Customer Review

173 of 196 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does nearly everything a Roku can do and much more, but some things not as well, July 21, 2012
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This review is from: Sony NSZ-GS7 Internet Player with Google TV (2012 Model) (Electronics)
Update: December 6, 2012: I used to give this product 5 stars, but I no longer feel it deserves that. The product crashes too often, and while some apps like Netflix work really well when fast forwarding, rewinding, skipping, other apps are extremely frustrating. For instance, you push fast forward for a moment, and you watch it skip forward and it stutters and sometimes leaves you a few seconds later in the video, but sometimes leaves you 10 seconds earlier! And if you hold the button down for a full second, it might skip 2 minutes ahead. It is very hard to reposition the video. I still really like the remote, but this box does not excel at its primary function: video. I am now looking to see if I can find a better solution for me-- anyway, I am looking at Raspberry Pi with XBMC, WD TV, and some Blu Ray players, or maybe an Apple TV but since I want to watch MPEG2 TV shows recorded over the air , I would need to transcoding them to H.264 and I hate burning CPU cycles for that, although it would be nice to be able to play them more easily on phones, iPads, tablets, etc.

Here is my old review:
The Roku has a nice user experience and it also deserves 5 stars (although I disagree with Roku forcing you to give them your credit card to keep on file) -- and if you are looking for the cheapest device that can just play Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon VOD, Crackle, and similar very well, then your best option is a Roku or maybe a BD player. But if you want more, you'll have to start dealing with tradeoffs. For the Google TV, the tradeoffs are 1) that you can't get some content, such as that from Hulu Plus or NBC (although you can through Playon)-- and 2) the Amazon VOD experience is poor (although the movies play back nicely). (The Google TV has one of the best Netflix experiences, and Crackle's website experience is okay).

But the Google TV can do lots of things the Roku can't, such as 1) play videos and flash from some websites such as Syfy or adult websites, 2) use it as an Apple Airplay device (using the Airtight app), 3) play mpeg-2 videos such as from a HDHomeRun, MythTv, ripped DVDs (for those who don't want to take the time and cpus to convert to h.264) 4) Browse the internet -- so for $200 and a tv you probably already have, then you can write emails, check your social media websites, write a paper, whatever. For a lot of people that want to have a media device on their tv and not also pay for a computer, this is a good compromise.

The Goolge TV might get XBMC, but although XBMC has announced android support, it appears it will rely on native support not currently available in Google TV. On the plus side, Plex works nicely on the sony unit. By default Plex will have the server transcode mpeg2 to h.264, but there is a setting to use "Direct play" in which the server will send the mpeg-2 direclty. This means that your Roku will play MPEG2s so long as you have a powerful enough computer to do the transcoding on the fly-- and because of that pushing the forward and backward buttons will pause before the video is adjusted. But with a Sony Google TV with direct play turned on, skipping forward and back takes only a small pause. (I am using an older core 2 duo as the server, so if you have a newer 4 or 8 way, or have hardware to help accelerate the transcode, then perhaps the pause won't be as noticeable). I have found that I don't like the way Plex organizes TV shows, so I am using the app GTVBox Video Player to play TV shows. It's a nice app, but most of the apps I have found don't fast forward, rewind, or skip well. Netflix is the only app I use regularly that does this decently.

By the way, the Logitech Revue and Vizio Co-Star can't play MPEG2, only Sony units currently do.

I think the Google TV missed a huge opportunity by not providing an option for joysticks and helping developers port android games to the Google TV. Hopefully they make an announcement on those lines soon. Also, I think it seems wrong that some content providers are for locking out google tv users out from their website (e.g. hulu and nbc) but allowing other computers and similar devices to access them. But this doesn't matter much to me, though, because nearly all of that locked out content is broadcast OTA and I get it free through the HDHomeRun and store with DVR with MythTV-- and with 10x the video quality-- which is a huge reason why I like the google tv which can play MPEG2! I also would love to see Amazon VOD get better, but I am not that interested in paying the expensive rental fees for just 24 hours of access-- and the free selection with Amazon Prime is very limited, so Amazon VOD is not an important factor for me. (By the way, for the technical savvy, you should check out the Raspberry Pi which I believe you can buy optional MPEG2 support for)

Ultimately, each Google TV and Roku have their individual strengths and weaknesses-- and if you want the extra features that google tv provides, then you will need to deal with some tradeoffs. And if you don't need those extra features or can't deal with those tradeoffs, then you'll have to deal with a different set of tradeoffs if you buy the Roku or similar device instead.

Overall, I think this is one of the best remotes I've ever had-- but it does have some flaws, such as being a bit wide and missing tapered back edges to be comfortable for one hand operation-- and the buttons for one handed "blind" operation are in a terrible spot, well the volume buttons are in a good spot on the side, but instead of putting skip fwd, skip back, and toggle pause buttons, they put just channel up and down buttons. It seems like these channel up and down buttons could be overridden to act like skip fwd and skip back, but there would still no easy way to toggle pause. By the way, the button for pause is at the bottom of the remote, and for most people likely will require them to use 2 hands. I'd like to be angrier at Sony for not thinking of this, but the touchpad and keyboard are really well done.

Update Sep 9, 2012 -- After having used this for over a month, it has crashed 4 times, and to fix I have had to unplug it and plug it back in. I think all the times were caused by the Netflix app. Maybe I should downgrade this to 4 stars, but so far I still value the unit for its pros.

Update Sep 11, 2012 -- Note, I think on device capability the Roku XS deserves 5 stars, but I gave it 1 star rating in my review of it since the company forces you to enter in credit card information for them to keep on file before you can actually use it. It will not let you access the free apps until you have given them a credit card. I strongly disagree with that business model, hence the 1 star review.

Update Dec 6, 2012 -- For a while there, my unit was crashing every 4 hours of play or so. It is a bit better now and my google tv crashes maybe every 20 hours of play. Sometimes when it crashes, it just reboots on its own. Other times it leaves the screen black andI have to go unplug the unit and plug it back in. By the way, I think if you hit the PIP button, it can make it look like it crashes, but a long press of the PIP button or maybe of the 3 lines "menu" button will let you resume.

{edits: Jul 28, 2012 -- changed text regarding xbmc based on the kind comment from Trollslayer and added text about Plex's settings and server transcoding lag for devices that don't support MPEG2, added info on the remote}
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Comments

Tracked by 14 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 36 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 26, 2012 9:21:15 PM PDT
Great review! I am curious to know before I buy one, can the Google TV be set to allow the installation of 3rd party Android apps (apps from outside the Google Play store) from websites like the Android cell phones and tablets can? If so, I may have a solution for Hulu Plus for you. On the Android developer forums, someone created and posted a 3rd party version of Hulu Plus they tailored to run on "any" android device (works great on my tablet and smartphone!). If you're interested in checking it out, here's the link:

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1449110

I'd really like to know if this 3rd party Hulu app works on Google TV or not.

Posted on Jul 28, 2012 6:38:49 AM PDT
Trollslayer says:
Sorry, XBMC will require direct support from Marvell, Sony or Google because Android uses virtual machines so you can't get the hardware optimisation needed from a generic Android application.
At the moment the only chip maker who has announced they are getting involved in support is Allwinner.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2012 10:28:20 AM PDT
Micah says:
The Hulu Plus app was easy to install, but it did not run. To install, you simply download the app from the "Chrome" app, go to the "Downloads" app and install-- you get a warning message that installing third party apps from outside Google Play is risky and you must accept that you are responsible for the risks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2012 12:56:32 PM PDT
Dang it, hopefully the guy updates the code somehow to make it compatible. I take it you were using the landscape rather than the portrait version of the app from the download page. I guess we'll keep our fingers crossed for a 3rd party to make a compatible Hulu app in the not too distant future.

Posted on Aug 1, 2012 12:53:10 PM PDT
videophile says:
good comments here...anyone know if u can buy the remote for this unit seperately and will it support the older nsz-gt1?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 1, 2012 1:36:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 1, 2012 1:36:59 PM PDT
Micah says:
I don't know the answers to your questions, but the model number of the remote appears to be NSG-MR5U. That should help in your research.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 16, 2012 5:01:27 PM PDT
Hulu will not licence Google. You cannot use Hulu In addition on August 15th adobe stopped flash for use on Android products. Google will convert in the next few months to HTML5 but until then there will no way to use Epic or games on this device

Posted on Aug 23, 2012 9:28:07 PM PDT
Eric says:
I know the keyboard side of the remote is backlit, but is the front backlit, also?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2012 9:55:10 AM PDT
Tony says:
No

Posted on Sep 7, 2012 11:29:14 PM PDT
Hi Micah, do you know if the DNS address can be entered/changed manually on the NSZ-GS7 so that you can access content not normally available in your country? For example on my Boxee Box (ditching it soon, too many serious bugs bluuurggghh) it lets me change the DNS server so that i can view Netflix USA in UK.
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