought-out than this to do so.
Can Sony and Google change the fate of the latter’s Smart TV service? Let us know your thoughts below…