Sony shocked a lot of the world’s technology press this past week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas when it revealed all of its 2015 Bravia smart TVs would be powered by Android TV, Google’s latest attempt to take over the living room.
A lot of the shock came from the long-term ramifications of Sony choosing to use Android TV instead of building its own platform. Every other company in the smart TV space is creating their own operating systems. This lets them lock users into their ecosystem, but it also means developers have yet another platform to worry about and apps to support.
By putting Android TV on its 2015 television line up – everything from 43-inch to 75-inch displays – gives Sony the upper hand in the smart TV space. Android TV is based on the same operating system that powers Android phones. Developers with apps and games in the store already can add a new interface and release them for Android TV. App purchases and game saves actually travel between Sony Bravia smart TVs powered by Android TV.
Users navigate the Android TV on Sony smart TVs with the One-Flick remote. Essentially, it’s a touchpad with buttons. Swiping up or swiping down on the trackpad moves the on-screen curser around. There are also buttons for quickly changing the channel, going back to the Android TV home screen and discovering new media. The One-Flick also has a microphone that enables voice searching. Inside every Sony smart TV running Android TV is a 4K processor.
I only had a few moments with a Sony Bravia TV running Android TV, and the bulk of that was spent playing a Sony approved game downloaded from the Google Play Store. Any game downloaded from the Google Play Store with controller support is compatible with the Sony Bravia television. I can’t say that I was impressed with the experience.
The racing game I played completely lagged. The time it took my character to make a turn after I’d moved the joystick on my Bluetooth controller was a problem too. When I asked if I could try another game I was told that that game with the lag was the only thing available. Because of the circumstances, it’s hard for me to judge how some intense Android games will translate to the Android. I can say that I wasn’t impressed.
I can say with some certainty that people will like the way the One-Flick controller feels in the hand. The surface of the One-Flick controller was a bit too tacky for my taste, but that’s a personal preference. I can’t help but think in adding a trackpad to the One-Flick Sony has made it dead simple for young and older people alike to navigate Android TV. That’s good, Android TV’s interface requires a lot of navigation. Google Cast and PlayStation Now are also included in Sony’s 2015 Bravia line-up. By adding Google Cast, Sony has made it possible for users to easily get video and audio up on their screen. PlayStation Now worked just as well as it does on the PS4. PlayStation Now is the game streaming service that Sony recently added a $20 subscription service for.
Sony plans to release Bravia TVs running Android TV throughout the year.