Samsung Plans Google TV Gadgets

Samsung is to sell Google TV-based Blu-ray players and companion boxes later this year

Samsung Electronics on 7 January joined Sony, Logitech and Vizio as a hardware partner for Google TV, unveiling a new Blu-ray Player and companion box for the web TV surfing service at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

The new Blu-ray player and companion box was available to test at CES throughout the show. Google TV users will access the Samsung devices via a special Google TV remote control with a full QWERTY keypad and voice search supported through an internal microphone.

Smart TVs

While the new appliances will be part of Samsung’s smart TV products when they roll out in the first half of 2011, Samsung Electronics Visual Display President B.K. Yoon said the company has not decided whether to construct a Google TV set or not.

Samsung’s approach is a cross between those of its rivals. Sony is currently selling Google TV-loaded sets and Blu-ray players. Logitech sells just a companion box loaded with Google TV. Vizio showed off its Google TV sets and Blu-ray players at CES.

The company is enabling new Android smartphones and tablets to operate the company’s Google TV appliances via a built-in IR blaster with a universal remote control app.

Google TV is the search engine’s Android-based platform to allow consumers to surf the web through the Chrome browser and manage their television and DVR content through one interface, complete with search and applications.

Users can, for example, watch a football game and then pop open a web browser to tweet about it while continuing to watch the contest in a small dual-window, which they may move around the TV screen.

Slow and buggy

The service has taken its lumps for being slow and buggy – the integrated Netflix app was a chore until it was refreshed last month – and reviews have been poor to lukewarm by experts turned off by the quirks, laborious setup and product price points.

Reports of Google TV hardware delays were exaggerated. Google remains on track to release a special Android SDK for Google TV to enable developers to write applications for the larger screen.