The Chromecast may be taking cord cutters by storm, but Google TV is still alive and kicking. In fact, Sony's latest Google TV device takes a little inspiration from Google's Chrome dongle. The Bravia Smart Stick dongle comes loaded with Google TV functionality and plugs into the mobile high-definition link (MHL) on the back of any 2013 Bravia Smart TV.
Sony didn't officially call the Smart Stick a Google TV device, but once it's connected, the Smart Stick provides all the Google TV goodies you're used to, including the Chrome browser, Google Play, YouTube, and third-party apps such as Pandora and Amazon Instant Video, and Netflix.
The $150 Smart Stick features 8GB of onboard storage, an MHL connector, a USB port and cable for powering the device, an HDMI-in port, and Sony's voice-activated remote control. Sony says the Smart Stick "integrates seamlessly" with existing apps and menus on Bravia TVs, meaning you don't have to switch back-and-forth between Smart Stick and Smart TV interfaces.
At $150, the Smart Stick is certainly more expensive than a $35 Chromecast dongle, but you also get much more functionality thanks to the added apps and Google Play access. For anyone who loves the idea of beaming Netflix content from their smartphone, however, casting functionality is slated to arrive on Google TV in the coming months.
Sony says the Bravia Smart Stick is available now from the Sony Store and other national retailers, but taking a quick look at Sony's site, Amazon, and Best Buy shows the Google TV dongle isn't available yet. We've dropped Sony a line to see when we should expect to see the Smart Stick appear on store shelves and online.
While Bravia's Smart Stick is only compatible with the latest Sony TVs, a universal Google TV dongle loaded with Google Play and a smattering of apps is also an appealing idea. Newer concepts like that, combined with cheap Google TV boxes like the year-old Vizio Co-Star, are strong steps towards giving Google TV a popularity boost. Now, if Google could only ink agreements with broadcasters and Hulu Plus to play nice with the platform...