Hardware &Online Video &Software Wes Novack on 02 Apr 2012

Online video frustrations with Google TV

I own a 46″ Sony HDTV powered by Google TV. I love having the web on my HDTV and I love being able to control my TV with my Android smartphone. Google TV is great, it has a lot of potential, but it’s just not fully polished, even after the latest major overhaul that upgraded it to a new version of Android.

My experience this past weekend is a typical example of how Google TV just doesn’t have its act quite together.

While using my smartphone, I often see an interesting video posted on Facebook or Twitter. If the video sounds interesting enough for me to watch, I’ll typically send the video link to my Google TV using the “Share with Google TV Remote” option on my Android device. This works great for “beaming” video content to the big screen in our living room.

I tried this twice this weekend, and both times, I got a big fail from Google TV.

GoogleTV-Quicktime

You can’t load QuickTime on Google TV

The first occurrence happened when I saw a tweet stating that the full trailer for the new Total Recall movie (remake) had been exclusively posted to Apple.com. I’m a big fan of SciFi flicks, so I wanted to check out the trailer from my Google TV. Unfortunately, loading the URL on my Google TV resulted in an ugly error message that I need to install Quicktime for Chrome in order to view the video. The problem is, it’s not possible to install QuickTime for Chrome on Google TV. Usability fail #1 of the weekend for Google TV.

Flash video incompatibilities surface often on Google TV

The second occurrence happened when I attempted to watch a live stream of the Phx AM skateboarding contest. The stream was available at PHXAM.com and was embedded in a Flash video player. I thought, great, Google TV should be able to play the video fine since it’s Flash. Wrong. It showed up as a black box on my Google TV and would never load. I’ve seen this happen with other Flash videos in the past as well. I don’t know what the specific incompatibility is or what is tripping up Google TV, but yet again, the end result is another video that you can’t watch on your Google TV.

Google claims that Google TV has the web as it was intended to be

If we take a look at the features page on the official Google TV website, the very top listed feature is:

Google Chrome browser
The web as it was intended to be. Watch online video, update your status, watch what’s viral in real-time, and even check your fantasy scores.

Really Google? The web as it was intended to be? I’d say web video was intended to be viewed and since I can’t do that often using my Google TV, it’s not as it was intended to be.

And don’t forget, many TV networks block Google TV from accessing their online video content, as well as Hulu.

All of this leads to a very poor website user experience for the Google TV user. You’ve got this supposed fully featured browser on your HDTV, yet you still can’t access the video content that you want to.

Google should install the QuickTime plugin for Chrome on Google TVs

Google really should preload the Chrome Quicktime plugin on all Google TV’s to resolve the first issue I brought up above. There are many videos around the web that use QuickTime and Apple.com routinely hosts exclusive movie trailers that aren’t found anywhere else. I’ve got to wonder if the exclusion of the QuickTime Chrome plugin on Google TV is a conscious decision by Google due to a pissing match between the 2 companies. After all, they are now fierce competitors in the mobile phone arena and on the home theater front, Apple has their rival Apple TV platform. There’s also no way that Apple is ever going to release a Quicktime app for Android.

I’m hoping that Google TV can improve further to provide a better end user experience, but I’m not sure if it will ever get to where it should really be. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next major Google TV update. Until then, I’ll continue to get frustrated when videos won’t play on my Internet TV.

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